Pilanesberg Game ReservePilanesberg is a beautiful Game Reserve situated on the remains of an extinct volcano crater near Sun City (a big holiday resort). Pilanesberg was created as a reserve in the late 1970's and now boasts the Big Five and many other animals courtesy of a vast wildlife relocation project. Just a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg, this park is very accessible and is popular with local South African families escaping the city.
Pilanesberg is an excellent option for day trips especially if you're enjoying Sun City. The park isn't huge, but the vegetation is incredibly varied and the landscape is lush and beautiful. You can choose from a traditional safari drive, hot air ballooning or walking safaris. Pilanesberg's lodges include the Ivory Tree Game Lodge, Tshukudu, Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge and the Bakubung Bush Lodge.
Pilanesberg is ideal for a self-drive safari; the roads aren't paved but they are in good condition. Just outside the park gates are a couple of options for less pricey accommodation with swimming pools and playgrounds for the children. They include the Bakgatala Resort which offers chalets and tents. The Manyane Resort also offers a variety of accommodation including campsites, chalets and caravan sites and is very family-friendly.
Recommended Safari Packages for Pilanesberg
- 2 night Pilanesberg packages from Wildlife Africa.
- Day Tours to Pilanesburg from Johannesburg from Go Safari.
- Day trips, and 2 nights in Pilanesberg at all lodges from local tour operator, Adventure Travel Africa.
The Waterberg AreaThe Waterberg area is in South Africa's Limpopo Province north of Johannesburg. Most of the parks and lodges listed below are no more than a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg. The Waterberg area is malaria-free and filled to the brim with private and national game parks. Most of the reserves in this area have been stocked full of game and offer beautiful mountainous landscapes as well as Big Five viewing and incredible birdlife.
Entabeni Game Reserve
Entabeni is a private reserve and boasts no less than 5 eco-systems including wetlands, craggy escarpments, grass plains and cliffs. In Entabeni you can enjoy guided game drives, bush walks, sunset cruises on the lake, horse riding and helicopter air safaris. Entabeni is an all-inclusive safari reserve, meals and game drives are included in the price, so you will not be driving your own car around once you're in the reserve. Children under 6 are not allowed on game drives.
Welgevonden Game Reserve
Welgevonden is popular with weekenders from Johannesburg looking for some peace and tranquility in the beautiful South African bush. The Big Five are here as well as 30 more mammal species and over 250 species of birds. Welgevonden borders Marakele National Park and the two parks will soon remove their fences so game will be free to roam in a larger area. Accommodation is plentiful and varied inside the reserve. You can choose from the luxurious Sediba Game Lodge, Makweti Safari Lodge, or the Nungubane Lodge to name a few.
Marakele National Park
Marakele is set in the middle of the Waterberg region with beautiful mountains as backdrop. Marakele means "sanctuary" in the local Tswana language, and it's certainly peaceful. All the large game species from elephant and rhino to the big cats as well as an amazing variety of birds can be seen here. Marakele is not going to provide you with a luxury safari experience; it's for the more intrepid safari goers. You need your own car and be warned that some of the roads are definitely only accessible to a four-wheel drive vehicle. Accommodation consists of two campsites, Tlopi Tented Camp which has furnished tents and Bontle camping site where you bring your own.
The Ant's Nest and Ant's Hill Private Game Lodges
The Ant's Nest and Ant's Hill offer very family friendly, luxurious accommodation. This private reserve is a real haven both for animals (over 40 species) and people looking for a wonderful vacation. Apart from game drives, there's horse riding, elephant safaris, curio shopping, swimming and more.
Mabalingwe Nature Reserve
Mabalingwe is home to the big 5, and also hippo, giraffe, hyena and sable. There are many types of accommodation available including chalets, campsites, and bush lodges. The reserve is very family-friendly, and the rolling grasslands make game-viewing a breeze.
The luxurious Itaga Private Game Lodge offers five star accommodations in 8 African themed chalets and fine dining. Game drives are organized in open 4x4 vehicles with an experienced ranger.
Kololo Game Reserve
Kololo is a small reserve with rolling grasslands supporting many species of antelope including impala, kudu and wildebeest. You won't see the Big Five here, but it's easy to drive to the other parks nearby (Welgevonden for example) and see it all. Lodging includes a variety of chalets and camps.
Recommended Safari Packages for the Waterberg Area
A note about malaria
Malaria's reputation as a killer disease is certainly earned, but the mortality figures are mainly a reflection of inadequate health care in Africa. The vast majority of tourists who get malaria recover completely since they have access to medicine and doctors, clean water and food. Malaria can also be avoided with the right precautions ... more about avoiding malaria.