The 550 sq km Pilanesberg National Park offers an extraordinary safari experience just a short drive from the city of Johannesburg. Home to over 360 bird species and almost every animal species endemic to South Africa, the Pilanesberg National Park has become popular among self-drive tourists, as well as offering guided safaris with expert rangers. Stretch out your legs on a walking safari or revel in the presence of the Big Five from the comfort of a 4x4. Sightings do come down to luck, but you can very easily snap up some new holiday pics showcasing sprawling herds of zebra and springbok, with prowling predators like lion and leopard never too far behind.
Ascend to the skies and soar over the Pilanesberg area in a hot air balloon. Admire the geological formations as you glide above this ancient volcanic landscape in silence. Whilst up in the air, see if you can spot any of the park’s wildlife from above. Whether or not you've previously taken to the skies, a hot air ballooning exploit over the Greater Pilanesberg is certainly worth every cent, especially for couples looking to ramp up the romance. With feet firmly back on the ground, you and your loved one can tuck into a full English breakfast and sip sparkling wine as part of the full experience. Flights can be arranged directly through Pilanesberg National Park but are subject to weather conditions.
Perfect for couples, families and even solo travellers, the Pilanesberg National Park flaunts five main picnic spots to choose from. Unfold the blanket, spread out the snacks and relish in the natural surrounds. The top three include the Fish Eagle spot that overlooks Mankwe dam, and two others in Baile Drive. All of these offer braai (barbeque) facilities, access to shade and clean ablutions in a fenced-off area. Wherever you decide to picnic, be sure to stay long enough to appreciate the honeyed landscape at sunset…
Located along the border of the Pilanesberg National Park, Sun City has been a firm family favourite for decades and remains one of the country’s top entertainment meccas. Home to the infamous water park known as the Valley of Waves, it's a great stop for the kids, promising to keep them entertained for hours – and rewarding moms and dads with some well-deserved time off! Hit the arcade, visit the croc farm, plan a night at the cinema or team up for the Maze of The Lost City, the largest permanent maze in the Southern Hemisphere. If there are no tots or teens in tow, grown-ups can take full advantage of the nighttime entertainment, gambling facilities and cocktail bars.
Keen to switch out the wilderness for the water? Sun City’s Valley of Waves is one of the best-known and best-loved water parks in South Africa and is capable of generating 1.8m waves every 90 seconds. And while you can still sprawl out on the sunlounger, or gently tube around the Lazy River, the water park is mostly ideal for water babies looking to get more than just their feet wet. Hop on the back of a jet-ski, hang on for dear life on the tube ride or lift off on a parasailing adventure. Feeling extra-brave? Hurtle 70m down the Temple of Courage or tackle the high waves in the Roaring Lagoon.
For safaris with a difference, why not try out Finfoot Lake Reserve’s Segway safaris? Hop onto the two-wheeler transporter and meander around the reserve in the company of an experienced Segway guide. It’s a great way to explore the area without breaking a sweat. This family-friendly lodge is located within the bounds of the Elands River Game Reserve in the Greater Pilanesberg and also offers bush walks, canoe trips on the lake, mountain biking and sunset barge cruises.
Chameleon Village is the ultimate family-friendly attraction for those making their way into or out of the Greater Pilanesberg. Located on the R104 on Old Rustenberg Road, it offers everything from African craft markets, art galleries, live music venues and restaurants to kiddies' play areas, splash parks, reptile and animal centres. This is just the place to pick up a few holiday souvenirs or treasured trinkets and while most of the fun happens on the weekends, the village is open seven days a week with free admission for adults and kids.
Calling all carnivores! For a fanciful night out with fine dining, pay a visit to the signature steakhouse known as The Grill Room. Secure your table for an intimate dining encounter with top-notch cuisine and some of the most notable wine selections in the country. Think beef tartar, springbok shank, and buttery garlic bread sided by a glass or two of the finest Pinotage to complement your meal of choice. This restaurant can be found within the Palace of the Lost City in Sun City.
During your journey into the Greater Pilanesberg, be sure to schedule in a lunchtime pit stop at Laurentina Restaurant at Chameleon Village along the R511 in Hartbeespoort. Bearing the same name as a popular Mozambican beer, the meals served here capture the authentic flavours of Mozambican-Portuguese cuisine. Delve into their piri-piri chicken, garlic butter shrimp or prime cuts flame-grilled to perfection. It’s a stellar choice for families too, with its laidback atmosphere, kiddies play area and spacious outdoor seating.
Ale-aficionados assemble! Hidden along the R24 between Rustenburg and Johannesburg, the Brauhaus Afrika is best described as the place where “German beer, food and culture meets African hospitality”. This brewery, restaurant and former trading post is a favourite amongst the locals and for good reason. Their hearty pub grub is perfectly paired with a top-notch mix of quality beers brewed according to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot of 1516. It stands as the oldest cuisine and beverage law in the world and since it was established before the discovery of yeast, it states that only water, barley malt and hops may be used to produce beer.