Pilansberg is situated about 150Km northwest of Johannesburg and is about 50,000ht in extent – similar in size to iMfolozi in KZN. Up until its proclamation in 1979 as a game reserve, it had been farmed with cattle and a few crops. I first visited the Park in the mid-90’s when evidence of farming activity was still apparent, but that has all now disappeared.
It is now a very attractive, mountainous landscape with grasslands, bushveld and woodland. Pilansberg is run by the North-West Province and is not a National Park – similar to how iMfolozi-Hluhluwe is administered by KZN Wildlife.
However, Pilansberg is best known as an ancient volcano which is appreciated more from aerial photos. The accompanying satellite image shows very graphically the circular shape of the volcano which was formed some 1,300m years ago. Suffice to say that only three remnants of these type of volcanoes exist in the world – one in Russia and the other in Greenland but Pilansberg is the best preserved.
Throughout the Park there are many sites where the unusual volcanic rocks are well exhibited in situ.
Contained within its ring of mountains, Pilansberg is most attractive with little evidence of outside human activity. Of course this hardly applies to the Sun City complex which is situated at the bottom edge (6 o’clock) of the ring and where the golf tournament takes place in a couple of weeks time.
Following its proclamation in 1979, Pilansberg was stocked with a full range of animals (Operation Genesis) including the Big 5 and, with a good network of roads, it is a most desirable and picturesque destination for nature lovers.