- Free State
- Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, Free State
Where the Free State borders Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, close to the Drakensberg Escarpment, and just north of the small village of Memel, lies a beautiful proclaimed wetland nature reserve called Seekoeivlei.
The reserve which stretches approximately 20km northwards from Memel to the Mpumalanga border is the largest wetland area in the southern highveld. The floodplain has numerous small oxbow lakes which are seasonally flooded and the width varies from 200m to 1 000m.
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve acts as a key habitat for more that a quarter of the Free State’s endangered bird species and its main draw card is its huge number of local and migratory water birds, housing more than 250 species. The whiskered tern, crowned and blue cranes all breed there. Other rare species found there include the little bittern, yellow-billed stork and the white-winged flufftail. Three well-positioned bird hides offer the opportunity to observe the interesting array of our feathered friends. Through part of the large-scale rehabilitation project the hippopotamus (Seekoei being the Afrikaans translation) and the endangered wattled crane have been re-introduced.
Stay in the pleasant surroundings for a day or two or three, particularly during summer (late October to late February), when many of the "specials" of the area are more conspicuous as they display and vocalize.
You may also be surprised by sightings of Burchell's Zebra and Blesbok.
Most areas are easily accessible, although road conditions (especially after summer rains) should be checked before visiting.
Declared a Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance) in January 1997 it is interesting to learn that the Klip River, which drains the system, is a tributary of the Vaal River, upon which Gauteng depends for its water supply. Part of the wetlands restoration has been undoing the harm done by farmers who dug canals for agriculture and used its waters for grazing.
The weather varies and visitors should therefore come prepared for cold spells. Summers are mild and the winters are cold.
There are picnic and braai facilities, with more amenities being planned.
Seekoeivlei is open throughout the year, sunrise to sunset.
Contact : Chief Nature Conservator, Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve
Tel : 058 924 0183
Fax :058 924 0159
For more information contact :
- Memel Getaways, Tel/fax 058 924 0400
- Mahem Guest House, Tel/fax 058 924 0034
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