The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Pilanesberg National Park

Afrikaans name: Pilanesberg Nasionale Park

Pilanesberg National Park

Hot-air balloon ride over Pilanesberg National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

North West

Pilanesberg National Park is situated north-west of Rustenberg and is about a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. The reserve itself is located in the remains of an ancient, extinct volcano.

Pilanesberg is well stocked with game and features the Big 5. There are also plenty of other mammals to see including Giraffe, Hippo, Blue Wildebeest, Burchell's Zebra, Springbok, Warthog and much more.

Birders will really enjoy this reserve as it has a checklist of over 350 species. Summer is the best time for birding but winter can also be productive.

The reserve can be pretty dry at times but there are a number of permanent dams. Some of these have hides and make great locations for photographers.

There are a number of accommodation options in and around the park. These including a caravan and camping park through to upmarket lodges. Visitors should spend some time at the Visitor Centre in the middle of the park. Not only can you get food and drinks here you get a chance to view some of the mammals really close as they are attracted to the area by a waterhole and a salt lick.

The roads in the park are a mixture of tar and dirt but they are all well-maintained and do not present a problem for cars except in extreme rainy conditions.

What was your best sighting at Pilanesburg?

Pilanesberg National Park

Above - There are plenty of Elephants in Pilanesberg National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pilanesberg National Park

Above - A Giraffe chews on a bone

Photo © Steven Herbert

Mammals of Pilanesberg National Park

Please note that this is only a guide and, while we have made every effort to be accurate, we can't be held responsible for any errors.


African Elephant

Antbear / Aardvark

Banded Mongoose

Bat-eared Fox

Black Rhino

Black-backed Jackal

Blue Wildebeest

Brown Hyena

Burchell's Zebra

Bush Pig


Cape Buffalo

Cape Clawless Otter

Cape Fox

Cape Porcupine


Chacma Baboon



Common Duiker




Grey Rhebuck


Honey Badger




Large-spotted Genet


Mountain Reedbuck

Pangolin / Scaly Anteater

Red Hartebeest


Roan Antelope

Rock Hyrax

Sable Antelope

Scrub Hare

South African Hedgehog



Striped Polecat

Tree Squirrel


Vervet Monkey


Water Mongoose


White Rhino

Wild Cat

References and further reading

Top Birding Spots in Southern Africa - Author: Hugh Chittenden - Published: 1992 - Page: 153

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 66

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Published: 1987 - Page: 93

The Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng - Author: Etienne Marais and Faansie Peacock - Published: 2008 - Page: 138

Stuarts Field Guide to National Parks & Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd ed - Author: Chris & Mathilde Stuart - Published: 2018 - Page: 52

Insiders Guide - Top Wildlife Photography Spots in South Africa - Author: Shem Compion - Published: 2010 - Page: 175

Pilanesberg Nature Reserve - Map and Guide Book - Author: North West Parks Board - Published: 0 - Page: 1

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 56

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 170

Southern African Birdfinder - Author: Cohen, Spottiswoode and Rossouw - Published: 2006 - Page: 203

go! - Issue 134 - Author: - Published: 2017 - Page: 48

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 82

go! - Issue 087 - Author: - Published: 2013 - Page: 32

Go Birding in the Transvaal - Author: Brendan Ryan and John Isom - Published: 1990 - Page: 92

Family Fun - Author: Lisa McNamara - Published: 2015 - Page: 131

Getaway - Vol 32 No 07 - Author: - Published: 2021 - Page: 18

Country Life - Issue 280 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 55

Atlas of National Parks and Reserves of South Africa - Author: Marielle Renssen - Published: 2006 - Page: 128

Caravan & Outdoor Life - Issue 658 - Author: - Published: 2017 - Page: 32

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Guide to Southern African Game and Nature Reserves - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1989 - Page: 72

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 266

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 357

Country Life - Issue 271 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 81

African Wildlife - Vol 37 No 6 - Author: - Published: 1983 - Page: 227

African Wildlife - Vol 37 No 1 - Author: - Published: 1983 - Page: 47


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