Hartebeespoort Dam and surrounds
As you come over Sartjies Nek and drop down towards the dam you will be rewarded with magnificent scenery especially at sunset. First port of call is the Ring Oxwagon Lodge. [GPS: 25° 45' 521" S by 27°55' 561" E] on your right hand side and up the hill. From the lodge one can look out over the valley below. The lodge also has a short walking trail.
Watch out for Mocking Cliff-Chat around the Thatched central areas, as well as Black and White-bellied Sunbird and a large variety of seed eaters especially when the grasses are seeding. The Birds of the Magaliesberg checklist is available from the lodge. From here continue your drive down the hill stopping adjacent to the Xanadu Eco Park. Here you will find the Swartspruit dammed up and this area is often home to a number of fish eating birds including White-breasted and Reed Cormorant, Pied and Malachite Kingfisher, African Darter and African Fish Eagle. Once viewing is complete go back a short way back and turn Right to Jasmyn Centre with its indigenous gardens, wetlands and ponds. Excellent stopping point for fresh fruit and refreshments [GPS: 25°45'255" S by 27°54' 586" E]
The next stop is to continue to the West to the Meerhof picnic grounds. [GPS: 25° 45' 631" S by 27°53' 567" E]
This area offers good views of the dam and opportunities to see a number of the dam's birds including the ever present Little Egret will be found along the shoreline.
The trees in this resort also provide refuge for a wide variety of bushveld birds. On leaving this area keep left crossing the Swartspruit river [GPS: 25°45' 084" S by 27°54' 121" E] This area is the Meerhof\Ifafi Conservancy
To the left is a protected no public access area set aside for breeding birds including Fish Eagle and Grass Owl. The areas of water Hyacinth to the East is often frequented by African Jacana and Black Crake. Continue up the hill past Birdwood estate, at the T junction turn right and at the main R511 turn left and continue straight past Sediba Plaza on your left across the 4 way stop into Schoemansville.
Continue along this road to the Hartbeespoort dam wall. [GPS: 25° 43' 530" S by 27°50' 873" E]
Parking is available on the far side once through the tunnel. Walk back along the wall and look for various swift species, black eagle and other birds frequenting these rocky areas. (Please note: Be careful of hawkers at the parking area)
From here continue along the road to a 4 way stop. Turn left going over Kommando Nek.
Follow this road going past Kosmos and turn left and cross the dam once again. Park on the far side and walk back onto the bridge [GPS: 25° 45' 917" S 27°48' 559" E]
On a quiet day one can see a wide variety of birds including White-faced Duck and Comb Duck.
Do a U turn and drive back towards the mountain turning left at the T junction. Continue past Magalies park and stopping opposite Leopard Lodge [GPS: 25° 45' 774" S by 27°46' 240" E]
Park off the road and scan the cliffs above for the over 280 pairs of Red Data Cape Vulture nesting there. Also look out for Black Stork and Rock Kestrel.
Coming out from Leopard Lodge turn right. One of the more easily accessible hiking trails Vergenoeg [GPS: 25° 45' 444" S by 27°48' 559" E] is found on the right hand side(see info on trails of the region ) Vergenoeg Nature Reserve Trails – On slopes of the Magaliesberg This reserve overlooks the Hartebeespoort Dam. Trails include the Protea trail which leads to a white rock and is approximately 3km walking distance, while the scenic return journey via the Leopard trail is approximately 4km. These trails provide a privileged view of the endangered Cape Vulture as they launch themselves from the cliffs into the thermals. More than 200 bird species and more than 50 indigenous trees have been identified on this route to date. For more Information, contact Vergenoeg Nature Reserve, Jan Pretorius: Tel: +27 (0)12 207 1007
Passing Vergenoeg continue along to Van Gaalen Cheese farm [GPS: 25° 47' 307" S by 27°48' 559" E] for excellent refreshments and home-made cheese. The farm offers picnic baskets and self guided walks. Look out for Half-collared Kingfisher, White-backed Night Heron and African Finfoot along the waterways. The Birds of the Magaliesberg Checklist is also available at the farm. A bird guide is available at Van Gaalens.
From here take the road opposite the cheese farm heading back to the dam. Once again watch out for a number of seed eaters and Lapwings like Wattled and Blacksmith. On passing Peacanwood estate turn left before the shopping centre and follow the road along the southern side of the dam. You drive through mixed bushveld, riverine woodland and past grassy areas until you reach Oberon [GPS: 25°45'919" S by 27°52' 696" E] which is a picnic/camping resort. It is worth paying to go in a view the wide variety of birds in this area. Often large flocks of Egyptian geese are seen grazing on the shores. There are also magnificent views of the dam.
To get some good views of birds on the dam it is worthwhile to take an early morning or late afternoon cruise on the Hartbeespoort Animal and Snake park [GPS: 25°43'768" S by 27°51' 530" E] pleasure boat. Many of the open water species can be seen such as Great crested Grebe. If you are fortunate you may witness the magnificent Fish Eagle doing some fishing. This park also has a fine collection of indigenous bird species including raptors. The gardens house a wide variety of birds as well, including nesting Grey and Black –headed Herons in the tall Blue Gum trees surrounding the park.
Vulture rehabilitation and research centre. Near Hartbeespoort town centre at foot of the mountain to the East. See the excellent work being done by this group to ensure the survival of especially the Cape Vulture. To make an appointment phone Keri Wolter on +27 (0)82 808 5113.
The Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy lies south of the Schurveberg where the Jukskei, Crocodile and Hennops Rivers meet. It is one of the largest conservancies in the region at 10 000ha and its varied landscapes including rivers, ridges, mountain, bushveld and grasslands support rich wildlife and more than 300 species of birds. There are two private game farms - the Oori and the Roodekrans Game Farm. A good starting point is from the centrally placed Waaigras guest house [GPS: 25°53' 537" S 27°58' 351" E] situated amongst the rolling hills and endangered Egoli Grasslands with approx 9 km of trails. Using this area as a base one can spend a day or two exploring this conservancy and its stunning natural beauty. Some special birds recorded in the area include Goliath Heron, Long-crested Eagle, Red-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Short–toed Rock-Thrush, Cuckoo Finch, Yellow Wagtail, Bat Hawk, Half-collared Kingfisher, and African Finfoot. For more information, visit www.rhenosterspruit.co.za.
Cape Vulture, African Hawk-Eagle, Bat Hawk, Half-collared Kingfisher, White-backed Night-Heron and African Finfoot.
Take the R 511 (William Nicol Drive) off the N1 South from Johannesburg and follow the signs to Hartbeesport dam. Be careful to turn left at [GPS: 25° 53' 279" S 28°1' 643" E] following the R511 to the dam
|Hartbeespoort Dam Wall:||25° 43' 530" S||27° 50' 873"|