Pilanesberg Mountain Range

In an area many may assume to be unremarkable, an extraordinary mountain range rises from the dense bushveld like a diamond in the rough. The Pilanesberg, formerly Pilandsberg, is an ancient volcanic structure located in the North West Province of Southern Africa. Looking out from Rovos Rail’s luxury train accommodation, passengers will be able to witness this natural phenomenon in all its majestic glory.

Geographically, the Pilanesberg Mountains are a world-famous natural wonder. Created by a volcanic eruption which took place some 1 200 million years ago, the mountain range is one of the largest alkaline volcanic complexes in the world and ancient even by geological time scales. Not only is this imposing massif peppered with rare rock types and unbelievable structures, but it is one of only three volcanoes in the world that features a perfect alkaline ring complex.

Spherical in its shape, the Pilanesberg range rises dramatically from the level surrounding plains, formed perfectly by three concentric ridges or rings of rocky hill; the outermost having a diameter of approximately 24km. Flowing south of the mighty range, the Elands River rushes forth in an easterly direction, passing a number of Platinum mines positioned right at the perimeter of the famous crater formation.

The Pilanesberg are for the greater part, enclosed by the Pilanesberg Game Reserve; a world-renowned reserve and the fourth largest national park in South Africa spanning an extensive 55 000 hectares. The conception and subsequent creation of the reserve is considered by many to be one of the most ambitious undertakings of its kind anywhere in the world. In 1979, Operation Genesis breathed new life into the vast landscape, game-fencing the area and reinstating a number of precious species that were thought to have vanished. Today, the park features an excess of 7 000 animals and counting, including the Big Five.