Sleep in an extinct volcano and hear lions roar at Pilanesberg

Nestled in the crater of a long-extinct volcano is Pilanesberg National Park (also known as Pilanesberg Game Reserve). With some of the best game viewing in the country and spectacular scenery to boot, this is one of the most beautiful destinations in South Africa. Overflowing magma, wind, water, and time has shaped Pilanesberg National Park into a dramatic landscape of rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickets. Set in an ancient volcanic crater, the reserve is teeming with wildlife (including the iconic Big 5) that regularly congregates around Mankwe Dam. 

Hop into a game-viewing vehicle and go in search of African wild dogs, brown hyenas and sable antelope. Trek through the bushveld to gain another perspective of the bush or pile into a hot air balloon and watch herds of zebra crossing the plains. Birders can look out for pin-tailed whydah, black-shouldered kite, and lilac-breasted roller as they flit across the grassland, while the sabota lark and rufous-naped lark favour hills and slopes. Soaring above them all are African hawk-eagles and Verreaux’s eagle.

Pilanesberg used to be farmland until alien plants were removed; man-made structures dismantled and eroded land restored to introduce 6,000 animals into the reserve. Aeons before, the volcano spat up rare minerals and formed rock formations. Pale nepheline syenite, kimberlite, and fluorite will interest geology buffs. Evidence of early man inhabiting the area can be seen in the Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the malaria-free park.

To make your choice all that much easier we have listed our personal favourites when it comes to hotels and lodges in the reserve. If you don't find anything that tickles your fancy then get free, no-obligation advice from one of our experienced travel consultants. They will offer you expert advice to ensure that you find exactly what you're looking for.


  • This reserve is a true Big 5 area featuring elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo as well as other animals such as African wild dogs, brown hyenas, and sable antelope
  • Birders can look out for pin-tailed whydah, black-shouldered kite, and Verreaux’s eagle, to name but a few of the 350 bird species
  • Animals can be tracked on foot, by car, or viewed from a hot air balloon
  • Evidence of early man can be seen in the Stone and Iron Age sites scattered throughout the malaria-free park

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