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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Cape, Namibia, Botswana, Kruger, Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal,Eduard Sangster
22 August - 14 October 2003, firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, the goal of this trip was to see as many species and especially (near-)endemics as possible. As it is impossible to cover whole southern Africa in 7,5 weeks, I skipped mid-South-Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique from the itinerary. Seeing 542 birdspecies (including 461 'lifers' and 117 southern Africa endemics, and also 72 mammalspecies) in this time of year and considering that I travelled with my non-birding girlfriend, I can say this trip was highly successful. A sole highlight of the trip is difficult to appoint, but I really enjoyed the pelagic, the 10 species of bustard/korhaan and the 26 species of lark.
Goal of this report
This report aims at helping you to see more species than I did. Consider this report as an addition to the wealthy site-information at www.sabirding.co.za. It covers whole southern Africa. If you go to western South Africa, this report is an addition to the excellent Essential Birding Western South Africa. If you go to Namibia, this report is an addition to the excellent report of Christian Wagner (download it from http://www.birdtours.co.uk).
October to February/March are the best months for birdwatching in southern Africa. The migrant waders, warblers, etcetc are present, birds are singing and birds are in their summer plumage and that makes weavers, sunbirds, widowbirds and cisticolas far more easy to identify. Because I visited the continent between seasons, a lot of classic winter/summer spots didn't produce. On the other hand, I had some surprises. For seabirds July and August is THE best time to do a pelagic (consult www.capetownpelagics.com for details). On the southern coast, from Cape Town eastward to De Hoop, the months September through to November are also the calving times of Southern Right Whales, during which period these great sea mammals can be seen very closely inshore.
For game-viewing in Etosha and Kruger September/October are the best months, since the game is forced to concentrate around the remaining sources of water, either natural springs or artificial boreholes. December till March is the rainy season, so probably the best months overall to visit Southern Africa are November/December.
Transport & roads
Rent (or buy) a car, you'll need it! It is very difficult to get around in Southern Africa (especially Namibia and Botswana) without personal transport as public transport is virtually non-existent and birding on foot is not allowed in some national parks.We hired a car at Budget Rent a car, A-type, Volkswagen Chico (old model Golf, apparently they are still made). It cost 18 Euro per day, with unlimited mileage and fully insured. We hired it in the Netherlands, via www.sunnycars.nl. Some rentalcompanies charge large amounts if you drive the car into Namibia.Botswana, but Budget didn't. We picked the car up in Cape Town Airport and for a small fee we could drop it off at Johannesburg Airport. Bring a creditcard and international driver's licence. In total we drove 14000km in 8 weeks (265km per day). To our big surprise we had zero flat tyres and had no technical problems at all.
Getting around in South Africa is easy as the standards of the roads are high. In Namibia the roads in the west and south are mainly gravel, but are no problem at all for a 2-wheel drive. Most parts are excellent and you can drive 80km p/h easy, but count some extra time when doing the Aus-Sossusvlei-Swakopmund route, also the road to Twyfelfontein is not good. 20km p/h is no exception on this roads! (are the roads sponsored by Goodyear??!!). It's pleasant that traffic in Namibia is often sparse. Even in Etosha, the country's most popular tourist attraction, one can enjoy relative solitude at a water hole, observing birds and game with little interference in the way of other vehicles. Botswana roads are few, but good. Watch out for speeding camera's!! The police loves to make snapshots of your car along the major roads, especially near (even little) towns.
A road map is essential and these can be bought from any petrol station. Even roadmaps of 2003 were out of date, some roads are paved years ago (eg Khorixas-Outjo-Okaukuejo). At Etosha, Kruger and almost every other park/reserve good maps of the area are available at the entrance gates.
The South African currency is the Rand. At the time of visit it was 8,1 Rand for 1 Euro. Although the currency in Nambia is the Namibian Dollar, the South African Rand is accepted in whole of Namibia, The currencies have the same exchange rate. The Botswana Pula was 5,8 for 1 Euro at the time of our visit.
All major credit cards and travellercheques are accepted. In Namibia and South Africa there are ATMs in every mid-sized town, so getting money was no problem at all. In Botswana we couldn't use the ATM for the checking account, but one can withdraw money with a creditcard at an ATM or inside the bank. Botswana is by far the most expensive visited country. South Africa is a little cheaper than Namibia, especially the accommodation. Swaziland was cheapest.
Excellent. Wherever you are, you can always find a safe place to sleep. Of the 53 nights in Africa we slept 16 nights in a tent. The camp facilities are very good and offer good and clean 'ablution blocks' with showers, baths and toilet. Each site has a 'braai' (barbecue stand). Remember that you camp at most campsites in southern Africa on sand, not grass. The camps in Etosha and Kruger are well run with restaurants, cafeterias, shops and petrol stations. You must be in the camps from sunset till sunrise. Book ahead if you don't want to camp in Etosha and Kruger! For Etosha/Popa Falls: in Swakopmund and Windhoek are offices of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts where you can book the accommodation. In Etosha you have to pay N$60 per person per day to visit the park. In Kruger it's R120, it's getting more expensive because there is no funding any more from the government. Bring the travelguide Lonely Planet with you, it's very helpful to find the right accommodation!
The itinerary follows later, but here are some prices (prices mentioned are for double/twin rooms or for two persons):
Cape Peninsula, 'A room with a view'at Clovelly, R300 for a self-catering house suiting 4persons (very nice)
De Hoop NR, Campsite, R95 (cold, but good)
Swellendam, Grace Walk B&B, R300 with breakfast (best value for your money in town)
Ceres, Four Seasons B&B , R250 self-catering (4pp) (best value in town)
Langebaan, Puza Moya Guest House, R220 (good value)
Vanrhynsdorp, Caravan Park, R120 (rundown)
Springbok, viavia we stayed with locals, R300 (very nice)
Aus, Bahnhof Hotel, N$200 (cheap but no charm)
Aus, Klein Aus Vista Lodge, N$380 (good birding!)
Sesriem/Sossusvlei, campsite, N$260 (ridiculous expensive, but cheapest option.lodges are U$600)
Swakopmund, 'A home away from home' N$250 self-catering (5pp) (best value in town)
Omaruru, Eva's Guesthouse, N$250 (good value)
Twyfelfontein, Aba Huab Campsite, N$90 (good value, and birding!)
Etosha Okaukuejo, cabin, , N$400 (ridiculous expensive!)
Etosha Halali/Namutoni, campsite, N$ 150 (good facilities, but the campsite is desert)
Rundu, Ngandu Safari Lodge, N$ 320 (okay, but stay at Sarasunga Lodge, it's better and same price)
Popa Falls, campsite, N$ 120 okay, cabins available, nearby lodges are probably better value)
Shakawe, campsite, P110 (expensive, but still the cheapest option)
Katima Mulilo, Caprivi Cabins = Caprivi River Lodge N$240 for a cabin withcommunal bathroom (very nice, best value in town, no more finfoots here by the way)
Katima Mulilo, Hippo Lodge, N$200 (run down, but good birding: finfoot!)
Kasane, Chobe Safari Lodge, P300 for a roundavel (very expensive, but probably the best value in town if you're tired of camping on sand in the heath)
Nata Lodge, campsite, P60 (expensive lodging available, the only real option at Nata)
Pietersburg, Vivaldi Guest House, R340 (nice people, conveniently close by the NR)
Soutpansberg, Buzzard Mountain Retreat R300 (very nice, a whole self-cateringhouse in the mountains)
Pietersburg, Tom's Lodge, R195 (run down, we found out later that it is also used as a 'sex-hotel)
Magoebaskloof, B&B , R300 (very nice, located a few km north of the big expensive hotel)
Kruger, campsite, R80 (okay, good facilities, naturally excellent birding)
Kruger, cabin, , R280 (prices vary from R280 in some camps up to R500)
Malolotja NR, cabin, R300 (very good, self-catering house suiting 6pp)
Mbuluzi Game Reserve, R50 (cheapest of the trip, we had the campsite for ourselves, very nice)
Bonamanzi Lodge, R456 for a 2pp treehouse (too expensive!!)
St. Lucia, a random hotel in town, R120 (good value!)
Wakkerstroom, Winds of Song, , R200 (nice people, the hostess is a keen birder; accommodation of nearby Hill View is better value though)
Food and drinks
Generally quite good and inexpensive. The meals in the restaurants are excellent and pretty cheap. Cool drinks can be found anywhere. A coolerbag can be helpful, in most supermarkets for sale for about 3 Euros.
Health & safety
Be careful in South Africa, especially in and near the big towns! The crime is violent and reckless. In Namibia it's much safer, but beware of muggers in Windhoek (Independence Avenue), Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
Southern Africa is generally a healthy place to visit, and the water is safe to drink almost everywhere. Vaccinations, consult your own doctor for up to date advice. Be sure to get enough malaria tablets for your trip, and do take them! You are at the greatest risk in the Okavango region and also in whole eastern South Africa.
Afrikaans ('old Dutch') and English are spoken throughout South Africa and Namibia. In Namibia a lot of people also speak German. Many blacks in Namibia speak one of the 'click'-languages (Damara, Herero,etc). English is the official language in Botswana and is widely spoken in the main towns and tourists area.
A small tape recorder and the excellent bird call sets of South African birds by Len Gillard or Guy Gibbon is quite useful for drawing in birds. Because of reasons of annoying the hell out of my girlfriend, I used it only for identification (cisticola's). A good torch, or even better, spotlight, is a must. A telescope is very useful at coastal sites and lakes and very useful for viewing canopy species especially from roadsides. Photography is NOT difficult, as birds are easy to approach (by car) and light conditions are good (too good.?). Clothing is varied: from tropical in the north to winter clothing at the pelagic off Cape Town.
Sinclair, Hockey & Tarbaton (2002),
Birds of Southern Africa (3rd Edition) (best guide for the region)
Sinclair, Ryan (2003), Birds of Africa, south of the Sahara (nice to see which species you REALLY need on your trip)
Hardaker & Sinclair, Sasol Birding map of southern Africa (bought in SA, gives a rough overview of all the good spots, handy when planning your trip)
Cohen & Sottiswoode, Essential Birding Western South Africa (buy it!)
Reports (downloaded from internet www.birdtours.co.uk)
Christian Wagner (2003), Find the Namibian Endemics
Jan Vermeulen (1996), Cape, Namibia and the Shakawe area in Botswana (still very good)
Ron Hoff (2002), The Western Cape Province and Namibia (useful)
Wim Veraghtert (2001), South Africa (very good)
The site information on www.sabirding.co.sa was indispensable. For most sites up to date information.
Underlined are the places where we stayed overnight.
SOUTH AFRICA (west)
21/22 August Rotterdam- Amsterdam - Cape Town
- Cape Peninsula
23 August Pelagic off Simon's Town (Cape Peninsula) - Cape Peninsula
24 August Cape Peninsula: Kommetjie & Boulder's Beach
25 August Cape Town - Cape Peninsula
26 August Kirstenbosch - Kommetjie - Cape Peninsula
27 August Cape Town Sewage Works - Sir Lowry's Pass - Hermanus - De Hoop NR
28 August De Hoop NR - Malgas route - Swellendam
29 August Grootvadersbosch - Bontebok NP - Ceres
30 August Karooport - Katbakkies - West Coast NP - Langebaan
31 August Lambert's Bay - Vanrhynsdorp
1 September Vanrhynsdorp - Springbok
2 September Sites east of Springbok - Goegap NP - Springbok
3 September Fish River Caynon - Aus
4 September Aus - Luderitz - Aus
5 September Aus - Sossusvlei - Sesriem
6 September Sesriem - Swakopmund
7 September Saltworks Swakopmund - Cape Cross - Rooikop - Swakopmund
8 September Walvis Bay - Swakopmund
9 September Swakopmund - Omaruru
10 September Omaruru - Twyfelfontein
11 September Rock Paintings - Twyfelfontein
12 September Twyfelfontein - Petrified Forest - Etosha Okaukuejo
13 September Etosha Okaukuejo - Etosha Halali
14 September Etosha Halali
15 September Etosha Halali - Etosha Namutoni
16 September Andoni Plains - Etosha Namutoni
17 September Etosha Namutoni - Rundu
18 September Rundu - Popa Falls
19 September Mahango NP - Popa Falls
20 September Mahango NP - Shakawe (BOTSWANA)
21 September Shakawe - Mahango - Katima Mulilo
22 September Katima Mulilo
SOUTH AFRICA (east)
27 September Nata - Pietersburg
28 September Pietersburg NR - Soutpansberg
29 September Soutpansberg - Pietersburg
30 September Pietersburg - Magoebaskloof
1 October Magoebaskloof - Kruger NP Punda Maria
2 October Kruger NP: Punda Maria - Pafuri - Punda Maria
3 October Kruger NP: Pafuri - Shingwedzi
4 October Kruger NP: Shingwedzi - Letaba
5 October Kruger NP: Letaba - Lower Sabie
6 October Kruger NP: Lower Sabie - Berg-en-dal
7 October Berg-en-dal - Malolotja NR (SWAZILAND)
8 October Malolotja NR - Mbuluzi Game Reserve (SWAZILAND)
9 October Mbuluzi GR - Bonamanzi
10 October Bonamanzi
11 October Bonamanzi - St. Lucia - Cape Vidal
12 October St. Lucia Wetland Park - Chelmsford - Wakkerstroom
13 October Wakkerstroom
14/15 October Wakkerstroom - Johannesburg - Amsterdam - Rotterdam
As mentioned in the introduction, consider this report as a addition to the wealthy site-information at www.sabirding.co.za. It covers the whole of Southern Africa. If you go to western South Africa, this report is an addition to the excellent Essential Birding Western South Africa. If you go to Namibia, this report is an addition to the excellent report of Christian Wagner (download it from www.birdtours.co.uk). In these 3 books/reports you'll find the directions. I used the information given in Jan Vermeulen's report a lot in this chapter.
Namibia & Botswana
Despite their aridity its among the last great wildlife strongholds on earth. Namibia and Botswana offer fabulous game-watching, a host of special birds, and abundant photographic opportunities. The many national parks and game reserves are superb, and far away from the tourists hordes of east Africa and South Africa (Kruger NP). Namibia and Botswana are extensive and sparsely populated countries. Namibia is famous for its stark beauty and is a geologist's and naturalist's paradise. Until recently most of Namibia's tourists were from South Africa. Now there are a great number of visitors from overseas. The rules for Namibia's National Parks are the same as for South African National Parks. Only closed vehicles are allowed in the wildlife reserves. Namibia is a good choice for the serious birder, even if you had birded elsewhere in Africa previously. Namibia is one of two African countries (the other being Kenya) with the highest degree of endemicity.
Most people do a loop-trip through the dry part of Namibia, or take the eastern side of the country. We didn't and therefor we didn't visit the excellent birdingsites at Hardap Dam, Windhoek area and Waterberg. These sites however are not necessary to see all the endemics. I missed one Namibian endemic (Violet Wood-hoopoe) and this one is normally always seen at Halali, Etosha NP. Probably because of the drought I missed it here.
In Botswana we didn't go to the famous Okavango Delta (Moremi NP). I probably missed therefor some non-endemic aquatic birds. The delta is only accessible by air of 4WD, both very expensive.
Excellent birding and many endemics in whole South Africa. To see them all, you have to go to every corner of the country. South Africa holds many different habitats hosting many species. Most endemics are in the Fynbos around Cape Town and in Drakenberg (mid-SA). Most species are probably in the south-east and at (northern) Kruger.
This little country offers excellent birdingsites and is not to be missed. The country is safer than South Africa and cheaper than all other countries in southern Africa. You can cover this country in 4 days.
1. Pelagic off Simon's Town/Cape Town
2. Kirstenbosch/Cape Town Botanical Gardens
3. Kommetjie Cape Peninsula
4. Cape the Good Hope NR
5. Strandfontein/Cape Town Sewage Works
6. Sir Lowry's Pass
7. De Hoop NR
10. West Coast NP
11. Lambert's Bay
12. Goegap NP
13. Sites east of Springbok
16. Walvis Bay/Swakopmund/Cape Cross
18. Twyfelfontein area
19. Etosha NP
21. Popa Falls
22. Mahango NP
24. Katima Mulilo
25. Kasane/Chobe NP
27. Pietersburg NR
30. Kruger NP
31. Malolotja NR
32. Mbuluzi GR
33. Bonamanzi Lodge
34. St. Lucia Wetland Park
wSA: western South Africa, eSA, eastern South Africa, Nam: Namibia, Bot: Botswana, Swa: Swaziland
The underlined species per site are the ones I actually saw there. The bold species are the real specials of the area.
1. wSA: PELAGIC OFF SIMON'S TOWN/CAPE TOWN
Although expensive, the Cape Town pelagic is a must for every birder, even if you have seen (most) species. Excellent birdguides are on board. Book ahead at website www.capetownpelagics.com. Here you also find what the odds are to see your desired species at which month. July/August are the best months. On radar the shipper search for trawlers, which attracts thousands of seabirds. I was lucky to have joined one of the best pelagics in recent years. To see hundreds of Pintado Petrels at close range, while Subanatric Skuas fly over and albatrosses fly past is unforgettable.
African (Jackass) Penguin (8), Southern Royal Albatross (1), Northern Royal Albatross (1), Wandering Albatross (missed it), Shy Albatross (50), Black-browed Albatross (40), Grey-headed Albatross (1juv), Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (1), Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (10), Southern and Northern Giant Petrel (25+25), White-chinned Petrel (common), Sooty Shearwater (common), Great Shearwater (missed it), Great-winged Petrel (2), Manx Shearwater (1), Antartic Fulmar (4), Soft-plumaged Petrel (missed it), Pintado Petrel (common), Antartic Prion (1), Wilson's Storm-Petrel (20), Cape Gannet (common), Subantartic Skua (15).
2. wSA: KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Kirstenbosch Gardens, lying on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, may be your first introduction to a number of the more common fynbos endemics and some elusive forest specials. The low-lying cultivated area of the gardens contains many of the common species. It is good place when you have a free morning or afternoon. There are standard opening hours for the site!
Mountain (Forest) Buzzard, Cape Francolin, Striped Flufftail, Cinnamon Dove, Ground Woodpecker, Southern Boubou, Cape Batis, Bokmakerie, Black Sawwing, Sombre Greenbul, Knysna Scrub-Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Forest Canary, Cape Siskin.
3. wSA: KOMMETJIE
"The Kom" near the coastal village Kommetjie consists of a small outcrop of rocky shoreline protruding into the Atlantic waters. I did not try a sea-watch because I already had a pelagic. The area is also used by a large selection of sea and shorebirds as a roosting and foraging area.
Black-browed, Shy & Yellow-nosed Albatross, Northern & Southern Giant Petrel, Pintado, Great-winged & White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Hartlaub's Gull, Subantartic Skua, Antarctic Tern.
4. wSA: THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE NATURE RESERVE (I didn't go here)
This reserve is situated at the tip of the Cape Peninsula and Africa's most south-western extremity. The reserve's most extensive habitat is mountain fynbos. Seawatching from the Cape of Good Hope during winter northwesterlies probably ranks among the best in the world.
Black-browed, Shy & Yellow-nosed Albatross, Northern & Southern Giant Petrel, Pintado, Great-winged & White-chinned Petrel, Sooty & Great Shearwater, Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Hottentot Quail, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Hartlaub's Gull, Subantartic & Antarctic Skua, Antarctic Tern, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock-Thrush, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird.
5. wSA: STRANDFONTEIN SEWAGE WORKS
The Cape Town Sewage Works. Many ducks I saw only here on my trip so probably worth a visit. This large sewage works is situated on the Cape flats on the north coast of False Bay. The ponds are fringed by reeds and the verges grassed. There are no birds especially restricted to the sewage works, but the ponds support a large number of waterbirds. You are permitted to drive around the ponds.
Great (Eastern) White Pelican, Maccoa Duck, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck, Greater & Lesser Flamingo, African Marsh-Harrier, African (Black) Oystercatcher (on ponds near the sea), Karoo Scrub-Robin.
6. wSA: SIR LOWRY'S PASS
The pass is situated in the Hottentots-Hollands mountain range east of Somerset West. If the wind and clouds permit you will enjoy an oxygen-rich stroll at Sir Lowry's Pass, with the quest birds including Cape Rock-Jumper and Victorin's Scrub-Warbler. Park at the car park at the top of the pass and then walk to the disused entrance at the other side of the road (Don't park your car at the start of the Boland Hiking Track Trail, as mentioned in Petersen's "Bird of the south-western Cape etc"). Walk along the upper of two tracks (1,5 km) till you reach a well vegetated stream course crossing it. Jan Vermeulen found the Cape Rockjumper along the footpath which climbs a shallow saddle to the historic wagon tracks and a pair of signal cannons. I had only little time at the middle of the day so I saw nothing of interest here. Go early morning here, it far better for the specials because there is less wind!
Red-chested Flufftail (marshy patches near railway line), Ground Woodpecker, Cape & Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Cape Rock-Jumper, Grey-backed) Cisticola, Victorin's Scrub-Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Southern (Lesser) Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Siskin.
7. wSA: DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE and surrounding
The De Hoop NR (36000 ha) is situated at the southern tip of Africa, about 50 km south of Swellendam.
This popular reserve comprises of four distinct habitats: the Potberg is the breeding place of the rare Cape Griffon (Vulture), the coastal fynbos, the Hoop Vlei, a landlocked brackish expanse of water in the heart of the reserve and, last, there is the coastline of alternating rocky outcrops and sandy beaches. Accommodation is available and advance booking is essential, unless you want to camp. Note that the gates into the main entrance to De Hoop close at 6pm, but there are no gates at Potberg. The roads from Swellendam to De Hoop are excellent for birding (larks, Blue Crane and Karoo Korhaan are fairly common here).
Cape Griffon (Vulture) , Black Harrier, Hottentot Quail, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Stanley Bustard, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Korhaan, Spotted Thick-Knee (Dikkop), African (Black) Oystercatcher, White-fronted Plover, Cape Eagle-Owl, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Agulhas Clapper Lark, Black Sawwing, Karoo Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Bunting.
8. wSA: GROOTVADERSBOSCH NATURE RESERVE
Grootvadersbosch NR is situated about 40km north-east of Swellendam (close to Bontebok NP and De Hoop NR), and comprises 250 ha of forest and a wilderness area of 14,000 ha. The indigenous forest is the most noteworthy in the south-western Cape. A hiking route - the Bushbuck Trail - winds through dense and leafy vegetation known as Knysna high forest, and offers excellent bird watching opportunities, while the wilderness area offers walks in pristine mountain fynbos. A canopy-level bird hide offers opportunities to observe canopy and aerial feeders. Grootvadersbosch NR is for several of the forest specials the western distribution limit. There are good camping facilities and chalets for hire but no food. Ask the rangers at the information centre for the latest birds 'news'. Because it was a very cold morning, I saw here only a few birds.
Crowned Eagle, Mountain (Forest) Buzzard, Red-necked Spurfowl, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Cinnamon Dove, Sharp-billed Honeyguide, Knysna Woodpecker, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Olive Bushshrike, Narina Trogon, Knysna Scrub-Warbler (very difficult here), Victorin's Scrub-Warbler(very difficult here), Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Forest Canary, Cape Siskin.
9. wSA: CERES/KAROOPORT/KATBAKKIES
The roads to the north lead you into the karoo-habitat, semi-desert. It offers excellent birding and gives you the chance to see the two real specials of this area: Namaqua Warbler and Cinnamon-breasted Warbler (bring for the latter a tape). All other specials are easily picked up further north (Springbok, Aus).
Specials: South African Shelduck, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, White-backed Mousebird, Karoo Lark, Southern Grey Tit, Familiar Chat, Karoo Chat, Tractrac Chat, Karoo Scrub-robin, Karoo Eremomela, Fairy Flycatcher, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Cape Bunting.
10. wSA: WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
This coastal area is particularly good for Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, migrant waders and coastal fynbos species. There are three hides overlooking the large Langebaan Lagoon, but there appears to be no viewing of the sea, without trespassing, apart from going to the very end of the loop road, a long way. The fringes of the lagoon include extensive reedbeds and sedge marshes. The terrestrial section of the park is dominated by fynbos with some old lands providing more open habitat. The offshore seabird breeding islands are less well vegetated.
Jackass Penguin, Cape Gannet, Crowned & Bank Cormorant, Black Harrier, Red-chested Flufftail, Grey-winged Francolin, Southern Black Korhaan, Chestnut-banded Plover, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Cape Clapper Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark, Grey-backed Cisticola, Layard's Titbabbler, Southern Grey Tit.
11. wSA: LAMBERT'S BAY BIRD ISLAND
Lambert's Bay Bird Island is a must to see breeding Cape Gannets. At Lambert's Bay there is a short causeway along the harbour to the island. Other species present at the island include Jackass Penguin, Crowned, Bank & of course Cape Cormorant. Kelp and Hartlaub's Gull can always be seen and a small colony of Cape Fur Seals has become established on the outermost rocks of the island.
Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, White-fronted Plover, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Grey-headed Gull, Hartlaub's Gull.
12. wSA: GOEGAP PROVINCIAL NATURE RESERVE
Goegap Provincial NR (15000 ha) is situated near Springbok. The reserve consists of granite hills with sandy flats in between. The largest part of the reserve represents Namaqualand broken veld, while the south-eastern section of the reserve is false desert grassland. Jan Vermeulen reports that one of the main attractions of the reserve is the very rare Red Lark but I only saw Karoo Lark here.
Verreaux's (Black) Eagle, Martial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, Cape Eagle-Owl, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Ground Woodpecker, Karoo Chat, Tractrac Chat, Yellow-rumped (Karoo) Eremomela, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Red Lark, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Stark's Lark, Dusky Sunbird.
13. eSA: 120KM EAST OF SPRINGBOK
This area west of Pofadder and southeast of Aggeneys hosts one of the rarest larks: the dune form Red Lark. See directions in Essential Birding Western South Africa. The lark is easy to find here and all the karoo specials are present here.
Red Lark, Scatler's Lark, Sickle-winged Chat.
14. Nam: AUS
Not many birders go here but I definitely recommend this site. Best birding is at the terrain of the Klein Aus Vista Lodge (campsite available) and bustards are easy to see along the nearby Rosh Pinah road (drive it for 30km (or more)). The lodge is also one of the 4 accessible places in the world to see the endemic Barlow's Lark (easy to see near the lodge). The others being extreme north-west South Africa, Rosh Pinah Lodge and the most famous spot: 3km after the 'Luderitz 50'road sign, on the right hand side. The rest of its range is forbidden Diamond Area. All species underlined I saw at the lodge, with exception of the bustards which I saw at the Rosh Pinah road.
Specials: Ludwig's Bustard, Ruppels Bustard, Barlow's Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Eremomela (common), Layard's Tit-Babbler, Rufous-eared Warbler, Sickle-winged Chat, Orange River White-eye, Red-billed Quela, Black-headed Canary, Damara Canary, Lark-like Bunting.
15. Nam: SOSSUSVLEI/SESRIEM
No must for birders, but Sossusvlei offers spectacular views at dawn and dusk. Here are the biggest sanddunes of the world. All the dune postcards from Namibia are taken at this very spot. The only (affordable) accommodation is at the 60km nearby campsite at Sesriem. The last 2km to the dunes is 4WD only, you can hitch, walk or take the 'bus'. There are lodges nearby, but the prices are VERY high. Take supplies with you, the Sesriem village holds only a little shop and a gasstation.
16. Nam: SWAKOPMUND/WALVIS BAY
Near Swakopmund and Walvis Bay (30 km apart), immense dunes line the coast, while rich lagoons and offshore waters support flamingos, cormorants, shorebirds, seabirds and other wetland species. The cold water of the Benguela Current is rich in nutrients and the birdlife here is abundant and varied. There are tens of thousands of cormorants that breed on specially constructed off-shore platforms and gives spectacular views late afternoon when they fly into roost. Vast numbers of terns, gulls and cormorants make this one of the great birding spectacles of Southern Africa. Cape Gannet, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Damara Tern, Hartlaub's Gull, Chestnut-banded Sandplover and Dune Lark are some of the specialities that frequent this area. The Walvis Bay Lagoon and saltworks are the best area to visit in terms of numbers of birds. See for Dune Lark directions the report of Christian Wagner.
White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Greater & Lesser Flamingo, Chestnut-banded Plover, African (Black) Oystercatcher, Hartlaub's Gull, Arctic Skua, Damara Tern, Dune Lark (Rooipoort), Gray's Lark , Stark's Lark.
17. Nam: OMARURU * ERONGO MOUNTAINS
Omaruru, a small village inhabited by German settlers, lies at the base of the rocky slopes of the Erongo Mountains, and is situated by a wide river bordered by tall trees and thick reed beds. There are several places to stay along the wide river. The beautiful but expensive Erongo Wilderness Lodge (EWL) a few kilometres from town is by far the best place for birding in the area. Although dayvisitors are not allowed, I birded here one afternoon and morning, saying that I was thinking about staying at their place. The road to the lodge is also very good. The river will undoubtedly be dry and indeed this region sometimes goes for years without appreciable rainfall.
Lanner Falcon, Hartlaub's Francolin (at EWL), Burchell's Sandgrouse, Verreaux's (Giant) Eagle-Owl, Freckled Nightjar, Bradfield's Swift, Monteiro's Hornbill, Damara Hornbill (at the town's only campsite), White-tailed Shrike, Herero Chat (very difficult here), Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Layard's Warbler (Layard's Titbabbler), Rockrunner, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Southern Pied-Babbler, Stark's Lark.
18. Nam: TWYFELFONTEIN * PETRIFIED FOREST
The best site in the world for Herero Chat is probably at the touristic Petrified Forest. Most people go to Spitzkoppe and search here for hours, sometimes without luck. The Petrified Forest itself and the surrounding area is almost certain a far better spot. I saw one bird at noon perched in the top of a bush giving excellent view. The 30m nearby Twyfelfontein is the other touristic spot. We stayed at the Aba Huab Campsite in between and it provided excellent birding, many Namibian endemics are found here. If your lucky, you will even see a 'desert elephant'.
Specials: Augur Buzzard, Ruppels Korhaan (very common), Ruppel's Parrot (common), Benguela Long-billed Lark, Carp's Tit, Bare-cheecked Babbler (common at campsite), White-tailed Shrike.
19. Nam: ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
Etosha National Park - huge white area - in the language of the local Bushmen, is a vast region packed full of birds and mammals. The park (22,270 km2) is mainly mixed scrub, mopane savannah and dry woodland surrounding the huge Etosha Pan. Etosha Pan is an apparently endless pan of silvery-white sand, upon which devils play and mirages blur the horizon. As a game park it excels during the dry season. The plains are dotted with game and their attendant predators. Over 320 species of birds have been recorded in the park. The roads are all navigable in a 2WD, its rest camps have excellent facilities, and it is never very busy in comparison with the crowded parks in the rest of Africa.
There are three camps (west to east: Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni) and are situated inside the reserve alongside floodlit waterholes, where mammals and birds come to drink 24-hours a day. The camps offer over- priced bungalow and chalet accommodation and at all three camps there is a campsite. Book ahead, especially if you don't want to camp! I recommend to stay at least one day in both Okaukuejo and Halali and two days in Namutoni. September/October are best for game-viewing and birding because the animals are forces to stick nearby the few waterholes. At our time of visit it was extremely dry after 3 years of few rainfall.
Cape Griffon (Vulture) , White-headed Vulture, Bateleur, Martial Eagle, Secretary-Bird, Red-necked Falcon, Swainson's Spurfowl (Francolin), Blue Crane, Ludwig's Bustard, Kori Bustard, Red-crested Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Double-banded Courser (east Etosha), Caspian Plover, Burchell's, Namaqua and Double-banded Sandgrouse, Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-faced Scops-Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Rufous-cheeked, Fiery-necked & Freckled Nightjar, Violet Woodhoopoe (Okaukuejo or Halali), (Southern) White-crowned Shrike, White-tailed Shrike (Okaukuejo of Halali), White Helmetshrike, Pririt Batis, Groundscraper & Kurrichane Thrush, Chat & Marico Flycatcher, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Redbreasted Swallow, Desert Cisticola, Burnt-neck Eremomela, Longbilled Crombec, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black-lored (Blackfaced) Babbler, Southern Pied Babbler, Bare-cheeked Babbler (Halai), Carp's Tit (Halali), Rufous-naped, Dusky, Eastern Clapper, Bradfield's, Monotonous, Fawn-coloured, Stark's, Pink-billed and Spike-heeled Lark (all larks best at Andoni Plains Waterhole, excluding Bradfield's), Grey-backed & Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark (Andoni Plains), Shaft-tailed Whydah, Scaly-feathered Finch, Social Weaver, White-breasted Sunbird, Dusky Sunbird, Cinnamon-breasted (Rock) & Golden-breasted Bunting (Halali waterhole).
20. Nam: RUNDU
The best birding spot at Rundu is the area a few km to the east of the town at the old golf course and Sewage Works. Follow the bad old main road from the centre to the well-signposted Ngandu Lodge a few kilometres further out of town. If you see water on your left, park your car and walk to the Sewage Works. The old golf course is west of the Sewage Works. The security fencing has all been stolen from around the ponds. The best areas to bird are the upper settling ponds, which are usually good for a variety of wildfowl, herons, terns and waders.
A few km further to the east there is a small marsh along the Okavango at Vungu Vungu Dairy. A few hours at this site should be enough. It has opening times, I was there late afternoon and was too late to visit this area.
Kaisosi Lodge, in between the Sewage Works and Vungu Vungu Dairy, is a very good place to stay. Another good place is the Sarasunga Lodge, further along the turn-off to Ngandu Lodge. The nice Fish Hook restaurant is now situated at Sarasunga.
Black Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Slaty Egret, Little Bittern, Dwarf Bittern, African Rail, African Crake, Black Crake, Allen's (Lesser) Gallinule, Red-chested Flufftail, Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Greater Painted-Snipe, African (Ethiopian) Snipe, Burchell's & Bronze-winged Courser, Black Cuckoo, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Senegal Coucal (Sarasunga Lodge) Marsh Owl (Vungu Vungu Dairy), Pennant-winged Nightjar, Swamp Boubou, Magpie (Longtailed) Shrike, Chirping Cisticola, Hartlaub's Babbler (Sarasunga Lodge), Brown & Jameson's Firefinch, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Quail Finch.
Nam: MIOMBO WOODLAND EN ROUTE RUNDU-POPA FALLS & NEAR MAHANGO NP
The 240 km between Rundu and Divundu, which runs parallel with the Okavango, is definitely worth making an early start, to bird the broad-leaved woodlands en route, to find a good list of typical species. Don't bother stopping near settlements and on cleared agricultural land as there is much pristine woodland. Regular stops along the way in tall, mature woodland should give good views of the bird specialities. The woodlands around Katere (100 km from Rundu at the radio mast) have reached near mythical status as the place to see the specialities, but they are readily seen in mature woodland all along the main road. In the miombo woodland about 6 km north of the entrance of Mahango NP the same specialities can be found. I didn't bird these roads that much, so no species are underlined.
Red-footed Falcon, Amur (Eastern Red-footed) Falcon, Dickinson's Falcon, Cape Parrot, Woodland Kingfisher, Racket-tailed Roller, Bradfield's Hornbill, Bennett's Woodpecker, Chinspot Batis, Souza's Shrike, Sharp-tailed Glossy-Starling, Pale (Mousecoloured) Flycatcher, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Stierling's Barred Warbler, Greencap Eremomela, Arrow-marked Babbler, Southern Black-Tit, Rufous-bellied Tit, Dusky Lark, Red-headed Weaver, Golden-breasted Bunting.
21. Nam: POPA FALLS
Popa Falls is a small (30 ha), but popular camping and accommodation site along the Okavango in Namibia's Caprivi Strip. It is named after a low series of rapids which drop about 5 m. Some small trails exist around the hutted accommodation and are worth exploring. It is one of the options for accommodation to bird the nearby (about 20km) excellent Mahango NP. Better value, at least for camping, are at the lodges en route to Mahango.
African Cuckoo-Hawk, African Finfoot (rare), Rock Pratincole (Oct-March), Meyer's Parrot, African Wood-Owl, African Barred Owlet, Pale (Mousecollared) Flycatcher, Black-collared Barbet, Green-backed Honeyguide, Swamp Boubou, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Violet-backed (Plumcoloured) Starling, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Brown & Jameson's Firefinch.
22. Nam: MAHANGO NATIONAL PARK
About 20km south of Popa Falls on the main road to Botswana (D3403), is the Mahango section of the about to be re-proclaimed Okavango National Park and is without doubt the prime site for birding in the western section of the Caprivi. There are three residents pairs of Wattled Crane in the Mahango and are mostly seen on the northern flood-plains and near the Giant Baobab picnic site, which is also the best place to watch the flood-plain. Here I saw the cranes early morning. The most important areas of this small national park are accessible by two-wheel-drive vehicle (except the western section) and you are - surprisingly - allowed to walk in the park! However, it is not recommended because Elephant, Buffalo, Lion and Hippo all occur and are, needless to say, highly dangerous. I saw all these mammals here. The major feature of Mahango is the Okavango River with its flood-plain. There are two picnic sites with beautiful lookout points over the flood-plain and are interesting for bird and wildlife. A frustration for birders is that the park closes at sunset and it is difficult to see nocturnal species. There is no accommodation in the park, you can stay at nearby lodges or at Popa Falls.
Rufous-bellied Heron , Slaty Egret (summer), Dwarf Bittern, Saddle-billed Stork, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Dickinson's Kestrel, Wattled Crane, Lesser Jacana, Long-toed Lapwing, African Skimmer, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Giant Kingfisher, Pel's Fishing-Owl, African Barred Owlet, Meyer's Parrot, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Bradfield's Hornbill, Bennett's Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Swamp Boubou, Sharp-tailed Glossy-Starling (only at the western 4WD-section), Chirping Cisticola, Greater Swamp-Warbler, both oxpeckers, Brown & Jameson's Firefinch, Black-faced Babbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver.
23. Bot: SHAKAWE FISHING CAMP
If Pel's Fishing-Owl and White-backed Night-Heron are a 'have to see' on your trip, you have to take a boattrip at Shakawe, about 30 km south of Mahango. Shakawe is the first village in Botswana. It takes 15 minutes to cross the border as you have to fill in forms on both sides, but's straight forward. There are two options for accommodation: Shakawe Fishing Camp (Lodge) of Drotsky's Cabins. We stayed at the latter because it was less expensive and are equally good for birding. Both are situated on the banks of the Okavango. There are campsites at both lodges. An boat trip on the river is a must and you will have a big chance to see your two quest birds. A boattrip after dusk is your best chance for these nightbirds, but I saw both species roosting at daytime. A daytime boat trip is highly recommended for viewing waterbirds and the bee-eaters. The Southern Carmine Bee-eater colonies are magnificent!
Rufous-bellied Heron , Slaty Egret (summer), Dwarf Bittern, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Wattled Crane (sandbanks Okavango), Collared Pratincole, Rock Pratincole, Water Thick-knee (Dikkop), African Skimmer, Pel's Fishing-Owl, African Wood-Owl (around the lodges), African Barred Owlet (around the lodges), Southern Carmine Bee-eater, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Green-backed Honeyguide, Retz's Helmetshrike, Chirping Cisticola, Greater Swamp-Warbler, Brown & Jameson's Firefinch, Black-faced Babbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver.
24. Nam: KATIMA MULILO
Again very good birding in the far eastern corner of the Caprivi Strip. This pleasant town along the Okavango river is worth a visit for one or two days. Three good accommodations are just east of the city. Cheapest and best birding is at the rundown Hippo Lodge, were I saw the elusive African Finfoot. Caprivi Cabins/River Lodge offers better accommodation though. Another special of this area, the Schalow's Lourie, I saw at neighbouring Zambezi Lodge. Besides the lodges, the sewage works and area's just west and south of town are good birding locations. The information at www.sabirding.co.za for this site is sometimes unclear or and up to date. The mopane woodland to the south of the town is actually at the west, along the road to nearby Angola. The sewage works I couldn't find. The mixed woodland to the west is actually at the south, along the main road to Popa/Rundu. In contrary to the website information, the Schalow's Lourie and African Finfoot are probably no more present at Caprivi Cabins/River Lodge.
Rufous-bellied Heron, Schalow's Lourie (Zambezi Lodge), Rock Pratincole, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Tropical Boubou, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow (south of town), African Skimmer, Purple-banded Sunbird, Emerald Cuckoo, Racket-tailed Roller, Arnot's Chat, Black-eared Canary, Ayer's Eagle, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Böhm's Spinetail (very rare), Pennant-winged Nightjar, African Finfoot (very early mornings at Hippo Lodge), Greyheaded Bush Shrike, Bradfield's Hornbill, Crowned Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Grey-headed Parrot, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Black Coucal, Pinkthroated Longclaw, Coppery Sunbird (was not arrived yet), Shelley's Sunbird, Bat Hawk (at dusk).
25. Bot: KASANE * CHOBE NATIONAL PARK
Kasane, in the extreme north-east of the country, is one of the entry-points to the huge and most famous national park of Botswana: Chobe. The park offers excellent birding, but you'll need a 4WD. There is only one paved road through Chobe and that is the 'highway' from Botswana to Namibia. This is the only road accessible for our 2WD. Birding along this road is nice, but no must. Birding in the Kasane area is best at the terrains of the various scattered lodges around town. Take also a boattrip from one of the lodges to the Chobe NP.
Slaty Egret (boattrip), Rufous-bellied Egret, Pink-throated Longclaw (boattrip), Chirping Cisticla, Greater Swamp Warbler, Rock Pratincole, White-crowned Plover, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Half-collared Kingfisher (boattrip), Collared Palm-Thrush (Mowana Lodge), Lesser Honeyguide (Mowana Lodge), Brown Firefinch (Mowana Lodge), Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Coppery Sunbird.
26. Bot: NATA
In the middle of the country, this is a good stop-over place. The Nata Lodge is the only real option for accommodation (campsite present). The lodge and the nearby Nata Bird Santuary (the eastern edge of the Makgadikgadi Saltpans) are quite interesting for birding. At our time of visit the pans were deaddry, so birding was bad.
Secretarybird, Red-necked Falcon, Dickinson's Kestrel, Chestnut-banded Plover, Double-banded Courser, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Pink-billed Lark.
27. eSA: PIETERSBURG NR
THE spot for Short-clawed Lark in South Africa. I saw at least one at the park. The reserve holds one pair of Secretarybird. The reserve entrance is at the terrain of the Union Caravan Park at the southern edge of town.
Short-clawed Lark (looproad), Red-throated Wryneck, Lesser Honeyguide.
28. eSA: SOUTPANSBERG west of Louis Trichardt City
Not recommended because there are no specials here. At Magoebaskloof it is easier birding. The not visited but nearby Ben Lavin NR is a good site, it holds all three indigobirds (widowfinches). We stayed at the excellent Buzzard Mountain Retreat, about 20km west of Louis Trichardt.
29. eSA: MAGOEBASKLOOF
The Magoebaskloof area is a picturesque mountainous region speckled with pristine Afromontane forest patches. Spectacular forests play host to a number of southern Africa's forest specials making the area a very worthwhile birding destination. Two of the most worthwhile forests in the area are the enormous Woodbush and the small Swartbos Forests. Woodbush is probably the best place in South Africa to see the Black-fronted Bush Shrike. Because forestspecies are far more difficult in the afternoon, you have to choose between the forestdrives A or B (or stay two nights here). I only did drive B and that was probably not a good choice and missed a lot here. Directions as always at http://www.sabirding.co.za. Accommodation is available at 2 B&Bs and at the expensive big hotel.
Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-streaked Bulbul, Orange Thrush, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Rameron Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Cinnamon Dove, Knysna Lourie, Black Cuckoo, Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Blue Swallow (south of Magoebaskloof), Barrat's Warbler, White-starred Robin, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Olive Bush-shrike and Green Twinspot.
30. eSA: KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
This park needs little introduction. This famous and wonderful place is a must for every birder. There are 12 camps in the parks, offering both camping and cabins. Five to eight nights at Kruger should be enough to cover the huge park. I stayed 6 nights, of with two in Punda Maria. The Pafuri area in the extreme north is best for birding, as many Mozambique specials are present only here. To bird here you can only stay at 60km nearby Punda Maria. For game: the centre and south are good areas for Lion. Do a nightdrive at Punda Maria and have a chance at Wild Dog. The south is good for White Rhino. Cheetah: area between Letaba and Satara and the S59 and S60 near Punda Maria.
Crowned Eagle (common here normally), Crested Guineafowl, White-crowned Lapwing, Three-banded Courser (difficult), Grey-headed Parrot, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Pel's Fishing Owl (difficult), Bohm's Spinetail, Mottled Spinetail (difficult), Black-throated Wattle-eye (Wattle-eyed Flycatcher) (difficult), Meve's (Long-tailed) Starling, Lemon-breasted Canary.
Specials Punda Maria area:
African Scops Owl (camp), Pennant-winged Nightjar (do a nightdrive), Racket-tailed Roller (Mahoni Loop), Arnott's Chat.
Specials rest of Kruger:
White-headed Vulture, Hooded Vulture, Martial Eagle, Temmink's Courser, Bennet's Woodpecker, Dusky Lark, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver (common Satara),
31. Swa: MALOLOTJA NATURE RESERVE
Arguably Swaziland's most attractive reserve, lying on the edge of the drakensberg Escarpment in the north-west of the country and protecting montane grasslands, swamps and forests that range in altitude from above 1800m (Ngwenya mountain) to below 800m (Komati Valley). I stayed here only one morning, when the mist permitted me a viewing range of maximum 40 metres. Since I was between seasons, I was lucky to see both winter and summer birds.
Bald Ibis, Red-breasted Sparrow-Hawk (forest), Striped Flufftail, Stanley's Bustard, Blackwinged Plover (winter), Knysna Lourie (forest), Narina Trogon (forest), Ground Woodpecker, Blue Swallow (spring/summer), Buff-streaked Chat, Plain-backed Pipit (winter), Chorister Robin (forest), Broadtailed Warbler (dam) and Gurney's Sugarbird, Quailfinch (common).
32. Swa: MBULUZI GAME RESERVE
In the east of the country are the adjoining Hlane Game Sanctuary, Mlawula Nature Reserve and Mbuluzi Game Reserve. They all provides pretty much the same species, we stayed at Mbuluzi, but that was probably not the right choice. Although I saw here my only Freckled Nightjar during spotlighting, birding was disappointing (because of the drought?). We stayed at the western section, at the campsite. The birdingtrails at www.sabirding.co.za are all in the eastern part where there are three cabins (lodges).
Narina Trogon, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Crested Guineafowl, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, White-backed Night Heron, Crested Cuckoo-Hawk, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Freckled Nightjar (north-western section), Pennant-winged Nightjar, Red-backed Mannikin, African Broadbill and Woodland Kingfisher.
33. eSA: BONAMANZI LODGE
Kwazulu-Natal is probably the province with the most species. We wanted to leave this for a next time and didn't planned to go here, but since we had 3 days left we went anyway. It was hard to choose amongst the huge variety of excellent sites but decided to stay 2 days at Bonamanzi and one at St. Lucia. Bonamanzi is an expensive lodge (campsite is present), neighbouring the St. Lucia Wetland Park, and hosts a wide range of habitats and therefor holds many specials of extreme south-east South Africa. Total birdlist of the lodge is nearly 400! There are two drives at the lodge terrain, I found the Lalapalm Drive the best. For me, birding here was a bit disappointing, because I couldn't find most specials. Except for the Lemon-breasted Canary, all specials are also present at either Mkuzi GR or St. Lucia (Wetland Park).
Neergaard's Sunbird , Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary, Rudd's Apalis (easier at St. Lucia), African Broadbill, Natal Nightjar, Southern Banded Snake Eagle (easier at St. Lucia), Pink-throated Longclaw (take a guided tour to floodplains), Pel's Fishing Owl (very difficult), African Finfoot (very difficult), Crested Cuckoo-Hawk, Green Coucal, Crested Guineafowl (common), Yellow-spotted Nicator (common), Gorgeous Bush-Shrike (good spot), Yellow-breasted Apalis, Senegal Lapwing (Lesser Blackwinged Plover), Grass Owl, Black Coucal (rare), Grey-rumped Swallow, Rufous-winged Cisticola.
34. eSA: ST. LUCIA WETLAND PARK
Lake St Lucia is the most important breeding area for waterbirds in south Africa, supporting large numbers of pelicans, storks and flamingos. The greater St. Lucia Park was created to protect this vital wetland and includes the conservation areas of Mapelane, Eastern Shores, Cape Vidal, Sodwana Bay, Charters Creek, Fanies Island and, False Bay Park. In addition to the wetlands, the park incorporates a wide range of terrestrial habitats and is the most accessible place to see the Zululand coastal 'specials'. I birded around St. Lucia and found most specials at the Gwalagwala Trail. At Cape Vidal the birds were far more difficult to spot. Since I had only one morning I didn't go to all spots and missed many specials, including the difficult ones: Pink-throated Longclaw and both twinspots. I recommend a bare minimum of 2 days here.
Pink-backed Pelican, Rufous-bellied Heron, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Lesser Jacana, Caspian Tern, Livingstone's Lourie , Green Coucal, Natal Nightjar, Mangrove Kingfisher, African Broadbill. Yellow-spotted Nicator, Brown Scrub-Robin, Rudd's Apalis, Woodwards' Batis, Short-tailed Pipit, Pinkthroated Longclaw, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Neergaard's Sunbird, Green Twinspot, Pink-throated Twinspot and Grey Waxbill.
Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark ,Yellow-breasted Pipit, Bald Ibis, Black-winged Plover, Grey-winged Francolin, Grey (Southern) Crowned Crane, Blue Crane, Stanley's Bustard, Blue Korhaan, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Sentinel Rockthrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Spotted Prinia, Ground Woodpecker, South African Cliff-Swallow, Marsh Owl, Grass Owl, Quail Finch.
35. eSA: CHELMSFORD NATURE RESERVE
A short afternoon visit didn't produced the 11th and last bustard/korhaan of southern Africa I had to see: the White-bellied Korhaan. It is also the hardest one because it prefers longer grass. I did see for only the second time on my trip the Black-bellied Korhaan.
36. eSA: WAKKERSTROOM
A famous town as it holds 3 extreme rare endemics: Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark and Yellow-bellied Pipit. I stayed here 2 nights and saw only the Botha's Lark, also because the fields at classic Yellow-breasted Pipit-site were burned. I strongly recommend to use a birdguide if you want to see all 3 specials. The area also holds many of the upland grassland specials. Although still difficult, these are more easy to see. The area is beautiful upland farmland, hosting large groups of Long-tailed Whydahs. On the western side of town is the best accommodation. We stayed at Winds of Song (the hostess is a keen birder; neighbouring Hill View is better value though).
Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark ,Yellow-breasted Pipit, Bald Ibis, Black-winged Plover, Grey-winged Francolin, Grey (Southern) Crowned Crane, Blue Crane, Stanley's Bustard, Blue Korhaan, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Sentinel Rockthrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Spotted Prinia, Ground Woodpecker, South African Cliff-Swallow, Marsh Owl, Grass Owl, Quail Finch.
Birds and Mammals