Wednesday, 4 September 2019

South Africa Part 5: Pilanesberg National Park

From Cape Town we took a domestic flight to Johannesburg. Located 1500 km north east of Cape Town, Johannesburg is generally warmer but almost equally dangerous a city as the crime rate is reputedly high. There is also a stark contrast in landscape between the two destination but my favourite remains Cape Town.

From the airport we first headed to Pilanesberg National Park, a place where we could view Africa's wild animals in its natural habitat. A trip to South Africa is deemed incomplete without seeing its wildlife as it is common knowledge that wildlife is one of Africa's greatest treasures. Pilanesberg National Park may not be the biggest or best wildlife reserve in South Africa but it is closest to Johannesburg, located just a 2 hour's drive away.

Pilanesberg National Park is set around the crater of an ancient volcano formed 1300 million years ago. It covers an area of 572 km² and has over 7000 animals and 360 species of birds. To facilitate viewing of the animals, a network of 200 km of road has been constructed within the park. The park is home to the Big Five referring to the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo. This term was coined by big-game hunters, and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. We were hoping to see all five during our trip.

We stayed in Bakubung Bush Lodge which is located inside the wildlife reserve. Our stay included a games drive package. In fact we went for 2 games drives, one in the evening and one in the morning the following day. 

Each game drive lasts about 2½ hours. We were driven around in a high open truck without any glass windows. Incidences where a wild animal leapt  on the visitors were probably rare or had never happened before. 

The ranger who drove our truck, Owo, would stop the truck each time a game is spotted around the road. We are not allowed to come down during the entire drive.

We only spotted 2 out of the 5 animals in the Big Five category, namely the elephant and the rhinoceros. Whether you can spot them or not during the drive is a matter of chance. Apparently more animals will be spotted in the late evening and early morning when the weather turns cooler and the animals would come out to seek warmth by the roadside. 

Other animals spotted
The impala, a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. 
The hartebeest, also known as kongoni, is an African antelope. 
The zebras
 The giraffe looking marvelous in its natural habitat.

Hippopotamuses lazing near a lake.
A hyena
The wildebeest, a grotesque looking animal.

Enchanting Scenery
Pilanesberg National Park is however not all about games animals. The scenery is superb and the vegetation is really alluring.

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