Surrounded by the remains of a volcano crater lies the Pilanesberg National Park, in the North West Province of South Africa. The Pilaansburg, or spelled Pilanesberg, is home to Africa’s famous big five. A mountainous region, it also boasts open veld and dense bushes to support a wide variety of bird and animal life. Situated about an hour north of Johannesburg, the region is extremely popular amongst game reserve campers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Several game lodges provide accommodation as well as camping inside the reserve.
A malaria-free area, the Pilanesberg National Park had been expanded in 2004 in an attempt to form a corridor to the Madikwe Game Reserve on the South African border of Botswana. The expansion has not yet been completed due to high property prices, although many private game farmers and reserves, have dropped the fences to allow free movement of animals. The final connection of the two reserves have not yet been done, but it will benefit the biodiversity and available genetic material of the animals of future generations.
The Pilaansburg offers plenty of other attractions as well, including a casino with all the entertainment your heart can desire, and gambling of course. The casino and resort also boasts two world-class golf courses, one of which hosts the Million Dollar Golf Challenge in early December every year. The region, was formerly part of the old Bophuthatswana, before its incorporation back into South Africa.
The Pilaansburg is an archaeologist, or is it a geologist’s, dream. Evidence of human settlements many thousands of years old have been found, mostly from the Iron and Stone ages. And geologists have discovered that the type of volcano, called an alkaline volcano, is only one of three such volcanoes on the entire planet. Geologically it is called the Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex, with the volcano completely dormant.
In the wider Pilaansburg region platinum was discovered and has been actively mined since the end of 1933. The mines are some of the world’s largest platinum producers and provide employment to thousands of workers, not involved in the tourism industry of the area.
Fast becoming a wildlife area of choice, the Pilanesberg offers many treasures as a South African tourist destination.