Limpopo Birding Routes

Soutpansberg Limpopo Birding Hotspots

North Eastern Venda

Grey-headed Kingfisher – Dalena Mostert

North Eastern Venda stretches from Thohoyandou to the Kruger National Park boundary in the east and the Limpopo Valley in the north. You can drive north from Thohoyandou to Masisi, Thengwe and Sagole; or drive south from the Tshipise-Pafuri road. The roads and signage in this area are poor! The vegetation types that dominate this area are Arid Mountain Bushveld and Mopane woodland.

Lowveld riverine forest with elements of semi-deciduous forest can be found along the major rivers. This area is where the only isolated patch of Brachystegia woodland in South Africa is situated. Interesting birds that can be seen here include Southern Hyliota, Crowned Hornbill, Pink-throated Twinspot and Blue-spotted Wood Dove. More common species are: White-browed Scrub Robin, Bearded Scrub Robin, White-crested Helmet-Shrike and Golden-breasted Bunting. Look out for Mottled Spinetail at the Sagole Big Tree.

Gundani – Marianne McKenzie
Gundani Mutsiwa Brachystegia Woodland

Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland is common in Zimbabwe and countries further north, but this is the only known patch in South Africa. Special bird associated with Miombo woodland that have been seen here are White-breasted Cuckooshrike and Southern Hyliota, Pink-throated Twinspot is frequently seen and you might find Blue-spotted Wood Dove. There are unconfirmed reports of Red-throated Twinspot and Spotted Creeper. There is a community campsite with a basic ablution block at the entrance, and a marked trail into the woodland.

Directions from the south: Travel east from Louis Trichardt / Makhado on the R524, drive through Thohoyandou to Sibasa and to then to the T-junction indicating Donald Fraser Hospital (left) and Masisi (right).Turn right towards Masisi, continue for 12 km, then turn left towards Thengwe. Continue for 5.1km, then turn right towards Mutale. Continue for 21 km until you see a signboard and turn-off to Gundani to the right, after 3km you will arrive at the campsite. Travelling time from Thohoyandou is around 45minutes. 
Directions from the north: Travel from Pafuri / Musina on the R525, then turn left to Sagole Spa and the Big Tree. West of the Big Tree is a road to the south marked ´Sibasa´. Take this road, pass Shakadza, then see the start of the tar road. Continue on the tar road until you see the signboard and turn-off to Gundani on the left. 

African Broadbill – Samson Mulaudzi
Golwe Vhurivhuri Picnic & Campsite

Golwe Picnic and Campsite is a large shady site situated in a secluded valley in Venda off the Masisi Road. There is good bird watching in and around the campsite; African Broadbill can be heard calling at dawn. Other special birds are Pink-throated Twinspot, Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Crowned Hornbill. Marked circular trails lead from the campsite up the valley and to a waterfall. The campsite offers a convenient base from which to visit Mpaphuli Cycad Reserve, Makuya Nature Reserve and the Gundani Brachystegia Woodland. We recommend that you book local bird guide Christopher Nethonzhe to guide you along the trails; he can be contacted at 076 302 9383. Golwe is owned and run by members of the Vhurivhuri community; all proceeds go towards the development of the community. The campsite has four campsites, ablution facilities with hot and cold water and flushing toilets, braai stands and picnic tables; firewood is for sale. The site is accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles and caravans. 

Directions from the south: Travel east from Louis Trichardt / Makhado on the R524, drive through Thohoyandou to Sibasa and then to the T-junction indicating Donald Fraser Hospital (left) and Masisi (right). Turn right towards Masisi, continue for 37 km, then turn right towards Lambani / Gunda and follow the signboards to the site for another 1.8 km. 
Directions from the north: Travel from Pafuri / Musina on the R525, turn off towards Tshikondeni Mine at Masisi. Do not take the left turn to the mine but continue straight towards Sibasa / Thohoyandou for another 25km; then see the sign to the site on the right.

Sagole – Marianne McKenzie
Sagole Big Tree

This magnificent specimen has been recorded as the largest Baobab tree in the world and is the best place to see Mottled Spinetail in the late evening and early morning.

Directions: Travel on the R525 and follow signs to Sagole Spa (Klein Tshipise). The tree is west of Sagole Spa and the turn-off is marked with a sign ´Big Tree´.

Mottled Spinetail- Derek Engelbrecht
Makuya Nature Reserve

Makuya Nature Reserve is situated near Pafuri Gate of the Kruger National Park. This 16,000 hectare conservation area on the Luvuvhu River is open to Kruger’s Nyalaland Wilderness Area; big game roams freely and Makuya is known for its impressive buffalo herds. There are many varied and unique plant species; major habitats in the reserve include sandstone outcrops, riparian woodland, Lebombo Ironwood thickets, Mopane woodland and Baobab ridge communities. Birdlife is abundant with over 370 species recorded in the area, including some ‘specials’ such as Böhm’s and Mottled Spinetails, Meves’s Starling, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Mosque Swallow,  Grey-headed Parrot, African Yellow White-eye and Tropical Boubou.

Directions: Travel on the R525 to Tshipise, continue to Masisi; or travel on the R524 through Thohoyandou to Sibasa, then to Masisi. At Masisi turn right to Tshikondeni Mine; then follow the signs to Makuya Nature Reserve.