Why winter is a good time to visit the Pilanesberg
South Africa is undoubtedly a world-class safari destination, and one of the most unique (yet often overlooked) experiences can be found within the Pilanesberg National Park. Set in an extinct volcanic crater, this park proudly boasts impressive grasslands, wooded valleys, multi-hued rock formations, and incredibly diverse wildlife. Believe it or not, one of the best times to visit is in the heart of the winter from May to September, and here are our top 5 reasons to visit to choose to safari with us this winter!
1. You will miss the crowds
Due to the cooler weather, winter is a low season, and therefore not as popular as the warmer summer months. You will generally find good accommodation availability and some very competitive rates and specials on offer. There is also a greater chance of enjoying a game drive on a less crowded game vehicle, which means more space to manoeuvre to get that perfect wildlife picture. Midweek stays are generally the quietest and therefore the best time to stay at our lodges. We have great midweek and weekend rates available so click here to view our incredible accommodation deals.
2. You won’t overheat
Summer in the North West Province can get HOT! Not only does this sometimes make us feel lethargic and uncomfortable, but it affects the wildlife too. Many animals prefer to be active only in the early mornings and late afternoons in the summer months, thus making them harder to spot outside of these times. In winter, however, the animals stay active for more hours during the day, which means there are better chances of seeing the variety of animals in the park. Although most winter days are mild and cool in the mornings and evenings, there are some exceptions where we encounter colder conditions throughout the day. Therefore, it is always advisable to wear a thick jacket, gloves and a hat when going on a game drive in winter. Our experienced Rangers always find a picturesque spot to stop at for a refreshment break during the drive, ensuring there are some warm beverages and comfort snacks to enjoy.
3. Better game viewing
The drier winter months often mean that wildlife will be found around focal food and water sources, making game-viewing easier. The bush also tends to be less dense than in summer, and animals’ behaviour is somewhat more predictable. Pilanesberg Game Reserve falls within the summer rainfall area of South Africa, which means that Pilanesberg receives its annual rainfall, of about 622mm of rain, during the summer months (October – March). Because of this summer rain, all the smaller seasonal water points, rock pools and seasonal streams will fill up with water making animal sightings more scattered across the Reserve, as water is now freely available. The animals do not have to travel to the more open areas, where all the permanent water points are located, for their water requirements. During the winter season, all these seasonal water points, rock pools and streams dry up, so water is only available in the larger dams found across the Reserve. Animals species then congregate around these permanent water points, making game viewing easier and more concentrated. Also, the growth of plant species becomes less dense during the winter months, which makes game viewing easier, as animals are now more visible whilst feeding.
4. It is the best time for bush walks
Cooler weather, in general, is better for hiking and walking in nature. With some walking and climbing, you will soon be warm, even if it is a little chilly at first. It’s more pleasant in the bush with the mercury below its summer highs, and the crisp clear air, paired with less dense vegetation, makes for an exciting excursion on foot. Click here to learn more about our Walking Safaris excursions.
5. Galactic Safaris and Stargazing
South Africa has earned a legendary reputation among astronomers, and we can see why! Even the night sky looks nicer during South African winters, and lower temperatures usually mean clearer skies and better stargazing. The mystical Milky Way is also best viewed from the Pilanesberg National Park during the winter months (typically May-July), which offers guests a wonderful glimpse of this natural phenomenon through a telescope. Bring your telescope along next time you visit the park, and marvel at the beautiful night sky. Watch this space as Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge will soon be offering galactic safaris.