No trip to South Africa is complete without seeing the Big 5. Sun City is located just 200 kilometres from Johannesburg, and a comfortable 15 kilometres away from Sun City is the Pilanesberg National Park. Spread across 55,000 hectares, this colossal sanctuary is home to the Big 5 – rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo, and so countless number of rare species of animals. This National Park sits on an alkaline volcanic crater, which is believed to be only one of the three craters in the whole world.
Visitors are given the option of discovering and exploring the wide diversity of animals by means of guided game tours or self driven tours. Guided tours are however recommended as the tour guides know the particular time and spots from where you can have a glimpse of these animals at their natural habitat without disturbing their lifestyle. Bringing along a pair of binoculars can prove useful because sometimes these animals can be spotted at far distances and more often than not, their skin tone can camouflage with the scenic setting, making it difficult to spot them devoid of binoculars.
After the Big 5 tour comes to an end, you can also try out Elephant Back rides, hot air balloon rides, birding and game walks; all of which are organized by Pilanesberg as well. Pilanesberg National Park is on a higher pedestal in comparison with other National Parks for the simple reason that the strategic location of the Park in a transitional zone draws a melting pot of a variety of flora and fauna that would be hard to find in most other National Parks across the country.
The photographic hides hidden well within the park can help you get the perfect picture and will get you immersed in the natural vegetation being a feast for the eye. An abundance of wildlife along with a large variety of rare and common species will make Pilanesberg National Park worth the long drive.
Directions from Johannesburg/Pretoria From Johannesburg or Pretoria take the N4 west and turn off onto the R556 north towards Sun City. As you approach Sun City the R510 will take you to the gates in the east of the park. Follow the R556 past Sun City to get to the western gates. The drive to the gates should take you a bit more than 2 hours, but please allow enough time to drive to your lodge before sunset. Check here for gate opening times. Directions from Other Cities If you want to drive to Pilanesberg National Park, all roads lead to Johannesberg. From Cape Town take the N1; the drive will be about 18 hours. From Durban the N3 connects to Johannesburg and the drive will take you about 8 hours.