Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg National Park is situated in the North West province which is approximately two hours away from Johannesburg. Pilanesberg Nature Reserve offers an array of wildlife for both self-drives and guided tours through the reserve. Here is a complete guide on how to get there, how much it costs and what to expect on your trip to Pilanesberg Game Reserve.


The Pilanesberg is one of only three alkaline volcanos in the world. What is left today is a scenic crater in the area. Pilanesberg was declared a national park in 1984. The aim of the park is to promote conservation of the biodiversity. Around six thousand animals which comprised of twenty-two different species were released into the park. The park is approximately five-hundred and fifty square kilometres of area. The park was named after a Tswana chief who went by the name “Pilane.” Pilanesberg National Park is a malaria-free park that is open year-round. The reserve is in a volcanic crater and has the big five roaming free.

How to Get there

Pilanesberg National Park is approximately one hundred and seventy (170) kilometres away from Johannesburg. There are five public gates which allow entrance into the park. One of easiest gate to enter is the one located near Sun City. This is the Babukung Gate and is about twelve (12) minutes away from Sun City.

From Johannesburg take the N4 west and continue onto the R556 towards Sun City. Thereafter travel past Sun City until you get to the Babukung Gate.

The other gates which can be used to enter are the Bakgatla Gate, Kwa Maritane Gate, and Manyane Gate. There is also the Black Rhino Reserve which has a separate gate however you can only use this entrance if you are staying at the lodges in that reserve.

Depending on the route taken and the entrance you choose to use, you may pass toll plazas as you will be using national roads to travel to the park.

Entrance Fees


  • Adults – R80
  • Adults Foreign Nationals – R110
  • Children (6 – 12 years) – R30
  • Pensioners (SA only) – R40

South African citizens must produce their identity document to prove citizenship.


  • Vehicle (Sedan/LDV/SUV) – R40
  • Combi. – R60
  • Minibus – R100

Therefore for two adults, it will cost approximately R200 for entrance fees with your own vehicle.

If you are enjoying this check out the post on Dinokeng Game Reserve Guide, a game reserve situated in Gauteng offering self drives for viewing the big 5 roaming free. 

Things to do

Considering that the drive to Pilanesberg National Park is about two (2) hours away, it’s an easy day trip for the entire family. There are various activities on offer.

Pilanesberg National Park has the Big five roaming free. Some of the activities available at the park include self-guided game drives, guided wildlife safaris and bird viewing. There are also hot air balloon safaris available for booking. In addition, there are a number of hides and scenic picnic sites available.

Game Drives:

There are around fifty-seven thousand hectares of land in the game reserve allowing for lots of exploring. On your drive, you may encounter the big five, various game species, over three hundred bird species as well as a few rare animals like the cheetah and wild dog.

Pilanesberg Reserve offers a self-drive route which is an ideal option for people who want to wander the reserve on their own to spot the wildlife. There are about 200 kilometres of track to drive along. Some of these roads are tarred which is suitable for any vehicles. However, at the reserve, there are also marked tracks that are specifically for 4×4 vehicles. Please only use these tracks if you are in a 4×4 vehicle as the tracks are not suitable for any other vehicle.

A detailed map to the reserve with information of the wildlife and places to stop is available and can be purchased at the entrance which cost R100.

This is an example of the Pilanesberg National Park map.

Pilanesberg also offers guided game drives, there are private game drives and group game drives available. These involve game drives on safari vehicle organised by various professional guides. And tickets for this have to be purchased in advance.

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Picnic Spots and Hides:

There are various picnic spots and hides located at the reserve. You can enjoy a lovely picnic at one of these sites and pack a basket with all your favourite food and drink. Each site offers different amenities and sights depending on their location.

Historical Sites:

At the park, you are able to visit various historical sites including:

  • Land Restitution Monument – a monument celebrating the return of the land to the previous owners of Pilanesberg;
  • Pilanesberg Court House – a courthouse built in 1936. And is now being used as a visitor’s centre;
  • Iron Age Remnants- sites around the park which show iron age settlements;
  • Archaeological Interpretative Site – a site which provides an introduction to the Batswana history and the Iron Age period;
  • Bakgatla Kgotla Site – a meeting place for the Bakgatla (local tribal people) chieftainship;
  • Slagterskop – translates to the “execution hill” and is where people sentenced to death by the tribal chief for crimes committed, were executed on the hill.

Other historical sites you can view are Welgeval Farms, Sephikile Village, Driefontein Farm, Boer Settlement, Jan Smut’s Farm, Pilanesberg Farm School, Quarantine Camp and Animal Off-Loading Ramp.

Geological Sites:

There are various geological sites located all around the park. Some of these include seeing:

  • Lava – which is molten rock;
  • Kimberlite – a potentially diamond-bearing rock;
  • Green foyaite – an uncommon rock type contain crystals.

Other geological sites which you can see around the park are Volcanic Tuff, Nepheline Syenite, White Foyaite, Syenite, Flourite, Red Foyaite, Red Syenite, Uranium-mineralised tuff and Dykes in Red Foyaite.

Where to eat

The Pilanesberg Centre is located near the Mankwe dam. The centre consists of a restaurant, a curio shop offering basic supplies, drinks and snacks as well as a large viewing deck. This building where the centre is situated in used to be a magistrate’s court which was built in 1936.


Guest accommodation is available at the Pilanesberg National Park. These range from camping and caravan facilities to upmarket lodges. The different accommodation options available include safari tents, self-catering chalets, resorts and luxurious bush lodges. As there is such a wide variety of options, there will be something to suit budget travellers as well as those seeking a luxury experience.

Gate Opening Times:

Entrance Gates Open Daily at these times

  • November – February 05:30 am – 19:00 pm
  • March – April 06:00 am – 18:30 pm
  • May – August 06:30 am – 18:00 pm
  • September – October 06:00 am – 18:30 pm

Please note that you will not be allowed into the park one hour before the gate closing time.

Tip: Don’t plan on covering more than 20km per hour. It takes longer to cover ground at the park. So take your time and stop, to look and listen out for animals.


There is lots of things to do and various species of animals to see at the Pilanesberg National Park. Pack a picnic and take the entire family for a lovely day out. It’s a fun-filled activity for everyone to enjoy.

Pilanesberg National Park Contact Details**:**

What did you think of the guide to Pilanesberg National Park? So do you have more to add on? Let me know in the comments below.

So if you enjoyed this post, check out my previous post on the Six Things to do in Hartbeespoort which gives you a great illustrative itinerary for six things to do in this quaint town in the North West, South Africa.

Looking for more inspiration, check out the South Africa page which has other posts on things you can do in this beautiful country.

* Please note that all prices and contact information are correct at time of publication. Please check the venues websites as prices may change without notice. *

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