Cape Town  -  Kalk Bay

Rietvlei Wetland - Milnerton



Rietvlei is an area of approximately 560 hectares which has a deep water lake in the west and has shallow water or dry land for the rest of its area. Rietvlei is located on the Table Bay coastline between Milnerton and Tableview. As the crow flies it is about 100 metres inland from the sea.

Along the shores of Table Bay are sand dunes and it is these dunes that seperate the lagoon from the sea. The deep part of the lake was dredged for its sand a number of years ago and the sand was pumped to Woodstock where it was used as filling for the container docks in the main harbour.

The lake is used for watersports such as skiing and windsurfing. On the northern bank of the lake the Milnerton Aquatic club have built a clubhouse for their members and this area is grassed and has a slipway.

On the western and southern sides of the lake the alien bush that has grown there for years has been removed and the natural Strandveld Flora is now coming through. In Spring there is a wonderful display of wild flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes along the banks of the lake.

To the east of the lake is the real wetland area and along this part of the lagoon you can see the birds. They are so close to the main road that it is not even necessary to get out of your car to see them.


Pelicans sunning themselves on the edge of the Rietvlei

The largest bird to be seen in this area is the pelican. It is such a beautiful sight to watch as it glides above the water or flies inland when searching for food. When they land on the water they remind me of the swans I saw in Zurich when I visted there 30 years ago.

On the northern side of the wetland jutting out into the water is a boardwalk and hide where one can walk out quietly and sit in the hide to observe the birds at close quarters. It is so interesting to watch the little ducks diving for food and the rednobbed coots building little islands in the middle of the water to nest on.. It always amazes me how without hands birds manage to build their nests and live in them.

There are a 102 different species of waterbird that frequent the wetland. At anyone time there are about 70 species in residence. At a recent count of the birds it was discovered that there were over 10000 birds utilising the wetland.

As the wetland is close to the sea you will also be able to see many seabirds in the area. I often see seagulls and cormorants sitting on the edge of the lake as I drive past.

The wetland is supplied with fresh water by the Diep river during the winter months and any excess water flows into the Milnerton Lagoon and then into the sea. As the lagoon is always open to the sea and is tidal the water is salty at high tide when the sea pushes up into it and becomes fresh again when the tide recedes.

The lagoon has saltwater fish in it and if you are very lucky you might just hook one or two when the tide is up. There are many prawn beds in the lagoon and the fish come in to feed on them.

The lagoon can be crossed by pedestrians using a wooden bridge which was built many years ago to allow access to the sea and for the golfers to get to the golf club which is built on the sand dunes between the sea and the lagoon. It is a links course.Today however the wooden bridge which was once used by cars is only used by pedestrians and a very modern road bridge now crosses it.

new bridge

New bridge over the Milnerton Lagoon

On the southern part of the island many new town houses and upmarket houses have been built. They all either have views of Table Mountain or the lagoon. Both views are stunning, especially at night when the lights come on . As Rietvlei and the lagoon are a 10 minute drive from Cape Town they make for an ideal day visit.

Are you a birdlover? Why not visit our shores and come and see our birds for yourself.

2015 Turtle SA - All Rights Reserved
Cape Town - Rietvlei - Milnerton
Page updated 14.6.2015

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