Trip Planning

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The Greater Limpopo Birding Route is situated in the northernmost part of South Africa. It is bordered by the Kruger National Park to the east and by the Limpopo River to the north and west. The southern boundary is formed by the North-west, Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces. The capital town of the province is Polokwane and is situated almost in the center of the province. The province is most easily accessed via the N1 highway which bisects the province north to south, from Gauteng in the south to Musina in the north.

Best time to visit

Birding is good throughout the year. Winter (May – August) is pleasant and a good time to visit the Kruger National Park . Summer is of course the best time for birds, but considering heat, rain, breeding and migrations, the best months of the year are November and February .

Travelling Time

Travelling time by car from major centres to Makhado (Louis Trichardt)

  • Polokwane (Pietersburg) – 1 ¼ hours
  • Pretoria – 3 ½ hours
  • Johannesburg – 4 ½ hours
  • Johannesburg International Airport – 4 hours
  • Gateway International Airport (Polokwane) – 1 ¼ hours
  • Tzaneen – 1 ½ hours

Travelling time within the area

  • Musina to Makhado – 1 hour
  • Thoyohandou to Makhado – 1 hour
  • Punda Maria (KNP) to Makhado – 2 hours
  • Pafuri Gate (KNP) to Makhado – 2 ½ hours
  • Alldays to Makhado – 1 ½ hours
  • Vivo to Makhado – 1 hour

Length of Stay

Weekend Getaway

The region is close enough to Pretoria / JHB for a weekend’s or even a days birding birding. If one leaves on the Friday afternoon reaching one’s destination that evening, one can have a good day and a half of birding. For a short trip like this it is suggested you do not try to cover the whole region, but rather explore your immediate environment. There is enough diversity of habitat types within a short distance of each other for birding to be rewarding and for you to get good species totals

Long Weekend

This would be an ideal destination for a long weekend from JHB. Drive up on the Thursday and you’ll have 2 ½ days of good birdwatching before driving back on the Monday afternoon. Spend Thursday and Friday at the same accommodation and then Saturday and Sunday in a different area. In this way you will be able to cover two areas in one visit.

Longer visits

In five to six days you should clock up an impressive bird list. When planning your trip make sure you manage to cover as many habitats as possible. Read the section on ‘Birding Areas’ and ‘Suggested Routes’ to help get the best out of your visit.

Land Use, People and Access for Birdwatching

Three national parks and a number of provincial parks are found within the region. The land use is mostly eco-tourism, cattle and game farming. Most of the land in the western and central parts of the region is privately owned. English is the most commonly spoken language across all cultural groups. Towards the east one enters communal land where Venda speaking people live. Pedi speakers inhabit the area around Blouberg and Waterberg areas and in the southeastern extreme of the area Tsonga speaking people are to be found.

Please respect all land tenure, whether communal or private. Be aware that when birding along the roadsides, you may not enter the property without the owner’s permission. If you want to bird on communal land, ask to speak to the headman before venturing off the main road. Local people are usually very friendly and happy for you to see their area, but it is necessary to observe their protocols.

Road Conditions and Sign boarding

Roads are good and can mostly be travelled in a normal sedan vehicle. High-clearance vehicles are recommended to access some of the sites (this will be indicated). Road sign boarding is good throughout the region, except for parts of the North-Eastern Venda, north of Thohoyandou and parts of the Waterberg. Here you must use your good sense and ask for directions when not sure. The people in the region are friendly and usually happy to help. There have been some recent and some on-going place name changes. Notably Pietersburg is Polokwane, Messina is Musina and Louis Trichardt is now Makhado.


There is a danger of malaria in summer in the northern part of the Kruger National Park . If you visit during the summer months please take malaria prophylactics and insect repellents


This is a summer rainfall area. In the summer the Soutpansberg and wolkberg Mountains are often cool and moist in contrast to the Limpopo Valley and waterberg, which can become very hot. Winters are mild throughout the area.

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