We’ve made mention before of how fortunate we are to live in Pretoria, where so many nature reserves are to be found in close proximity to the city. At 3600ha, the Rietvlei Nature Reserve is the largest of the nature areas within the city limits, and is located right at the southern edge of the metro.
Rietvlei is an important reserve in that it protects a variety of rare and threatened plants, animals and habitats. Visitors are drawn by a wide range of birds and animals that include lion (in a separate 100ha camp), white rhinoceros, buffalo, hippopotamus, cheetah, brown hyena and large herds of zebra and antelope. In addition, the Rietvlei Dam offers opportunities for fishing and sailing, with hiking, biking and horse trails being attractive alternatives to driving around or spending hours in one of the four photographic hides for exploring to reserve. Visitors can even overnight in the reserve, with camping and chalets being available next to the dam. There are two picnic sites in the reserve and a coffee shop where you can enjoy delicious baked treats.
Unfortunately, due to its urban setting, the reserve can hardly be described as pristine and its management has to contend with a lot of human impact, much of it totally unavoidable and irreversible. The encroaching city sprawl almost surrounds the reserve while electricity pylons, water pipelines and invasive alien plants are very much in evidence. These negative factors however shouldn’t deter you from visiting Rietvlei – it has so much counting in its favour and it certainly is a popular retreat, especially over weekends, for city-dwellers intent on spending some time in the outdoors, as we were last Sunday.