Pilanesberg Game Reserve and Surrounds

Pilanesberg

The Pilanesberg is known as an area in the North West Province of South Africa, made popular thanks to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the Sun City Resort entertainment complex.

The original name refers to a mountain, an ancient volcanic structure circular in shape, that was named after the Tswana chief Pilane ("berg" is Afrikaans for mountain). The mountain or Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex is a vast circular crater of a very ancient extinct volcano that last erupted some 1,200 million years ago.
The Pilanesberg is located 120 km to the north west of Pretoria and about 170km from Johannesburg.
 
Pilanesberg Game Reserve offers a variety of is a sanctuary for a variety of Wildlife including the Big Five - rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo. Situated inside the eroded crater of an extinct volcano in the North West province (adjacent to Sun City,) it has a history that covers many centuries.

Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic and Alkaline Ring Complexes of its kind in the world. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature.
The early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park.
The Game Reserve exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone.

The colorful hues, varied habitats and panoramas will delight and entertain photographers and visitors. Off the centre of the park is Thabayadiotso, "the Proud Mountain" and the beauty of Pilanesberg is reflected in a large central lake, the Mankwe Dam.

Accommodation on offer in Pilanesberg

The game reserve is served by luxury lodges and 2 resorts:

  • Manyane Resort - nestles at the Gateway to the Pilanesberg. Set in unspoilt natural surroundings are thatched African-style chalets studded in a tapestry of indigenous flora.
  • Bakgatla Resort - offers colonial styled chalets, executive safari tents, rolling lawns & conference facilities for up to 250 delegates.
  • Tshukudu Bush Lodge - offers unsurpassed accommodation in the heart of the African bush and has earned a reputation as being one of the most luxurious in Africa.
  • Bakubung Bush Lodge - surrounds a hippo pool and offers you comfort and tranquility only minutes away from Sun City.
  • Kwa Maritane Lodge - the luxurious Kwa Maritane Lodge offers you views over the infinite plains of the Pilanesberg National Park
  • Ivory Tree Game Lodge - provides 5-star luxury close to the Bakgatla Gate.
  • Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge - features 13 double and 4 executive suites along an elevated contour line providing panoramic vistas of the reserve.
  • Pilanesberg Private Lodge - situated in the Black Rhino Reserve with 5 sleeping units that is connected via paved pathways and bridges to the communal area.
  • Buffalo Thorn Lodge - located in the Black Rhino Game Reserve offers a luxury self catering lodge sleeping 10 people.

Pilanesberg Wildlife

As a result of the Pilanesberg being on a transition zone there are overlaps in wildlife (mammals & birds) and vegetation and the Reserve accommodates almost every large mammal of southern Africa.

The Game Reserve is fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills; an extinct volcano that forms the "Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex".

These hills, created by ages of erosion, and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains. Over time, wind and water have carved a spectacular landscape with rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickets.

The park exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park in South Africa, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone.

Springbok, brown hyena, the red eyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found cohabitation with moist-area-limited impala, black eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees. You find syenite koppies, thickly forested ravines, typical bushveld and also rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas.

The park has a rich array of wildlife including the Big Five and most of the animal species of southern Africa including lions, elephants, black & white rhinoceros, African buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles, can be found.

The Pilanesberg is not in a location which the Big Five animals would naturally inhabit, however they have been brought into the 550 square kilometres of African bushland.

Over 360 bird species were counted. Though some are migrants, most others are permanent inhabitants. There is a self-guided trail in the Walking Area at the Manyane Resort Complex in the east, which offers environmental education whilst game viewing and bird watching on foot.

Also at Manyane Resort there is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds.

Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex

The Alkaline Ring Complex  is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type in the world and the rare rock types and formations make it a fairly unique geological feature.
It is geographically located within the Witwatersrand range comprising a vast circular crater of a very ancient extinct volcano that last erupted some 1,200 million years ago.
This extinct volcano is the most perfect example of an alkaline ring complex and one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type.

Through time, this huge volcano weathered into concentric rings which, today, rise up to 700 meters above the plains - a mere tenth of the original volcano height. The rocks that now form the hills are the remains of the magma pipes which once fed the volcano from deep below its summit.

A number of rare minerals occur in the park; although not necessarily economically important.

Pilanesberg has survived ages of erosion and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains.

With a history stretching over many centuries, the early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the Pilanesberg National Park.

Pilanesberg History

Pilanesberg, located in North West Province in South Africa west of Pretoria, is named after a Tswana chief, Pilane. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve borders with the entertainment complex Sun City Resort.

The northern region of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve was traditionally owned by the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela (commonly known as the Bakgatla) tribe. A mission station was established in this section of the park.

The southern section of the Pilanesberg game reserve was originally a set of farms which were sold to and registered in the names of a number of Boer farmers by the Transvaal government in the 1860s. These farmers were responsible for building the Mankwe dam - which is the Pilanesberg's largest standing water reservoir.

Under Apartheid policies the Boer farms were bought by the Government during the 1960's and the Bakubung tribe from nearby Ventersdorp settled on the land. The land was then subsequently delivered to Bophuthatswana, a large bantustan or "homeland" established under the Apartheid Government.

Bophuthatswana decided to re-introduce wildlife and convert the Pilanesberg into a game reserve. The Bakgatla tribe, under Chief Tsidimane Pilane, agreed to the inclusion of the mountainous region of their property within the Pilanesberg reserve. The 60 families were re-settled under an agreement with the tribal authority. They were moved to a newly planned town to the east of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Around the same time, Sun International obtained a ninety-nine-year leasehold over an adjacent farm and built the Sun City complex.

Operation Genesis, which involved the reintroduction of long-vanished species after completion of approximately 100 km of fencing around the reserve's perimeter, started during the 1970's.

The creation of the Pilanesberg Reserve is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. Operation Genesis is still the largest game translocation undertaken in the world, and as a result the park now has in excess of 10,000 animals.

Sources

Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust
North West Tourism
Wikipedia
Geological Sciences at San Diego State University

Leopard near Black Rhino Game Lodge Pilanesberg Pilanesberg Pilanesberg Pilanesberg
Pilanesberg Accommodation Map Open Pilanesberg Location in Mobile Maps

Accommodation Map

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