Friday, December 7

Wildlife, mountains & lakes in the Pilanesberg

A popular wildlife destination for those who can't get to Kruger, is the Pilanesberg National Park, only a couple of hours drive from Jo'burg.

Three weeks ago, my niece and I spent a few days in this very scenic part of South Africa.

We were both "on holiday", so we didn't do the "serious" safari bit, but relaxed, didn't keep to a schedule, and still managed to get many awesome wildlife sightings.

It's both higher in elevation and drier in this north western corner, so in addition to impala, there are also springbok to be seen. As well as blue wildebeest (aka gnu) we also spotted elusive hartebeest. Another special sighting for me was a colony of rock dassies (hyraxes) which we rarely see in Kruger.

The park is obviously a lot smaller but is nestled within concentric rings of high hills (we call them mountains here) which are the very ancient remnants of a volcano. So the landscapes are spectacular!

Here are just a few of my favourite photos / sightings...........

We only once got up before dawn,  it was worth it though!

We had quite a few great sightings of these awesome creatures....

and wildebeest and zebra were everywhere.......

no wildebeest babies yet but lots of zebra foals.

The Pilanesberg has plenty of waterholes / dams to attract the wildlife, and these are really beautiful.....

The elephant breeding herds remained elusive, with only one very distant sighting but we had wonderfully close encounters with these two male elephant.

We also saw many, many giraffe, but my favourite photo involving a giraffe was of this red-billed ox pecker:)

There were many other great bird sightings too......

White-faced Duck

Spotted Thick-knee and chick

Pied kingfisher

Then some of our most special moments waited until our last afternoon game drive.

We were admiring this herd of wildebeest walking, in file, across the silver green grassy slope when to our amazement a Brown hyena snuck into view. It didn't take long for the wildebeest to spot it and swiftly chase it off !

We were still oohing and aahing about the hyena, when around the next corner we spotted a pair of Black-backed jackal and their two pups in the road.

This small family was very shy and quickly disappeared from sight into their den under the road, but another kilometre on we came across a second mother with 5 pups! These were much more relaxed and we had a wonderful 15 minutes watching them play.....

The lighting was very bad so I apologise for the quality of these pictures.

And that was the Pilanesberg. It is always well worth a visit, especially if you cannot make Kruger.

We also saw lion, hippo, springbok, warthog, and many other creatures small & large.

Cheetah, leopard, buffalo and wild dog kept themselves out of sight, but maybe next time!


Gaelyn said...

Great sightings. Now I'm looking forward even more to visiting Pilanesberg as I'm not sure I'll return to Kruger. I should have planned this trip for your spring to see all the new life.

Joyful said...

Beautiful scenes and photos. Makes me want to get to Africa again. It's been too long but will be awhile yet. Enjoy your weekend and Christmas season.

Coral Wild said...

Gaelyn, I'm sure you will have a great trip to the Pilanesberg - even if it will be late summer:)

Penny, I do hope you make it sooner rather than too much later. I wish you a "joyful" Christmas season as well:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Coral .. I went to the Pilanesburg about 20+ years ago ... just as it was starting out - and even then it was beautiful .. I may have hung on to a T shirt from those days!!

Love the photos ... does remind me of days gone by ... I loved seeing the wild dogs - but they were in the Okavango ..

Brilliant photos - and it sounds a lovely time with your niece .. cheers Hilary