We hit the ground running after arriving in South Africa. Our tour guide, Niel Jacobs (aka Safari Niel since there were two Neal/Niels now) picked us up from our hotel near the airport and we started our drive to Pilanesberg National Park. Niel was very accommodating and pointed out historical sites on the drive. By the time we reached Pilanesberg, we had a good overview of the area and some of the history that formed the Johannesburg area.
Our tour of Pilanesberg started off with a bang. Just a short time inside the gate we saw four rhino going down to a watering hole for a drink. There was also a jackal, hippos, wildebeest, impala, and birds all in the same spot! Some warthogs also joined in the fun. It was quite the sight to see not more than 5 minutes inside the park gate! But that wasn’t all. A short while after leaving the watering hole we spotted our first elephants. A family of five were walking and grazing next to the road and eventually crossed the road right in front of us. What an amazing start to our trip!
During the course of the next couple of days our activities followed those of the animals. During the morning and evening when they were active, we were active. Each day started with an early morning game drive with Niel and ended with a night game drive with the Pilanesberg Gametrackers. During the heat of the day we stayed around camp, napping, swimming, or eating.
The highlight of the safari came during our first morning game drive with Niel. As we were driving around the park, we spotted a Gametracker vehicle stopped on the side of the road. We found out they were waiting for a lion that was walking over the hill in front of us. Hearing that, we parked alongside the vehicle and waited. It wasn’t long before every Gametracker vehicle in the park came to the same location. Minute after minute passed. Then through the grass and the haze of the early morning light we could see movement on the horizon. It was the lion! He was a big male with a full mane of hair. He came strutting over the crest of the hill without a care in the world. Such a majestic creature! The early morning light made the moment even more amazing. As he walked you could see his belly was full from a late night snack. He crossed the road around 100 yards from us, right through the middle of the line of Gametracker vehicles, without breaking stride. Truly lions are king of the beasts!
During our safari, we saw many other animals. Black rhinos, more lions, lion cubs, more elephants, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, wildebeest, hippos, more birds that I can remember, and many more creatures. (Don’t worry we marked them all down in a book!) It was truly amazing to see so many animals living in their natural habitat in only a couple of days! Special thanks to Niel for being our personal guide in the park. His South African hospitality and knowledge of wildlife made the experience truly special. I’d highly recommend Niel if you want to book your own custom safari of any kind! You can check out his company, Impi Safaris, at
We booked out trip through Pilanesberg Safaris who frequently utilizes freelance safari guides to tour Pilanesberg. I’d highly recommend booking through them or Niel’s private company Impi Safaris for your own African Safari adventure!