Rietvlei Nature Reserve
Rietvlei (Reed marsh) has a size of 38 square kilometers and covered by 91km of roads. 40 km of these roads are open to the public (30km tarred and 10km dirt road) for self drive game viewing. The Rietvlei and Marais dams are located inside the reserve.
The reserve consist of three main areas:
The only boats allowed on the dams are those operated from the Yatch Club. Powerboats are totally forbidden as the noise disturbs the wildlife (and human visitors trying to get away from the noise of the cities).
The reserve is generally not very busy (sadly people in Gauteng tend to prefer spending their time in shopping malls rather than enjoy the outdoor on their doorstep). You will often have a bird hide all to yourself and there are seldom anyone else around to make a noise and scare away the wildlife.
Summer is excellent for bird watching as many of the migrating species will also be found in the reserve, but the long lush grass may obscure some of the other wildlife, rhino may be especially difficult to spot. Some antelope species will still be easily visible due to their size and the fact that they graze along the hill sides.
The Rietvlei dam supplied about 15% of Tshwane's water supply.
As part of the Rietvlei water scheme, the Rietvlei dam was build in 1934 on the Six Mile Spruit. The damn wall is a brick structure and was build completely by hand. Donkey carts were used to cart bricks onto site and remove any soil and other matrial that was no longer required. Many horse shoes lost by these working donkeys can still be found in the hill behind the Yacht Club.
In 1948 the city of Pretoria, who owns the land, proclaimed the area a nature reserve.
Mostly open grassland covering low hills with indigenous tree in small groups. Rare for South Africa, it also contains a peat wetland area. An ancient lava stream runs north/south through the park.
The dams are fed by the Six Mile Spruit and four fountains on the reserve as well as one from an adjacent property.
Flora and fauna
The reserve has 272 bird and 530 plant species. Buffalo, hippopotamus, brown hyena, black back jackel, zebra, ostrich, cheetah, rhinoceros, and a number of antelope species. Antelope include eland, red hartebees, black wildebees, blesbok, springbok, reedbuck, waterbuck, steenbok, duiker and oribi. There are some exotic plant species and invader trees that are slowly being eradicated.
The reserve has a typical Hightveld climate with hot days regularly followed by short and intense afternoon thunderstorms in summer. The thunderstorms are often accompanied by lightning and occasionally result in hail. Summer temperatures range between 16°C at night to 30°C during the day. Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging between a minimum of 5°C and a maximum of 20°C.
Take exit 12 (M31 Nellmapios Dr., Irene) from the R21, turn towards the east (there is a brown information sign boards indicating the reserve), at the first 4 way stop, turn right and about 2.5km down the road you will find another brown information sign board indicating a left turn towards the reserve entrance.
Gates are open for day visitors from 6AM to 5PM in summer (September to March) and 6AM to 4PM in winter. Day visitors are required to leave the reserve by 7PM in summer and 5PM in winter.
Entrance to the reserve costs R30 per adult, R15 for children under 13 and free for children under 5. The disabled or elderly (over 60) pay R15 entrance fee.
Access to the Angling area requires an additional permit at R20.
The easiest option for day visitors is to self drive. 30km of tarred and 10km of dirt road is provided for this. Speed limit within the reserve is 30km per hour.
There are no shops in the reserve. There is a small convenience shop just outside the reserve, located at the service station on the intersection of the M37 and M31. Two large shopping malls are located within a 15km drive from the reserve. Follow the R21 towards Pretoria until it joins the N1 about 6km from the reserve, if you follow the N1 towards the left you will reach Centurion Mall, towards the right will take you to Menlyn Park.
There are no restaurants or fast food outlets in the reserve, but there are also no restriction on what food you may take in for your own consumption.
Do not feed the animals.
There are no places to buy drinks in the reserve, but there are safe to drink, municipal water on tap at most places where you may exit your vehicle. Alcohol is allowed in the reserve, but anyone found intoxicated will be asked to leave.
There are dangerous animals in the park. Only exit your vehicle at designated areas, such at the picnic spot, bird hides, lapas and camping sites. No swimming is alowed in any of the dams as they are home to hippo and crocodile.
There are a number of other small areas within Gauteng that has not yet been overrun by human expansion and development