No more than two hours from Johannesburg, The Pilanesberg National Park rests in the rocky amphitheatre of a long extinct volcano in the North-West Province. The fourth largest reserve in South Africa, the Pilanesberg is very scenic and is prolifically populated by wildlife. Almost all of southern Africa’s mammals are represented here, and the Big Five most certainly. The Pilanesberg is also a malaria-free safari region, which gives it one more thumbs up.

The volcanic crater of the Pilanesberg was produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago and is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind anywhere in the world. This makes it a uniquely fascinating region from a geological point of view. In the park there are sites that originate from the Iron and Stone ages and show the presence of man from those periods.

Patsy Hayter from Exclusive Getaways has just visited the Pilanesberg. She spent two days at Ivory Tree Lodge and loved it. What she liked best was her neck, back and shoulder massage at the spa. The spa setting was great, she said, with timber walkways linking a few different treatment rooms. “The best“, she volunteered, “was the post-treatment downtime I spent on an open bush-facing deck where the sense of tranquility was utterly palpable. And next time“, she added, “the counterpoint to this blissful tranquillity is going to be a 1-hour game viewing adventure on a quad bike.”

Ivory Tree Lodge is a large five-star getaway with 60 rooms. The highlights of the day are the guided safari drives that take you over savannah plains, rocky outcrops and wooded thickets in search of wildlife. These take place early in the morning and in the late afternoon, giving you a fair chance of seeing a variety of diurnal as well as nocturnal game. If you’re lucky enough to participate in one of Ivory Tree’s interactive safaris, you’ll experience first-hand involvement in conservation projects. When you’re not out tracking game, you can indulge yourself at the spa, swim or catnap at the pool.

Neighbouring the Pilanesberg, Sun City is a huge drawcard, luring masses of visitors to its entertainment mega-complex which features everything from round-the-clock casinos to man-made beaches. You may like to add it to your itinerary. In fact, Ivory Tree Lodge is situated so close to the gate, that wizzing off to Sun City for a bit is well within the range of your options.

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