Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pilanesberg National Park

Lying in the maw of an extinct volcano, the landscape of Pilanesberg is rugged and wild. Eruptions about 1 300 million years ago laid the geological foundations for what is now a diverse and beautiful setting with wooded gorges, rocky outcrops and sweeping grasslands. If on game drives you get the feeling of being protected in the palm of a giant hand, it's not entirely imaginary: the reserve is fringed by three concentric rings of hills, the Pilanesberg alkaline ring complex, to rock scientists in the know.

Home to the Big Five and then some, it also has wonderful birds and a healthy reptile count.Self-drivers have a good chance of seeing game on their rounds, but be disciplined about sunrise and sunset drives to get the best results. If you opt for a night drive with one of the resort vehicles, do so at your peril - spotlights are often manned by guests who wave the lights wildly, blinding all those in sight.

Accommodation: There is no accommodation within the reserve, but you will find a variety of places to stay on the outskirts. Cost: Prices range from R280 to R2 800 a night.

Contact the park: Phone 014 555 5354.

Where to stay:
Bakgatla Camp offers colonial-style chalets for self-catering and safari tents starting from R280 a person a night sharing. Phone 014 555 1000.

Manyane Camp has self-catering chalets and safari tents which start from R300 a person sharing for a B&B. Phone 014 555 1000.

Bakubung Bush Lodge has comfortable studio rooms and chalets from R940 a person sharing. Phone 011 806 6888.

Tshukudu Bush Lodge is five-star luxury from R2 395 a person sharing. Phone 011 806 6888.

Game Reserve Madikwe is best known among tourists for its highly successful wild dog populations, but the reserve has also been a valuable source of income to its impoverished community. If you can afford it, it's one of those dream holidays and worth every Big Five rand you'll spend.As beautiful as Madikwe is, so too is it untouchable.This is a private provincial game reserve, an oddity that, nevertheless, is beyond the financial reach of most of us local plebs.

Lodges are top dollar and pitched at foreign tourists, however, many are running below profitable occupancy and, if you're flexible, it's possible to find discounts during the low-season winter months.Cost: From R450 a person a night to "the sky's the limit".Food: What you get is what you pay for. We suggest: Madikwe Mooifontein, a self-catering lodge that sleeps 10 people for R4 500, which translates to R450 a person a night. Phone 011 789 1605.Contact: Madikwe Safaris is the most comprehensive booking agent, phone 011 315 6194.

Game ReserveTucked away in the heart of the Southern Kalahari near the border of Botswana, Molopo is the province's best-kept secret. Its rolling red Kalahari dunes are carpeted with silky bushman grass. The bird list of 120 species includes specials such as tawny and martial eagles, bataleur and lappet-faced vulture.Although well stocked with large antelope such as gemsbok, red hartebeest, eland, zebra and giraffe, those who like to eyeball their game up close could be frustrated.As is the case with other parks in the province, Molopo also offer hunting.

Accommodation: Tent or caravan camping is at Phiri Camp in the reserve, which has ablutions with hot water for R40 a person a night. There is also Molopo Camp, a converted farm house which sleeps eight people for basic self-catering at R80 a person a night.Cost: Park entrance is R15 a person.Food: Self-catering is the only option, so you're at the mercy of your own talents.Contact: Gerald Botha 082 873 8780.

Mafikeng Game ReserveOccupying a big, flat area of sour mixed bushveld outside the town of Mafikeng, game spotting in Mafikeng Game Reserve is not terribly difficult.Herds of zebra, springbok and red hartebeest are common and it's fairly easy to pick out the buffaloes and rhinos in the bush. It is difficult to feel a sense of "getting away" in this reserve which is small at 4 600ha and close to busy roads and the town.

Accommodation: Manyane Game Lodge borders the reserve and has its own entrance into the park. Self-catering chalets, which sleep four, are reasonably comfortable and cost R400 a night. Cost: Park entrance is R15.Contact: Phone 018 381 5611 (Mafikeng reserve), 018 381 6020 (Manyane lodge). North West Parks and Tourism 018 397 1500.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?