Mankwe Dam and other Waterholes and Hides of the Pilanesberg National Park

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Mankwe dam is the largest body of water in the Pilanesberg National Park. There is a lovely Bird Hide close to some dead trees in the water. This is an excellent place to view and photograph all sorts of birdlife. There are always kingfishers about their business. Fish Eagles ply their trade and cormorants are sunning themselves.

Also keep an eye out for crocodiles and leguans (water monitor) sunning themselves while you are crossing the walkway to the hide. There is always the opportunity for a photograph.

Waterbuck, blue wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, impalas and springbuck are among the wildlife that frequents the open grassland along the edges of Mankwe Dam. Elephants and Rhino come here to drink.

As the name implies, Hippo Loop is a great place to be on the lookout for Hippopotamus. Lions sometimes hunt here and the open veld is a prime place for Cheetahs to hunt.

What makes the Bird Hides in Pilanesberg so Special?

fish eagle,pilanesberg A Fish Eagle hunting in Mankwe Dam

The Bird Hides such as the one at Mankwe are all well built structures with comfortable seating where you can sit and wait for the animals to come and drink. You can unobtrusively view the wildlife and birds from close up. This obviously gives you the opportunity to take some great photos.

Spending some time in a hide can be very rewarding. Animals come and go all of the time. There might not be anything to see now but in 30 minutes time? Who knows what you will see.

The key is to be patient and let the wildlife come to you. All birds and animals need water and they all will come to the water for a drink sooner or later.

The hide at Mankwe for example is a great place to photograph a wide variety of water birds. The dead trees in the water by the hide are a favourite spot for cormorants to dry their wings. The kingfishers use them as vantage points from which they hunt small fish. You also have the wide expanse of open grassland along the dam which can be viewed from the hide. There are always some animals or the other that can be seen from the Mankwe hide.

It is advisable to bring along a set of binoculars. It makes the game viewing much better as you can see a long way down the valley along the banks of the dam.

Makorwane dam is another good birding site.

Hippo,Pilanesberg Hippos at Makorwane dam, Pilanesberg

The hide is well placed to view all the activities of our feathered friends.

There is usually Hippo around as well so with a bit of patience you can take some wonderful pics of these huge mammals.

You should also keep a lookout for elephants in this area.

We have encountered them a number of times either on the road to Makorwane or at the dam itself.

From a Birding viewpoint I really like Batlhako Dam.

Reflections,Pilanesberg Reflections in the water...

It is really an excellent spot to spend some time bird watching. Photo opportunities abound.

The hide is great but I really like to spend time at the viewpoint just north of the dam.

You are usually rewarded with some great sightings.

It is such a tranquil spot as well...really food for the soul.

Tlou dams is another one of my favourite waterholes.

Warthog,Pilanesberg Warthogs taking a mudbath

It is much smaller than Mankwe, probably one of the smallest but we have been lucky enough to take some wonderful pictures of Rhino's coming to drink.

Quite frankly the description "waterhole" is very apt. Anyway,it is simply an excellent place to stop and relax in your car with some coffee and rusks.

You never know what animals might appear from the thickets to drink.

Anything from a warthog to an elephant might just pop around for a mudbath or a drink. For its size I have certainly found it to be quite a busy little neck of the bushveld!

The hide at Ruighoek Dam is one of the quieter spots in Pilanesberg National Park.

Waterbuck,Pilanesberg Waterbuck, Pilanesberg National Park

It has a good view over the dam and there are usually some Waterbuck around.

With all the bush and trees around you usually do not see any wildlife unless they are at the water edge.

But then, it is a cool shady spot after a long hot day in the car, so take a load off and relax!

There are some swallows nesting under the roof of the hide. Take care not to disturb them to uneccesarily.

Tilodi and Lengau dams do not have bird hides...

White heron,Pilanesberg A White Heron looking for lunch...

...but there are viewpoints where you can park and view from your car.

These are good places to check on when in the vicinity. You never know what might be around.

These little out of the way places can somtimes provide some really good animal sightings

The Malatse Dam hide is placed on a small island.

Malatse Dam,Pilanesberg View from the Malatse Bird Hide

There are plenty of waterbirds such as Yellow Bill ducks and cormorants.

As with Mankwe Dam it is not unusual to see Fish Eagles.

There are a number of Hippos in this dam.

Elephants frequent the area as well.

On one occasion we were lucky enough see a lioness catching a waterbuck in full view from the hide.

The Rathlogo waterhole is another lucky packet.

Rhinoceros,Pilanesberg Rhino at Rathlogo waterhole

You never know just what you are going to see here.

If you spend anough time in the hide you will see just about every species of animal in the Pilanesberg National Park coming for a drink.

This excellent game viewing spot is a great place to start or end your day in the park if you are staying at Bakgatla or Ivory Tree lodge.

Why not spend the afternoon while the sun sets? You won't be disappointed.

Last but not least are the Lenong viewpoints...

Lenong,Pilanesberg View over Pilanesberg from Lenong Viewpoint

...from one of the highest spots in the middle of the reserve.

From here you have magnificent views over Mankwe , Makorwane and the rest of the game reserve.

Here you may get out of your car in the designated areas but still be on the lookout.

We came across a big elephant bull just below the parking area on one occasion.

You could not see him when you drove up but as we got out and walked to the edge, there he was right below us.

We certainly did not waste any time getting back into our car!

Remember they are wild animals and deserve the necessary respect.

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