Date of Trip: February 2003
This journal recommends how to arrange a safari for a weekend trip during a buisness trip or for a vacation and my experiences on my safari.
Have a lunch in the “fenced in” area of the park. Night drives are also high on my list. Just the thrill of driving around trying to spot the magnificent creatures that call Pilanesburg home.
I would recommend going to this park on a safari with an experienced guide. There is paperwork that must be obtained and turned in upon your arrival and night drives must be arranged. To see most animals you need know where they go at what times of the day they will be in certain areas. There are also different areas of the park that certain animals prefer and are most likely to be seen in those areas. There are also several smaller roads that are not marked well and may not be readily recognized by those not experienced.
Best Way to Get Around:
I would not recommend driving on your first visit. The streets are VERY confusing, directions hard to follow. Most of the locals in Johannesburg carry maps with them! Hotels will pick you up at the airport. The safari company I used, Bush Cat Safaris, also picks you up at the air port and drops you at your motel if you are leaving at once.
Bakubung Lodge in the Pilanrsburg Game Park:
The accommodations at this park are excellent. There are 2 separate lodges, one containing a tent camp and also camping locations. There is a small grocery and a restaurant at the one camp and a larger restaurant at the other lodge. We ate dinner at one and breakfast at the other. Both meals were excellent along with the service, and prices were very reasonable. All park personnel were very polite and knowledgeable.
Our room was complete with a kitchen, 1 bedroom on the main floor and 1 loft bedroom. I believe the couch also made into a bed. The kitchen and living were open to each other. There was a table and chairs outside for dining also. Room was very clean and cozy.
Selecting a Safari Operator:
I had always dreamed of going to Africa so when I found out I would be traveling the South Africa for work I was thrilled. I knew I would be making 2 trips and would have 1 weekend free on each trip so immediately started searching the Internet for South African safaris. I did extensive research and read many articles on various subjects: what to bring, what to expect and how to arrange a fabulous safari never to be forgotten. All articles and research concluded the same: the safari operator/guide would either make the safari an experience of a life time or leave you wondering why you even came to Africa.
I contacted Bushcat Safaris, since they advertised they specialized in the not so young and female travelers. I am over 40, do not want to eat from cans, sleep in a sleeping bag or do without some of the finer things in life. I also needed a somewhat “custom” safari to meet my work schedule.
After a short interview of my preferences, schedules and budget, my safari was booked. Marie and Carol, the operators/guides of Bushcat Safaris, are extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife plants and ecological history of Southern Africa. They also provided a great deal of information on the history of South Africa and its difference populations. They explained the diverse customs and cultures that exist in this amazing country. Along with all of this knowledge transfer they completely pampered me. I was able to choose when to go on drives, when to nap, when to wake, when to eat with excellent recommendation from them on what times are best for animal viewing. The accommodations they arranged were spectacular and they came completely prepared with my favorite drinks and snacks in the car for the travel to the park and for the game drives. Marie and Carol are two of the most wonderful people I have meet in my lifetime. I was so impressed I booked them for a second trip and now I am in the midst of planning a family safari this fall 2003. Both of safaris were lifetime experiences thanks to Bushcat Safaris.
PIlanesburg Game Park:
This national park is about two hours from Johannesburg so it is a good place to visit if you are on a tight schedule with only a couple days to spend on safari. The park is huge and the scenery is spectacular. Driving through the park you immediately know you are in a wild African environment and not in a controlled animal park like we have in the U.S. We saw the “big 5” and countless other beautiful creatures which were all explained to me by my safari guides. The birds were also wonderful. You can easily spend two full days driving through this park in search of magnificent creatures. The scenery as you drive through the park is so wonderful I kept thinking that I was in a movie about Africa!
I would most definitely recommend going on a night drive, as it is again a totally unique experience from the day drives.
Elephants and Lions:
Driving along we were flagged down by another animal watcher shouting there were 5 lions just down the road. We did not quite believe the fellow, but we decided to have a look anyway. We came upon several cars so we knew there had to be something and it turned out to be 1 lioness taking a nap alongside of the road. We looked for a while and went on down the road a bit. We were returning past about 45 minutes later and the crowd had broken up so we slowed to see if she was still napping. While sitting and watching we heard noises from the other side of the road. We backed up a bit and then could barely notice an elephant behind the brush having his lunch. We sat and watched and with 10 minutes he had come around the bush. He got so close we actually had to move our vehicle out of the way. It was magical. Sometimes while looking for one animal in this park another will surprise you.