Rest of South Africa, South Africa, Travel

Pilansberg: Searching for the Big 5

25th June 2015

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have grown up in the North West province of South Africa.
As a kid, we spent our weekends visiting friends on farms, ran around bare feet in the mud and explored the bushveld. On a recent trip home, I was reminded of the beauty that this province has to offer. My dad took us to the Pilansberg Game Reserve where we went searching for the big 5.

South Africa is known for the BIG 5. These animals are namely the lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino. On a good day, you might be able to spot all five these animals in the game reserve! People often think, as we live in South Africa, that we live among lions and ride our elephants to school. Although this might happen in other parts of the world, in South Africa, we need to visit game reserves to view these majestic animals up close.

Giraffe at Pilansberg

Giraffes at Pilansberg Game Reserve

In the North West province, the rainy seasons are during the summer months. During these months, the reserve is covered in green lushes of dense bushveld. This can make it quite hard to spot animals.

After driving around for about half an hour, my dad spotted a big herd of elephants. African elephants are huge and can grow up to four meters in height! We had to take caution as it was a big herd. Whenever you spot elephants in a game reserve, make sure that you are not too close, especially if you spot baby elephants. Mothers are very protective. They will start flapping their ears to warn you to back away, and if you don’t, they will get upset and might push over your car! (Trust me, its happened to people before!)Remember, you are in their territory, so the animals need to be respected.

Elephants spotted in the reserve

Elephants spotted in the reserve

Apart from driving around, the reserve also offers a few lookout points and picnic areas. These are perfect to stop and have a break. Lookout points are usually around waterholes where you can sit and view animals. We stopped at one lookout point for a while. Although we did not see any of the Big 5 animals, we did see some beautiful birds. If you can, take a pair of binoculars with you. This way you will be able to spot a Kingfisher sitting in a far away tree.

Relaxing at the lookout point

Relaxing at the lookout point

In the afternoon, we spotted some lions in the valley below. Unfortunately we were too far away to really see them up close. We saw lots of different antelopes, buffalo, birds and rhinos. We also spotted more herds of elephants. Three ticks for the BIG 5 search!

The Pilansberg Game reserve is about 3 hours away from Johannesburg. This makes it the perfect weekend getaway! The reserve also offer fun activities such as guided walks, safaris and hot air balloon rides!
Have you seen any of the BIG 5 animals or planning a safari? Share your story in the comments below or pop us an email.

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