Pilanesberg National Park, North West, South Africa

Malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park, adjacent to Sun City Resort, is situated in a long extinct volcano. Spot Big Five in one of the largest national parks in South Africa.

Accommodation: Private resort and luxury lodges

Activities: Bush walks, game drives, birding, cultural dinner

Highlights: See the Big Five and interesting geological formations

This National Park in the North West Province, South Africa, offers spectacular landscapes ranging around a central lake. Pilanesberg National Park, adjacent to Sun City, hosts just about every mammal of southern Africa, including the Big Five on 55 000 hectares of pristine unspoiled natural beauty.

Pilanesberg National Park is world famous geologically with a structure formed by volcanic eruptions 1 300 million years ago. Surrounding Mankwe Dam are rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickets providing a unique overlap of animal and bird habitats. This only occurs because the park is in a transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as 'Bushveld'.

Thanks to an ambitious game translocation programme called Operation Genesis in 1979, involving reserve game-fencing and the re-introduction of many long-vanished species, Pilanesberg National Park, adjacent to Sun City, now has in excess of 7 000 animals including 24 of the larger species.

Pilanesberg National Park in the North West Province, South Africa, supports healthy populations of Lion, Leopard, Black and White Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo and a wide variety of rare and common species like the nocturnal Brown Hyena, the fleet-footed Cheetah, the majestic Sable, Giraffe, Zebra, Hippo and Crocodile and other animals. Over 300 bird species have been recorded.

Standing high above the surrounding bushveld, Pilanesberg National Park unfolds in a series of colourful hues and panoramas which is a delight for photographers and guests. Visitors can explore nearly 200km (124 miles) of excellent quality roads on self-drives or guided game drives. For 'out-of-car' experiences, there are a number of hides and scenic picnic sites available.

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