Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pilanesberg National Park




















The last days of our vacation in South Africa, were spent at Pilanesberg National Park, located in the North West Province of this country west of the capital, Pretoria. I had great expectation to these last days, and I am very pleased to say that they were all met. Staying in this dry landscape we really got the feeling that we were indeed in the Africa we had seen so many times on films and photos.


Why Pilanesberg?

There are a great number of National Park or wildlife reserves in South Africa. There were several reasons why we ended up in Pilanesberg.

We considered traveling to Kruger National Park. This park is however very large, and it may be difficult to actually spot most of the wild animals there. Another, not so important factor, is that Kruger is in one of the few areas in South Africa where there are malaria. This were however on of several factors that did influence our choice.

The main reasons why we chose Pilanesberg are that it is a small park, with a larger density of animals. It is also located closer to Johannesburg and this made it possible for us to postpone our safari activities to the last days of our journey.

Whatever park you choose, remember that staying in a cabin or hotel within the boundaries of the park will cost several times the amount that you pay for accommodation outside. Three of us had ordered a cabin, and I stayed in a hotel in the same complex. For the cabin you paid around €60 per night, and I paid approximately the same for a comfortable room, breakfast included.

Be aware that the standard of some of the cabins may be below what you would have been accustomed to on your stay in South Africa.

Pilanesberg - getting there

We left Johannesburg, unaware of how difficult it would be to get to Pilanesberg. We traveled for several hours and had to stop many times in order to get on the right way. However, after we had spotted the first sign to the National Park, many more would guide us on our way to our destination.

We traveled through an increasingly dry and arid scenery, highly varied, with cliffs, hills, and flat savannas. On our way we saw much more of the poverty that tempt many South Africans to leave for the cities. This short film may give you an impression of the scenery we passed on our way.


As you get closer, do not turn at the first sign pointing at Pilanesberg. This leads to an airport servicing the Pilanesberg area and Sun City. We were to to stay at Sundown Ranch, and we passed the gates of Sun City and drove for another ten minutes.

Be aware that you have to register to enter the Sundown Ranch and other hotels as you arrive. As I have mentioned already, most hotels are gated in order to protect the guests from much of the violence and crime that plagues this country.

We arrived our hotel close to dusk, and I was pleased to see that the hotel where I would stay was an excellent choice at a very reasonable price. I will return to the Sundown Ranch Hotel a little later.

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