South Africa has long been an attraction for visitors looking to for the ‘African safari’ experience. While big game animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and water buffaloes draw most visitors to Pilanesberg National Park, the story behind the land these animals live on is just as compelling.

The Pilanesberg area is fringed by three concentric rings of hills, that rise from the surrounding plains. Mistakenly marketed by operators as an extinct volcano it is actually a very rare formation called a ring dyke complex.

The difference you might ask? Simple. A volcano must erupt. And that didn’t happen.

Rather, the magma cooled under the ground before it erupted, and then later collapsed in the centre, forming a ‘volcano’ (now called the Mankwe dam). Then with millions of years of erosion, the hard rock stayed behind forming the mountains around the centre in concentric circles as we see today. What we see now is not so much a volcanic crater, but a cross section through the magma pipes that were located deep below the mountain’s summit.

The entire structure sits about 100 to 500 metres above the surrounding landscape. The highest point – Matlhorwe Peak – rises 1 560 metres above sea level.

There are only three of these ring-dyke complexes in existence today – and Pilanesberg is the best preserved by far!

It is also one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type in the world, the rare rock types and formations make it a unique geological feature.

The Pilanesberg mountain was named after a historic Tswana chief, Pilane, and the ‘Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex’ is the park’s primary geological feature. This vast circular geological feature is ancient even by geological standards as it was created 1 200-million-years ago.

If you’re interested in visiting this special place, contact us here.