Entrance to Rietvlei Nature Reserve
Rievlei Nature Reserve, is a small reserve located in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
Bird 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)12 345-3576 (, [email protected]), . Operated by the Pretoria Sailing Club.
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.
As part of the Rietvlei water scheme, the Rietvlei dam was build in 1934 on the Six Mile Spruit and the reserve was later proclaimed on the council owned land surrounding it. The Rietvlei dam supplied about 15% of Tshwane's water supply.
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
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.
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 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.
- A stone rampart build by the British forces during the Boer wars.
- An old homestead dating back to the 1900s
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 (, [email protected]), . 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 ().
- 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 ().
- Day Horse Rides, ☎ +27 (0)12 345-2274. Groups of 6 to 10 people. Horse, saddle and guide is included. R160 per person ().
- 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 ().
- 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 ().
- 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 mashine, stove, walk-in refrigerator and cushions are supplied. No loud music allowed and everyone must be out by midnight. R1500 ().
Bring what you need with you.
Bring your own food.
Bring your own drinks.
Camping in the angling area
- Camping, Located in the Angling are, ☎ +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) ().
- Chalets, ☎ +27 (0)12 345-3917. checkin: Between 6AM and 6PM. R500 per chalet (max 6 people) ().
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.
Explore the rest of Tshwane and Gauteng