Black Forest Mountain Lodge is situated 4km west of Haenertsburg in the foothills of the indigenous Black Forest. This is the perfect base from which to do some weekend birding, within a radius of 5km there is a good variety of habitats including Afromontane forest and grassland. There are a few earth dams in the immediate vicinity of the lodge, where Black Crake, Purple Heron, African Black Duck, Half-collared and Giant Kingfisher and sometimes Red-chested Flufftail can be seen. The grassland patches and thickets adjacent to the lodge harbour Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Barratt's Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Olive Bush-Shrike and Buff-spotted Flufftail while the flowering garden shrubs sometimes bring in Malachite Sunbird and Gurney´s Sugarbird. Keep a look-out for soaring raptors which could include Long-crested and African Crowned Eagle and Jackal and Forest Buzzards. Some of the activities one can enjoy at Black Forest Mountain Lodge are birding, hiking, fishing, cycling and horse riding. There are various accommodation options including the original farmhouse with five double rooms, lounge, library and fully-equipped kitchen; two log cabins; and a campsite.
Boscobel Cottages is an intimate luxury self-catering establishment located near Haenertsburg with three cosy stone and thatch cottages set in lovely gardens and lawns. The cottages are meticulously appointed with each having its own colour theme and featuring a wood burning fireplace. They consist of a ground floor main bedroom, bathroom, fully-equipped kitchen area and outdoor patio, as well as an upstairs loft area with two single beds. The main central lodge has a comfortable TV lounge and there is extra freezer space available. A comprehensive map of the property and surrounding countryside with suggested hiking and mountain biking routes, is available at the cottages. The Woodbush Forest, Haenertsburg Grasslands and Kudu’s River Valley are all a short distance away.
The Cheerio Valley covers nearly 100 hectares and includes the world-famous Cheerio Gardens, famous for their azaleas, flowering cherries, and crab apples. Interestingly, these exotic gardens attract a remarkable array of forest and mountain birds, and a walk along the well laid out paths may provide sightings of Lemon Dove, White-Starred Robin, Barratt´s Warbler, Orange Ground-Thrush and Green Twinspot. There have even been a few sightings of Bush Blackcap here. Trails lead through a section of indigenous forest in which the elusive Narina Trogon is regularly spotted. Numerous small dams on the property attract the likes of Half-collared Kingfisher, African Black and White-backed Duck and Purple Heron, not to mention the resident Cape Clawless Otters. There are picnic sites for day visitors and 3 self-catering chalets for overnight stays.
Bordering the forests and plantations of Magoebaskloof and the Woodbush Forest Reserve, Graceland Eco Retreat offers hiking trails and a relaxed environment for those wanting to escape for a few days and unwind in a dramatic landscape. It is home to kudu, giraffe, impala, reedbuck and other game, which can be viewed whilst hiking or on one of the terraces. Graceland allows access to the Kudu River Valley and its unique variety of birdlife including Verreaux’s, Crowned, Long-crested and African Fish Eagles, Lanner Falcon, Alpine and African Black Swifts. Graceland Eco Retreat offers farm-style accommodation in either Giraffe House, Kudu Chalet or at Serapana house. They are all totally off the grid, but don’t compromise on creature comforts with state-of-the art solar geysers, lights and Wi-Fi; ideal for visitors wanting to escape a busy life, as well as business travellers. Kudu Chalet and Giraffe House are located on either side of an open-air kitchen, which is the perfect place for al-fresco dinner under the pergola, and caters for a variety of cooking experiences, equipped with a pizza oven, braai area, kettle-braai and various prep areas. A communal outdoor lounge space is shaded by an old Fig Tree for hot summer days next to the splash pool. Serapana House, with its indigenous aloes and succulent garden, has a large conversation/fire pit with outdoor cooking facilities. A small pathway leads through the bush to a pergola overlooking the Kudu’s River Valley and Schnellskop Mountain. Graceland’s accommodation is easily accessible with a sedan car and only a game drive requires a 4x4 vehicle. The property is best viewed on foot, however, with marked hiking trails and many outdoor spaces with different views of the valley.
This ´Birder-friendly establishment´ is situated on a 422 hectare farm, which straddles the Woodbush forest and the bushveld habitats on the Northern Drakensburg escarpment. Kurisa Moya boasts excellent birding on site, including 7 species of Robin including White-starred and Chorister. Most notable are 5 Bush-Shrikes, with the Black-fronted Bush-Shrike heading up the list. In Kurisa Moya's spectacular indigenous forest, other specials include the Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Grey Cuckooshrike, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher and Yellow-streaked Greenbul. The Twinspot Hide attracts Green Twinspots in numbers as well as Lemon Doves and other seed-eaters. Taking some time at the feeders at the Reception area will yield Chorister Robin, Sombre Greenbul, Swee Waxbills, African Firefinches, Forest Canaries and Red-backed Mannikins. The bushveld areas have a range of Cisticolas and Warblers and the montane area is home to Gurney´s Sugarbird. Raptors include Rufous-chested and Black Sparrowhawk as well as Crowned and Long-crested Eagles. The nearby Mamabolo Grasslands offer excellent sightings of the Short-clawed Lark. Eight self-guided trails take birders through all five habitats. Or better yet, take a guided walk or outing with one of South Africa's top Local Bird Guides, David Letsoalo, or one of Limpopo's top Local Bird Guides, Paul Nkhumane. Excursions to nearby Woodbush Forest include Bat Hawk, Magpie Mannikin, Orange Ground Thrush and Cape Parrot sites. Owner Lisa provides comprehensive bird lists and early catering. Accommodation consists of two stilted log cabins in the indigenous forest; a comfortable farmhouse for groups or a stone cottage with breathtaking views. Day visitors are welcome by prior arrangement. The lodge also offers guided nature walks, village tours, adventure mountain bike trails, fly-fishing lessons and sunset 4x4 drives. This electricity-free eco-lodge ensures privacy, tranquillity and a great birding experience.
Kuhestan Organic Farm is situated at the crest of Magoebaskloof, adjacent to the Woodbush Forest, and is thus ideally situated to further explore the indigenous Afromontane forest or look for various forest bird specials on the property itself. The farm is planted with avocados and raspberries and the houses are surrounded by magnificent gardens. Birds which can be seen include Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Orange Ground-Thrush, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tambourine Dove, Lemon Dove, African Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Green Twinspot, Grey Cuckooshrike and Chorister Robin-Chat. Kuhestan produces a range of delicious preserves and cordials which are prepared on site. The self-catering fully-equipped cottages are beautifully situated, tastefully furnished and serviced daily.
Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages are located on Dragonwyck Farm just off the R71 in Magoebaskloof. They are accessed by a 2km dirt road (which is not suitable for very low profile cars). Dragonwyck is a working farm practising natural farming methods and producing avocadoes and indigenous plants. The two cottages are surrounded by indigenous vegetation; walking trails on the farm follow streams and forest patches. Bird species seen around the cottages include Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Narina Trogon, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Orange Ground Thrush, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Green Twinspot, Mountain Wagtail, Forest Buzzard,Scaly-throated Honeyguide, White-starred Robin-Chat, Chorister Robin-Chat, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Barratt’s Warbler and Black Saw-wing. Robin Cottage has 2 bedrooms and can accommodate 7 people; there is an inside bathroom as well as a charming outdoor bathroom. Trogon Cottage can accommodate one couple and also has an additional outside bath with a view, as well as a small splash pool.
This family hotel is to be found at the top of the Magoebaskloof Pass on the R71 between Polokwane and Tzaneen. It is flanked by Afromontane forest and a patch of Afromontane grassland, and overlooks the sub-tropical Lowveld at the bottom of the valley; it is therefore particularly well-situated as a mountain birding base. The hotel is a member of the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme and the management is committed to conserving the natural environment in which it is situated. There are marked paths on and adjacent to the property. Over 130 bird species have been recorded in this area, and of special interest are the African Crowned Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Cape Parrot, Narina Trogon, Olive Bush-Shrike, Grey Cuckooshrike, Square-tailed Drongo, Chorister Robin-Chat, Knysna Turaco and Buff-spotted Flufftail. The flowering shrubs in the hotel gardens attract a variety of Sunbirds including Southern and Greater Double-Collared, Amethyst and Collared. The hotel has standard and deluxe twin and double rooms, family rooms, and two-bedroomed self-catering apartments. Facilities include an a-la- carte restaurant, an all day continental-style coffee shop serving pastries and light meals, two pubs, a sparkling pool and curio shop.
Owl Cottage is situated 500 metres off the R71 in the Magoebaskloof Valley. The cottage is on the southern edge of the Woodbush Forest, just 7kms from the Debengi Falls turn-off. Frequent visitors to the 4 hectare avocado and pecan nut farm are Cape Parrots, with up to 30 birds feeding on the pecan nuts during winter. The garden, water features and bird feeders attract a wide range of birds and butterflies. Birds seen regularly are Purple-crested and Knysna Turaco, White-starred Robin, Red-backed Mannikin, African Firefinch and Swee Waxbill, with Grey Waxbills seen occasionally. Owl Cottage offers self-catering accommodation for 7 people, there is also a swimming pool and outdoor braai area. Owner Phil is also an accomplished fly-fisherman who can organise fishing outings and casting lessons.
This reserve encompasses all the habitats that make up the great eastern escarpment of the Northern Drakensberg including superb mistbelt forest and montane grassland. This is a good site to see high-altitude grassland species such as Common Quail (summer), Wing-snapping, Croaking and Wailing Cisticola, Broad-tailed Warbler and Malachite Sunbird. There are historical records of Blue Swallows in the grasslands. The forested gorges hold Cape Parrot, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, African Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and many other forest species. There is a good tar road from the gate leading up the scenic Orrie Baragwanath Pass to the grasslands at the Downs and forested patch known as Church Forest. The reserve has comfortable self-catering wooden chalets at Makhutsi Camp along the river.