Located about 22km northeast of Pretoria the Roodeplaat dam was originally called the ‘Pienaars Rivier Dam’ when it was constructed in 1956 to supply the surrounding landowners with water. It has developed into an important water source for the Pretoria area and after commissioning the Roodeplaat water treatment plant in 2006, the dam augments the supply of water to the northern areas of Tshwane through the Montana, Wonderboom, and Magaliesberg reservoirs and is used as a direct water supply to the Doornpoort area.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) delegated the management of the Roodeplaat dam area to the division of Nature Conservation of the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA) in 1972. The Transvaal Provincial Administrations’ mandate was to develop the area as a nature reserve and outdoor recreation facility for the city population. The reserve was proclaimed in 1977.
A well-known destination for birdwatching, game viewing and a range of water sports that include freshwater angling, the Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve is a popular destination for those living in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Originally meant for irrigation, the dam was later developed as part of a game reserve, attracting anglers, boating and canoeing enthusiasts, families out for a picnic, as well as a variety of birds (about 250 species), and wild animals such as antelope, jackal, banded mongoose, blue wildebeest and kudu.
The reserve is divided into a northern and southern side, each with its own designated attractions.
The northern side
This part of the dam is great for canoeing, sailing and for fish such as bass, kurper or carp. It’s equipped with picnic sites, braai (barbeque) areas and toilets, as well as basic campsites on the water’s edge. Bird-lovers can spot the likes of terns, warblers (especially in summer), a range of kingfishers and African fish eagles. Visiting hours are from 6am to 8pm.
The southern side
This side of the reserve remains a firm favourite for budding or avid wildlife enthusiasts. Often a lot quieter than the northern side, it’s the perfect stomping ground for the likes of zebra, waterbuck, warthog and black-backed jackal. The birdlife (including coqui francolin, glossy ibis and black cuckooshrike, among others) also enjoys the tranquility on this side of the dam. Visiting hours are from 6am to 6pm.
Make a day of the Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve and get back to nature … it’s a lot closer than you’d think.