Pilanesberg National Park is a Good Jo-burg Day Trip

Pilanesberg National Park Self Drive Safari

Pilanesberg National Park is about a 3 hour drive north of Jo-burg. My Pilanesberg National Park accommodation was near the airport in Jo-berg. I was staying there because I was preparing to drive over to KwaZulu-Natal to spend a couple months. So I had a few days to kill and a Pilanesberg self drive safari was a perfect warm up for my first trip to Africa!

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve

Don’t miss the best self tour safari at Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park

The drive to the park from Jo-berg was a bit complex and I was still a bit shaky about being on the left side of the road. However, I set out early the next morning and had a full day safari tour of the park. It was fantastic.

Pilanesberg National Park Is A Great Warm Up

It was my first real safari and Pilanesberg was a great warm for for my safari ambitions in Africa. It was a perfect practice run for to help prepare for more extensive trips such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Etosha and Maputo Elephant Reserve (to name a few).

The park area is about 550 sq kilometers and it is very accessible from Johannesburg. I was visiting at the end of the summer months October-March. The summer months are the wet season and the dry season is from April- September.

white rhino pilanesberg national park

Large white rhino grazes in Pilanesberg National Park South Africa

elephant pilanesberg national park

Large male elephant that I encountered at the end of the day.

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Small family of common wart hogs.

Mankwe Dam in Pilanesberg National Park

This is the largest body of water in Pilanesberg National Park. There is a bird hide here where you can spot the water birds that live in the park. These birds include the kingfishers, fish eagles and cormorants. The lake was full as I was visiting during the wet season.

bird hide Mankwe dam pilansberg national park

Photo of the bird hide at Mankwe Dam.

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Pair of kingfishers scan the water for fish at Mankwe Dam.

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Pair of turtles near the bird hide at Mankwe Dam.


Johannesburg is a very big, fast moving city. This was a very good introduction to South Africa, I especially enjoyed Pilanesberg National Park. I was looking forward to my drive over to Ramsgate in KwaZulu-Natal the next day. There are fantastic beaches over there and world class surfing opportunities. Plus, there was the safari at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park that I was really looking forward to. 

sunset pilansberg national park

The sun sets over Pilanesberg National Park as I drive back to Johannesburg.