Living in Joburg definitely has its perks, and as a nature lover, one of them is that we are just over 2 hours away from the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is a game reserve in South Africa, found northwest of Johannesburg. It’s set in an extinct volcanic crater, with beautiful stretches of grasslands, watering holes and viewing hides where you can sit for hours and view animals and birds coming to the water to drink or cool themselves down. You can sit here for hours, in the safety of the hide and watch the beauty unfold around you.

Bring a picnic to enjoy in one of the hides or there is a restaurant and a shop in the park where you can sit and eat and watch the animals walk by! The food is really good, they have a wide variety of breakfast and lunch meals – vegetarian options too.

You can do self-drive, which means you can drive yourself around the park, but just make sure you have a map, so you know how to get around, and most importantly get out before the gates close in the evening! As you enter the park, make sure you check the time the gate closes – this differs depending on the month/season.

The park has elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, warthogs, giraffes, hippos, wild dog and various members of the antelope family – so you will not be disappointed, and if you are a birder, you are in for a treat! There are over 300 varieties of the bird so bring your binoculars and your bird book, and don’t forget your camera. We are always so lucky, in that we see kingfishers at the bird hides and most times we arrive early enough to watch the fishing and then eating their breakfast (picture them smacking their meal against a tree until the fish has died and the bones have all broken for easy swallowing!).

Our last visit to the Pilanesburg a few weeks ago, was extra special as we not only saw a beautiful leopard, who was casually walking in and out of traffic and kept us entertained for over an hour; but we also saw a pair of elephants playing in the water, to the point that they had fully immersed themselves under the water! It was as if they thought they were hippos!

If you would like to stay longer or make a weekend of it, there is a variety of accommodation available in and around the Pilanesburg. From camping to luxury 5-star accommodation, they have you covered. So, whether you want to rough it or be in the lap of luxury – it’s up to you. Personally, I would prefer anywhere that doesn’t require me to share a bathroom with a campsite full of people but that’s just me! You will also find Sun City next door, so why not make a weekend of it?

It’s amazing to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of Joburg and within a few short hours, be in the middle of the bush, listening to the cry of fish eagles and the roar of lions.

If you are like me, and being in the bush makes your heart happy, then give the Pilanesburg a try, so close to home and the perfect day trip for you and your family.

The Pilanesburg is also a malaria free zone!

Travel Information

For more information about the park, see this website:

Or their Facebook page:

Cost: R80 per person admission, plus R40 for the car

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