I have always thought that the Pilanesberg just never fails with game viewing and great sightings. I also keep having thoughts that we in the Johannesburg area are so spoiled to have such amazing wild life just a few hours’ drive from us in a malaria free area. Some of us are envious that we don't have ski slopes on our doorsteps and I guess those in snowy winter places may be envious that they don't have the wide open beautiful spaces where the Big 5 and other wild animals can roam freely, (well fairly freely) for us to view.
Well having been to the Kruger National Park and the Pilanesberg game reserve on many occasions, again the Pilansberg provided what we were looking for. A few days away from everything, being in the quiet of nature, a cut off from the rat race, excellent accommodation, wonderful food, and of course the incredible animal sightings with top class guides. Obviously as the Pilansberg game park covering an area of can't guarantee sightings of every animal, as that is just nature, but every drive we went on we did see different large animals, buck and birds.
We arrived at Ivory Tree on a Monday expecting the possibility of our few days to be fairly quiet and that there may be just a few others in the lodge. Well weekdays are perfect for conferences and groups, both local and international but it wasn't too much of a problem. There really is space for everyone.
The facilities at the lodge are just beautiful with a wonderful spa. Just imagine having a back massage or even just a manicure in the peacefulness of the African bush. If you can't relax here, you can't relax anywhere.
The restaurant has various areas giving the options of breakfast either under the tree, around the pool or just indoors around the huge buffet tables. Lunches provide a choice of a few hot full meals, cold meals, starters, deserts, coffee and tea. Dinners are the same with great variety of choice and a few evenings in the Boma around the fire. The feel of the African bush under the African sky is incomparable to anything else. The food was all tasty. There were always meat and fish choices, salads and vegetable choices and a variety of sweets to finish the meal.
We were called by our guide and driver and informed of the times of the game drives that evening. After a high tea in the Lapa, (as if we needed that after a gourmet lunch) we headed out into the mountains and the plains of the Pilansberg. Each vehicle was small enough for us all to have great viewing. We were all on different levels, so no one was really in our way of a sighting. We came across other vehicles in the park, from some other resorts, that were really large, on one level and really didn't provide good viewing. Our rangers, between the vehicles, were always in contact with one another and could radio in to advise of any special sightings. This way we at least all got to see most of the animals. Just arriving at a pride of 16 lionesses lazing in the sun, or an elephant with two calves playing with each other, or hippos with their babies playing in the pools, becomes such a special experience. At times like this you just don't even think of work and e-mails. Just knowing these animals are in their natural habitat is very special. The evening drives also provided sights of owls and jackal.
Morning game drives are followed by an early wake up call, coffee and snacks. We stopped after sunrise to re-fuel and thaw out (wow it is cold in the early mornings out in the bush) with another coffee and snacks, while standing in the open around the vehicle just listening to the calls of the birds. It was hopefully only the birds we were going to hear!
Our accommodation was super special as we had our own private pool with jets, an elevated sun desk, and two bedrooms to accommodate a family of 4 more than comfortably. The lounge had a TV which of course we just couldn't use. I think the guilt of turning on a TV while out in the bush would have killed me. Each room was also air conditioned which in the summer was extremely necessary.
There is quite a walk to some of the chalets while others are closer, but they really give a private and secluded feel with varying views.
Day times are spent readying and lazing around the pool in the lapa, around the bar, in the lounge, under the trees... just remember to wake up before the high tea and the next adventure into the bush.