We recently swapped the Soutpansberg mountains for hills of another kind – Pilanesberg National Park, while lies in an extinct volcano crater. The expedition came about when we organised a meeting with the Brown Hyaena Research Project at Mankwe Reserve. Now it was all a little too convenient that Mankwe is right next to Pilanesberg NP, a place we really wanted to go to.
As we were heading south we visited the US Consulate in Jo’burg on our way. I needed to get a posh bit of paper from them saying that I can get married. It was a bit of a drama because it was pouring down with rain and we couldn’t find the consulate. I was expecting giant American flags, huge fences and the star spangled banner blaring from loudspeakers but it is a surprisingly subtle building – so subtle we drove past it twice without realising. We ended up in the car park of the Apple store next door with our landy and I was running around in the rain asking directions from African security guards wearing bowler hats and waistcoats. Very bizarre. In the end I got my $50 bit of paper. We were ready to go but then I realised that they hadn’t given me my passport back so had to go back through security again.
We made it to Pilanesberg and set up camp at the Golden Leopard Resort’s Manyane campsite. They made a school boy error of failing to stock some key items in their shop including meat for braaing and Amarula. But they did have lots of tame game just sleeping or grazing in the campsite including kudu, zebra and impala.
On Saturday morning we got up early, jump started the landy from its spare battery (don’t ask and don’t even think about mocking my vehicle, Toyota owners), and headed out on a game drive. It was crazy misty. We could barely see the road, let alone any animals. But it burned off. Here are some pics of scenery and the animals as the mist was lifting.
The view of Mankwe dam was beautiful and there were turtles swimming about in the croc and hippo infested water.
Later in the day we went to a Predator Park which claimed to have the best burgers in North West Province. They were pretty good but all the burgers had comedy names. Mine was called the Happy Meerkat and Sam’s was the Saucy Lion or something like that. We also experienced the touristy delights of Sun City on a quick slightly lost drive through. Later in the day we were back in Pilanesberg NP and saw rhinos and elephants. The pic below is a baby rhino, believe it or not.
On Saturday night we went on a night drive. The guidebook said that seeing a brown hyaena is virtually guaranteed. Erm they are lucky they put the word virtually in there! We did not see any carnivores sadly but we did see a giant eagle owl and a cape cobra. Then on Sunday we had a very good meeting at Mankwe Reserve and got back to Lajuma that night.
All in all I really recommend Pilanesberg. It’s not far from Jo’burg and it’s stunning and you can get an interestingly named burger nearby.