Sandveld Nature Reserve

/ Sandveld Nature Reserve in Free State, South Africa
Free State Game Reserves

Sandveld Nature Reserve, Free State

The Sandveld Nature Reserve
The Sandveld Nature Reserve

The Sandveld Nature Reserve is renowned as a major birding spot, not only in the Free State, but in the country – 295 species of bird have been recorded here. Best of all the reserve, which lies 200 kilometres from Bloemfontein, and roughly three and a half hours' drive from Johannesburg, remains relatively undiscovered.

Aside from an enthusiastic fishing fraternity (the dam is brimming over with common carp and catfish), and weekend powerboats, the dam is seldom inundated with visitors. Birders can spot specials like the great crested grebe, the rare pygmy falcon, desert cisticola and fulvous duck.

The reserve has been described as the closest thing to the Kalahari without having to actually go there. Camelthorn trees, Karoo scrub, sweet-thorn savannah, large colonies of sociable weavers, crimson-breasted shrikes, waxbills, cuckoos and larks are characteristic of the area.

The Sandveld Nature Reserve is roughly 37 000 hectares, named after its mostly sandy soils, although there are areas of thornveld savanna and the camelthorn tree makes its presence felt throughout the reserve. For birders the main attraction is the Kalahari thornveld, which gives rise to a host of sociable weavers and occasional sightings of the pygmy falcon. But the fawn-coloured lark and the tinkling cisticola, fondly known as rooitinktinkie, are also easy to spot in the reserve especially in spring and summer; waxbills, gabar goshawks and tits all put in an appearance, and the pied barbet is fairly common. Even white-backed vultures breed in camelthorn trees in certain parts of Sandveld.

The open waters have their fair share of waterfowl - not quite that of the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary but good nonetheless. A highlight is the regular sightings, and the calls of a number of resident fish eagle pairs.

Sandveld Nature Reserve is not about birds alone and white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, sable and roan antelope, blue wildebeest, zebra and other mammals are all present in the Reserve. Sandveld supports other game like giraffe, eland, gemsbok, sable and roan antelope, the black and white rhino, black-backed jackal and aardwolf, whilst a move to the waters edge will reveal an abundance of water birds – flamingo, egrets, pelican and spoonbills. Even sightings of the Martial eagle have been recorded.

Facilities are by all accounts not great – don't expect restaurants or luxury accommodation in the Sandveld reserve. But there are night drives, organised walks and picnic sites along the shoreline of the dam for day visitors.

Find the reserve on the R34 between Hoopstad and Bloemhof.

Sandveld Nature Reserve

Accommodation nearby

Accommodation near to the Sandveld Nature Reserve:
Kroonstad accommodationVentersburg accommodation

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Did you know?
The Sandveld Nature Reserve is a favourite spot for fishing and boating.

With 20 National Parks, including two of the world's most famous wildlife reserves, the Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and numerous private game reserves, your trip to South Africa would be incomplete without experiencing a South African Safari.
Sandveld Nature Reserve, Free State
Free StateFree State