Guides View on Pilanesberg Day Tours
Pilanesberg day tours from our guides point of view. Hi, my name is Jade and I have been working with South Africa Adventures for about 6 months now. Part of what I do is the Pilanesberg Day tours. I absolutely love what I do and its gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to showcase our beautiful wildlife to our guests. This is my account from a ranger’s perspective on the safari tours we offer.
We are dedicated to making the tours as unique and interactive as possible. Keeping a bull elephant calm is one thing, trying to adjust to the vast differences in our client’s expectations, mannerism’s, cultures and perspectives is another. They should teach us human phycology on our game ranging courses as well, but we still love our clients!!!! Last week I had a group of four Americans for example. It was not only their first time in South Africa, but was going to be their first real safari. No pressure at all!! Their excitement on the 2 hour drive from Johannesburg was contagious to say the least. I was so looking forward to sharing in the day tour to the Pilanesberg.
The tours start pretty early in the morning for me. I was up at 04H00 to be ready and waiting at the client’s hotel by 06H00. And yes coffee is the most important meal of the day so there is a ‘compulsory’ coffee break on route. We arrive at the park by about 08H00, stretch the legs and introduce the clients to Solomzi who would be leading the safari in the Pilanebserg. We then climb into the game viewing vehicle and head off into the park.
And as usual the Pilanesberg rose to the occasion. The group had its first sighting just moments after entering the Manyane park gate. A small herd of female impala (the ones without horns) were grazing in an open grassland area at the entrance of the park. The grass had been recently burnt. A common occurrence in the winter months to promote the growth of new grass shoots. These lucky impala were feeding on the new succulent shoots. And then we were off again… we had 55 000 hectares of African bush to explore and with the goal to see some of the Pilanesberg’s most favored animals from giraffe, zebra, lion and of course the humongous African elephants that are abundant in the reserve.
After a few minutes of driving along some of the back roads of the Pilanesberg in our 1991 land rover defender we came across a large herd of Burchell’s Zebra. There are three species of zebra in South Africa, but only this one species occurs in the Pilanesberg National Park. How can we tell the difference? They have faint shadow stoures between their solid black stoures. You would have to join us on one of the Pilanesberg day tours to see what I mean. It was quite a large herd consisting of roughly 40 animals, including very young babies and also some very heavily pregnant females. Some of the clients wanted to hang around and see if they gave birth, but alas we had greener pastures to mow.
We decided to fire up the trusty Landrover stead and head on through to the eastern side of the park where we were rewarded with an excellent elephant sighting. The matriarch was spotted first in a dried up river bed about 30m off the roadside. And then as if my magic, the rest of the breeding herd revealed itself. There were 15 elephants in total. The group took plenty of photos and was thrilled with their first big 5 sighting of the day!
At the same time a herd of 6 Kudu made up of 1 male and 5 females came strolling by. This sighting was particularly species for me as a guide because it was the first time that I had seen such a young kudu. Who says our Pilanesberg day tours are boring?
The next 20 minutes or so was pretty quiet in terms of sightings. This was cool. It allowed us to focus on a few interesting tree species as well as discussing the history of the Pilanesberg. The next sighting was a few hippos sunning themselves on the bank of the Mankwe dam. They are usually found in the water in the day but it was a chilly day so they obviously decided a suntan was in order.
From all then excitement and sightings, we had forgotten that our basic human needs still needed to be met. So we stopped for a short bathroom break and to stretch our legs at the Pilanesberg center. We were eager to see animals so after 15 minutes were back on the road again.
A traffic jam is the Pilanesberg? No ways!!! We were confused about all the fuss at first because we couldn’t see any animals around that people may be stopping to look at. Solomzi decided to drive to the front of the traffic along the side of the road and only then did we discover what everyone was waiting around for. A herd of 10+ elephants ran across the road at quite a speed! What an incredible sighting that was! All of the guests were left in awe and maybe even a bit frightened by the incredible display of these magnificent animals.
Other animals to found on the Pilanesberg Day tours include:
Other animals that were observed on the game drive included waterbuck, blue wildebeest, springbok as well as the Lilac Breasted Roller, African-Grey Hornbill, Yellow-Billed Hornbill, Fork-Tailed Drongo, Crimson Breasted Shrike and many more!
The game drive lasted 4 hours before we decided that lunch and a cold beer was in order. I had made a scrumptious homemade meal which we enjoyed in one of the hides close to a watering hole favored by the animals. There is a saying in Afrikaans that goes ‘maagies vol, oogies toe’. Directly translated it means ‘tummy full, eyes closed’. So we decided to just take in the peace of the hide and chill for the next hour or so. At 15H00 we jumped in the ‘Landy’ and went on another 3 hour game drive. This drive turned out to be well worth it as we got to see another one of the big 5. A single White Rhino was grazing on the left hand side of the road and even though it was quite far off, we all still appreciated seeing the illusive animal!
At 18:30pm we departed from the Pilanesberg National Park and went back home to JHB happy and satisfied with our game viewing experience. The clients reported that they had got even more that they had expected from their first safari experience! Hope our Pilanesberg day tours are this exiting in the future!
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