How do I choose between Pilanesberg and Kruger Park for my safari?

The choice between Pilanesberg and the Greater Kruger Park for safari is a difficult one. It really all depends on how much time you have.

Travelling with children in South Africa

Pilanesberg is ideal for shorter safaris

That’s because it is only a two-hour drive from Johannesburg and generally the game viewing is excellent when you have limited time.

It is a public park so the roads are good and there are always other private cars driving around, especially on weekends. No off road driving is allowed in Pilanesberg.

If you stay at one of the bigger lodges, like Bakubung or Kwa Maritane, you will go on game drives in a 22 seater open truck which is high, allowing you to see over the cars.

The 5 star lodges, like Shepherds Tree and Ivory Tree, use small 9 seater open 4x4 vehicles –these are great as you can interact with your ranger better.

The lodges that are located in the concession area, like Pilanesberg Private Lodge and Black Rhino, also use the smaller vehicles. However, they have the added advantage of being in an area where no public vehicles are allowed. If they want to, they can also go into the public area of Pilanesberg.

The Kruger Park is 6 hours away from Johannesburg

It is a pleasant drive but on a short safari you end up spending most of Day 1 and Day 3 travelling – leaving you with only 1 full day to enjoy the Park.

The private lodges in the Greater Kruger Park are exactly that – private. There is a huge area in which no public vehicles are allowed and only rangers in the smaller 9 seater 4x4s can drive.

There are no good roads - mostly 4x4 tracks which have less impact on the bush. They usually have a better network of roads and therefore you are able to get nearer to the animals. Sometimes the rangers go off road and get you even closer to the game.

Most Kruger lodges do not have big fences around them, so you feel as if you are out in the bush. They are smaller (with 5 to 10 rooms) and offer more personalised service, as well as a more authentic safari experience.

If you do have 4 or more days available, it is definitely worth the extra travelling.