Pilanesberg National Park South Africa

Pilanesberg is a Game Reserve that is situated in an extinct volcanic crater, northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa. With wooded valleys , beautiful grasslands it is home to the Big Five and many antelopes and abundant birdlife.

Mankwe dam, is a man-made lake, and is one of the main attractions in this park. There is a large hide at Mankwe dam that have enough space for several photographers. The hides at the different dams makes the visit to Pilanesberg more interesting. There are  2 main resorts at Pilanesberg namely Bakgatla and Manyane. We stayed at Manyane rest camp in the Safari Tents. It is very comfortable and well equipped.

Safari Tent pilanesberg
Safari Tent Pilaansberg

On our first day in the park, we were lucky to see a lot of antelope like Zebra, Springbuck and Blue Wilde Beast.

Zebra's Foal Playing showing teeth when smiling in Pilanesberg
Zebra’s Foal Playing. Newborn zebras are fairly self-sufficient. Like their mothers, baby zebras will be striped from birth.

A small baby Zebra, entertained us for quite some time, and we had several good laughs for its funny moves. Young Zebras are nursed by their mothers for up to 1 year. Also known as the “striped Donkey”, the Burchell’s Zebra stripes and markings can act in the same way as human fingerprints. They are very closely related to the horse family.

Black-back Jackal
The black-backed jackal rolling in the mud at Pilanesberg
The black-backed jackal rolling in the mud. The black-backed jackal, also called the silver-backed jackal, is a medium-sized canine native to eastern and southern Africa.

This Blacked Backed Jackal were rolling into  manure that was on the wet road, enjoying himself tremendously. The cooler, rainy weather seems to make the animals to be in a very jeerfull and playful mood. They were much more visible and active  than on the warmer days, when it is difficult to spot them at noon.

Two Rhino's bumping heads at Pilanesberg South Africa.
Two Rhino’s bumping heads at Pilaansberg South Africa. Rhinos are endangered

On the Sunday afternoon, we were lucky to stumble upon a mother Rhino with two calves . The two calves were head banging and playing for about half an hour, before disappearing in the thick bush.

Rhinoceros at Pilanesberg with big horn busy grazing
Rhinoceros with big horn busy grazing. These mammals are easily recognized by their prehistoric features and the horns on their forehead.

On our second day we were surprises with excellent photographic opportunities when a White Rhino appeared next to the road. It was peacefully grazing,without being disturbed by our presence.We had the White Rhino all to ourselves for 30 minutes before it disappeared into the shrubs and  dense Acacia trees.

Elephant walking on gravel road in Pilanesberg South Africa
Elephant walking on gravel road in Pillaansberg South Africa. African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth

We also saw a lot of other animals in the park park and were really surprised about all the species found in the park. Here we photographed an Elephant,  as he was walking down the road. He did not like it that we were  seemingly blocking its path. We reversed, turned around and he settled down.

Warthog baby drinking milk in Pilanesberg
Warthog, Phacochoerus-africanus found in grassland, savanna, and woodland in sub-Saharan Africa.

This  mother and baby Warthog were walking in the camp, grazing on the green grass of the campsites. She is very tame and even took an apple from Annette, and lay down in front of our Safari tent, feeding the baby. What an awesome experience to see them at such close range, and interact with them in such a special way. Unfortunately we did not see any of the big cats, i.e. lion, leopard or cheetah’s, but it was still worthwhile visiting this park.

Blue Wildebeest
Pilanesberg : Blue Wildebeest Baby cared by mom
Blue Wildebeest Baby and mother at a water hole in Pilaansberg

The real big attraction to this National park, is the bird life. There are several hides at the water for the bird lovers, and thereare  plenty birds to photograph.

Rufous-naped Lark on a rock singing at Pilanesberg
The Rufous-naped Lark is widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the east and south.
Red-billed oxpeckers drinking water from a pool in the road at Pilanesberg
Red-billed oxpeckers perch on large wild animals and domesticated cattle. The red-bill devotes its day to plucking insects and ticks from its hosts
Pilanesberg : Brown Francolin calling it's mate
A large Brown Francolin with some darker streaks, dark blackish legs, and a distinctive bare red face and throat.
Yellow-green Canary on branch at Pilanesberg
A very streaky yellow-green canary with a chunky pale pinkish bill. The male has a blackish face and chin and a yellow eyebrow.
Greater Striped Swallow on branch at Pilanesberg
Greater Striped Swallow on branch at Pilaansberg. Grootstreepswael. Hirundo cucullata. This swallow is a common intra-African migrant.
Southern red bishop on a branch
Southern red bishop. A small, dumpy sparrow-like weaver. 12 centimetres long and has a thick, conical bill.
European Bee-eater waiting for insects.
European Bee-eater waiting for insects. Photographed at Pilaansberg South Africa
White-throated swallow sitting on a stick with green background.
The White-throated swallow builds a bowl-shaped mud nest. A swallow with a small rufous patch on the forehead.

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Fanie Heymans

Fanie Heymans is a wildlife photographer and nature lover. Based in the West Coast at St Helena Bay, South Africa. Images of his wild life photography was featured in the local Wild Magazine, Wildcard blog, and internationally by Media Drum World, and Mail Online.

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