Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve close to Pretoria is a wonderful natural haven where you can retreat for a spot of birding, angling or game-viewing. There’s also a relaxed hike you can take around the perimeter of the dam, offering some striking views. The wild animals are not too wild either.

Did you know?

If you’re an angler, you’ll find bass, carp and kurper here.

South-east of Pretoria lies a constellation of natural attractions – private and public reserves, sanctuaries and wooded hideaways. They are grouped within a destination called Dinokeng, which jauntily labels itself ‘Africa in one day’.

Sprawling over a surprisingly large 200 000 hectares, Dinokeng includes Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve, long a popular destination for people living in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The dam itself (an irrigation dam originally, later developed as part of a game reserve) attracts many anglers, and the variety of vegetation around it means good birding. There’s even a chance of seeing the secretive finfoot. Also watch out for osprey, white-winged terns, purple swamp hens and black crakes. There are often jacanas balancing on lily pads with their long, spread-out toes. You’ll find two bird hides on the shores of the dam. Insiders say that the eastern bird hide also offers good game viewing opportunities.

The northern part of the dam tends to be dominated by anglers, while the south is quieter, and is more popular with birders and game viewers.

Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve is an excellent destination for a day trip and a spot of picnicking, bird watching, angling and game viewing. Look out for kudus, zebras, warthogs, impala and blue wildebeest. You may also see black-backed jackals in the early morning and late afternoon.

You could also take a 7km hike around the dam, which passes the two bird hides. You’ll see some splendid views of the dam and more than likely will encounter zebras or impalas. They’re accustomed to seeing humans, so they won’t run far from you.

Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve is mostly a day-trip but if you’d like to stay longer, there are simple accommodation facilities as well as a fully equipped chalet on stilts at the edge of the dam. You could also opt to camp.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)12 808 5131/5174

How to get here

Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve is very close to Pretoria. Depending on where you are, it might take you less than half an hour to get there. Take the N1 north towards Polokwane, then turn off at the Zambezi Road exit and carry on towards Cullinan. Turn left at the Kameeldrift sign, and after about 4km, you'll see a sign to Roodeplaat Dam. Take that road and you'll find the gate.

Best time to visit

Birds and wild animals are always more active early in the morning or late afternoon.

Length of stay

This makes a lovely day or half-day trip.

What to pack

Bring a picnic along with you. There are tables under shady trees.

Where to stay

You could camp or stay in basic accommodation here, or at a guest house in historic Cullinan, or in Pretoria itself.