Pressed for time? Try for the Big 5 in a day
No, this isn’t a trip to the Johannesburg or Pretoria zoo – it’s a full day trip to one of South Africa’s biggest game reserves, the Pilanesberg National Park.
You’ll find the park in the bowl of an extinct volcano, just over a couple of hours' drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria.
It’s a really gorgeous park – one of my own personal favourites – with mountains, grasslands, dams and ravines, plus the huge hippo-filled Mankwe Dam.
It’s home not only to the Big 5, but also to stunning scenery, amazing wildlife (one of your best guaranteed chances of seeing a white rhino) and over 300 species of birds.
Don’t try to do it on your own. Go with experts and let them do the spotting, although take your own binoculars and camera.
A leopard appeared, ignored us completely, slaked its thirst for a few minutes, finished drinking and sauntered off.
The Big 5 is not guaranteed – this is wild Africa – but you’ll certainly see zebra, giraffe, elephants, hippos, rhino, all sorts of antelope and maybe a cheetah or hyena.
I was in the park at noon in the middle of February. A friend and I stopped our car at a small causeway over a stream to see if we could find any waterbirds. No other vehicles were in sight.
A leopard appeared, ignored us completely, slaked its thirst for a few minutes, finished drinking, washed its whiskers and sauntered off.