About Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve

Just north of the little town of Memel where the Free State borders Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal, close to the Drakensberg Escarpment, and roughly 250 kilometres from Johannesburg, is a beautiful wetland area, proclaimed nature reserve, called Seekoeivlei.

Did you know? Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve has been a Ramsar site (list of wetlands of international importance) since 1997.

Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve is a crucial habitat for over a quarter of the Free State’s endangered birds, and consists of a floodplain ecosystem, drained by the Klip River, with a number of small seasonally-flooded oxbow lakes.

The wetland, named after the hippo, last seen here in 1894, stretches for about 20 kilometres from Memel northwards to the Mpumalanga border.

Seekoeivlei is the largest wetland in the southern African highveld that supports huge numbers of local and migratory water birds.

Obviously the attraction to the nature reserve is bird viewing, due to the large variety of rare birds and birds in general. Seekoeivlei is a breeding site for the whiskered tern, crowned and blue cranes and the endangered wattled crane.

The little bittern and yellowbilled stork, both seldom seen, join the white-winged flufftail as rare species found here, and, as part of a large-scale rehabilitation project the wattled crane and the hippopotamus have both been reintroduced.

Seekoeivlei has been a Ramsar site (list of wetlands of international importance) since January 1997. It’s 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 healing has been undoing the harm done by farmers who have dug canals to drain the wetland for agriculture and used the wetland for grazing, before it was proclaimed a wetland.

Need to Know

WhereSeekoeivlei Nature Reserve, Memel, Free State, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Memel Accommodation, Free State


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