We really wanted to see some animals while in South Africa, but unfortunately it was completely unrealistic to go to Kruger National Park, which is probably the best known park in South Africa. We would need to spend 2-3 days on that trip and with everything else we wanted to see, this wasn’t an option. With the same MUST-SEE-EVERYTHING logic we were considering going to Lesotho and/or Swaziland, but luckily we’re getting smarter about planning our itineraries and understand that no matter how much we would love to see absolutely everything, it’s just not possible or at least not as enjoyable. 🙂
I did some research and stumbled upon a company called Pilanesberg Safaris. Their website seemed reliable and most importantly they seemed to have a responsible attitude what comes to wildlife. So I sent an inquiry and they were able to arrange a safari for us on a short notice. The cost was R2000 per person, so R4000 for the two of us. Larger groups are possible, but as we didn’t have much time left and we actually wanted just to go as we wished, so paying approx. 140€ per person was something that in retrospect was totally worth it.
Our guide Ingrid picked us from the hotel very early in the morning and we drove the 2.5h to the Pilanesberg National Park. Ingrid actually has her own safari company Ingrid’s Safaris and she was a very good guide. She knew a lot about the nature and animals and her love for the park and animals was evident. She sometimes helps out the owner of Pilanesberg Safaris when he can’t manage to take on the tours himself.
We actually had pretty good luck with seeing different animals, so if you don’t have the time, Pilanesberg definitely has a lot to offer.
You can criss cross the park in your own car as well, so there is no need to go on guided safari, but a good guide knows all the best spots, can tell you a lot about animals and nature and also knows to watch our for the elephants, who might just want to scratch themselves against your car. 😀
We had lunch at a place that served fast food like pizza and hamburgers, which were quite ok. The best part about the place was the small lake where animals came to drink and a salt lick. It was fun to watch giraffes trying to bed to get to it.
After lunch we continued our trip. There are watching sport here and there where you can leave your vehicle and go watch the animals without disturbing them. Also apparently it is better to go on a safari in winter as animals tend to gather around water to drink, so there are better chances to spot them. We had luck especially with elephants as we saw a huge herd of them and got to watch them in peace for a long time.
Ingrid had binoculars for all of us and was able to point some birds as well, which we probably wouldn’t have noticed.
We headed back around four o’clock because there was still a 2.5 hour drive back to Johannesburg. The drive was a good time to ask Ingrid about life in South Africa, so the drive didn’t seem that long. We asked her to drop us off at a The Firs not too far away from our hotel as we wanted to go to The Grillhouse restaurant, which was very high on the list of recommendations both online and at our hotel. We haven’t booked the table in advance, but luckily they could accommodate us. They serve great steak! The sides were ok, but the steak was excellent, so the recommendations were completely spot on. We took Uber back to our hotel and fell asleep after a quick shower.