The Pilanesberg National Park is found in the Bojanala Region of the North West Province, a 2 hour drive north of Johannesburg, approximately 50km from Rustenburg. The extent of the Park is some 50,000 hectares. The co-ordinates will take you to one of the main entrances to the Park.
The park is set in the crater of a long extinct volcano - a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature. The area is fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills - the formation rises from the surrounding plains like a bubble. The structure of the park is termed the "Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex".
The park also is located close to the edge of the mineral rich “Bushveld Craton” which yields some of the richest platinum group metal deposits in the world. This mining arc stretches many hundreds of kilometres to the edge of the escarpment in northern Mpumalanga and gives rise to the name the Platinum Province for the North West Province of South Africa.
Ancient, even by geological time scales, this extinct volcano is the most perfect example of an alkaline ring complex. A number of rare (but not necessarily economically important) minerals occur in the park. These include volcanic tuff, Nepheline Syenite, lava, Kimberlite, Ledig, White, Green and Red Foyaite, Red Syenite, Purple Fluorite and Uranium-bearing Tuff. Pilanesberg National Park rates high amongst the world's outstanding geological phenomena.
Pilanesberg has survived ages of erosion and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains. The early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park. Over time, wind and water have carved a spectacular landscape with rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickets.
The park exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone. Springbok, brown hyena, the red eyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found cohabitation with moist-area-limited impala, black eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees.
The colourful hues, varied habitats and panoramas will delight and entertain photographers and visitors.
The very topography makes the area a feast for the eye. Here are syenite koppies, thickly forested ravines, typical bushveld and also rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas. Off the centre of the park is Thabayadiotso, "the Proud Mountain". The Park ranks among the largest of the national parks in South Africa (it is in fact the fourth largest park) and covers an area of 55 000 hectare. The beauty of Pilanesberg is reflected in a large central lake, the Mankwe Dam.
The creation of the Pilanesberg National Park is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. The Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the reserve and the reintroduction of long-vanished species, began during the late 70's. Today, Pilanesberg National Park accommodates a large proportion of the mammals of southern Africa. Also home to the Big Five.
Visitors are offered many opportunities to experience the wonders of Pilanesberg. There are nearly 200 kilometres of excellent quality roads for either self-drives or guided drives, and professional guides operate within the park. Numerous hides and scenic picnic sites enable the tourist to experience "out-of-car" experiences as well.
In order to substantiate your visit and be able to claim this Earthcache, a number of questions need to be answered below and submitted to the cache developer via e-mail at cincolcc(at)gmail.com All answers to these questions are obtainable from the publication that is available at all entry points into the Park. [Official Map and Park Guide – Official Park Map, Points of Discovery, Culture and Customs as published by the North West Parks & Tourism Board]
1. What is the highest point in the Park and its altitude?
2. What is the altitude of Mankwe Dam?
3. Which dam is situated at the geographical centre of the volcano?
4. Two types of Red Syenite are found in the Park – how do they differ? [The one contains which oxide that affects polishing?]
5. A photograph of you or team holding GPSr with the main entrance to the Visitor’s Centre showing the year built in the background. [See sample photograph - optional]
NOTE: You may log your visit prior to approval, but e-mail submissions that do not meet the above criteria will be deleted.
FTF shared by McBirdie and speedstripe