The Best Game Reserves in Pretoria

Cheetah Queen Njozi and her Siblings at Rietvlei Nature Reserve. Photo taken by Paul vd Merwe

Located southeast of Pretoria, the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in the Gauteng Province of Southern Africa is one of the best Game reserves in Pretoria. Besides surviving as a Nature Conservation area since 1929, Rietvlei serves as a Rhino Wildlife sanctuary. Every day’s ever-changing landscape holds its unique sighting, providing endless opportunities for avid nature photographers. Capturing memorable moments in nature will give you an authentic bush experience.

Servel cat Rietvlei game reserve image taken by Barbara Dannenhauer
Servel cat, Rietvlei Game Reserve image, taken by Barbara Dannenhauer

Pretoria Nature Reserves

Previously a farm, the earth was disturbed and filled with invasive plant species and mixed grasses. An interesting fact is that the Rietvlei Game Reserve provides the residents of Pretoria with about 41 million litres of drinking water daily. Although the pink pompom weed is invasive, it makes an excellent backdrop for images.

The Rietvlei Game Reserve

What animals can be seen in Rietvlei Nature Reserve?

Rietvlei Game Reserve is open to self-drive game viewing with a speed limit of 30 km/h. You don’t need an off-road vehicle as all roads, in addition, are well maintained. Besides Rhino and Cheetah, Rietvlei is home to about 2 000 heads of game that roams on the 4,000 hectares of African grassland. Wildlife includes Eland, Buffalo, Springbok, Rooi Hartebeest, Blesbok, Waterbuck, Black Wildebeest, and Zebra.

Bird lovers can observe a great variety of bird species, including Ostriches. Besides being a bird-lovers paradise, look out for Otters at the otter bridge; you might be lucky to spot fascinating Predators such as serval cats, the African Lynx, or Jackal and Mongoose. So besides your hat, smartphone or camera, you only need binoculars, a bird book, and some drinks and snacks.

Quick Information and FAQ

How to get to Rietvlei Dam

The Rietvlei nature reserves in Pretoria’s main entrance are on the M57 towards Kempton Park (Olifantsfontein Road). Look out for the signboard just before the R21 near St George Hotel. The game reserve in Pretoria and Rietvlei farm is a mere 25 minutes drive from Oliver Tambo international airport. Coördinates: 25°52’58.6″S 28°15’46.7″

The Temperature at Rietvlei Reserve

During the summer, temperatures reach as high as 34°C, and rainfall of 724mm falls during the summer rainy season. During wintertime, the temperatures get as low as -2° with hardly any rain. The open grassland reserve at Rietvlei has a typical highveld climate with dry, frosty winters.

Waterbuck at Rietvlei Nature reserve - Image taken by Louis Jordaan
Waterbuck Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Image taken by Louis Jordaan

Best Things to Do at Rietvlei Game Reserves in Pretoria

  • Families, couples, and solo travellers can enjoy a pleasant day out.
  • Self-drive Game drive with a standard Sedan vehicle.
  • Book a Game drive or one of the Rietvlei Lion Tours.
  • Rietvlei guided walks with a Ranger (about 1,5 hours).
  • Bird watching at the Otter Bridge and various other water streams and bird hides.
  • Upstream from the Rietvlei Dam is the Marais Dam.
  • Have a Picnic at one of the Picnic spots.
  • Go Hiking (see more info further down)
  • Enjoy Coffee and Cake at the Coffee shop while watching the mongoose and squirrels.
  • Fishing at Rietvlei Dam.

Rietvlei Hiking Trails FAQ

  • Can you hike at Rietvlei Nature Reserve? Yes, Rietvlei Nature Reserve hiking is very popular.
  • How many trails are in Rietvlei Nature Reserve? Hikers have two options.
  • 10 km Day hike (4 hours) for 10 – 15 persons, and booking is essential. (Rietvlei South Loop).
  • 21 km 2-day overnight hike (6-8 persons) – starting Friday afternoon and ending Sunday afternoon. Facilities include two overnight huts with beds, mattresses, hot/cold water, limited cooking utensils and firewood.
  • 10 km Rietvlei South Loop (takes about 2h15min)

Rietvlei Night Drives

On the Rietvlei night drives, the game tracked from open game vehicles. The night drives cater for between 10 to 20 people. After that, visitors enjoy a braai at the Fish Eagle Lapa with firewood and blankets.

The Rietvlei Lion Tours

One can book Lion tours at Rietvlei s inside the Coffee Shop on this Rietvlei Pretoria Nature, about a 9km drive from the gate. The one-hour lion tour is within a 1,5 km lion camp where the reserve keeps six lions in a separate camp.

Buffalo Gauteng Game Reserves
Buffalo Gauteng Game Reserves

Bird Watching

Rietvlei Pretoria nature reserves are any photographer and Bird lover’s paradise with beautiful bird hides. With a wide range of bird species, you often ought to find the rare migrating European Honey-buzzard and the green sandpiper. Although winter provides more comfortable viewing as the veld is dry and open, spring is lusciously green and brings abundant bird species.

Tips from Will Goodlet are that a person needs a solid bean bag and telephoto lens to take outstanding photos. Thanks to Will for his Photographers Guide; it is a big inspiration.

Birds at Rietvlei -Photo taken by Alta Pretorius
Birds at Rietvlei -Photo from Alta Pretorius

Horse riding

There is no Horse riding due to Covid regulations, but when everything returns to normal, the Rietvlei horse riding departs from the Rietvlei coffee shop.

Crowned plover forsooth image taken by Alta Pretorius
Photo taken by Alta Pretorius
Image taken by Barbara Dannenhauer
Young Black-backed jackal at Rietvlei Pretoria Nature Reserves
Image from Alta Pretorius

Rietvlei Coffee Shop

A place you cannot afford to miss is the charming Rietvlei restaurant and Coffee shop. Apart from refreshments and snacks, they serve cakes and other meals. We love to sit outside under the shady trees and watch the squirrels and birds while enjoying their delicious chocolate Cake and freshly brewed Coffee.

Rietvlei Coffee Shop Contact details: Phone or WhatsApp- 082 500 4422, or email [email protected]. Takeaway food is available between 08:00 to 16:00.

Lapa Venues at Rietvlei Dam

Booking of Lapa venues in Pretoria Rietvlei Pretoria Nature reserves is essential. You must book at least three weeks in advance at Tel. 012 358 1811/2. The booking fee includes a refundable deposit and an entrance fee per person.

Tshukudu Lapa

The smallest Tshukudu Lapa can accommodate 50 persons, including braai stands, firewood, tables, electricity, a washing-up area, and bathrooms.

Fish Eagle Lapa

The Fish Eagle Lapa is only available with night drive and Lecture bookings. Bookings are essential; payment must be made in advance and situated at the Main Gate of Rietvlei Nature Reserve—tariffs: R 1170,00 per occasion plus a deposit of R 940.00. The deposit is refundable if everything is in order.

Falcon at Rietvlei reserve Pretoria
Falcon at Rietvlei image taken by Alta Pretorius

Game Reserves in Pretoria

Rietvlei Nature Reserve Accommodation

The following Accommodation is available:

  • Rietvlei dam chalets.
  • Jakkalsdans house is available on request but remember to book at least a month in advance.
  • Chalets offer Accommodation for 4 – 6 persons @ R750 per night.
  • Rietvlei Camping facilities
  • Enquires for Accommodation at Jakkalsgat Rietvlei Reserve.

Game Reserves in Pretoria Information and Contact details

  • Phone +27 (012) 358 1811/1812, or (012) 358 1810/1/2
  • Email: [email protected] (bookings)
  • Address: Rietvlei Nature Reserve, 14 Game Reserve Avenue, Irene
  • The gate opens at 05h30 (best bird sightings); the next best time is before sunset.

The Rietvlei Nature Reserve Prices

  • Adults (above 18 years): R69
  • Children (7 – 17 years): R40
  • Pre-school (2 – 6 years): R10
  • Infants free
  • Camping: R115 pp per night
  • Guided day hike: R100 pp
  • Pensioners above 60+: R40
  • Persons with disabilities: R40
  • Seasonal tickets: R900pp
  • Pensioners, children & persons with disabilities: R420pp
  • Brochures: R15

For more information and bookings, contact 012 358 1810/1/2 and [email protected].

Seasonal tickets (unlimited day entry)

  • R900pp (seasonal tickets are valid for six months)
  • Pensioners (above 60): R420pp
  • Children & persons with disabilities: R420pp
Zebras and Ostrich Rietvlei Nature reserves Pretoria
Zebras and Ostrich Rietvlei Nature reserves Pretoria Image by Johann Perie

Rietvlei Dam Fishing

The Rietvlei dam at Rietvlei Game Reserves in Pretoria offers a few sporting facilities, such as Fishing and a yacht clubhouse on the north-western shore. Anglers can try to catch Yellowtail, Carp, Tilapia, and catfish. To enter, Anglers must use the entrance gate on Nellmapius Drive. There are also Toilet and braai facilities available as well as camping spots.

Rules for Fishing at Rietvlei

Try your luck by fishing at Rietvlei Dam for bass, carp, or barbel. Rietvlei’s angling area includes toilet- and braai facilities and overnight facilities such as camping and chalets. Canoes and bait boats are not allowed.

  • Contact details: +27 (012) 480 9944 or 358 1819
  • Admission: Weekdays and weekends: 07:00 until 18:00
  • No entry an hour before closing time at 18h00
  • No alcohol is allowed.
  • Obtain a valid Gauteng recreational fishing Permit at the angling gate.
  • Other requirements are Proof of residential address,
  • Only two persons per barricaded angling spot,
  • Maximum two fishing rods per angler allowed.
  • Rietvlei angling are Map.

Thank you to the talented Photographers from Friends of Rietvlei for allowing me to use their images.

Rietvlei Nature Reserve Rules & Regulations

  • Drones are not allowed, as well as swimming or Fishing.
  • An identity document and a driver’s license are required.
  • No loud music or any noises are allowed.
  • Pack a rubbish bag.
  • No pets allowed,
  • Littering is forbidden.

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  1. You had me at sweet tooth. Going on a safari it on my bucket list, hopefully this year (fingers crossed).