Growing up we spent a lot of time visiting the Pilanesberg as it was just 20 minutes away from home. I remember packing the cooler the night before in preparation to leave the house at 5:00 AM and be the first people in the park (this was my Dad’s idea). This goal was never achieved, obviously. In fact, we always ended up leaving at around 8:30 because of course, what animal wants to see me without a full face of makeup, right??? He finally gave up trying to get us all out of there early, and in all honesty, I think he enjoyed catching an extra hour of sleep.
Eventually, we would get to the park and our tired eyes would start searching, it was always a race to see who could spot the first animal. Most of the time the first animal was some kind of buck, but every once in a while we would be lucky enough to have it be a Rhino or an Elephant, or my personal favorite, a Giraffe. We would snap a few pictures and then continue driving slowly through the park, anxious to see what we find next. After seeing Zebra number fifty, we would stop at one of the rest areas, which are equipped with braai (BBQ) facilities and picnic benches. It overlooked a large watering hole, so we were sometimes lucky enough to spot a herd of elephants drinking water, and almost always saw a few hippos basking in the afternoon sun. We would find our spot, unpack the cooler and start making lunch. Boerewors (South African sausage), pork rashers and some kind of salad were always on the menu – it was and still is one of my favorite meals! This was always the best part of the day, sitting together with family while enjoying beautiful views and delicious food!
Once lunch was done, we would pack up and get back on the road. At this point, I would fall straight to sleep. Full belly, a slow moving car and warm weather, who wouldn’t need a nap? however, with two brothers in the car, my naps were always short lived. We would continue through the park hoping to see something exciting, and most times we did!