Rondevlei Nature Reserve, or now known as the False Bay Nature Reserve – Rondevlei Section, is a conserved wetland functional largely as a bird sanctuary. The reserve is also home to a small population of Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) – the only place around Cape Town where you can see Africa’s deadliest large mammal!
Located on the West Coast Way Cape Way Route
Rondevlei, referring to a round lake in Afrikaans, was established back in 1952 to protect the natural wetlands of the Cape Flats. The 290-hectare reserve is managed by the City of Cape Town, and access is via the main gate during controlled hours.
The main focus at Rondevlei is birdwatching. Roughly 230 species have been recorded here, but on a very good day, you may count around 70 different bird species. Two tall observation towers provide brilliant overviews to the reserve, and several bird hides allow keen birders to sit in secrecy and observe the comings and goings of life in the wetlands.
With a well-established footpath and an informative visitor centre, Rondevlei is an excellent reserve to take young children or someone who’s never birdwatched before.
Red-knobbed Coot are frequently seen on the water and occasional visits from the majestic African Fish Eagle would certainly make the highlights reel. Along the banks one often sees pelicans, herons and cormorants making use of the dead trees in the water. A diving Malachite Kingfisher is a lovely sight! In the fynbos Cape Robin-chat, Southern double-collared sunbird and Cape Spurfowl feel at home.
The Hippos often keep to themselves on the far southern reed bank, but you’ll definitely see their footprints in the soft sand around the bird hides. They feed around the water, looking for juicy shoots and grasses and are most active at night.
Small mammals include among others Cape Grysbok (a fynbos endemic), Cape grey mongoose, porcupine, as well as caracal and Cape clawless otter. Apart from the mongoose however, the others are typically quite elusive as the caracal, porcupine and grysbok are nocturnal and the otter is most active at dawn and dusk.
If your eyesight is extremely good you might notice the resident Cape dwarf chameleons moving about in the fynbos. These colour changing reptiles are on the lookout for flies, grasshoppers and other insects to shoot out its tongue with bulls-eye precision.
The reserve also protects endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos as well as Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation types, along with wetland plant species.
Nearby bodies of fresh water include Princess Vlei, Zeekoevlei and Zandvlei which also support a large number of aquatic species and are teeming in birdlife.
Rondevlei Nature Reserve is located on the West Coast Way Cape Way Route
Open 7 Days a week
Distance from Cape Town: 22km
Where: Perth Rd & Fishermens Walk, Zeekoei Vlei
Contact: +27 (0)21 706 2404