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Situated in the Breede River Valley, at the extreme western end of the Little Karoo, the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve covers some 1852 ha of rugged hills and scrubby valleys. The Reserve, situated approximately 160km north east of Cape Town is managed by Cape Nature Conservation and holds species typical of the drier regions to the north and north west.

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Specials

Black Korhaan, South African Shelduck, Ground Woodpecker, Large-billed Lark, Acacia Pied Barbet, Grey Tit, Rufous-eared Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Karoo Prinia, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Fairy Flycatcher, Karoo Chat, Cape Bulbul, African Rock Pipit, White-throated Canary.

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Habitat

Rocky ridges and hills dominate the eastern side of the reserve, while the western side holds scrub covered by open plains and dry riverbed vegetation.

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Facilities

An environmental centre and a shady picnic site with toilets are found at the entrance gate from where the heron and Rooikat Trails lead. The heron Trail leads to two well maintained hides overlooking water holes, while the Rooikat Trail leads one to the rugged western side of the Reserve.

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Birding

In the thorn thickets near the entrance gate check for all three species of mousebird, Cape Weaver, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul, Acacia Pied Barbet and Southern Double-collared Sunbird.

The Heron Trail is an excellent place to find many of the species associated with the dry river courses, and one can hope to see the diminutive Fairy Flycatcher and a number of other species including Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape Bunting, Long-billed Crombec, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and White-throated Canary. The reedbeds adjoining the thicker vegetation below the second hide supports Namaqua Warbler and Levaillant's Cisticola, while the nearby thicket attracts Sombre Greenbul and Cape Robin-Chat. The dams hold a variety of waterfowl including South African Shelduck, Little Grebe, African Spoonbill and Yellow-billed Duck and less frequently Red-billed Teal and Cape Shoveler. Other birds found near the dams are Three-banded Plover, Brown-throated Martin, Common Waxbill and Lesser Swamp-Warbler.

The open gravel plains and stunted scrub on the western side should be checked for southern Northern Black Korhaan, Karoo Chat, Rufous-eared Warbler, Pied Starling, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Bokmakierie, Cape Penduline-Tit, Large-billed Lark and Yellow Canary.

The Rooikat trail leads one through the rocky hills on the eastern side of the Reserve. These hills provide suitable habitat for Ground Woodpecker, African Rock Pipit, Karoo Chat and a number of birds of prey including Jackal Buzzard, Verreauxs' Eagle and Booted Eagle in Summer. The thorny valleys draining the rugged hills hold Bar-throated Apalis, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Grey Tit, Malachite Sunbird and Sombre Greenbul.

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General

Vrolijkheid can be reached from Cape Town by taking the N1 north to Worcester. At Worcester, take a right towards Robertson. In the town of Robertson, turn right towards McGreggor. Approximately 15km down this road, the Reserve can be found on the left. The region can get very hot in summer, and visitors to the area, especially visitors planning to walk the Rooikat Trail, should be well prepared for the heat with the necessary protection and liquid supplies. The Reserve operates on a self-issue permit system, and a small entrance fee is payable at the gate. The western part of the reserve can be explored in a morning, however to cover the whole reserve, a whole day is necessary.

The Reserve can be contacted at telephone number 023 625 1612. email:

Cape Nature Website

Gate opening times: 07h00 - 16h00

Nearest town: Robertson

Andrew Hester 2001.



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