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Lying just outside the town of Nigel is the Marievale Bird Sanctuary, approximately 45 minutes from Johannesburg and is one of Gauteng’s greatest birding attractions.

The Sanctuary is about 1 000 ha in size and forms the southern half of the Bleskopspruit RAMSAR site, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. Marievale Bird Sanctuary is one of several very important bird areas in the country, supporting more than 240 bird species, among them 65 waterbird species, including large populations of Reed Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot and Yellow-billed Duck.

Despite the construction of roads, railways, pipelines and power lines in the area which has reduced the floodplain to small dams, waterbirds still favour Marievale as a feeding and breeding place.

Habitats of the Sanctuary include grasslands, open water and reedbeds so the bird variety is huge. Marievale Bird Sanctuary offers five hides overlooking various habitats – the Hamerkop Hide, which is probably the most popular for photographers as a series of natural-looking perches have been placed close by and brightly coloured Malachite Kingfishers are its star attraction.

Marievale Bird Sanctuary is also one of the best locations in Gauteng to see Goliath, Black, Squacco and Purple herons. The Slaty Egret, Yellow Wagtail, as well as Baird’s, Pectoral and Buff-breasted sandpipers have also ben spotted and if you are really lucky, you may even find Marsh Owl, African Grass-Owl, Red-chested Flufftail or even a Black-tailed Godwit.

Things to do and see

  • Five Bird Hides
  • Bird Watching & Photography
  • Self-Guided & Guided Trails
  • Picnic Area
  • Self-catering Accommodation


Admission is Free and the Sanctuary is open from Sunrise to Sunset

  • Summer 05h30 to 19h30
  • Winter    06h00 to 18h00

While a visit to the sanctuary is worthwhile at any time of year, birding organisations say the best time to visit is spring and at the beginning of summer, when the grass is short and the birds are breeding.

Accommodation & Conference Rates on request, please contact the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve who also handles the Marievale Bird Sanctuary Bookings

Find Us

From Johannesburg, take the N3 towards Heidelberg/Durban. Keep left on to the N17 (toll road) and follow this highway until the R42 off-ramp near Endicott.

Turn right over the highway on to the R42 and follow this until the sign to Marievale Bird Sanctuary on your right. The entrance gate comes up after a few kilometres.

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