The Pilanesberg National Park is centred on the crater-bowl of an ancient volcano. As well as the Big Five, there’s a vulture restaurant and walk-in aviary at the gate. It’s all a bit Sun-City-in-the-Bush but it works. www.pilanesberg-game-reserve.co.za
Madikwe, on the other hand, is raw red-earth bush and day visitors must book in advance at one of the lodges. It’s pricier but the game-viewing is excellent and the photographic opportunities as good as you will find anywhere. The reserve was established in 1971 and they are still balancing the game concentrations. There are currently 21 lodges of varying levels from which to choose. www.madikwe-game-reserve.co.za
Rustenburg (Kgaswane) Nature Reserve offers numerous trails. There are over 800 antelope including the shy oribi and mountain reedbuck. The big attraction is a herd of sable antelope. At least 320 bird species have been recorded including nesting pairs of raptors. www.tourismnorthwest.co.za
Yacht cruises, windsurfing, hiking, horses, water-skiing and so on. As the song goes “Hartbeespoort Dam is ’n lekker dam” and lekker (fine) it is indeed, and not only, as the ditty continues, because the fish bite all day. It is a playground for the neighbouring Gautengers, set in the arc of the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountains. So if you don’t want to hit Sun City, hang out with the Jo’burg crowd and get in some water sports and superb people-watching. The Hartbeespoort Mono-cableway is the longest in Africa, rising 378m over a distance of 1100m. It offers unforgettable views over the dam.
Hot air balloons are a favourite activity in the Magaliesberg. Bill Harrop, in his signature deerstalker hat, pioneered ballooning in South Africa in 1981 and is still at it. www.balloon.co.za