Nationalpark Pilanesberg: a heaven not only for Kingfishers

GraukopfliestIn the surrounding bushes of the Tidodi Dam there is  loud bustle already. In the gallery forest around, numerous birds such as the Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala) enjoy the first sun beams. Haze floats above the water. It is morning shortly after sunrise. The surrounding trees of the dam form a small gallery forest, which attracts many birds such as Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas), Grey-headed Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher (Halcyon albiventris), Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii), Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) and Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus).

An alternative is the Malatse Dam along the Dithabaneng Drive. This dam offers the opportunity to photograph the African Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and other birds such as Ibisse and Spoonbills at their sleeping retreat.

Not far from the Malatse dam is the Dithabaneng dam. If the water is high, you can go by car directly to the shore. The light is perfect for taking photos in the morning and in the evening. It is worth driving to the Ruighoek waterhole in the afternoon. At this small dam is a relatively low-lying hide.

From the frog’s perspective you can take pictures at the waterhole of the Kwa Maritane Lodge. The waterhole of the Kwa Maritane Lodge is by far the best opportunity to photograph from an unusual perspective. The hide is well located underground and allows a unique view of the animals. The pictures thus receive a particularly dramatic effect. Here you can, for example, photograph drinking African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) reflected in the water. In the afternoon you have to fight backlight at this point, so that the morning is preferable. Since the potions are not very large, relatively short focal lengths of 70-200 mm or 300 mm are sufficient.

Waterhole and hide are part of the Kwa Maritane Lodge and access is restricted only for hotel guests. One should note, to show an inconspicuous behavior. A more modest photographic equipment is also recommended. The alternative, an overnight stay for two people would cost you about 300 €/ night.

In the eastern area of ​​the hiking area in the Manyane complex, there is a walking trail for bird lovers that can be made without a guide. This gives tourists the unique opportunity to watch walking birds. You should definitely spend a few days in the park. You quickly learn when the best scenes take place at the waterholes or which animals appear regularly in certain places. For example, a Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) used the same bush near the Mankwe Dam on Hippo Pool Drive as a perch.

At the waterholes and reservoirs almost always hides or observation facilities are installed to watch the wildlife. Not all are suitable for taking photos. The observation facilities at the Mankwe dam is very impressive, but even if the lake has a high water level, here are hardly successful shots. Many of the trails around the lake also provide only poor visibility to the open water. An exception is the Letsha Drive. At an indentation the track leads directly to the water. African Darter (Anhinga rufa), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) as well as various heron species – such as the goliath Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) – come into focus here.

During the daily game drives through the park, you will always meet big mammals on the way. Every day you encounter the massive white rhinos, and giraffes, wildebeests, hartebeest and zebras often cross the road.

Nature photographers mostly visit the Kruger National Park extensively during their visits to eastern South Africa. Not well known are the big assets of Pilanesberg National Park. Despite its low level of awareness, there are plenty of animals in the Pilanesberg National Park. For photographers, there are many possibilities, especially to scan the birds. Diversity in birds is very high, the avifauna includes nearly 400 species. Among them are more than 34 different birds of prey and falcon species such as African Fish-Eagle, Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) and the endangered species of Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis). Even the Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) classified as “vulnerable” is seen with luck. A special feature is the imposing Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori). Endemic species for South Africa include Eastern Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda semitorquata), Cape Rock-Thrush (Monticola rupestris) and African Pied Starling (Lamprotornis bicolor). Several species of kingfishers, bee-eaters and several species of egrets and ducks also frolic in the national park. The diversity of the animal world is due among other things to the varied landscape. In the cauldron of the volcano are extensive savannahs surrounded by steep rock formations and smaller bush and acacia forests.

Located in the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and the humidity of the Lowveld, Pilanesberg National Park attracts an incredible variety of animal species. Geologically, it is a imposing mountain formations of an outermost crater rim of an approximately circular volcano, which has long since extinguished. In this huge crater lies the National Park, which covers an area of ​​approximately 550 km². There is a very good map of the Pilanesberg Wildlife Sanctuary on the website . There you can see which accommodation is located where in the park. The map shows distances that help to allow enough time to enter and to leave the park on time before gates close. Only a few roads are tarred. The rest consists of gravel roads. The slopes are in very good condition and do not pose any particular difficulty even for normal cars. I usually prefer SUVs for travel and photography. This time I was glad, “only” to have rented a car, because you are sitting lower than in a jeep. With the 200 km long road network of the park, you have found your way in a short time.

It does not always have to be the Kruger National Park

In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has undertaken targeted trips to distant bird areas and destinations nearby. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. Additionally bird-lens.com is keen to provide images of other birds of other parts of the world – especially if these birds are rarely photographed. The results in images of rare birds are very good. Very nice images bird-lens.com could be brought back from all over the world. The beautiful image of the blog is only first impressions of what you will find in behind “Picture  Shop” very soon. Simply contact bird-lens.com if you need an image of a bird before even more new pictures are online.

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