1 Perfect One Day Safari From Johannesburg


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Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to a one day safari from Johannesburg, South Africa. If you have time for a longer safari trip from Johannesburg, you have more options, but if you want just a one day safari from Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park is the way to do it.

At Pilanesberg National Park, you’ll find a knowledgeable guide, ethically treated animals living in the wild, and more natural beauty than you can shake an elephant at. The easiest way to take a one day safari from Johannesburg is to book a group tour, and I recommend the one from MoAfrika tours, which is what I chose. Let’s not waste any more time! The circle of life awaits!

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

How To Get There

Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a beautiful box of South African wine. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you how to get from your home to Johannesburg

But I can tell you that I used a lovely airplane to get from my hometown NYC to Johannesburg. (Of course we had a layover in London.) I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to South Africa at the best time of day. It’s really easy to see all your options for flights by using their website.

Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to your one day safari from Johannesburg ASAP.

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

Where to Stay?

You’ll need a great home base for your one day safari from Johannesburg, and boy have I got a doozy for you. The Munro Boutique Hotel is possibly the most glamorous hotel I’ve ever stayed in. They usually provide breakfast every morning, and though you’ll get picked up too early for breakfast to go on your one day safari from Johannesburg, they’ll give you a beautiful cappuccino to help keep you awake on the car ride.

one day safari from johannesburg

When you get back from the safari, you’ll probably be too tired to go out, so you can lounge about in the beautiful gardens until dinner–which the hotel will provide for an extra charge if you order in advance!

one day safari from johannesburg

You can even click back with a beautiful and delicious cocktail. If any of this appeals to you and you want to book a room in the Munro for yourself, just click here. And if for some reason you hate being indulged in the lap of luxury and would rather explore other choices for your one day safari from Johannesburg, click here.

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

What to Pack?

  • You won’t be doing a ton of walking on this one day safari from Johannesburg, but it might get hot, so keep your toes cool with these spiffy sandals.
  • Waterproof boots because there will be a ton of mud in Pilanesberg if it rains.
  • An umbrella that’s strong enough to beat the winds in Pilanesberg–there’s no buildings to block the wind, so it can get quite brisk
  • A cell charger so you know your phone camera won’t run out of juice right as you spot an adorable baby elephant and want to take its picture.
  • The best international travel adapter because American and EU electronics can’t get charged by South African plugs without one. (This adapter can be used in just about any country in the world with just the click of a button.)
  • A great spray sunscreen because the sun will still be shining on you if you’re in an open-air car on your one day safari from Johannesburg.
  • My favorite guide to South Africa, including Johannesburg and Pilanesberg.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about the walking safari experience in South Africa, check out this book.
  • Even though Love, Life, and Elephants is not set in South Africa, it’s still a great way to learn about these majestic beauties and experience a touching love story at the same time.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country without help. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a gaggle of vicious giraffes on your one day safari from Johannesburg.
one day safari from johannesburg

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

Morning: Pilanesberg National Park

You’re going to have to wake up very early in the morning to head off on your one day safari from Johannesburg, but that’s just the price you pay for getting to become BFF with a baby elephant. The tour company will give you a time frame for pickup; I was told to be ready between 5:15 and 5:30 in the AM. They might even come early, but do not worry! If they show up before the scheduled time, they will wait for you.

I strongly recommend this tour because the driver was so professional in the face of some very difficult behavior from a fellow guest, but more about that anon. Plus, our guide, whom I shall call Charlize, was so interesting and informative, and willing to go the extra mile to help us see and learn about the animals.

You can book this tour easily yourself by clicking right here.

And now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s get to the fun part with…

Three Fun Facts: One Day Safari From Johannesburg

one day safari from johannesburg
1) Is It Difficult To Get to Pilanesberg?

It’s a long drive from Johannesburg to Pilanesberg, but don’t worry! You’ll make a comfort stop along the way so you can go to the restroom and buy something for breakfast. I ended up getting what I thought was a bun but turned out to be a sausage roll because there is literally no food South Africans will not sneak meat into. But it was much tastier than any comfort stop sausage roll had any right to be.

The driver was very friendly and helpful–if you need to make an extra comfort stop, just ask him.

one day safari from johannesburg
2) How Many Animals Will We See?

That really depends on the day! This is not a zoo, it’s a national park, and there’s no way to predict exactly how the animals will behave on a given day. One day you might see a pride of lions cavorting their way through “Hakuna Matata” and the next, merely one stray dog singing “Why Should I Worry?” to a lonely kitten.

But that’s why you came to see animals in the wild, right? You don’t want to see a bunch of trained and abused circus animals? And in my experience, you’re likely to see plenty of creatures. One of the guests on our tour, whom I shall call Emma, kept complaining that she had seen more animals at an animal encounter place where she got to pet an elephant. But I think the national park safari is so much better than petting a poor captured beast.

one day safari from johannesburg
3) What was the coolest animal sighting?

I personally think it was the elephant because seriously, look how cute it is. And yes, we really were this close. Charlize told us that elephants do have amazing memories; it’s not just a cliche. That’s why a group of elephants is called a memory of elephants.

She also explained that there are two main kinds of elephants: African and Asia. No points for guessing which kind lives in South Africa! But you can tell the difference because African elephants have ears shaped like the map of Africa.

one day safari from johannesburg

Plus elephants have cute butts. I hate to see him go, but I love to watch him leave.

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

Afternoon: Keep on Safarying!

OK, so probably safarying is not a real word, but let’s try using it and see if it catches on. You’ll have two drives in Pilanesberg National Park, one before lunch and one after lunch. Maybe you’ll see more animals in the morning drive, maybe you’ll see them on the afternoon, who can say? Only the elephant knows, and he’s not telling.

What I can show you is an idea of the types of animals you can expect to encounter, so let’s get started with…

Approximately Top 5: One Day Safari From Johannesburg

one day safari from johannesburg
1) Lunch

We’ll get a lunch break where you can choose from several different options, and they do have vegetarian choices. If you like meat, I suggest getting the boerewors roll because it’s the most local selection. Boerewors is a kind of South African sausage, and I have to admit that this version was better than the secretly sausage roll I had at the comfort stop earlier that way.

It was hard to relax during the lunch, though, because Emma kept freaking out because she needed to fly home to Germany that evening, but she hadn’t booked her flight yet. This seemed like poor planning on her part; do you need to be a professional travel blogger to know you should book flights before the day you actually need to use them?

Also, she seemed distressed to learn that her cell phone wasn’t getting any reception in Pilanesberg National Park, but I again I feel like this was highly predictable. Fortunately for her, the lunch stop had wifi for a small fee, so she was able to book her flight. But sadly, this is not the last we will hear of Emma and her travel woes.

one day safari from johannesburg
2) Zebras

So even though I said I can’t guarantee what you’ll find on your one day safari from Johannesburg, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find zebras. They were everywhere. Zebras are to Pilanesberg what squirrels are to Central Park.

Charlize said that zebras are camouflaged, but they don’t fade into the background. It’s just that their predators see in black and white, so if a whole group of zebras are flocked up together, it’s hard for the predators to make an individual out. It’s like they’re nature’s Magic Eye Puzzle.

one day safari from johannesburg
3) Giraffes!

Seeing a giraffe was definitely a highlight of our one day safari from Johannesburg. Charlize said that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans do, but theirs are just stretched out more. I’ll say! She said they also have to work harder to pump blood up to their brain because their necks are so long.

That seems like a lot of work to me. I think I’ll stick with having a human-sized neck.

one day safari from johannesburg
4) Kudu

So this beauty here is a kudu, which is a kind of antelope, and Charlize said they can jump over cars. But can it jump over a fence?

Charlize told us that they do have fences in South African national parks to keep the animals in and to keep poachers out. If the animals get out, they can destroy the farms outside the national parks, which is devastating for the small farmers. But the good news is that the fences do seem to be working against the rhino poachers, since rhino poaching goes down year after year! Yay, rhinos!

one day safari from johannesburg
5) Zazu

OK, so this bird isn’t really named Zazu, but Charlize said it was like the Zazu bird from The Lion King. She said the male birds in this species like to go looking for female birds who have already mated with a different male who has abandoned them. Then the second guy will cozy up to the single mom and become a kind of stepdad to her chicks. This way he has a partner for next mating season.

That is a surprising amount of planning ahead for a bird. I can think of quite a few human males who could learn a thing or two from this bird brain.

one day safari from johannesburg

One Day Safari From Johannesburg

Evening: Dinner at the Munro Boutique Hotel

We had a very exhausting end to our one day safari from Johannesburg because it turned out that Emma had bought a flight ticket for 6 PM even though the safari company had told her she’d be back at her hotel at 6 PM, not that they could get her to the airport at 6.

The driver tried to point out that it can be hard to get to the airport because of traffic, but he would do the best he could under short notice. Emma just kept screaming “Scheiße” at him as he frantically drove us to the airport. The rest of us all agreed to get dropped off at our hotel later just to stop Emma from screaming. (Side note! I do not think Emma was a very nice person.)

Anyway, the driver actually did get Emma to the airport on time, which is how you know this safari provides top notch service. But after a return trip like that, I was much too pooped to head out for dinner. So I suggest ordering dinner from the Munro Boutique Hotel in advance, so you can have a cozy evening in.

Start with some elegant like the game terrine on crackers.

one day safari from johannesburg

Then you can move on to something more substantial, like these chicken thighs with potato gratin and leek veloute. The best part of the chicken is the crispy skin. That’s just science.

one day safari from johannesburg

And finish with a refreshing dessert like this passionfruit pavlova. It’s almost as much fun to crunch the meringue as it was to crunch the crispy chicken skin. And who could ever be sad in a setting like this?

one day safari from johannesburg

That’s a Perfect One Day Safari from Johannesburg!

What would you do on a one day safari from Johannesburg? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Johannesburg right now? And what are your thoughts about Emma? (If you are actually Emma, please don’t answer that question.) The rest of you, please leave your thoughts below!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day safari from Johannesburg.

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