PilanesbergTravel Guide

The Pilanesberg in South Africa’s North West Province, is a game reserve area spanning 550km² (212 square miles), making it the fourth biggest park in the country. Situated in the crater of an extinct volcano that erupted 1,300 million years ago, the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park is teeming with the Big 5, as well as 7,000 species of animals and 360 bird species.

This reserve has the glitzy resort casino complex of Sun City on its border, under an hour’s drive away, so you’re guaranteed a vacation to remember, whether you want to find one of the Big 5, the best sun lounger next to the pool or the most profitable slot machine on the casino floor.

Keep reading for all the reasons the Pilanesberg should be your next travel destination!

Explore Pilanesberg

Where to stay in Pilanesberg?

Luxurious lodges, no-frills self-catering chalets, five-star hotels, budget B&Bs – there’s no shortage of accommodation options in the Pilanesberg. Whether you’re hoping to save or looking to splurge, these are our top picks when it comes to deciding where to stay in Pilanesberg.

Set in the heart of the wilderness is the family-friendly Black Rhino Game Lodge, a four-star safari lodge found in the private, fence-free Black Rhino Game Reserve. Sticking to Pilanesberg Game Reserve? Then you can’t go wrong with a stay at Bakubung Bush Lodge, with its kiddies’ playground, its own wildlife centre and a mixed bag of hotel rooms, villas and chalets. Ivory Tree Game Lodge is another guaranteed win, offering five-star facilities, game-viewing activities and accommodation options suitable for solo travellers, couples, families and business travellers alike.

Unsurprisingly, one of the fanciest accommodation options in the Pilanesberg can be found in Sun City, and it doesn’t get swankier than Cascades Hotel, a five-star retreat with a variety of rooms to choose from, including luxurious family rooms and stylish suites. Then there’s the slightly more affordable, three-star, Sun City Cabanas Hotel, located at the Waterworld Lake with many rooms overlooking the water and others with views of the tropical gardens. The Cascades are a five-minute walk from the casino.

Bush break on a budget? The Pilanesberg Guest House will help you save a few bucks without sacrificing the experience. There’s a swimming pool to enjoy in the summer heat (and it gets HOT in these parts), a shared lounge and the option to feast on a buffet breakfast each morning. Alternatively, consider a saving-savvy stay at Valley View Guest House. Facilities include a pool, a gym and a private dining room.

Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Mountain Ridge in far distance and grass in foreground in National Park
    • Lion sitting and leaning against a tree
    • A car driving on dirt road in between bush land with sunset and mountains in background
  • Mountain Ridge in far distance and grass in foreground in National Park
    Mountain Ridge in far distance and grass in foreground in National Park
    Mountain Ridge in far distance and grass in foreground in National Park
  • Lion sitting and leaning against a tree
    Lion sitting and leaning against a tree
    Lion sitting and leaning against a tree
  • A car driving on dirt road in between bush land with sunset and mountains in background
    A car driving on dirt road in between bush land with sunset and mountains in background
    A car driving on dirt road in between bush land with sunset and mountains in background

Things to do in Pilanesberg

The Pilanesberg in Southern Africa has something to offer all sorts of travellers, and it’s possible to tweak your itinerary to ensure that every member of your travel party has the time of their lives. Here are just a few ideas for things to do in Pilanesberg.

The African bush in the Pilanesberg National Park is blissfully tranquil, interrupted periodically by enthusiastic hippo grunts in the day or by the distant roar of lions in the evenings. When booking your safari lodge with your travel guide, be sure to choose one offering game drives and bush walks. The Pilanesberg is one of the best places for spotting wildlife as the size of the park is smaller than other game reserves, meaning your chances of spotting are higher! Some lodges also offer other enthralling ways to experience wildlife, such as river safaris or animal tracking.

Less than an hour’s drive from the Pilanesberg National Park, Sun City is considered one of the best entertainment meccas in South Africa, packed to the brim with exciting activities and opportunities to unwind. The Valley of Waves, part of the Water Park, is a tropical paradise complete with palm trees where you can enjoy the beach vibe on a sun lounger or catch a wave and body-surf to shore, then hit the beach bar for a cocktail. At night, indulge in fine cuisine, explore the casino or dance the night away at one of the clubs.

Even if you don’t spot a single animal (which is highly unlikely!), there’s still something truly special about the Pilanesberg’s natural beauty and there are two ways to appreciate it in all its glory: if you’re the active kind, go on a scenic hike or take in the landscape from a different perspective on a hot-air balloon ride. The latter is the ultimate, romantic bush experience and a memory that you and your partner will treasure for a long time to come.

Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Pilanesberg

Pilanesberg food and drink

Tuck into traditional African food in the heart of the bush or treat yourself to some international flavour at any one of the amazing restaurants in the area.

Staying in a safari lodge? Lucky for you, you’ll likely have a great restaurant right on your doorstep. While many eateries in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve are world-class, the one at Bakubung Bush Lodge, called Marula Grill, definitely stands out from the crowd. In the centre of the resort with views of the waterhole, it offers an à la carte menu loaded with meaty meals and barbeque options off the grill. For something light and casual, there’s the restaurant at the Pilanesberg Centre next to Mankwe Dam, where you can grab a crisp toasted sandwich and a cold drink to sit back and enjoy the animals out front while you eat.

With well over 20 restaurants serving up a broad array of cuisines, Sun City draws in flocks of foodies from far and wide. If you need a pick-me-up after an intense night of partying, you’ll find a perfectly brewed cuppa at Stir Coffee Shop. If it’s something spicy you’re after, you’ll enjoy the classic Portuguese menu at Calisto’s, while the upmarket Crystal Court promises delicious international fare with a view.

Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Pilanesberg through your eyes

Where to shop in Pilanesberg?

Souvenirs? A stylish new handbag? It’s easy to get swipe-happy between safari drives when shopping in Pilanesberg. Here are the types of shopping experiences to look forward to.

You can’t visit the bush without bringing back a little keepsake for your loved ones (and yourself!). Luckily, you won’t need to search for long to find a quaint little curio shop crammed with locally made treasures, like woven jewellery and wood-carved animal ornaments. Sun City has one, as do many of the lodges in the area.

Yes, there are more opportunities to spend some money in Sun City in addition to the casino and the food court. There are loads of shops spread out across the resort, including several with a strong African focus. Keep your eyes peeled for Out of Africa Kids, African Origins, Maphuki Leather and J&M Biltong (local beef jerky).

Just a stone’s throw away from the Pilanesberg National Park is Moruleng Mall. The mall is located in a rural area bursting with culture and is where you’ll find a collection of local and international retailers for every need, whether you’re looking to splurge on new clothes or grab some groceries.

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Pilanesberg?

The best time to visit the Pilanesberg region will depend on the top activity in your itinerary. If game viewing is your priority, then a winter or early spring visit, between June and October, is ideal. During this time, the bush is less dense, making it easier to spot wildlife. The weather is also a lot more tolerable – keep in mind that Pilanesberg summers can be pretty scorching!

Alternatively, if you’ve got your heart set on soaking up as much sunshine as possible in Sun City, then a spring or summertime visit, between September and March, should be on the cards (but the sun shines brightly all year round anyway!).

Don't miss out. Book your flight today!

How to get around Pilanesberg

There are some shuttle services offered in the park and between the airport and the lodges, as well as for sightseeing tours. However, there’s no public transport in the area, so it’s definitely recommended to take your own vehicle or hire one for the duration of your getaway. Your own ride will come in handy if you want to enjoy game viewing on your own schedule. Plus, it will be an easy drive between the Pilanesberg National Park and Sun City if you intend to visit both.

Let us help you organize your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.


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