Pilanesberg day trips | Our game rangers account of her experience
Pilanesberg Day Trips. I was lucky enough to have made a few day trips to the stunning Pilanesberg National Park. This is my account of the trip
I have completed a few Pilanesberg day trips with clients this year. This last Saturday I was lucky enough to have made a day trip to the stunning Pilanesberg National Park with a group of four American Soul Adventure clients. This was the first safari for all of the clients, so there was much excitement in the mini bus on the road to the Pilanesberg! Hopefully all of our Pilanesberg Day trips are going to be as successful.
Jade, our ranger in the Pilanesberg
Giraffe and Wildebeest in the Pilanesberg
After an early start at 6:30 in the morning, we stopped halfway to the Pilanesberg to grab some coffee and breakfast before we hit the park. On arriving at the park at 09:30 we jumped on our open game drive vehicle and departed on our 3 hour safari drive with Solomzi, and myself as the guides! This is a usually how our Pilanesberg day trips start off.
The group had its first sighting just moments after entering the Manyane park gates of the Pilanesberg. A small herd of impala or rooibok were grazing in an open grassland area at the entrance of the park. The grass had been burnt by Pilanesberg park officials to rejuvenate the veld by removing last season grasses and promoting the growth of new grass shoots. The impala were feeding on these new succulent shoots and after a few minutes of observing the herd and discussing the animals we moved on to explore more of the Pilanesberg’s 55 000 hectares and with the goal to see the clients favorite animals: zebra, giraffe and elephants!
After a few minutes of driving along the Pilanesberg’s dirt road in our nifty land rover we can across a large herd of Burchell’s Zebra. There are three species of zebra in South Africa, but only this one species occurs in the Pilanesberg National Park. The species can be easily identified by the faint shadow stripe that can be seen between its solid black stripes. There were roughly 40 animals in this herd of zebra, including the very young babies and also some very heavily pregnant females. We were even tempted to stick around and wait to see if some of the females would drop their young because they were so heavily pregnant! and who says that our Pilanesberg day trips are boring?
We decided to continue on our drive instead of waiting around all day long with the zebra, and we were rewarded with an excellent elephant sighting. We spotted a female elephant in a dried up river bed about 30m off the roadside. The group took plenty of photos and were thrilled with their first big 5 sighting of the day!
On the opposite side of the road to the elephant, the group was lucky to see a small herd of 6 kudu. The herd was made up of one male kudu, 4 females and one very young calf. This sighting was particularly species for me as a guide because it was the first time that I had seen such a young kudu in a large park like Pilanesberg.
Once we moved on from this sighting we didn’t have another sighting for probably 10 minutes, but then we just focused on looking at a few interesting tree species as well as discussing the history of the Pilanesberg. The next sighting was of some lazy hippos lounging in the sun on the banks of the Mankwe dam that is at the centre of the Pilanesberg. The hippos are usually in the water during the day and only come out of the water at night to graze on the surrounding grasses, but because it was a chilly day they were soaking up the sun and warming themselves up.
We decided to stop for a short bathroom break and to stretch our legs at the Pilanesberg centre. We stopped for a quick 15 minutes and then we were back on the road again to find more game.
Elephants on our Pilanesberg Day trips are a common occurrence.
We came to what seemed to be a traffic jam in the middle of the Pilanesberg! We were confused about all the fuss at first because we couldn’t see any animals around that people may be stopping to look at. Solomzi our driver decided to drive to the front of the traffic along the side of the road and only then did we discover what everyone was waiting around for. A herd of 10+ elephants ran across the road at quite a speed! What an incredible sighting that was! All of the guests were left in awe and maybe even a bit frightened by the incredible display of these magnificent animals.
Other animals to found on the Pilanesberg Day trips include:
Other animals that were observed on the game drive included waterbuck, blue wildebeest, springbok as well as the Lilac Breasted Roller, African-Grey Hornbill, Yellow-Billed Hornbill, Fork-Tailed Drongo, Crimson Breasted Shrike and many more!
The drive came to an end at 13:00pm and the group then went to the restaurant at the Manyane rest camp for lunch. At 14:00pm the group was finished with lunch and decided to drive around the park for another two hours in the Soul Adventures mini bus before departing back to JHB. This drive turned out to be well worth it as we got to see another one of the big 5. A single White Rhino was grazing on the left hand side of the road and even though it was quite far off, we all still appreciated seeing the illusive animal!
At 16:30pm we departed from the Pilanesberg National Park and went back home to JHB happy and satisfied with our game viewing experience. The clients reported that they had got even more that they had expected from their first safari experience! Hope our Pilanesberg day trips are this exiting in the future.