Tag Archives: Nylsvley Nature Reserve

Our 2021 In Pictures

Take a look back with us at the wonderfully wild South African places we visited in 2021.


Springtime rejuvenation at Nylsvley

Monday the 1st of November was a declared public holiday in South Africa, to allow for the running of the municipal elections. Of course this little gift of a long weekend was too good to pass up, so the de Wets headed north into the Bushveld for a two night visit to the Nylsvley Nature Reserve – one of our country’s most highly-rated bird watching destinations.

True to its reputation, Nylsvley delivered abundantly on the bird front during our visit, despite the fact that many of the summer regulars haven’t arrived in South Africa yet and despite most of the wetlands being completely dry at the end of the dry season. We managed to tick 82 species of birds without trying very hard.

Besides the birds, another reason to visit Nylsvley is the sizable populations of three of South Africa’s rarer antelope species that are found here: Southern Reedbuck, Roan Antelope, and Tsessebe.

These antelope were just some of the 25 kinds of mammals we encountered during the 48 hours or so we spent at Nylsvley, ranging from bats, squirrels and mice to lofty giraffes.

We found a little waterhole that was well frequented by the reserve’s giraffes, and had great fun photographing the giants as they stooped to drink.

Even on a smaller scale, Nylsvley has so much to offer!

If you’d like to learn more about Nylsvley you are welcome to have a read through a previous post we did on the reserve following a visit in 2017.

Entrance Gate at Nylsvley Nature Reserve

And don’t worry – Marilize and I performed our civic duty by casting our votes as soon as we got back to Pretoria on Monday afternoon. 😉


Our 2017 in pictures

Looking back at the places we stayed at during another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places.


If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

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Nylsvley Nature Reserve

Almost 180 years ago, the Voortrekkers on their Great Trek northwards (away from the British colony in the Cape), reached what they thought was the source of the River Nile in what is today South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Of course they were still thousands of miles away from the real Nile, but the name stuck.

Our Nyl River is a minor tributary of the Limpopo, but forms one of South Africa’s largest and most pristine wetland areas – an area 70km long and 7km wide at its widest point. In years of exceptional rainfall (normally about once in ten years) the total inundated area covers as much as 160km². In 1974 the provincial government established the Nylsvley Nature Reserve (39km² in size) to protect a portion of this delicate ecosystem, which was recognised as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention in 1998.

Joubert and I decided to pay the reserve a quick one night visit this past weekend.

Nylsvley’s motto reads “Nylsvley is for the birds” and considering that this relatively small reserve has an impressive list of over 380 recorded bird species, it is certainly most fitting. Nylsvley is an important breeding habitat for over 100 kinds of waterbirds (more than any other wetland in the country), many of which is considered rare or range restricted in South Africa. While the rainy season hasn’t yet started and most summer migrants are yet to arrive, we still managed to identify 79 species of birds in the little over 24 hours we spent at Nylsvley. We’d dearly want to return in late summer, once the wetland has been flooded, in anticipation of the spectacle of a reported 80,000 waterbirds congregating at Nylsvley.

And while pride of place at Nylsvley really does go to the birdlife, the reserve is also home to thousands of invertebrate species (including 55 kinds of dragonflies and 194 kinds of butterflies), 13 kinds of fish, 23 kinds of amphibians, 58 reptile species (including many venomous snakes, so wear sensible shoes when hiking!) and 77 species of mammals (among which sizable populations of rare roan antelope and tsessebe). Vegetation comprises broad-leaved woodlands, thornveld, grassland and of course the floodplains, and over 600 species of plant have been recorded in the reserve.

Nylsvley Nature Reserve falls under the jurisdiction of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, with the NGO Friends of Nylsvley playing an active role in the protection of the reserve and extended floodplain. Visitors to the reserve can overnight in the rustic camping area (6 shady sites), a dormitory with space for 36 people, or in one of the 5 chalets (4×2 bed, 1×6 bed). Other facilities in the reserve include a picnic area for day visitors, a restaurant, three bird-viewing hides, a limited road network (which can be carefully negotiated in a sedan), and an extensive network of hiking trails. The services of expert guides can be arranged through the reserve’s reception office. Most other services and shops are available in the nearby towns of Modimolle (formerly Nylstroom) and Mookgopong (Naboomspruit).

Nylsvley is an easy 170km away from us in Pretoria, along the N1 and R101 highways to the north.

Pretoria to Nylsvley along the N1 and R101

Father & Son Time at Nylsvley

This past weekend Joubert and I took a short camping breakaway to a new destination for us; the Nylsvley Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province.

Father and son time at Nylsvley

Of course we’ll tell you more about our trip, and the reserve, in an upcoming edition of de Wets Wild!