The view from above – Hot air balloon flight over The Pilanesberg National Park

One of the perks of our job is that every now and then we get to actually go on one of the activities as a guest instead of a guide. On this occasion, I went on the Hot air balloon flight to get some photos from the air.

No doubt about it July is cold, but once you are on the balloon excitement overtakes the chill around you. There was some mist coming off of Mankwe Dam that morning which made for some great photo opportunities.

There were three balloons taking to the sky that morning making for an even better photo opportunity and a better perspective of what it is like up there.

You don’t even realize you are moving almost like floating on a cloud.

Why not come and experience it for yourself? Take advantage of our winter warmer special,

ending 31 August 2018.

Right place at the right time!

Sometimes we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when something seldom seen is about to happen. This was the case on a morning game drive earlier this year.Field guide Tarryn Rae tells us more:

“I set out with guests on a 5:30am game-drive. Part of the excitement of my job is driving through the gate and never knowing what is going to happen. “I had just got back from my days off so I was not sure what had been happening in the reserve. As we entered the gate I heard on the radio that there were some lions sleeping near the centre of the reserve. We were still miles away and it was said that the view of them was not great so I decided we would take a slow drive and get there when we get there.”

“I often tell my guests that with as far as game drives go, it is all about being in the right place at the right time mixed in with a little bit of luck. On this day, luck was very much in our favour… Not just once, but twice!” “About an hour and a half after the lion sighting had been called in we arrived at the sighting. They were still lying down but not for long. After a few minutes, they got up and started moving towards the road. With it being a weekend, there were quite a few cars around. One thing I have learned well is to give an animal a gap and not block their path.” “We had the most amazing sighting as the whole pride headed towards the road and crossed over in front of us. We were very excited and my guests were very happy, I always say that the day I’m not excited to share a sighting like this with my guests is the day I should no longer do this job.”

“From there on we decided to head to Mankwe hide for a comfort break. The view from the hide is always breathtakingly beautiful and worthwhile to see. While we were there I heard that the lions had come to the water for a drink and we were happy to just relax as we had seen them so perfectly. That was until a herd of wildebeest came to the water for a drink right next to the hide and headed off in the direction that the lions were in. “At that point, I said to my guests that I think we should go and follow the wildebeest as I have a feeling something might happen. We climbed back into the game viewer and headed back down the road. I made the decision to stay with the wildebeest and away from the traffic. If ever you think a predator is hunting the best thing to do is follow the prey, not the predator.”

“We found a gap where we could see both the wildebeest and the lions coming from a distance. As the one lioness got to the top of a hill and saw the wildebeest she immediately crouched down. At this point my stomach was in knots, the rest of the pride were just casually walking and I thought to myself the wildebeest are going to see them and it will be game over. The herd headed closer to the hill and had no clue what was waiting for them on the other side.” “As they got within a couple of meters the lioness, she jumped up and ran towards them. The herd turned and ran for their lives, one made a fatal mistake, she ran towards the lioness with a horn movement before turning to run. This slowed her down and the lioness managed to grab her. The rest of the pride then came in, two young blonde males, another female and 4 cubs. The lioness at one stage momentarily let go of her prey and it tried to get away but to no avail.” “Once they brought her to the ground it was game over. Around three minutes is all it took from the chase to the kill being completed. One can’t help but have a rash of emotion whilst watching something like this, but at the same time, you realize how privileged you are to witness the power of these big cats.”

“No sooner had I said to my guests that it looks like a pregnant wildebeest the lioness ripped the fetus out and turned away from the rest of the pride with it. That for me was a real emotional part of the whole thing. We watched them eating for a while and then left the sighting to give others a chance to see.”

Sometimes we all concentrate on the big things so much that we forget about a whole other kingdom that is out there …

The bird kingdom. In these posts we would like to share Pilanesberg Bird Watching with you.

Lilac-Breasted Roller  (Coracias caudatus)

*Rollers get their name from their impressive courtship flight

*Their call is a loud harsh squawk, not what you would expect from such an attractive looking bird.

*The diet of the lilac-breasted roller is primarily insectivorous such as: ground-dwelling insects, arthropods, amphibians, and other small vertebrates.

*Their amazing colouration gives them the title of one of the most photographed birds in South Africa.

African fish eagle  (Haliaeetus vocifer)

* African fish eagles are believed to mate for life (monogamous)

*The African fish eagle feeds mainly on fish but will also eat rodents, small birds and other prey items.

*We often see them around the dams in the Pilanesberg.

Southern red bishop  (Euplectes orix)

*An iconic bird to see around the bird hides during summer.

*The males have this vibrant red and black plumage during the breeding season to attract females. The rest of the year they will be dull brown like the females.

*The nest is most commonly built among reeds and is woven out of grasses and other plant materials.

Take to the skies

Ever wonder what it would be like to float on a cloud?

Treating yourself to a hot air balloon flight is the closest you can get.

What better place to do this than over the Pilanesberg National park. Pilanesberg boasts some of the most magnificent views with its rolling hills and natural Bushveld. The peace and tranquility from the air is just indescribable, hearing the birds and sometimes the lions roar as you float above the trees.

Let our pilots share their wealth of knowledge with you as you have a birds-eye view of this 1.3 billion year old extinct volcano.

This is something we think should be on everyone’s bucket list. With a hampagne celebration after you land and a buffet breakfast at one of the bush lodges, it will be a morning to remember.

A once in a lifetime sighting!

It may seem cruel agreed, but this is nature at its’ best.

 

Only around 30 percent of lion hunts are successful making it a rare and fantastic sighting when you can actually see it for yourself. Our guides and guests were treated to such an experience on the 27 November 2015. Below are the photos of the action as it happened, taken by one of our field guides Greg Esterhuysen.

While on an afternoon game drive the guests and guides were sitting watching a pride of lions walking along the waters edge at Mankwe dam. After a little while they all started looking intently in one direction, the next thing out of nowhere a warthog dashed out of the treeline and one of the lionesses gave chase.

Her speed was enough and she managed to get a grip on the back of the warthogs neck.

The male and other members of the pride then came running to see if they could help or in the males case take over.

The female was not impressed with the male and swiped at him as he came closer.
In doing so she lost her grip on the warthog, almost losing it.

The male was quick enough to re-catch the warthog and suffocate it.

The whole pride then joined in on the feast. There was a lot of growling and snarling over the warthog as with a big pride like this a warthog is not the biggest of meals.

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