After our elephant experience we had the whole day ahead of us and were just a 10 minute drive from Pilanesberg National Park. Pilanesberg Park is set in the crater of an extinct volcano and is one of the largest parks in SA. We decided to spend a few hours driving ourselves around to see if we could see any animals. It’s my first game drive and I wasn’t sure whether it would work out
The nearest gate into the park from Sun City is the Kwa Maritane Gate, a mere 5 minutes drive away. Off we went. We arrived at the gate, paid our entrance fee and made sure to get a map
The sun was beating down in a big way and it was only 9am! I was worried about what midday would bring cooped up in a tin can
Almost as soon as we drove in, we came across a few baboons running ahead of the car. Two of the babies were running along and kept fighting with each other – it was so cute to see them rolling around on the floor together and then running to catch up with the adult
We also saw some Blue Wildebeest. Then nothing. For around an hour
We drove and drove and both of us almost thought it was time to give up and drive back to Joburg. Then the good stuff really happened! We were driving along and came across 2 zebra, that looked like a mum and it’s child. They were so cute. We watched them walking for a little while and then continued driving, turned the corner and came across a whole herd of zebra grazing. They were blocking the road and were in no hurry to clear the way for us to drive on. They are so beautiful!
After that, we saw so many animals – giraffe, hippo, baboons, kudu, springbok and impala. We saw a lone bull elephant roaming and he was HUGE. Much bigger than the elephants we had spent time with that morning
Rob was driving and I was the spotter – it was my responsibility to spot the animals and get Rob to stop the car so we could get a good look. We were driving along, and I was in a daze and probably not really looking for animals. All of sudden Rob stops the car “There’s a leopard!”. We reverse back and there is a leopard just chilling under a tree, right next to the road
The leopard is an elusive creature, and it is usually the one animal that people live Africa without having sighted on safari. It is solitary, predominantly nocturnal and very well camouflaged. There are only 30 in the park, compared to 1700 zebra. We were in awe of this huge cat chilling so close to our car, and were aware how rare a sighting this was, so just turned off the engine and sat there
Rob snapped some pics, and then we noticed the leopard was getting restless and he started padding towards our car. He/she walked straight past, and was so close! Then, just like that, the leopard was gone!
We know how lucky we were to see so many animals, as during the hottest time of the day they are usually seeking shade and/or asleep. The best time of day to go on a game drive is the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s cooler
I can’t wait until our next opportunity to go on a game drive – I want to see the Big 5!
Tip: Check your camera the day before you go on a game drive, and again that morning. It will save the angst that you experience when you get to the game drive and realise that your camera isn’t working properly #FAIL