"Pilansberg National Park." Top 5 Page for this destination Pilanesberg Travelogue by Openseas
Pilanesberg Travel Guide: 62 reviews and 198 photos
Thursday 6th July.
After 13hours flying we arrived in Johannesburg at 7.00am and collected our luggage and headed to the Avis centre to collect our Polo VW car. Again we had a hassle with our booking as they charged a different rate than what was quoted on the internet. Every one was feeling a little apprehensive about driving to Sun City, as we had heard that it was incredibly dangerous due to many car high jacking.
The road out of the airport to the freeway was very easy and we managed to have a great run without any problems to Sun City. The whole trip took about two hours and the freeways were extremely good and well sign posted. We arrived at 10.00am and found that we had been upgraded to the Palace Hotel and our rooms were ready and waiting for us. The kid’s room 475 was a lovely twin spacious room with all the modern facilities one would expect from a five star hotel. Our room 454 was absolutely gorgeous with a king size bed, large sofa, coffee table and French doors opening onto a small balcony.
After unpacking we all headed down to the restaurant to have breakfast, as the kids were starving (food seems to be the major topic). We had a fabulous buffet breakfast, the selection was awesome and we decided it was similar to our favorite hotel The Excelsior in Hong Kong. The only thing that split the difference was that they had no juice bar.
Now that everyone was contented with their stomachs, we decided it was best to stay in the time zone and explore the resort before having a siesta. We strolled around the grounds showing the kids the Roman Baths, Cascade Hotel, The entertainment Centre, Casino, Sun City Hotel, and the valley of the waves (a man made beach), and the many other pools and activities. Josie and Jacko really were totally amazed at the sheer size and awesome hotels which were on offer, and couldn’t wait to explore the resort. The first thing which was on the agenda was surfing the man made waves and riding the huge slides. I decided to have my afternoon siesta whilst Peter and the kids played.
In the evening, we met at the cocktail bar and had a few margaritas before heading to the Squire Restaurant and had steaks which were enormous, which the kids shouted. After dinner we walked around the hotel before hitting the sack around midnight
Friday 7th July.
Sounds of chirping birds outside our balcony woke us early around 7.00am. We decided to head for breakfast in the hotel restaurant as we were dying for a fresh cup of coffee. The food selection was terrific with plenty of variety. I opted for an omelet and Peter had some fresh fruit and coffee. On our way back to the room we encountered a Baboon climbing on the balcony, we took a few photos before he started walking towards us, his massive head was literally only a few feet from us, naturally we took off and so did the local hotel cleaner. (We decided then our decision to run was appropriate).
The kids had their breakfast and we all met at the lobby to check out of our luxious overnight stay at The Palace to move onwards to The Vacation Club just positioned next door. We were hoping our two bedroom apartment would be ready but to our disappointment we found we couldn’t book into 4.00pm. So a safari was next on the agenda, so we drove off looking for the information center to obtain a map off the Pilansberg National Park. The drive to the park only took approx 5 minutes, from entering the park we chose a route, which went to a waterhole, along the dusty road to – we saw a herd of Elephants departing and marching from their the local waterhole. In another few minutes we spotted a wildebeest lazing in the African sunset. This experience had now become a wow factor!!! A travelers dream, soaked and saturated in beauty.
The landscape in the park is awesome, made up over 55,000 hectares of rolling plains and situated within an extinct volcanic cater and surrounded by hills creating a natural boundary. The long wheat grasses edge themselves beside the dirt road, low wooded trees scattered amongst the hazy heated terrain melt into the hill ,which surround the grassy level plains. The sunshine filters light on the mellow yellow grasses and camouflages the animals in the heat of the African sunshine. We followed the dirt road, eyes focused to hopefully catch a glimpse of any animal, which might be on display, in a few moments; we spotted some Springboks, and a dozen deer roaming carelessly and freely, just a few feet from us. After taking a few photos we turned our heads and to our bewilderment and humour, a beautiful elegant giraffe was quietly feeding on a tree beside us, a truly awesome sight. We continued on our little dirt road to see three Hippo’s silently sleeping on the edge of the hill, you could almost miss them, as they look so similar to large rocks, We drove along for another hour ending up at another waterhole, only to find nothing but a few birds busy strolling along the muddy water banks looking for food. Along the banks were huge turtles sun baking undisturbed by the noisy pecking adjacent to them.
Trying to find animals is extremely difficult, as they are so well camouflaged into the terrain, a truly amazing feat of Mother Nature. We eventually saw a herd of Zebras, to our delight crossing the road on our way back home. Tomorrow we have all agreed to start early and get the most out of our little safari adventure, but for now we are looking forward to resting in our apartment.
Returning at 3.30pm we found our apartment was still not ready ,(always a *** close at hand) so we had some lunch at the café overlooking the pool until 4pm. Hooray, the apartment is ready and to our pleasure it was a lovely spacious, modern apartment with two bedrooms, two large bathrooms, lounge, dining room with sliding doors opening up to a large undercover patio with a large dining table and BBQ overlooking the Pilansberg Park, Take-away was decided for dinner, obtained from the Sun City complex, and a early night for a fresh 5.30am start tomorrow, not a soul questioned the decision, amazing stuff, nightclubs silently went out the door !!. Different types of animals, are definitely now more interesting.
Saturday 8th July.
The alarm buzzed around 5.30am, so we hurried to get dressed for our little safari. We managed to get to the Bakubung gates at Pilanesburg Park at 6.ooam. Unfortunately, they didn’t open until 6.30 so we parked the car and just waited in the freezing cold. Our first port of call was at Lengau Dam were we waited patiently at the waterhole for an hour. We saw hundreds of baboons sitting on the dam wall and that was about all. We decided to head up to Mankew Dam to see if we could spot some elephants. Along the way we spotted some Springbok, wildebeest, Buffalo and a Warthog digging happily along the dirt road. When we reached the dam there were a group of hippopotamus’s swimming and sun banking on the river bank. It truly was an awesome sight watching these majestic animals, they are enormous creatures, The Hippopotamus, whose name means "river horse", is a plant-eating water-loving giant. A relative of camels, pigs, and deer, the hippo has two lives in one! The center of a hippo's day life is water.
We drove for another hour and saw some more deer’s, Zebras, and the same Giraffe we saw yesterday. We were all getting hungry so we ventured back home for some brunch at the vacation club and do some shopping for our apartment. In the afternoon we drove back to the waterhole to see if we could hopefully spot some elephants but still no elephants however we did see some Elks, more Springboks, and two Rhinos asleep on the hill, they were very well camouflaged by the long grasses and from a distance looked like boulders or rocks. The Rhino is another amazing animal, the word rhinoceros means "horn-nosed," and rhinos use their horns for several purposes. They use them to shovel the ground for mineral salt; to fight over territory or a female, or during courtship; and to defend themselves and their young against lions, tigers and hyenas.
In the evening we had dinner at Sun City Hotel and later went to the casino. Alive with activity, the Sun City Hotel in South Africa buzzes around the clock with the excitement of its world-class restaurants, casinos and stage revues. The Sun City Hotel was the first hotel to open its doors at Sun City in South Africa on December 7th 1979.
Peter played blackjack whilst we sat at the bar and listened to some live entertainment. Josie and Jacko ended up staying later whilst we preferred to have an early night for a change.
Sunday 9th July.
We all woke late and had a lazy morning just hanging around the apartment. The morning was beautiful, sunny clear skies with a little spring breeze. Peter and I decided to have lunch at the Cascades Hotel in their restaurant called Santorini. All the rooms at The Cascades face the tropical splendor of the Cascades Hotel’s gardens and pools. There are 7740 square meters of water features, including 12 man made waterfalls and cataracts. These beautiful gardens at The Cascades Hotel offer unparalleled seclusion and escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Sun City. Peter was dying to try his favourite meal he had here last time fried calamari with rice. We had a lovely meal and just enjoyed relaxing by the pool in the sunshine. Josie and Jacko did their own thing; Josie is trying to chat up the black life-guards so she can get a photo of them.
In the afternoon, we decided to head back to the park for another search for the elephants; I am becoming obsessed about seeing elephants, I really want to see some close or even at the waterhole. We took another route around the park and saw some monkeys, deer, springboks, wildebeest, and a herd of elephants in the distance. We continued along driving on a small dirt track, eventually we came upon two Rhino’s a mother and baby who were meters away from us feeding on the grass. We took heaps of photos and then decided to make a dash for it, as they were moving towards our car, and I had just read that morning in the local paper how a Rhino had charged a car putting two huge holes through the it. Just up the road other tourists had spotted a lion, but without binoculars it was impossible to see, which was disappointing... Peter was getting tired from driving so we headed back to the Vacation Club around 6.30pm and dined at the local restaurant. We all want to watch the World Cup which starts at 7.30pm between Italy and France.
The evening was fun cheering Italy and watching the game, we eventually all went to bed around midnight except Josie who was going out with some guys she had met through the day.
Monday 10th July.
We woke to a beautiful glorious sunny day, the kids took off to have breakfast whilst Peter and I went for a long walk around the 18 hole golf course, The Lost City Golf Course is an 18-hole desert-style golf course with spectacular views across the bush. Unique to this 72 par course are the 38 real crocodiles at the 13th hole making this one of the most unusual golf resorts in the world, let alone in Africa! The golf course covers more than 100 hectares and incorporates 28 000 square meters of water features... Not surprisingly golf carts are compulsory the two golf courses were designed by South Africa’s golf guru Gary Player, and top golf tournaments, such as the Nedbank Golf Challenge, are regularly played here.
The view of the Palace Hotel is amazing from different locations; it really is an incredible resort The Palace of the Lost City in South Africa ranks as one of the world's most extraordinary hotels. The centerpiece of the extraordinary Palace of the Lost City complex is a fairytale palace residence, built with unbelievable attention to detail. The interior features exquisite mosaics, frescoes and hand-painted ceilings depicting South Africa’s wildlife and culture. Hard to believe that this is all located in a remote part of South Africa! The Palace of the Lost City is a fantasy world of Africa’s jungles, cliff-tumbling gardens, streams, waterfalls, swimming pools, and al fresco entertainment areas. Legend tells us that the Palace of the Lost City was built as the royal residence of an ancient civilization of South Africa, but was destroyed by an earthquake.
One of the most fascinating facts about The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City is the size and enormity of the building project. A few of these statistics include: 600,000 truck loads of earth were moved on site, sufficient carpeting within The Palace to cover 125 tennis courts, surface area of artificial lakes and pools equal to 40 soccer pitches. During the peak of construction at The Palace of the Lost City, Sun City almost 5,000 people worked on the project. The Palace of the Lost City, Sun City was completed in only 28 months.
The other amazing feature surrounding the Palace of the Lost City is a 'manmade' 25 hectare botanical jungle with over 1 600 000 plants, trees and scrubs. Various different types of habitats have been created using over 3,200 different species of plants. This Sun City rain forest actually emulates nature with its three layers: a 40 meter high canopy, secondary trees half that height and plants at ground level. The Jungle at the Palace of the Lost City is threaded with paths meandering past cascades and waterfalls, lakes and pools and a variety of water - borne adventure rides. Thus providing a perfect opportunity for guests of The Palace of the Lost City to relax and walk around.
After our long stroll Peter slept for a few hours whilst I packed the bags for our departure this afternoon. The kids took of to make the most of the last few hours at the waterslides and get some serious sun baking in. We said our good-byes to Sun City around 3.30pm and drove to Johannesburg Airport arriving around 5.00pm. Once in the airport we had no luck getting into the lounges, so we settled for a tavern which served drinks and allowed smoking. We left at 8pm for Madrid a ten hour long haul flight.
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Written Oct 2, 2007
Pictures of the animals in Pilanesberg Park.
Written Dec 30, 2007
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