I visit Rietvlei Nature Reserve every few weeks. It’s a great place to just go for the afternoon if you’re craving the bush feel but can’t get to any of the national parks. Does it compare evenly to Kruger Park? Of course not. It’s in the middle of a suburban area, surrounded by main roads with massive power lines running through it but it is the largest reserve within city borders with wild animals in the world. It’s still a great place to go for the day if you just want to “be one with nature” for a little while. They have 3 of the Big 5 as it’s too small for elephants as they cause so much damage. If you’re lucky you might see a leopard as there are still a few roaming from years gone by even outside the reserve itself. The lions are kept in a separate area and you have to book a tour to see them. You’ll catch the game drive vehicle from the coffee shop. As far as I know they only have one cheetah who was released in late 2014 after their two previous male cheetahs died a few years prior. A female is being sought to join him.
The roads are in good condition and your small low-level car will do just fine. There are 50kms of road to drive on as well as a scenic picnic area which sits right on Marais Dam, there are two hides situated on either corner of the picnic area looking out over the water. There are plenty of Braai facilities and ablutions.
Rietvlei Coffee Shop is a lovely place to have lunch. The transformed old farmhouse offers a wide range of meals and drinks with the chance of seeing rhinos or buffaloes at the same time. You can either sit indoors or outdoors or if you’re in a hurry to get back out onto the road, the coffee shop has some crisps, sweets and drinks on sale to take away. I definitely recommend taking a seat and enjoying the surroundings with a milkshake and a toasted sandwich though.
The hides are your best spot for seeing birds or just a pretty view to enjoy your picnic over. There are five hides in Rietvlei including the two at the picnic spot. Island View is my favourite hide by far! Personally I think it has one of the best views in Rietvlei. Fern Fountain can be a bit dead for any wildlife or birds but its a very peaceful setting if you just enjoy listening to the wind flow through the reeds. Coots Corner is the first hide you’ll come across if you’re entering through the main entrance from Olifantsfontein Road. There is usually always a few cars there and it’s not one I stop at often but it’s definitely worth the stop to see if there are any hippos or birds hanging around! The newest hide which is more of a viewing deck offers you a panoramic view of the nature reserve. A wonderful spot to relax and inhale nature.
One of my favourite spots in Rietvlei is Otter Bridge where you can sit for hours and just enjoy nature. It’s also a wonderful place for bird spotting. On what I would call a very lucky day where I sat for about an hour and a half, I seen a Pied Kingfisher diving for fish, a Malachite Kingfisher darting about as well as a mother duck and her three ducklings. There was also the resident Egyptian Geese family, a few pigeons and a Cormorant present.
When visiting Rietvlei patience is key. Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. The last few times I’ve visited I’ve seen a Black Backed Jackal. I’ve only seen one twice in Kruger and they disappeared in a millisecond! You are also guaranteed to see a rhino, who are carefully protected by Rietvlei’s anti-poaching unit.
In conclusion Rietvlei Nature Reserve is a wonderful place to find some serenity for the day with the added bonus of seeing some animals that you might not get to see in the vast landscapes of Kruger!
Know Before You Go
Summer: September to March 05:30 – 17:00 (You may remain inside until 19:00 when the gates close).
Winter: April to August 06:00 – 16:00 (You may remain inside until 18:00 when the gates close).
School Children (6-16 years): R25.00
Pre-School Children (0-5 years): R5.00
Persons 60 years and older who can provide proof thereof and disabled persons: R25.00
Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Cheetah, Eland, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Zebra, Ostrich, Blesbuck, Springbuck, Reedbuck, Waterbuck, Steenbok, Duiker, Oribi, Black-Back Jackal, Brown Hyena, Etc.
272 species of birds and 530 species of plants have been identified.
From the Olifantsfontein Road (Goedehoop, M57)
Co-Ordinates 25°52’58.655”S 28°15’47.455”E
Till next time friends,
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