About Pilanesberg

A Wildlife park like no other

Mankwe Lake


Pilanesberg Wildlife Park (or National Park or Game Reserve) consists of 570 sq. km (220 square miles) of unique landscape located in the north-west of South Africa, not far from the Botswana border and about 2 hours’ drive west of Johannesburg.

The setting is the now completely eroded remains of a very ancient extinct volcano and its geography offers panoramic hilltop views, rocky outcrops, wooded valleys and rolling grassland. Situated in the ecologically rich ‘transition zone’ between the dry Kalahari and the moist Lowveld, the area provides a concentration of a wide variety of nearly all of southern Africa’s animals, large and small, in a malaria free environment.

Compared to Kruger Pilanesberg Wildlife Park is small but it is the country’s fourth largest reserve and it is deservedly popular with a world-wide reputation for successfully meeting the challenges of reinstating, protecting, developing and managing wildlife and habitat conservation whilst sensitively providing public access, recreation and economic benefits.


Guests are treated to exclusive use of a lodge for their vacation – luxurious accommodation in gated seclusion.

Savannah Safaris’ private lodge lies in the north-west corner of the park, within the private Black Rhino reserve. The entrance gate to this private area is located 30km north of Sun City on the un-numbered north-west highway signposted towards Derdepoort.

Come and see this beautiful lodge!

Find out MORE about Pilanesberg

From the Dawn of Time

Pilanesberg can most easily be imagined as what’s left of a volcano after 1,200 million years have passed.

Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary

Known as Operation Genesis, work began some 50 years ago and is still counted as one the world’s most ambitious animal reintroduction schemes ever undertaken.

Black Rhino Private Reserve

Savannah Safaris’ private lodge lies within the distinct 20 square kilometre Black Rhino reserve, located in the north-west corner of Pilanesberg Wildlife (Game) Park.

With design-monkey sections

A Wildlife Sanctuary


Fifty years of transformation

The creation of Pilanesberg Wildlife Park – known as Operation Genesis – began some 50 years ago and is still counted as one the world’s most ambitious and successful conservation and animal reintroduction schemes ever undertaken.

In the 1970s the regional government initiated an imaginative plan that recognised the uniquely defined geography of the Pilanesberg volcanic ring, its diversity of terrain, its location between arid desert and lush veldt, and the opportunity to take advantage of all of these factors to re-establish and protect long-lost indigenous wildlife.

The locality is actually named after Pilane, the forefather chief of the Bakgatla people, for centuries the inhabitants of the area of modern-day southern Botswana and north-western South Africa. At the time of the plan’s creation the Bakgatla had settled in the Pilanesberg northern highlands and the Bakubung tribal group in the southern plains. Both farmed in a relatively scattered way, with no large settlements, and both groups freely agreed to offers to purchase their land at an above market rate, and to resettle in new localities immediately outside the new park’s boundaries.


First steps then involved the removal of all the unwelcome signs of relatively recent human activity, agricultural exploitation, non-native plants, over-grazing and construction. All of those scars have by now vanished and a restored, natural ecosystem has been established. Boundaries were defined with 110 km of game fence, important to the control of poaching incursion, and whilst some unwanted existing roads were removed, 200km of new, sensitively engineered, gravel tracks were installed to facilitate visitor exploration yet impede off-road erosion.

A little later, work started on developing a small number of attractive, carefully planned and built, complexes – lodges, hotels and restaurants.


Now left undisturbed, existing wildlife started to reassert itself. However Operation Genesis went beyond this to reintroduce what had been lost. In particular, elephants, lions and both the endangered white and rare black rhino. In total, over the course of ten years (the park formally opened in 1979) and beyond some 6,000 large and small species once native to the area, were reintroduced. With some inevitable setbacks along the way, the park has thrived to become the huge conservation success story it is today. 

THE Future

Over the years the park has increased in size by an additional 20 sq km. There is now a 10-year plan to create a viable wildlife corridor spanning the 100km between Pilanesberg (570 sq km) and the 750 sq km Madikwe Game Reserve, to the north-west and on the Botswana border. Black Rhino private reserve forms part of that strategy.

About Pilanesberg | Ancient Pilanesberg | Wildlife Sanctuary | Black Rhino Reserve | Travel to Pilanesberg
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