We enter the Park at 15.30pm and book into our Manyane timeshare where we will be spending four nights. Because we are here for such a short period, we have travelled up in the BMW which, with its low clearance and cramped interior, is not well suited to game reserves.
Quickly unpacking we enter the Park at the main gate and creep along a suitable loop-road close by. We come across some ellies and then a little group of eland.
Tuesday morning sees us entering the main gate as it opens at 6am. October, as at Kruger, is a bad month for gate times with the sun already well up by 6am. I, rather frustratingly, miss out on those magical sunrise moments.
Another peril of October month quickly becomes apparent as we realise that most of the Park has recently been burnt and it is devoid of both animal and birdlife. I do hope that this burning policy is beneficial but it is certainly not very pleasant for tourists who time it wrong – like us.
Unfortunately, as at Hwange in Zims a month ago, evidence of decay is everywhere. One of the more attractive features of Pilansberg was the bird-hide that was built into the waters of the Mankwe Dam (built by farmers of old). Most disappointingly, this has been demolished and only rotting poles remain in the water. At the other hide broken gates and fence poles line the path to the hide where the waterhole is dry. But the toilets too are broken, dirty and foul smelling. Oh my goodness, surely in a country that is crying out for tourism they can get this most basic of things right?
We do see some distant evidence of lions across the valley and later in the afternoon, we come across some cheetah feeding on a carcass in a thicket far from the road. In the evening gloom a huge ellie comes stomping down the road necessitating reversing for a good Km and making us late at the gate. We do see quite a number of placid white rhinos which is heartening.
Manyane camp has sixty odd chalets and a host of campsites for tenting and caravaning. Together with a restaurant and a large swimming pool, its setting amongst many acacia trees is most pleasing. But there are some defects. Many feral domestic cats have the run of the place and with no thickets or grass, the birdlife in camp is non-existent. I am afraid that my primary goal when visiting game reserves is to photograph the birds and animals and here at Pilansberg I have not lifted my camera much. Sure, October is not a good month but…… roll on Kruger.