Rietvlei : A day of soul revival by Caitlin Booker

Rietvlei Nature Reserve

After my two month stint in the wild – Limpopo, to Mozambique, finishing with a month in Zambia – being in the city for a week was a bit to much for me. I needed a bush break. A hit from nature. A day to revive. I travel into the middle of no where alone for work, why am I house bound in my own country? Also, I needed at least a day in the bush. Come hell or high water I was going to get it.

Luckily Gauteng has so many nature reserves open to the public in close proximity to both Pretoria and Johannesburg. So, I put my concerns and news induced fears aside. I decided to go do what I needed to do to be happy! I packed my picnic basket and took myself off to Rietvlei Nature Reserve for the day. Less than an hours drive in morning traffic, Rietvlei Nature Reserve is situated on the outskirts of Irene, Centurion. A R60 entrance fee got me into this 3 800 hectares of bushveld on the banks of the Rietvlei dam.

Completely accessible to little city cars, me and my mini were in heaven. I spent the whole day driving through the reserve. With each minute passing I could feel my soul reviving.I soon discovered this reserve is teeming zebra, black wildebeest, ostriches, eland as well as some more elusive species of buck. And, whilst I saw evidence of the rhinos (i.e: a huge pile of rhino dung) I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the rare creatures. It will always amaze me how such big animals can almost completely disappear in the bush.

I stopped at all the hides and look out points. Best of all because I was on my ace, I could stop for as long as I wanted. There was no one nagging to get a move on because there wasn’t something to see at a hide. I am one of those people can can sit in silence staring into the bush forever, perfectly happy animals or no animals.

The best hide in my opinion is Finfoot Hide on Hartebees Road. The wooden hide is above a small dam with a flowing weir. The surrounding willows keep it wonderfully cool, and add to its serenity. Here I saw the buffalos on my first stop. Second up on my list of must stop hides is the Island View Hide. The hide overlooks a dam. The view is stunning, and there was an abundance of birds.

There are two main picnic areas with braai facilities on the reserve as well as a main lapa that can be booked for private events. Which of course I am more than happy to help you cook for . One picnic area is by the Rietvlei Coffee Shop, this is also where the Lion Camp tours depart from; booking is essential. The tours are the only way to see the lions on Rietvlei as you cannot self drive through the lion camp which is a bit disappointing.The second picnic area is on Marias Dam, it is well looked after, and boasts a great view.

I left Rietvlei before the traffic started, around 15:00, but you can stay in the reserve until the gate closes at 19:00. I got home my soul revived and ready to face the concrete jungle again. Not to bad for a Tuesday.