Prowling the Pilansberg

The Pilanesberg lies within a mountain in the North West Province of South Africa and is an ancient volcanic structure, circular in shape, that rises from flat surrounding plains located a mere 100 km to the northwest of Pretoria and is for the greater part enclosed in a protected area known as Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
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If you look around you will never know that is a vast ring dike of a very ancient extinct volcano that last erupted some 1,200 million years ago and is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type.
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This formation occurred 2,000 million years ago as its zenith, the volcano towered to 7,000 metres in height, hard to imagine, isn’t.
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Over the time, with volcanic eruptions, lava outpours, crater collapses and ring fracturing took place around the volcano and magma was squeezed into these fractures with Erosion over many millions of years it has stripped away the mountain and what we see today is not so much a volcanic crater, but a cross section through the magma pipes that were located at great depth below the mountain’s summit, with added flowing grass plains, natural vegetation , bird and wildlife it has left us with a small piece of African paradise.
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Ok now that we have all the interesting facts out of the way let’s talk about the experience. One of my loves of South Africa is the bush; nowhere in the world can you experience bush life as in Africa. The smell of rain falling on the red dust, the burnt orange sunsets, the call of the wild and the unpredictable nights of hunting and surviving in the bush.
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My senses truly come alive when I am there, this is when I know I am truly African, and nothing leaves a greater sense of satisfaction in me.
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With Camera in hand and a bunch of bush lovers, we entered the game reserve for our visual hunt of wildlife, birdlife and other little interesting things.
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We screened the bush, explored the bird hides and ventured to viewpoints high above the plains.
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The wildlife is rife and the abundance of birds tells me it is a healthy ecological system.
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The Mankwa dam swarmed with zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest, impala, elephant and even white rhino.
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Closer inspection of the water, we discovered crocodiles, terpenes and many waders which included African Snipes, Squacco Heron, very eager Pied Kingfishers hunting in the shallows for tilapia fish, breakfast for “kings” I presume.
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The skies filled with, Eagles, Buzzards, Fish Eagles, Falcons, Kites and the cheeky call of white-fronted bee-eaters sweeping the mid-air for a meal.
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A few of our special moments included coming across a lioness while walking to the bird hide, a visit by an Elephant bull while at picnic spot and my favourite, a pack of wild dogs that stayed, hunted and lazed around at the Manyane gate for the 3 days while we were there and entertained us every time we entered or exited the park.
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The Pilanesberg has absolutely flourished in the last 10 years with the intake of predators and other animals it has become a true gem of the North West Province, the potential of a Game Reserve so close to Johannesburg and Pretoria has been recognized by many and the community has truly gained from the success of it.
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Another entity that sincerely impress me was “The Friends of the Pilanesberg” which is a voluntary society that supports the North West Parks & Tourism Board with conservation of the few natural areas of the province, the aim of the Society is the conservation of the habitat and the fauna and flora of the Pilanesberg National Park and in any other area that the committee deems fit for any particular or exceptional reasons. They are doing an amazing work within the park and it shows!
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A highly recommended day outing for visitors, but an even better stay over to enjoy the natural bush life that we in South Africa are so famous for. Well done

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www.pilanesberg-game-reserve.co.za

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