We’ve recently moved from KwaZulu Natal to George on the Garden Route. We always knew it was an exciting and beautiful region but it continues to surprise and amaze us. Case in point: We spent a few days based in Sedgefield, shooting pics for our stock photo library and, of course, we had our Haibikes with us. (Not just for the fun – we are actually using them to get to out-of-the-way places to shoot photographs). We had a bit of a gap one afternoon and headed out on the back roads to Rondevlei – a smallish lake just to the west of the large and very beautiful Swartvlei just outside Sedgefield. What a wonderful surprise! We discovered a bird hide there and it’s really productive.
The hide, some 5km from the little town of Sedgefield on the Garden Route is located on the northern shore of Rondevlei Lake. Along with Eilandvlei and Langvlei it forms an interconnected lake system that has been proclaimed a RAMSAR Site (wetlands of international importance) and is part of the Wilderness National Park run by South African National Parks. Set amongst the reeds that surround the lake it hosts a prolific birdlife of both resident and migratory birds. These include the African fish eagle, African purple swamp hen, African darter, red-knobbed coots, reed and Cape cormorants and (our favourites) pied, malachite and brown-hooded kingfishers.
Then we discovered that about 7km further on towards the town of Wilderness is Rondevlei’s sister hide – the Malachite Bird Hide, built amongst the reeds on the shoreline of Langvlei Lake. It is named after the many malachite kingfishers that can be seen in the area and, like the Rondevlei Hide, is a great spot for birders and nature lovers. And best of all, there is no entry fee for either hide!
So. What about riding this circuit? It’s a wonderfully easy, non-challenging way to explore this delightful area. Ideal for families and those a little unsure of themselves on more challenging rides.
Safe parking is available opposite Pine Lake Marina at the start and then it’s an easy ride to Rondevlei. Be sure to pack a pair of binoculars as it really is worth spending time in both hides and if you time it right (late July, early August) you’re almost guaranteed to be able to watch the redknobbed coots feeding their chicks.
The ride to Malachite Hide continues around the southern side of Rondevlei and onwards to the main (well, main-ish) road between Wilderness and the Seven Passes Road. Things get a little busier here so keep an eye open for the cars. The hide is just a couple of km down the road so it’s not really a problem.
And then it’s back to Pine Lake Marina along the same route. Actually, it’s a great place to stay, or have a post- ride beer and hamburger at their PineVibe Pub.
Route Distance: 19km.
Route Conditions: The roads are good gravel but they are mildly busy so keep a look out for traffic. Other than that, really easy riding.
Check out more of our Mountain Biking Photographs
Pine Lake Marina Parking: S34° 00.149′ E22° 44.472′
Rondevlei Hide: S33° 59.300′ E22° 43.061′
Malachite Hide: S33° 59.054′ E22° 40.579′