Game Reserves in GautengNorthern Farm Nature Reserve
Where?Northern Farm Nature Reserve, Lanseria, Gauteng
When?Open on weekends only
Questions? +27 (0)83 879-4449
Northern Farm Nature Reserve (known by locals simply as Northern Farms) is known to MTB cyclists as a network of criss-crossing paths on the edge of the Cradle of Humankind. It is one of Johannesburg's 'insider' secrets.
But it's also one of the best birding sites in the province. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in and around the dams, irrigation canals and grasslands that surround the water.
Even hippos have been spotted (by residents of Hills & Dales) in the dams on Northern Farms (the fence is flattened every now and again with movement from one dam to another). So far the hippos have eluded capture but, as if to prove a point, one of the MTB trails is affectionately known as the Hippo Trail.
Also known as Diepsloot Nature Reserve, after its neighbour Diepsloot, the 2 500 hectare reserve owned by the City of Johannesburg once served as a Bovelder breeding nursery - a unique breed of South African cattle; until April 2010 when the herd was sold.
That the Northern Farm nature reserve survives at all is a wonder. To its immediate west is Lanseria International Airport whilst south of it, on the other side of the N14 close to the multi-column bridge, is the Northern Works sewerage treatment plant – one of the largest sewage farms in southern Africa, through which treated water is circulated before flowing into the Jukskei River.
Diepsloot hugs the east of the sewerage treatment plant, whilst an asphalt works lies to the east of Northern Farms. Both the farm and treatment plant are managed by Johannesburg Water.
Over weekends, when Northern Farms is open to the public, thousands of bikers, hikers, horse riders and birdwatchers descend on the reserve. It is part of SA Birdlife's birding route. The full Olympic standard equestrian course on the farms holds annual shows.
Northern Farms is only open on the weekends. There is an entrance fee.