It takes something extremely exciting to get me out of bed before sunrise however when my alarm went off at the crazy hour of 5am, I was up and ready in no time. I was one of a very lucky bunch of adventure-seekers invited to experience the Big 5 Ultimate Pilanesberg Open Vehicle Day Tour.

I have been fortunate to go on a few safaris but the Pilanesberg always offers a truly unique experience. Just what you would expect from a location as unique as a 1300-million-year old volcanic crater.

Our journey began with a 6am pick up by our enigmatic driver Sipho or more affectionately known as “Sugar”. He kept us entertained with anecdotes and laughs throughout our 2-hour drive to the North West’s Bojanala Region. Our excitement could not be contained as we arrived eager to spot the “Big 5” and many of the other 7 000 animals the park boasts.

Sugar left us in the very capable hands of our ranger Anton. The knowledge of your ranger contributes so much to a safari experience and Anton was simply brilliant. Most of our sightings happened because he knew just where to go to find Pilanesberg’s fauna and flora in all their glory.

We wound our way along Manke Way where we encountered the regal Maximus and his mate. Not long after, a third leopard crossed right in front of us. A special sighting indeed as leopards are not the most social of Africa’s big cats.

As we continued our drive, we spotted a bunch of other game – wildebeest, impala and zebra. All whilst looking out for the elusive King of the Jungle. The end of our drive brought us to the Pilanesberg Centre where we indulged in a leisurely lunch and drank in the incredible panoramic views around us.

Just when we thought our day in the wild was complete, we were ushered back into the 4×4 for a second game drive. How lucky could we get? Our next venture into to the park brought more incredible sightings of rhinos, hippos, giraffes and a slightly unnerving meeting with a young elephant trumpeting and charging our vehicle. To which Anton swiftly took charge with a shout of “Nee!”. Who would have thought that elephants understand Afrikaans?

With our hearts pumping a little quicker and smiles across our faces, we headed back to where Sugar was waiting. With a warm thank you to Anton, we said our goodbyes and hopped back onto the shuttle to head home.

If you have never experienced the majesty of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, then best you book your safari journey with MoAfrika without delay!