African adventures in Pilanesburg National Park, South Africa

by : Claire Dinnie

Pilanesberg National Park, a malaria free area, is set in the crater of a long extinct volcano, a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature. Fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills, the park rises from the surrounding plains like a bubble. Game drives through the park make fascinating viewing as you experience syenite inselbergs, thickly forested ravines, rolling grasslands and acacia bushveld. Game is plentiful and diverse and includes all of the Big 5. Bird life is prolific offering some 300 different species. It is a relatively young game reserve compared with the other reserves within South Africa having been proclaimed a national park in 1976 and is therefore still making its mark as a great tourist destination in South Africa. I believe it deserves the attention it calls for. It is a beautiful reserve, some 50 000 hectares in size making it the 8th largest national park in SA.

A number of accommodation establishments are available to you in the park, however I believe there is only one that gives great value for money and that is Ivory Tree Game Lodge situated in the north eastern section of Pilanesberg. Offering 60 luxury suites, superb personal service, highly qualified game rangers and a bush spa that has just recently won Les Nouvelles Bush Spa of the year award, Ivory Tree provides a great all inclusive bush experience that will be fondly remembered.

Tshukudu Bush Lodge is another luxury lodge set high up on a hill with open balconies providing spectacular views across the landscape. With only 6 luxury cottages it offers a quieter and more secluded atmosphere than Ivory Tree, but an exclusive rate accompanies it!

Adding one of these two adventure activities could make the Pilanesberg the highlight of your stay! Enjoy a 1-hour early morning hot air balloon ride over the park or a 1-hour exhilarating elephant back safari. Both of these activities are within easy reach of the lodges.

The nearby Sun City Resort complex offers a myriad of entertainment and relaxation opportunities. As an added attraction to the Pilanesberg area it offers a popular casino, great restaurants and bars, Valley Of The Waves water park, world class golf courses, bird park, adventure activities such as quad biking, archery, clay pigeon shooting and guided games drives into the park. Sun City offers 4 luxury hotels all at different levels of accommodation (from 3 to 5 star).?

While enjoying the luxuries back at the very comfortable 5 star Palazzo Hotel, Montecasino, Johannesburg, Colin and I planned another days outing in order to use our spare time productively. We whisked ourselves off to Maropeng, the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Maropeng, which is a Setswana word meaning ‘returning to the place of our origins’, takes visitors on a fun and informative journey of discovery using spectacular methods to tell stories of the evolution of life and the origins of humankind.? It denotes the universal relevance of the Cradle of Humankind as the ancestral home of all, no matter what colour, culture or creed. One could spend a good 2 hours here – An interesting experience! It is open from 09h00 until 17h00 daily and the entrance fee is R80 per adultHealth Fitness Articles, R45 per child under 12 yrs.