As the lockdown levels ease, you can now go on a mini safari and explore the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. It is ideally located on the outskirts of Pretoria, a 30-minute drive from OR Tambo, and a 20-minute drive from Pretoria. The reserve spans an area of 3,800 hectares and is fully serviced with tarred and gravel roads. This is a typical Grassland area. The winters are dry with chilly mornings. The temperatures are similar to Pretoria. The Reserve gate opens at 06h00.
Recreation facilities include fishing, yachting, and paddling. No motor-powered craft are allowed on the water.
Hiking is available for enthusiastic explorers. There is a 4km as well as a 21km overnight hike with a stay over inside the reserve. If you are interested in the overnight hike, you must book in advance. It is very popular and only a limited number of hikers are allowed. On the hikes, you are accompanied by a game ranger. They are a wonderful source of information with many a tall story.
The reserve includes the Rietvlei Dam which supplies 27% of Pretoria’s water needs.
The Rietvlei Dam was built during the period of the Great Depression of 1929 to 1932 and was completed in 1934. The wall was constructed by manual labourers who received 4 shillings for a day’s work. The dam wall was raised in 1988 and the water capacity is 12,377m3 of water. The slug-dam is the Marais Dam, which is part of the wetland area. This can only be reached by hiking to the Marais Dam.
The Reserve has a permanent complement of staff looking after the facilities. There is a restaurant which is open for take-aways. Beautiful picnic spots are located in the Reserve to enjoy a picnic. Ablution facilities are available at various points.
The wildlife is abundant in an area of this size. Between 1,500 and 2,000 head of game, including Buffalo, Rhino and Hippo, can be seen in the Reserve. There are no elephants or lions in the Reserve. The Spotted Genet, Civet, and Brown Hyena are the hunters and scavengers of the plains and if you are lucky, you may spot them.
The plains game includes Zebra, Wildebeest, and Warthog. Antelope include Reedbuck, Blesbok, and as a wonderful surprise, the Springbok is also a resident.
The reserve is running a Cheetah breeding programme to increase the number of cheetah in the wild. Here you can learn more about these gracious hunters.
In summer the Rietvlei Nature Reserve is a birders paradise. There are well-positioned bird hides that are ideal viewing locations in the summer months. In winter the located hides are closed. You will be able to view a colony of breeding Secretary Birds and a pair of resident Black Breasted Snake Eagles amongst the large variety of wild birds.