Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure when visiting South Africa’s infamous hotspot, ‘mother city’, Johannesburg. Turn your business trip layover into a mini-vacation in the ‘City of Gold’, with a multitude of tourist attractions for those looking to take a break from the boardroom.
Visitors are spoilt for choice with a variety of things to see and do that suite every preference and pocket. If it’s an artistic or cultural experience that you are after, Johannesburg’s foray of art galleries and top class theatres are sure to excite you. But if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, a dining experience in one of the many authentic ‘Proudly South African’ eatery’s or a trip to a tranquil day spa might be a better choice. There is also the option of visiting the scenic Pilanesberg National Park; a historical game reserve located a mere 2.5 hours out of the city’s CBD.
Sprawling lands, blue skies and fresh air are synonymous with Pilanesberg – an estate better known for its indigenous wild life and colorful vegetation.
The structure, located on the Bojanala Region of the North West Province, was formed when an active volcano buckled in on itself almost 1300 million years ago, causing a notable alkaline compound. Due to its location, on this long defunct volcano, the land has been dubbed the “Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex” and has a unique area perimeter consisting of three rings of hills. This formidable structure is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type in the world.
The Pilanesberg National Park, said to be one of the most aspiring and ambitious developments of its kind, was birthed in 1979 by Operation Genesis. The park boasts a surplus of over 7 000 animals including springbok, cheetah and the brown hyena. Some of its popular attractions include Africa’s Big Five – lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo.
The unique dry and wet climate pattern has resulted in various forms of rare foliage indigenous to the region. With majestic hill slopes, rocky outcrops, wooded valleys and extensive grasslands, the spectacular landscape and rare rock formations give the area a distinctive edge. The park boasts over 132 species of trees and more than 68 species of grasses, making this colorful ‘bushveld’ every photographers dream!
Other features include the majestic Thabayadiotso Mountain, also known as “The Proud Mountain”, which is situated on the outskirts of the national park. The park is crowned with a regal central lake, called the Mankwe Dam, which is surrounded with a raised walkway, making it easy for visitors to relish and take in the host of reptiles, birds and mammals that have made its home along the bank of the dam.
Safari Tours Through the Pilanesberg National Park
Popular tour operator, Detour Africa, offers an unforgettable excursion, adventuring into the beauty of the national park. The tour kicks off at dawn with an optional stop at Hartebeespoort Dam well known for its colorful craft market run by friendly locals. The tour itinerary includes 2 guided game drives, spanning 2 to 3 hours each, through the park. The drive is well known for taking visitors straight into the heart of popular Big 5 wildlife hang outs, stopping at waterholes and bird hides along the way. These conducted game drives are available in an open or closed setting. The latter accommodates larger groups and is the more popular choice for those looking to take photos. After a scrumptious lunch at the restaurant on site, visitors enjoy a sunset drive through the park, as they try to spot animals that they may have missed during the early session. Transfers to and from the airport or hotel is included in the fee.
If its wildlife photos that you’re after, Khakiweed Photographic Safaris may tickle your fancy. The private safari tour guide promises excellent photo opportunities by only allowing up to 3 guests in the 7-seater SUV. This guarantees more space for the avid cameraman vying for unique shots. For those who are not particularly fussy about photo quality, game drives can accommodate up to 10 people and cameras and binoculars are provided. The Pilanesberg tour runs for a maximum of 11 hours, with a stop for lunch at either Bakubang Lodge or the Pilanesberg Centre. There is also the option of a 4 hour game drive through the rhino and lion park. All tours are individually tailored to suite your needs and include pick up and drop off for hotels in Johannesburg.
Mmilo Tours offers a luxury package which includes a stay at the 4 star Bakubung Bush Lodge situated on the border of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. The tour operator offers a private 5 hour safari on the day of your arrival. A shared game drive, enjoyed by all guests, is scheduled for the next morning, on an open safari vehicle (OSV). Mmilo also offers a unique extended private tour that has guests exiting the vehicle and walking the distance to 5 safe spots, for a closer, more scenic expedition. The extended tour can run for up to 5 hours, depending on guest preferences. The extended tour is not included in your fee. Your accommodation includes all meals and transfers to and from the airport or hotel in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
If you’re on business in South Africa, Red Africa Safaris promises a relaxing break away to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Day one of your weekend breakaway starts with a stop at the Mankwe dam’s bird hides to spot lions, elephants and crocodiles, followed by a refreshing stop at the Pilanesberg center. Day two starts with an exciting 4-hour Bushwalk, with an armed ranger by your side. Experience an afternoon open vehicle game before returning to a dinner under the African sky prepared by your guide. The final day’s excursion is a slow game drive to spot any animals that you might have missed the previous two days.
Tour operator, Adventure Anywhere, promises an adventure like no other, offering guests exciting game drives and daring guided bush walks with armed rangers. Your stay at the tented Manyane Resort camp inside Pilanesberg’s game reserve will guarantee a unique African bush experience. While hunting for a peek of Africa’s Big 5, guests are encouraged to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of nature. A day trip to the Sun City resort is optional. Your transfer to and from the airport or hotel is included.
Safari with Us offers affordable packages for the astute traveler on a budget. Although cost effective, the tour still includes extensive game drives in a closed vehicle, adventurous wild game viewing, and memorabilia collecting at the Hartebeespoort Dam craft stalls; comfortable accommodation in a chalet at the Manyane Resort and leisure time at the Sun City complex. The meals included in the package are prepared by your guide, which makes for a true African safari experience. Transfers to and from the airport (or hotel) is built-in to the fee.