Rondevlei Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Rondevlei Nature Reserve lies in Grassy Park, which makes it sound like a rather large grassy area when in fact the nature reserve is anything but. Rather, it forms part of a far greater body of water just north of Baden Powell Drive on the False Bay coastline, between Muizenberg and Strandfontein. But you reach its entrance via the suburb of Grassy Park.
The bigger body of water is known as the greater False Bay Ecology Park, and includes both Rondevlei and Zeekoevlei Nature Reserve. Rondevlei's bird sanctuary extends for 2.2 square kilometres across a permanent wetland and a huge lagoon. Despite being in the middle of a city, one feels as though one has escaped. So do the birds, as around 230 bird species make this their home. It is also home to a group of hippos, whose footprints one can just make out in the mud if one makes it there early in the morning.
The Rondevlei reserve has both a permanent wetland to the north, where Cape Flats Sand Fynbos grows, and seasonal wetlands in the south, home to Cape Flats Dune Strandveld. Roughly 280 species of indigenous plants grow here, and the nursery at the entrance is well worth a visit if you're after water-wise plants. The space is alive with ducks, herons, ibises, pelicans, weavers and a lot more if you are prepared to wait it out in one of the bird hides. And you might, maybe, perhaps, but it isn't likely, spot a hippo from one of the two viewing towers.
There is also a small museum and a network of footpaths that take one through the reserve. Mammals include the Cape grysbok, porcupines, Cape dune mole rats and the Cape clawless otter also scurry through the undergrowth.
For more info about the Rondevlei Nature Reserve, see "Rondevlei - Hippos in the city".