A Quick Nature Fix at Rietvlei

Our local Rietvlei Nature Reserve is often just what the doctor ordered when I need a quick nature fix. Located just 13km from our home, with a very fair rate of admission (R50 for adults currently, roughly $3.50), decent facilities, an extensive road network and an amazing diversity of wildlife, Rietvlei never fails to recharge the batteries! A week or so ago, in serious need of getting my head cleared following a few health worries, that’s exactly where I headed for a solo trip.

In all the years we’ve been visiting Rietvlei the reserve’s cheetahs have always eluded us – these large spotted cats are experts at hiding! I therefore felt extremely pleased when at long last I encountered a female with her three cubs, just after they had their fill of a freshly caught blesbok. I returned to the site several times later during the day, hoping that the family might still be in the vicinity, only to find the remains of the carcass variously attended by nervous black-backed jackals and pied crows squabbling over the left overs.

At one of the bird-viewing hides I had another encounter that will live in my memory forever. A reedbuck ewe hid her young lamb in a dense stand of reeds nearby, which is quite normal behaviour for the species. The curious (or should that be naughty?) youngster however did not want to stay put where his mom told him to, and quite unafraid approached me where I was sitting flat on the ground taking photos of him from a distance. Eventually he got so close that I had to get up and walk away, afraid that if he was to rub up against me his mother might catch my scent on him and abandon him. If I was pleased after the earlier cheetah sighting this experience really had me feeling utterly blessed!

Winter is getting a firm hold on South Africa’s Highveld now and early morning at Rietvlei is a pleasure to behold as mist rises from the waterways and the rising sun starts to thaw the frost covering the grass and trees.

For a reserve almost entirely surrounded by urban sprawl and industries, Rietvlei harbours an impressive collection of large and easily visible mammalian inhabitants. My sightings included black wildebeest, blesbok, buffalo, eland, meerkat, plains zebra, hartebeest, springbok, waterbuck, white rhinos and yellow mongoose (as well as the already mentioned cheetahs, jackals and reedbuck).

I also managed to identify 55 different kinds of birds in the few hours I spent at Rietvlei!

All in all a very pleasant day’s outing; one that certainly got my head back in the right place!

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49 thoughts on “A Quick Nature Fix at Rietvlei

  1. Zest

    Fantastic photos! I’ve heard so much about Rietvlei but have never been… your post has inspired me to make it happen soon 🙂

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      You’ll not be sorry, Zest. Rietvlei isn’t a pristine wilderness by any means, but still it offers an easily accessible escape from city pressures right on our doorstep.

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  2. naturebackin

    What a lovely post. Your precious encounter with the young reedbuck almost eclipses seeing the cheetah with her cubs! Thanks for sharing your varied sightings – all special in their own way.

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  3. aj vosse

    Shoe, julle is voorwaar “ge-bless”.. ek hoop dinge is nou beter… ons stap die selfde T2D paaidjie so ek voel vir jou! Moenie laat die situasie jou onderkry nie!
    (Ek wil nie preek nie maar dieet help met baie van vandagse lewensstyl siektes!)

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  4. budpumba

    magnifique ! je ne connaissais cette réserve que par le sort tragique de deux rhinocéros braconnés l’année dernière, heureux de découvrir la beauté de ce lieu. Que d’oiseaux !!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Indeed Rietvlei made news for a horrible reason when those two rhinos were poached last year, Budpumba. The reserve management have therefore dehorned all the white rhinos to discourage these despicable acts.

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  5. Anne

    Good urban planning NEEDS such open lungs for the health of the population and to secure the future for the wild creatures of our country. Long may it remain free from ‘development’.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Rietvlei is regtig een van Pretoria se grootste bates, Dina – As die verkeer smiddae nie so erg was op en oppad na die R21 nie sou ek wraggies n seisoenskaartjie gekoop het en amper elke middag na werk gou eers daar gaan uitspan het!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Ai dankie Tina! Ek is bevrees dis nog net in konsep, kort nog bietjie fotos van n wyer deel van die land. Miskien na ons Kaapse toer aan die einde van die jaar, en volgende jaar se beplande trippie Kalahari toe kan ons begin werk maak daarvan! 😀

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for the link, Colonialist!

      There’s also brochures about the reserve available on the municipality’s website, at http://www.tshwane.gov.za/sites/tourism/NatureConservation/Pages/Rietvlei-Nature-Reserve.aspx

      I tagged all our Rietvlei posts and that’s where the link at the top of this page will take you – as this is the newest post it’s the first you’ll see followed by all the other posts on Rietvlei further down.

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  6. colonialist

    You were richly rewarded for your visit. Why is it that leopards and cheetah stubbornly avoid all the roads I choose when visiting reserves? I also envy you the sighting of the yellow mongoose. The bands I find are always banded.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I was very lucky indeed – the first time I saw cheetahs at Rietvlei in the probably 20 years since they’ve been introduced to the reserve! Just shows you how well they can hide. The yellow mongooses are a more familiar sight here on the highveld – we even have a family of them in the gardens at my place of work!

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      1. colonialist

        They and leopards are masters of ‘not being there’. Even from reasonably close up. I recall one at The Heads a only a matter of ten or twenty metres away that only came into focus when he flicked an ear. After a casual look at me, he doubled back on himself and simply melted into bush.
        In all the years I lived and wandered in the Pta/Jhb area I don’t remember seeing those mongooses. Maybe they have adapted more to built-up conditions.

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  7. travel460

    De Wet, regtig, ek staan verstom voor jou mooie fotos. Hoop ek kry eendag die geleentheid om jou in ñ wildtuin raak te loop, want sowaar, ons gaan al agter jou aanry!

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  8. John

    Incredibly beautiful pictures! Your site is like Animal planet, but with photos. 🙂 I’m always watching Animal Planet, Nat Geo and other similar channels, but have never seen as many different beautiful birds as those you’ve photographed. Your site is a Mecca for nature enthusiasts. 🙂

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