Pilanesberg National Park is one of those places which is easily accessible from Pretoria. It relatively close and it doesn't take 100 left and tight turns to get there. One thing I love doing on my Birthday is to set off to a place where there is very little cell phone coverage and the middle of Pilanesberg is one of those. Of course, I could just switch off the phone but that pretty much negates my argument for why I must go somewhere on my birthday. This year was a little different. With my wife being on call I had no choice but to stay home. Fortunately everyone thought I didn't have any cell coverage and I got very little phone calls. Either that or they finally got it. We postponed our Pilanesberg trip to early January.
The plan was to leave by 5:30am so as to get there nice and early unfortunately events of the previous evening forced us to sleep a little later than planned and we left the house at 7am. On arrival we paid our dues. We took a moment to stretch our legs and at that time a group of tourists arrived and after some gentle pushing and shoving I made it back to the window where we were finally let through the gate. We slowly crawled along the road since we look at everything that might be interesting from grasses to insects to game. I found it quite disturbing that we couldn't drive for 10 minutes without some car trying to pass either from the back or front.
Anyhow, we made our way to one of the hides. It is unfortunate that we picked the most popular hide of them all. Screaming kids and noisy visitors pretty much dampened my spirit. Fortunately the animals seemed use to this type of behavior and we even has a pair of birds flying around in and out of the hide quite unperturbed by the racket. In fact, at one point I could have sworn the bird enjoyed all the attention.
Needless to say we decided to have lunch elsewhere and we found a relatively quite lookout point and spent about half an hour having lunch and looking out over a dam. There were no picnic sites close enough and by this time we were very hungry.
We continued on our journey and later came to a nice picnic spot with an apparent lookout point. We didn't really see much at the lookout point as you had to try and peer over the trees and bushes to see anything. We stayed at the picnic spot and had some snacks. It's quite amazing what my wife manages to pack into a small picnic basket.
On our way out we drove up to another lookout point and at this point I realized that I had miscalculated the petrol usage in a park of the size. From their it was a rush to the exit, not only because of the petrol situation but also because of the time. The biggest problem with the trip to the gate is all the fauna and flora that needs our attention such as a flock of birds that needed to be identified. We made it out just in time. A quick stop at the petrol station near Sun City and we were on our way home.
I came to the conclusion that Pilanesberg National Park is not really worthwhile on weekends It's just too busy for my liking and the next trip will take place during the week. In general I was disappointed in the low number of animal we saw in the reserve but I attribute this to the large number of tourists in the reserve.