The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Irene

Afrikaans name: Rietvlei Natuurreservaat

Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Irene

White Rhinos at Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert


Rietvlei Dam was built during the great depression of the early 1930's. The dam is fed by the Sesmyl Spruit and provides some of Pretoria's water supply.

The Rietvlei Nature Reserve was established after the dam and was only opened to the general public in 1948. It is 3800 hectares in extent.

The main habitat in the reserve is typical Highveld grassland with clumps of trees here and there. Numerous exotic trees are in the process of being removed.

Southern Black Korhaan

The Southern Black Korhaan is common in the grassland areas

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Rietvlei Nature Reserve offers good birding and game viewing. The reserve is home to a wide varity of mammals and birds. Mammals to look for include Eland, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino, Springbok and Red Hartebeest. At times the reserve is home to Cheetahs but this is part of a breeding program and they are taken away if they are having a negative impact on the numbers of antelope.

Rietvlei has been divided into two separate sections. The main portion is the reserve while the other portion caters for boating and angling. Although there is a yacht club no motorboats are allowed on the dam.

The Rietvlei Coffee Shop is a very popular stopping point in the reserve where one can get light meals and other refreshments. It is also a great place to have a braai. There are a number of braai facilities along Marais Dam which is an incredibly popular place during lunch times on weekends! While at Marais Dam spend some time at Hippo View hide. Not only might you see Hippos but you should see some very large Barbel as well!

Have you visited Rietvlei NR? Did you have any good sightings?

Dawn at the dam

Dawn at the Rietvlei Dam

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Coffee shop

The coffee shop is a popular stopping point

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Some of the mammals of Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Please note that this is only a guide and, while we have made every effort to be accurate, we can't be held responsible for any errors.

Black-backed Jackal


White Rhino

Burchell's Zebra


Cape Buffalo





Mountain Reedbuck


Red Hartebeest



Black Wildebeest

Brown Hyena

Some of the birds of Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Please note that this is only a guide and, while we have made every effort to be accurate, we can't be held responsible for any errors.

Common Ostrich

Cape Spurfowl

Helmeted Guineafowl

Fulvous Duck

White-faced Duck

Maccoa Duck

Egyptian Goose

South African Shelduck

Spur-winged Goose

Cape Teal

African Black Duck

Yellow-billed Duck

Cape Shoveler

Red-billed Teal

Hottentot Teal

Southern Pochard

African Grey Hornbill

Malachite Kingfisher

Giant Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

White-fronted Bee-eater

Klaas's Cuckoo

Diderick Cuckoo

Burchell's Coucal

Alpine Swift

African Black Swift

Little Swift

White-rumped Swift

Barn Owl

Spotted Eagle-Owl

Marsh Owl

Fiery-necked Nightjar

Rock Dove

Speckled Pigeon

Laughing Dove

Cape Turtle-Dove

Red-eyed Dove

Blue Crane

Black Crake

African Purple Swamphen

Common Moorhen

Red-knobbed Coot

African Snipe

Marsh Sandpiper

Common Greenshank

Wood Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper


Little Stint

Curlew Sandpiper


Greater Painted-snipe

Water Thick-knee

Spotted Thick-knee

Black-winged Stilt

Common Ringed Plover

Kittlitz's Plover

Three-banded Plover

White-fronted Plover

Blacksmith Lapwing

African Wattled Lapwing

Crowned Lapwing

Kelp Gull

Grey-headed Gull

Hartlaub's Gull

Caspian Tern

Swift Tern

Sandwich Tern

Common Tern

White-winged Tern

Black-shouldered Kite

Black Kite

African Fish-Eagle

African Marsh-Harrier

Steppe Buzzard

Rock Kestrel

Lanner Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

Little Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

African Darter

Reed Cormorant

White-breasted Cormorant

Little Egret

Yellow-billed Egret

Grey Heron

Black-headed Heron

Purple Heron

Cattle Egret

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Little Bittern


Greater Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

Glossy Ibis

Hadeda Ibis

African Sacred Ibis

African Spoonbill

Great White Pelican

African Paradise-Flycatcher


Pied Crow

Red-backed Shrike

Magpie Shrike

Sand Martin

Brown-throated Martin

Banded Martin

Barn Swallow

White-throated Swallow

Pearl-breasted Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

Long-billed Crombec

Little Rush-Warbler

African Reed-Warbler

Lesser Swamp-Warbler

Willow Warbler

Cape White-eye

Grey-backed Cisticola

Levaillant's Cisticola

Zitting Cisticola

Karoo Prinia

Bar-throated Apalis

Red-capped Lark

Fiscal Flycatcher

Cape Robin-Chat

Karoo Scrub-Robin

African Stonechat

Red-winged Starling

Pied Starling

Common Starling

Malachite Sunbird

Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Cape Weaver

Southern Masked-Weaver

Southern Red Bishop

Yellow Bishop

Common Waxbill

Pin-tailed Whydah

Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah

Cape Sparrow

African Pied Wagtail

Cape Longclaw

African Pipit

Cape Canary

Yellow Canary

White-throated Canary

References and further reading

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 61

The Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng - Author: Etienne Marais and Faansie Peacock - Published: 2008 - Page: 80

Insiders Guide - Top Wildlife Photography Spots in South Africa - Author: Shem Compion - Published: 2010 - Page: 73

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 114

Atlas of National Parks and Reserves of South Africa - Author: Marielle Renssen - Published: 2006 - Page: 112

Birding Hotspots - Author: Trevor Hardaker - Published: 2007 - Page: 25


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