Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve: make a day of it

View of Roodeplaat Dam from above

View of Roodeplaat Dam from above (Image: duanzerwick)

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.

White-breasted cormorant at Roodeplaat Nature Reserve

White-breasted cormorant at Roodeplaat Nature Reserve (Image: Derek Keats)

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.