A day in Pilanesberg: Hour 1

We’ve just entered the Pilanesberg National Park through the Kwa Maritane Gate and following Tshepe Drive deeper into the Park.

As happens more often than not, the first animals we encounter are impala, followed soon after by a small herd of blue wildebeest. We notice that the winter fire season burned large tracts of land, but take heart from the flush of new green shoots poking through the blackened earth, and have no doubt that the continued drizzle we were driving through would boost the new growth enormously. Next sighting is the first of Africa’s “Big Five“: a nice big elephant bull and, not half-a-kilometre further, three more. Before we reach the junction of Tshepe Drive with the Nkakane road, 10km from the gate, a small herd of plains zebra, mixing with more impala, is our next “tick” before seeing yet another elephant, this one scaling a rocky hillside some distance from the road.

It’s a further 3km to the left turn into the Kwalata road, during which we’re not only excited by beautiful scenery (despite the gloomy weather), lots of birds beginning to appear and the sight of a small herd of rare tsessebe but also by fresh lion tracks appearing in the wet sand on the road every so often. This particular lion however did not want to be seen…

As we’re merrily driving along Kwalata road, enjoying each other’s company and regular sightings of more impala, we’re flagged down by the driver of a safari vehicle with some very wet tourists in the back. He wants to know whether we’ve come from Kwa Maritane’s side. “Yes”, we answer. “Any cats?” he asks, obviously desperate to make his shivering clients’ ordeal worth their while (and money). “Not yet!”, we answer. Turns out all he should have done was to follow Joubert and me around the rest of the day…

If you’d like to follow along as we explore the Pilanesberg, a map may come in handy (for a large format version click here)

Kwa Maritane Gate to Mankwe Way via Tshepe and Kwalata

To be continued tomorrow.

13 thoughts on “A day in Pilanesberg: Hour 1

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That’s very kind of you, Hien, and I honestly hope that you will come to visit us, and soon. And when you do we’d be glad to share all our tips of must-see places with you. Pilanesberg certainly belongs in the list.

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  1. Anne

    Having been there in March, I am right with the two of you: the dull light thanks to the weather, the fresh damp smell mingled with the acrid scent of wet burned grass. We were there to witness the arrival of the first elephants in the park – how that population has grown!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I would have loved to see Pilanesberg in its formative years, Anne. We visited for the first time in 1999 and the changes we’ve seen over the 21 years since as nature slowly reclaims what agriculture and human settlements stole and damaged is remarkable. The positive change must be even more pronounced for you who saw the Park being born.

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  2. H.J. for avian101

    Very interesting! I guess everybody is looking for the big felines. They might like to watch “the kills”.
    I do not enjoy that, I love all animals, years ago I was in for hunting, shooting, etc. Now since I care for birds, I appreciate all animal’s lives. Thanks, D. 🙂

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      There’s no denying that Africa’s big cats have a special allure, H.J, and are at the top of most local and international visitors to South Africa’s wildlife reserves. Though seeing a “kill”, as natural and necessary for the survival of predator and prey as it is, is understandably not in everyone’s taste.

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