Pilanesberg National Park, November 2013

Joubert and I spent last weekend (23 and 24 November) in the Pilanesberg National Park with my brother Niel.

Pilanesberg scenery

Pilanesberg scenery

Our weekend started early, leaving Pretoria at 03:00 in the morning in order to be at Kwa Maritane Gate before it opened. Shortly after entering we encountered a bunch of adorable, but shy, jackal puppies holed up in a culvert underneath the road. Not a kilometre further, we had an exciting sighting of a young male lion attempting to hunt, unsuccessfully, a group oz zebras and a lone wildebeest. An excellent start to the day, and our good luck continued as we slowly traveled through the reserve, notching up another lion sighting, herds of elephants, white rhinos and giraffes, a good variety of antelope, and several bird species before arriving at Bakgatla Resort, where we’d be camping for the night.

After setting up camp, we stretched our legs walking through the camping area, inspecting the facilities (none of which we could fault) and intent on buying an ice cream for Joubert, but unfortunately the tiny shop’s supply had already been sold out.

Red-billed hornbill in Bakgatla

Red-billed hornbill in Bakgatla

Camping in Bakgatla

Camping in Bakgatla

Leaving camp earlier than planned for our afternoon drive, we first headed to the Pilanesberg Centre, a historical building that served as the Magistrate’s Court before the Park’s proclamation but today is a popular little restaurant and shop well frequented by visitors, in the hopes of finding Joubert that ice cream he was craving so. Meeting with success on that quest, we set off again looking for Pilanesberg’s wild inhabitants, and again were not disappointed.

At the Fish Eagle Picnic Site we got a close-up glimpse into dung beetle life before spending some time at the photographic hide at Lake Mankwe, enjoying the cool shade and great photo opportunities.

Sunday morning we had a couple of hours to explore some more before having to head home. We explored the western sections of the Park and were struck by how exceptionally dry it still is. With summer being the rainy season, we hope the Park will soon see some good rainfall in order to replenish the dams and streams.

All-in-all a very enjoyable boys camping weekend at Pilanesberg, which we hope to enjoy again as soon as possible.

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31 thoughts on “Pilanesberg National Park, November 2013

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  2. bulldog

    With all the rain we have been getting here in Pta, it seems ludicrous that it is still dry there… I must make the effort to pay a visit to the Park, never having been there… didn’t think one would need to leave here so early for a gate opening, or do they open at 5 am.?? great share and love the photos…

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for the compliments (again) Bulldog! Pilanesberg’s gates open at 05:30 from November to February. We like to arrive with half-an-hour to spare so that we can organise the cameras, binoculars, maps, guide books, food, drinks, etc etc etc…

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  3. kanzensakura

    Thank you! How very interesting and what a personal way to be able to view these amazing creatures…although part of me is wondering about the “tiny lost warthog piglet”, if it made it home, if it was taken care of. I know nature is nature, but I still feel my heart tugged.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      The determined little orphan also had us thinking and speculating for quite a while afterwards Kanzensakura, about the reasons he’d be so alone and what chances he had of surviving.

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  4. Vonn Scott Bair

    Good Morning: What I like about some of these shots is not just how you portray the wildlife, but also how well their natural camouflage blends into their surroundings, such as one of the birds, and one of the lion pictures. Vonn Scott Bair

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for the encouraging contribution Vonn Scott Bair! Indeed, many (most?) of the animals and birds, large and small, are exceptionally well camouflaged in their natural habitat.

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