Suggested
Self-drive Routes

Recomended "drives" for the SLBR

The following are some suggested itineraries for this area. Suggestions with regard to accommodation bookings are made per birding area (A-J); thus it is up to you to decide where you would like to stay and to make your bookings in advance. Many places offer chalet accommodation as well as camping or self-catering options. In most cases the routes have been planned so that you spend at least two nights at each site or area. For a more relaxed schedule you could change this and spend a night or two longer in each of the areas.

Day 1 is your day of arrival and the last day is the day of your departure.

 

Circular Tour of the Soutpansberg and Limpopo Valley — 10 Day route (9 ni

10 Day plan
This tour takes you into the majestic Soutpansberg Mountains, through the Kruger National Park and then along Limpopo River Valley. It covers as many habitat types as possible and in this way you take full advantage of the great diversity of birds found in this area.
Day 1: From Makhado drive to where you have booked for the night. Having settled in a recommended option is to do an evening boat trip and dinner on the Albasini Dam at either Luonde or Shiluvhari. (This needs to be reserved in advance). Acc: A & B
Day 2: Start the day with an early morning visit to Roodewal Forest; it is worth spending at least two hours here. Go on to the Muirhead Dams and/or Albasini DWAF. If you have time visit the Levubu Caravan Site and Jacana Dam. End the day at Entabeni Forest to pick up some of the forest specials. Acc: Same as Day 1
Day 3: Leave very early and enter the Kruger National Park through the Punda Gate when it opens. Drive the various loops around Punda. Consider booking a night drive, as it is well worth it for picking up nightjars and owls, and do not forget to mention to the driver that you are interested in birds. Acc: Punda Maria
Day 4: Drive up to the Pafuri Picnic Site when the camp gate opens. Bird along the Levubu River from the bridge to Crooks Corner. In the late morning, when it starts to get hot leave the park through the Pafuri Gate and dive via Tshipise to Musina. In Musina, continue towards Zimbabwe and just north of Musina turn left to Pont Drift. The accommodation offered in this area is situated on the Pont Drift road or beyond. Settle into the accommodation and bird around the property where you are staying. Acc: F
Day 5: Visit the Mapungubwe National Park. Private accommodation options in this area offer guided trips to the National Park and Den Staat Wetlands. Acc: Same as previous night
Day 6: Leave early so that you can make a stop at the Blouberg Nature Reserve or Langjan on your way to the Western Soutpansberg to spend two nights in one of the lodges situated up in the Western Soutpansberg Mountains. Acc: I
Day 7: Spend the day birding on the property, perhaps doing one or two of the trails offered. All the sites in the Western Soutpansberg are high up in the mountains and tend to be quite remote and very beautiful. Acc: Same as previous night
Day 8: Head on to the Bandelierkop area. On the way stop at the Spies Dam to pick up some waterbirds and then to the accommodation that you have booked into. Acc: J
Day 9: Spend the day on the property doing some of the trails and drives. Acc: same as previous night.
Day 10: Departure.

Eastern Route – 5 day route (4 nights)

5 Day plan

This route takes you along the Eastern Soutpansberg Mountains, through Levubu, past the Albasini Dam and into the northern part of the Kruger National Park. The birding is fairly hard work as you will have to drive between birding spots to pick up specials, but this area has a very high diversity of bird species. Some of the specials are African Broadbill, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, African Finfoot, Grey-headed Parrot, Green-twinspot and Scaly-throated Honeyguide.

Recommended alternative to Days 3,4,5: Book at Pafuri Camp (Wilderness Trails) and spend two nights at their camp. Drive back via Tshipise or Punda Maria.

Day 1: From Makhado drive to where you have booked for the night. Having settled in, a recommended option is to do an evening boat trip and dinner on the Albasini Dam at either Luonde or Shiluvhari. (This needs to be reserved in advance). Acc: A & B
Day 2: Start the day with an early morning visit to Roodewal Forest; it is worth spending at least two hours here. Go on to the Muirhead Dams and then visit the Levubu Caravan Site and Jacana Dam. End the day at Entabeni Forest to pick up some of the forest specials. Acc: Same as Day 1
Day 3: Leave very early and enter the Kruger National Park through the Punda Gate when it opens. Drive the various loops around Punda. Consider booking a night drive, as it is well worth it for picking up nightjars and owls, and do not forget to mention to the driver that you are interested in birds. Acc: Punda Maria (or see alternative below)
Day 4: Leave the rest camp as soon as the gate opens and head up to the Pafuri Picnic Site. Bird along the Levubu River from the Levubu River bridge to Crooks Corner. Have lunch at the picnic site and drive back to Punda Maria in the afternoon. Acc: Punda Maria (or see alternative below)
Day 5: Before leaving the KNP spend the morning travelling down the H1-7 road towards Shingwedzi doing the various loops, and do not miss a visit to Babalala picnic site for a birding/breakfast stop.

Limpopo River Valley Route - 5 day route (4 nights)

5 Day plan
This route takes you along the Limpopo River from east to west. The Limpopo River is flanked by gallery forest in which bird life is abundant. Away from the river course a variety of habitats offer great birding. Specials to be sought are Pel's Fishing-Owl, Green Sandpiper, Dwarf Bittern, Saddle-billed Stork, Senegal Coucal and African Mourning Dove.
Day 1: From Makhado drive north through the Soutpansberg and turn on to the R525, birding as you go. Acc: E
Day 2: Spend the day in the area. If you are staying at Popallin, an evening boat trip on the Nwanedi River is a must. If you are staying with Wilderness Safaris do not miss a night drive. Acc: E
Day 3: Drive to Musina, go on towards Zimbabwe and just north of Musina turn left to Pont Drift. The accommodation offered in this area is situated on the Pont Drift road or beyond. Settle into the accommodation and bird around the property where you are staying. Acc: F
Day 4: Visit the Mapungubwe National Park. Private accommodation options in this area offer guided trips to the National Park and to Den Staat Wetlands. Acc: Same as Day 3
Day 5: On your way home drive back via Vivo and the North and South Western Flats.

Weekender - 3/4 day visit (2/3 nights)

3 Day plan
If you are only coming up for a weekend it is recommended you stay two nights at the same place and make the best of the birding on site. All of the sites mentioned in this guidebook are situated in excellent birding habitats and thus there will be no need for you to travel far to do some good birdwatching. Acc: A - J
Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:

Western Route - 5 day route (4 nights)

5 Day plan
This route will take you into the Western Soutpansberg and the North Western Flats. Birding here is very rewarding. The mountains offer Afromontain Forest and high cliffs with dramatic scenery. In contrast, the north western flats offer good game viewing and birding for species typical of drier areas. Some specials are Narina Trogon, Crested Guineafowl, African Crowned Eagle, Verreaux´s Eagle-Owl, Kori Bustard, Southern Pied Babbler, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and Violet-eared Waxbill.
Day 1: Drive from Makhado to the lodge you are booked into. Acc: I
Day 2: Spend the day birding on the property, perhaps doing one or two of the trails offered. All the sites in the Western Soutpansberg are high up in the mountains and are quite remote and very beautiful. Acc: Same as Day 1
Day 3: Leave early so that you can stop at the Blouberg Nature Reserve or Langjan on the way to your destination. The birding along the roads in this area is particularly good. It may be worth doing a detour via Waterpoort for some good roadside birding. Acc: G
Day 4: Spend the day birding on the property where you are staying. Most of these properties are on river systems, which offer great birding in this arid environment. Acc: Same as Day 3
Day 5: On your way back drive via Vivo and then on to Polokwane if you are heading south, or if you are going back to Makhado make a stop at the Spies Dam en route.

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