The 37,000 hectare Sandveld Nature Reserve is a spectacular reserve located on the Free State shoreline of the Bloemhof Dam, around 200km from Bloemfontein. The reserve is one of the top birding spots in South Africa, with over 295 birds having been recorded here, along with a number of wildlife, including rare sable and roan antelope. If you’re after a unique wildlife experience without all the crowds, this little known gem is the one for you!
The complete area around Bloemhof Dam has been proclaimed a Nature Reserve. Since it is on the border between two provinces, two separate nature reserves where established, with Sandveld Nature Reserve on the Free State side, and Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve on the North West side. Activities in the Sandveld Nature Reserve include birding, game viewing, fishing, and boating.
The reserve is named after its sandy sandveld area, although it boasts a plethora of other habitats, including Kalahari thornveld, Karoo scrub, sweet-thorn savannah, open water, and the dam shoreline, which results in a great variety of thriving species:
Among the many 295 species that occur here, you should look for crimson-breasted shrikes, Fish eagle, martial eagle, white-backed vultures, sociable weavers, waxbills, lapwings, gabar goshawks, cuckoos, larks and other species of shrikes. The dam also offers numerous water bird species, including the South African shelduck, white-faced duck, Cape teal, Southern pochard, grey heron, and goliath heron. Other birds that have been recorded are the rare Pygmy Falcon and the Great Crested Grebe.
The reserve also has abundant game animals, including giraffe, buffalo, eland, gemsbok, kudu, buffalo, blue wildebeest, springbok, rhino, and rare sable and roan antelope. Fish include barbell yellowfish
With a capacity of over 1.2 billion cubic metres, it's no surprise the 25,000-hectare Bloemhof dam is one of the best freshwater fishing dams in South Africa. It is a favourite during the summertime for all types of water sports, including angling, fishing, water skiing, boardsailing, and paragliding. The F1 powerboat racing has been held here over the years.
Please note that there are no restaurant facilities here, so bring along anything you may need for the day.