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  • The Big 5 at Sun City
Wildlife Safaris from Sun City, South Africa
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Wildlife Safaris from Sun City, South Africa

Giraffe in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve

 

Photo by Sun International

The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is situated just 15 km (9 miles) from Sun City and its malaria-free. Home to over 300 species of bird and a wide variety of mammals including giraffe, waterbuck, hyena, and, of course, the infamous African Big Five, Pilanesberg is a great place for a family wildlife safari. Safari guides, many of whom operate out of Sun City, offer everything from traditional jeep safaris to elephant treks and bush walks. Hot air balloon trips over the reserve offer a unique wildlife viewing experience. For those wishing to view game on their own, the reserve's more than 200km of well-groomed roads facilitate self-drive safaris.
Getting Started
 
Before you scour the web or wade through travel brochures, outline your trip priorities. Once you've established a budget, define the type of wildlife safari you are seeking as well as the experience you are looking for. You will want to consider the age of the kids, their interest in nature as well as their ability to sit still and follow rules set by a safari guide. Understanding your child may be more important than knowing the age limit set by the outfitter.
The Right Trip
 
Guided or self-drive safari? Jeep safari, elephant trek, bush walk, or hot air balloon trip? While nearly all of the above are suitable for families traveling with children aged 12 and up, not all safari activities are appropriate for young children and many outfitters have a set minimum age. Select an activity that is appropriate for the entire family.
Plotting your Route
 
The best time of year to view wildlife is during the cool, dry season from July through September when vegetation is thin and animals congregate at the few remaining water holes making them easy to spot. Wildlife viewing is best in the early morning and late afternoon, when temperatures are cooler and wildlife is easier to spot. While the weather in Pilanesberg is pleasant year-round, rain showers are likely from November to February. The average daytime temperature is 31° centigrade between September and April and 22° centigrade from May to August. The average nighttime temperature is significantly cooler both in summer and winter.
Packing Tips
 
Equip each child with a camera and binoculars as well as a regional checklist to mark off all wildlife sightings. Pack neutral colored clothing (bright colored clothing can disturb wildlife and white shows dirt), hats, sunglasses, and sun block for the entire family. Plan to dress in layers, while early morning and late evening game drives can be quite cold by mid-day it is likely to be quite warm if not hot. Don't forget to include a bird and animal book and plenty of film. On game drives, carry more film than you expect to use.
  • Safari Packing List
Health & Safety
 
Pilanesberg is situated in the malaria free North West Province. In South Africa, malaria is a risk in some coastal areas as well as the provinces bordering Mozambique.
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