The search for the Lion King: Pilanesberg

During the visits I have payed to Johannesburg, South Africa I made a few trips to Pilanesberg. Easy to reach by car on a few hours from Johannesburg. The park is big enough to avoid other people if you would like as the park is more than 500 square kilometers. Visiting the park is possible with your own vehicle but be aware that most of the roads are not surfaced. When I went there I rented a standard sedan car.

“will I see the big five today?”

The day of my visit was a bit cloudy with a chance of some showers but that didn’t bother me. After a two hour drive from Johannesburg I arrived at the park. The entrance fee can be payed at the gates in a small house on different locations at the border of the park.
The last time I visited the park I did not see the elephant so that was one of the animals I really wanted to see this time. After five minutes of driving my prayers were heared the first two elephants just on the road side. Elephants are dangerous animals so I had to be careful since they were so close although this was amazing. This felt indescribably good, these animals are so big but yet really vulnerable.

Elephant in Pilanesberg National Park

Driving through the park I noticed that there were so many birds, and really beautiful ones. In the map, you can buy upon entering, there are many pictures of most species to be found in the park so you wil be able to see wich bird you have seen.

Giraffe Crossing the Road in Pilanesberg National Park

There are no fences inside the park so the animals will cross the road, that is why you have to drive slowly and carefully. In one of the corners of the park I came across a few giraffes on the middle of the road so I had to stop for them. They just started their late lunch, which gave me the time to turn off the engine of the car and just look at these giraffes. The giraffes acted like I wasn’t there and took their time wich was exactly what I wanted them to do.
If you see a car on the side of the road then you should be alerted because there might be an animal really close. After a while thats what I saw, a few cars on the side of the road looking in the bushes. One of the cars left but when passing by, the driver tipped me and said that there was a leopard in the bushes, will I see the big five¬†today? I looked and looked for at least half an hour but I didn’t spot the leopard, I was so disappointed but it would have been to good to be true.
Pilanesberg is home to the big five so it would be possible to come across. Leopards are the hardest ones to find because there are only around 30 of them in the park.

Kudu in Pilanesberg National Park

A bit deeper into the park I saw two “little” hippos on the road. While I was driving very slowly they noticed me and decided to leave the road and go into the bushes. Later I luckily saw a group of hippos relaxing near the lake and I could make some pictures and take a moment to observe them.
At the end of the day, around 5 p.m., Johannesburg was the next stop but not everyone was thinking that way. A group of three rhinos decided to cross the road but they took their time. The biggest of the three was keeping an eye on the cars in the vicinity. Wow what a gift at the end of this game drive, so impressive.

Rhinos Crossing the Road in Pilanesberg National Park

I made this trip to Pilanesberg from Johannesburg in one day, wich is doable but keep in mind that at the end of the day you will be tired. Better is to drive with two persons so you can change.
If you would like to see the whole park it will take you around two or three days. The park has lodges where you could stay in different price ranges. If you do not want to drive yourself there are guided tours as well.

 

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