BEST OF TSHWANE: Wildlife and nature

Crocodile River Reserve

Crocodile River ReserveThe Reserve straddles three major rivers - the Jukskei, Hennops and Crocodile Rivers; the rugged Schurveberg Mountain marks the northern reaches, and the iconic Renosterskop stands sentinel in the North West. A bustling urban frill lies south and east, making this scenic natural environment the nearest escape to the country.

Enjoy the recreation and tourist activities through any one of the many venues, or participate in regular themed walks lead by specialist guides.

Conservation on private land, and specifically in areas where the environment is largely intact, is vital to the health and well-being of more than the local residents.

The conservation of the environment protects the ecosystem, and allows the vital natural infrastructure to continue delivering the ecosystem services which benefit people far beyond the physical location of the conservation area.

More information: Website

Dinokeng Game Reserve

Dinokeng Game ReserveThe Dinokeng Game Reserve is the first free-roaming Big 5 residential game reserve in Gauteng – and probably in the world – next to an urbanized area.

The reserve boasts about 30 lodges ranging from camping and caravan facilities to self catering lodges; or tented accommodation and fully catered accommodation. A number of licensed restaurants offer a range of menus catering for young and old.

The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular and the game viewing – either from a game viewer or from your restaurant table overlooking one of the dams is diverse.

Close to Pretoria North, just over an hour from Oliver Tambo International and Lanseria airport, and approximately 25 minutes from Wonderboom airport the reserve is accessible for a weekend stay without having to travel too far.

More information: Website | Facebook

Groenkloof Nature Reserve

Groenkloof Nature ReserveGroenkloof Nature Reserve is located at the famous Fountains Valley which is the gateway to the city. This valley in Pretoria was proclaimed a game sanctuary by President Paul Kruger on 25 February 1895, the first game sanctuary in Africa. Its main purpose was to protect the shy and timid oribi, which occurred there, and other game that were being wiped out by hunters.

The wildlife on the reserve includes zebra, jackal, duiker, kudu, impala, blue wildebeest, blesbuck, red hartebeest, ostrich, giraffe and sable. The rich bird life will keep bird lovers busy for hours on end.

Activities include day and overnight hiking and biking trails as well as guided horse trails and night drives to view game. A coffee shop can be found inside the reserve.

More information: Reserve Management | Friends of Groenkloof Nature Reserve | Facebook

Rietvlei Nature Reserve

Rietvlei Nature ReserveThe Rietvlei Nature Reserve is situated 18 km from the centre of Pretoria and 38 km from the OR Tambo International Airport.

Some 1 600 head of game, including cheetah, leopard, buffalo, white rhino, blesbuck, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland, Burchell's zebra, waterbuck, reedbuck, springbuck, mountain reedbuck, steenbuck and grey duiker can be viewed here. Lion have recently been introduced to a separately fenced off area of the reserve. From your own vehicle it is easy to spot these animals on the open plains, and the 60 km of tarred and dirt roads will take you close up.

View elusive nocturnal animals, such as brown hyena, black-backed jackal, ant-bear, aardwolf, porcupine, springhare and bush pig, on a guided night drive

Activities include picnics at the Marais dam, day and overnight hiking and guided horse trails and night drives to view game. Daily bus tours are available for big groups.

More information: Facilities and services | Website | Friends of Rietvlei

Klapperkop Nature Reserve

Klapperkop Nature ReserveJohann Rissik Drive, which runs between the R21 highway from OR Tambo and the suburb of Waterkloof in Pretoria East, boasts the most spectacular views over the city while winding through this nature reserve. Along the route picnic spots can be found to enjoy the view of the city amongst the wildlife found in the reserve.

Although small mammals like mongoose, hedgehogs, hares and porcupines are difficult to spot during the day there is evidence that they are present. The bird life is rich and Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Rooihartbees and other game species can be viewed in the reserve.

Within the reserve is Fort Klapperkop which is one of four forts built around Pretoria. It was completed in January 1898. The fort was surrounded by a moat and had a drawbridge, but the moat never contained water as the shale from which it was cut was too porous.

More information: Website | Friends of Klapperkop

Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary is located in the suburb of Nieuw Muckelneuk near Fountains Circle. Two streams, the Walker and the Argo, feed water into wetland basins of which nine are small perennial dams that attract a multitude of water birds. Bird species include unique birds such as the crowned crane and the blue crane and small mammals can also be seen.

The wide variety of bird and animal life can be observed from the bird hide, guided walks can be arranged and there is an exhibition hall.

More information: Website