The Nylsvley Nature Reserve is part of South Africa’s largest floodplain and is situated in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The reserve itself has been declared a RAMSAR site due to its international conservation importance. The 40 km square protected reserve is only about 20% of the total floodplain area which is over 16 000 hectares in size.
Seasonal flood waters from the catchment area in the Waterberg mountains results in large areas of the floodplain area being covered with water and in years of inundation transforms the land into a true birding paradise with over 80 000 birds descending on the area.

Steenbok 28 480px WMNylsvley boasts over 370 bird species, 72 mammal species including the rare Roan antelope , small predators and insects. If you’re interested in Dragonflies and Damselflies Nylsvley should be on your bucket list.
What makes Nylsvley such a great place to visit is the ability to drive around in a car, stop anywhere and get out…or even take a bike and cycle around the reserve. This makes for excellent photographic opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

Tssessebe 2 34 480px WM
Tssessebe
Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird 35 480px WM
Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird
Ostrich 24 480px WM
Ostrich

 

 

 

 

 

 

For birds in flight try the Vogelfontein road which borders the Nylslvey reserve. There are marked walking/hiking trails within the reserve as well.

 

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Kalahari Scrub Robin
Black Headed Oriole 4 480px WM
Black Headed Oriole
Brubru 2 7 480px WM
Brubru

 

 

 

 

 

Black Shouldered Kite 5 480px WM
Black Shouldered Kite
African Hawk Eagle 2 2 480px WM
African Hawk Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the new Jacana Hide in the Nylsvley Nature Reserve

New Jacana Hide 21 480px WM Jacana Hide 2 13 480px WM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hide is much bigger than the previous Jacana hide and has views on all sides. The previous hide, which burned down in a wild bush fire, only had a view in the front overlooking the pan.

 

 

Check out some cool video clips at Nylslvey

A pair of African Hawk Eagles spend time in this tree. Their nest site is on another property but the eagles seem to like hanging out in this tree on the roadside. Sometimes difficult to see, being obscured by branches and leaves. A great sighting if youre in the Nylsvley area.

The new Jacana Hide at Nylsvley is simply fantastic and promises great photo and viewing opportunities. the hide is much bigger then the previous one and has views on all sides instead of just a view in the front. for those of us that have been going to Nylsvley for many years we’ll miss the old hide but I’m sure the new hide will be  hit.

We had a nice view of this Scrub Hare (Lepus saxatilis) towards the end of our first Nylsvley drive. This is one of two subspecies of hares in the Southern African region. The species is endemic to Southern Africa.
Although it is not listed as an endangered species the populations have declined significantly due mostly to habitat loss and hunting by local people for food and skins.

I’m not a scorpion expert but think this guy is a Burrowing Scorpion (Opistophthalmus). It has quite large pincers and a medium sized tail. As a general rule Scorpions with thick tails and small pincers are the most venomous with the Buthidae family being the most medically significant group of scorpions in South Africa. Within that family Parabuthus granulates and Parabuthus transvaalicus have been shown to be associated with serious envenomation. We saw this Burrowing Scorpion twice in two days, the second time he had decided to move underneath the tent so we only saw him for the second time when packing up the tent to leave.

 

Plenty of Tsessebe on our drive around the Nylsvley reserve. There hadn’t been much rain in the area so the bush and most pans were quite dry. Some of the larger pans did have some water in….a good source of drinking water for the animals. We saw a few Ostriches and plenty of Steenbok probably because the veld grasses were not very thick.

 

 

Getting There
From Pretoria or Johannesburg
Take the N1 north towards Polokwane.
Take the Nylstroom (Modimolle) off ramp at the Kranskop plaza
Head towards Modimolle and turn right at the towards Naboomspruit (Mookgopong)
Stay on the R101 for about 43 kms and turn right at the Boekenhout Station onto a gravel road. Travel 8kms on this road. About 1 km after the railway crossing you’ll see the entrance for Nylsvley on the left.

Accommodation and Booking
Camping (no electricity in the campsites)
3 x 2 bed Chalets
VIP Suite with open air shower
6 sleeper guest house
Dormitory for larger groups
Day visitor picnic spot
For booking you can contact Limpopo Tourism Agency on +27 (0)15 290 7339 or visit info@golimpopo.com
Heres another great website to check out. This is the official “Friends of Nylsvley” website http://www.nylsvley.co.za/
You can also find other accommodation options near Nylsvley at this site.

Our Rating
I give Nylsvley 5 Leopards and here’s why:
Its close…..within 2 hours drive from Johannesburg on good roads (albeit Toll Roads).
Its small and feels private. There are only 6 campsites set in natural bushveld with trees for shade in most of the sites. Camping is cheap at R30 per person per night. There are chalets available as well.
Its quiet…..there aren’t hoards of people driving all over the place…and generally, the people that visit are nature lovers so no loud music or rowdy groups in camp.
The birding can be fantastic, especially in good rain years…..but nothing wrong with a visit anytime of the year.
Drive, cycle, walk, run, wheelchair friendly (the hides are elevated with steps so please do be aware of that), picnic spots, bird hides and even a restaurant in the reserve just past the entrance gate.
Nylsvley is simply a great place to visit for a weekend or long weekend
Note
The camping is what we would call rustic. There is no electricity at the campsites and the camp ablutions are basic with no hot water. The loos are flush French drain type in separate mens and ladies wooden ablution blocks.