It is believed that where the Pilanesberg Reserve now stands was, 1 200-million years ago, a volcano higher than Mount Kilimanjaro (5 895m). The Pilanesberg Reserve is in the Bojanala region of the Northwest Province. Set in the crater of a long-extinct volcano, it is the fourth largest park in South Africa and covers an area of 58 000ha. The creation of the reserve is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind. Thanks to Operation Genesis in 1979, which involved the game-fencing of the reserve and the reintroduction of many long-vanished species, the park now has in excess of 7 000 animals including 24 of the larger species.
The area is fringed by three concentric ridges – the formation rises from the surrounding plains like a bubble. Its structure rates high amongst the world’s outstanding geological phenomena. Ancient, even by geological time scales, this extinct volcano is the most perfect example of an alkaline ring complex. The early presence of man can be seen in the Stone and Iron Age sites and a number of rare (but not really economically important) minerals occur. It exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation. Over time, wind and water have carved a spectacular landscape with rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickly forested ravines. Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this zone. Where the volcano’s central vent existed is now a large lake teeming with hippo, crocodile, waterbuck and birds. Springbok, brown hyena, red-eyed bulbul and camel-thorn trees, usually found in arid areas, are found in cohabitation with moist area-limited impala, black-eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees. The colourful hues, varied habitats and topography make the area a feast for the eye.
Journey: Golf Safari