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Rietvlei Nature Reserve

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Revision as of 11:04, 2 July 2011 by (talk) (Fees/Permits)
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Rietvlei Nature Reserve

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Rhinos in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Rietvlei Nature Reserve [6] is a small reserve located in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.


Map of the reserve.
Rietvlei dam.
Rufous-naped Lark sitting on an ant hill.

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 wildlife reserve area, +27 (0)12 345-2274. A picnic area with toilet and braai facilities is located at Marais dam, four birdwatching hides are situated throughout the reserve and open to anyone in the reserve. Two lapas can be rented for exclusive use.
  • Angling area, +27 (0)12 345-3917. Offers camping and chalet accommodation.
  • Yacht Club, +27 (0)12 454-0637 (+27 (0)82 488-9900, ), [1]. Operated by the Pretoria Sailing Club.

The only boats allowed on the dams are those operated from the Yacht Club. Powerboats are totally forbidden as the noise disturbs the wildlife.

The reserve is generally not very busy. You will often have a bird hide all to yourself and there is seldom anyone else around to make 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.


To be involved with a team of volunteers involved in many exciting tasks at Gauteng’s Rietvlei Nature Reserve, visit the web site of the Friends of Rietvlei:


As part of the Rietvlei water scheme, the Rietvlei dam was build in 1934 on the Six Mile Spruit. The dam 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 material 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, which 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.

Get in

The reserve is located just off the R21 between Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport.

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 R35 per adult, R18 for children under 13 and free for children under 5. The disabled or elderly (over 60) pay R18 entrance fee.

Access to the Angling area requires an additional permit at R20.

But don't bother phoning about inquiries as they do not answer phones.

Get around

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.


See more wildlife
Larger game tend to stay away from the main tar roads in the park. To improve your chances of seeing rhino, zebra and other larger animals it is a good idea to get off the tar and use the couple of dirt roads that are open to visitors, specifically those between the Gwarry Route and Main Road.

  • Wildlife
  • A stone rampart build by the British forces during the Boer wars.
  • An old homestead dating back to the 1900s


The picnic area
From the bird hide at the picnic area
  • Angling, +27 (0)12 345-3917. catfish, yellow fish, carp and tilapia are common. A onceoff R20 permit is required.
  • Bird watching. There are four bird hides in the reserve. The one at the picnic area is a bit old and creaky and some of the seating need repairs, kids from the picnic area can also be a nuisance to the serious bird watcher. The one on the Vlei Route is supported by Friends of Rietvlei and is in excellent condition and offers a good view of the vlei. The hide on Main Road has views over almost the whole Rietvlei dam, but is normally the first hide visitors see and you can expect some traffic in and out as people come to see what the hides look like.
  • Picnic. The picnic area at Marais dam has clean toilets, braai areas, and running water. Bring a blanket, something to eat and drink and relax.
  • Sailing, +27 (0)12 345-3576 (+27 (0)76 901-2690, ), [2]. The Pretoria Sailing Club operated on Rietvlei dam. In order to sail you will have to become a temporary club member. Gypsies, Lasers and O9s are available for rent.
  • Day Hiking Trails, +27 (0)12 345-2274. 4 hours guided hike. Groups of 10 to 15 people. R50 per person (R250 minimum deposit).
  • Overnight Hiking Trails, +27 (0)12 345-2274. From Friday afternoon to Sunday Afternoon. Groups of 6 to 8 people. Guided hike, 21km through the reserve. Two basic rondavels (huts) with beds, mattrasses, hot and cold water, some limited cooking utensils and firewood is provided. The rondavels do not have electricity. R120 per person (R250 minimum deposit).
  • Day Horse Rides, +27 (0)12 345-2274. Groups of 6 to 10 people. Horse, saddle and guide is included. R160 per person (Minimum R350 deposit).
  • Overnight Horse Rides, +27 (0)12 345-2274. 5PM on Friday to 12PM on Sunday. Groups of 6 to 8 people. Horse and equipment is included. Riders should have some horse riding experience. Router covers 36km. Two basic rondavels (huts) with beds, mattrasses, hot and cold water, some limited cooking utensils and firewood is provided. The rondavels do not have electricity. R360 per person (Minimum R1050 deposit).
  • Night game drives. 6PM to 10:30PM, Mondays to Saturdays. 2 hour game drive using spotlights to locate the wildlife. A fire (and blankets in winter) will be waiting at Fish Eagle Lapa for a bring and braai (bring your own meat, salads, drinks etc and have a barbecue) after the game drive. R100 per person (Minimum deposit of R400. Use of Fish Eagle Lapa at no extra cost.).
  • Have a function at Fish Eagle Lapa. 6AM to 12AM. Up to 30 people, firewood supplied. No loud music allowed and everyone must be out by midnight. R600.
  • Have a large function. 6AM to 12AM. Maximum 200 people. Firewood, power points, ice machine, stove, walk-in refrigerator and cushions are supplied. No loud music allowed and everyone must be out by midnight. R1500 (An additional R1000 refundable deposit is required. Bookings must be done 3 weeks in advance).


There are no shops in the reserve. There is a Woolworths convenience shop just outside the reserve, located at the Engen service station on the intersection of the M37 and M31. The Irene Village Mall [7] is located at the offramp from the R21, about 4km from the reserve.


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.


Camping in the angling area
  • Camping, Located in the Angling area, +27 (0)12 345-3917. checkin: Between 6AM and 6PM. Basic, but clean ablution blocks. A maximum of 60 per night is allowed on the camp site. R60 per stand (max 4 people) (Access to the Angling area will require an addition permit at R20 per person. If you require electricity at your campsite it will be charged for at an additional R20 per night).
  • Chalets, +27 (0)12 345-3917. checkin: Between 6AM and 6PM. R500 per chalet (max 6 people) (Access to the Angling area will require an addition permit at R20 per person. A refundable deposit of R500 is also required).

Stay safe

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 allowed in any of the dams as they are home to hippos and crocodiles.

Get in

Get out

There are a number of other small areas within Gauteng that has not yet been overrun by human expansion and development

  • Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, +27 (0)11 957-0106 (), [3]. Open 8AM to 3:45PM. Located in Krugersdorp, this park offers game drive, horse trails, an observatory, abseiling, swimming pool and braai and picnic areas. Wide range of animals. R70.
  • Sterkfontein Caves, (West along the N14 and look for the Cradle of Humankind signs), +27 (0)11 956-6342, [4]. A tour guide will lead you through this extensive cave system where many early hominids and advanced ape fossils were discovered. Note that it is a 2 km walk. You can also visit the museum to learn more about the evolution of man. There is also a restaurant and shop.
  • Tswaing Meteorite Crater, Old Soutpan Road (30 km north of Onderstepoort), +27 (0)12 790-2302, [5]. A perfectly preserved meteor crater just north of Pretoria
  • Some areas around Hartebeespoort is still undeveloped and offers country accommodation.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information about the park including attractions, activities, lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, and arrival/departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!