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Pilanesberg National Park covers an area of 50,000 hectares and supports a variety of eco-systems, about 81 (37 large) mammal species including the big five ( Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhino), as well as other rare mammals such as Sable, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Cape Clawless Otter, Black Rhino and Brown Hyena. Over 350 species of birds also occur in the area which is described as lying in a transition zone between Dry Kalahari and Bushveld- wetter lowveld vegetation. Only 2 hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, it is a great short trip alternative to Kruger which is a lot further!
Pilanesberg lies within the old "Bophuthatswana", homeland of the "old" South Africa for the Tswana Peoples. The idea for the park was firstinitiated by the Bophuthatswana government who during the height of the "Aparthied Era" set aside large tracts of land equalling 7000 hectares in only 6 years for conservation. As a developing nation, with many other important issues such as housing and education, the long term vision of sustainable and use of natural resources was not forgotten.
Pilanesberg National Park was founded and stocked with wildlife in 1979. The process of stocking the previous agricultural land is still one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in a game reserve throughout Africa. 5,957 head of game of 19 species were introduced into the park in "Operation Genesis" and the following 15 years constituted for the largest and most expensive game relocation ever. Wildlife was introduced from as far afield as Namibia and Addo National Park in the Eastern Cape. The project was heavily sponsored by the then "Southern African Nature Foundation", now, WWF- South Africa and well supported Dr Anton Rupert, WWF- SA's founder, who recieved world wide recognition for the project. 110km's of electrified big game fences were installed and the first animals released.
The Pilanesberg National Park, in the North West Province of South Africa is a fascinating park set within an extinct Alkali-ring Volcano and is extremely scenic with varied vegetation and habitat. The geological structure, termed as the "Pilanesberg Alkali Ring Complex" is world renowned as there are only 2 other alkaline ring volcanoes in the world, with Pilanesberg being the most perfect example. Over 1 200 million years old, the crater used to be 8 000 metres high but has eroded to it's current hight of approximately 1,500 metres above sea level. The highest point being 1,670 metres above sea level. The volcano has caused a number of rare minerals to occur, some of which were mined such as the Vergenoeg Flourite Mine.
Golden Leopard Resorts take care of 2 camp sites in the Park. Manyane and Bakgatla Camps where one can camp or make use of accomodation such as permanent tents and chalets.
There are also numerous luxury lodges surrounding the Park: Bakubang, Kwa Maritane and the new Ivory Tree Lodge all provide their own guided open vehicle game drives into the park.
Various organizations offer guided camping and accommodated safaris to the Park.
Balloon Flights, game drives and walks, night drives, corporate activities are to name just a few of the many options available to someone or groups spending more than 1 day in the area.
Sun City is a horrible attempt to create a "Las Vegas" in Africa. The complex does however have various hotels and a lot of accommodation from 3 to 6 stars as well as the Valley of Waves complete with water slides and wave pool. They also host large events and conferences as well as concerts throughout the year.
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