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A couple of months ago my husband was in South Africa and some of his colleagues spoke to him about the Pilanesberg safari park (close to Sun City) as probably the best option in national parks because it is supposed to have the Big Five while still reasonably sized, so that you are certain to have a chance to see lots of animals, often just staying in your lodge not too far from water springs.

Upon his return, he asked me to organise a family journey there, and so I got in touch with a travel agent who however has instilled a lot of doubts in my mind by saying that Pilanesberg is nothing special, that its major claim to renown is the fact of being malaria-free (which, in his opinion, is true for many other parks in August), and mostly that it is a private park, hence much more expensive than normal.

Is there anyone among us who has been to Pilanesberg and can shed some light on the subject for me? This is the link to the site, but I have not found enough information here to settle the matter.

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4 Answers

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Pilanesberg offers the Big Five and more wildlife and is a relatively small park compared to for instance Kruger National Park. This allows you to cover most of the park in a few days and see plenty of animals. We even saw wild dogs!

The park is owned by the North West province and entrance for the day will cost you R65 per adult, which is about 5 Euros. There is a large range of accommodation from budget to very luxury and there are also game drives and other safaris you can book. Maybe have a look on www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org for more information or ask other travellers on their Facebook page.

Hope that answers your questions!

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I have been through the park in the daytime and the night time, and spent a day at Kwa Maritane which borders on the park and certainly qualifies as "very luxury". I enjoyed it tremendously. You can see some of the pictures I took on the daytime trip (with a crappy 2005-era camera) on my blog post about it.

I did not see a lion in Pilanesberg, though one of the other conference speakers did the very next day - and it was eating a wildebeest. I did see a huge variety of wildlife from very close and I learned quite a lot about them from our guide. I was staying at Sun City and it was trivially easy to arrange the tours from the hotel. At Kwa Maritane you can actually walk out to blinds and get ridiculously close to wildlife.

My luggage was delayed coming into Johannesberg on this trip and the airline gave me some Rand that I worked out to be about $200. This covered both safaris, a trip to a lion park nearby, and a little left over. It didn't feel overly expensive to me.

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The Pilanesberg is most definately a primary safari destination! It has the big-five animals and also cheetah and wild dogs. There are six game hides located at dams where you can sit and watch birds and mammals. Kwa Maritane lodge has a hide at the lodge so you can watch by day and night.

In addition to self-drive and guided safaris, visitors can take a hot-air balloon safari, which are not avaiable at other South African big-five national parks.

There are 8 primary lodges in the park from 3-star to five-star. Our favorite lodges are Tshukudu and Shepherd's Tree (both five-star), Pilanesberg Private Lodge (four-star) and Manyane (three-star).

We have spent over 300 days visiting the Pilanesberg and have seen lion and leopard kills plus the some of the rarer animals such as serval and sable.

There is so much to see and do that we published a 200-page 'Photographer's Guide to the Pilanesberg National Park' eBook!

We have a lot more information, such as trip rports with photographs, on our website, which you can see here

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We have timeshare at Pilanesberg and I'm not sure I'd agree that it is worth being a primary travel goal. If you are in SA already and looking for something to do for a weekend / long weekend, then sure.

I'd go to the Kruger Park way before Pilanesberg. If you have foreign currency to spend, then you can look at some of the upmarket private reserves bordering KNP and have a special experience while you are about it.

If you are looking for the primo wildlife experience, I'd hit Tanzania first - Ngorongoro crater. It's like an animal supermarket... "and in this aisle we have the elephants, and in this aisle we have the buffalo etc"

In the other parks, finding animals can be a bit hit and miss. They don't stand around waiting for tourists to look at them - they're busy doing their own thing, and that may not be next to the road...

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protected by Mark Mayo Feb 27 at 13:19

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