Limpopo Birding Routes

Soutpansberg Limpopo Birding Hotspots

North and South Western Flats

Photo: Kalahari Scrub-Robin – Derek Engelbrecht

The dry North Western Flats area close to the Kalahari offers some very special birding with species not easily found in other parts of the region. These include Southern Pied Babbler, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Kori Bustard, Burchell's Sandgrouse and Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk. The main river in this region is the Mogalakwena; the fringes of Lowveld riverine forest offer cool relief to the dry surroundings. Birds found along the river include a wide variety of Cuckoos, Bee-eaters and Owls, including Verreaux's Eagle-Owl and Pel's Fishing Owl. Southern Africa’s second largest breeding colony of around 700 endangered Cape Vultures is found on the southern cliffs of the Blouberg Mountain. For a few years this colony has also been home to a single Rüppell’s Vulture, which is normally a rare visitor to South Africa.

The South Western Flats is comprised of sweet and mixed bushveld and is a great place to scan for raptors! It can be reached on the road leading to the Air Force Base and Mara Research Station. 

Blouberg Vulture Restaurant – Lisa Martus
Blouberg Nature Reserve

Blouberg Nature Reserve covers a wide variety of vegetation and habitats including a small Sycamore Fig forest, Tamboti woodland and a wetland which has a resident flock of Crested Guineafowl and is visited by Greater Painted Snipe in the summer. The reserve has over 270 species, including Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike, Crimson-Breasted Shrike, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and Southern White-faced Owl. One of the highlights of the reserve is the ´Vulture Restaurant´ and hide, which is best visited in the winter months. Cape, Lappet-faced, Hooded, White-headed and White-backed Vultures and even a Rüppell's Vulture can be seen at close range. There is a large Cape Vulture breeding colony on the nearby cliffs, where a male Rüppell's can be seen nesting with a female Cape Vulture. There is also a good variety of game species in the reserve, including buffalo, eland, gemsbok, cheetah, leopard, caracal, spotted and brown hyaena. Visitors can choose between four types of accommodation, ranging from a fully-equipped lodge to simple private camp sites. The reserve also offers a 4-day Wilderness Trail.

Directions: Travel to Vivo and turn west towards Bochum. After 8.6km turn right towards Kromhoek; the reserve is a further 8.4 km on the left. 

Melanistic Gabar Goshawk – Derek Engelbrecht
Spies Dam

This dam is on the southern side of the R522 about 26 km from Louis Trichardt / Makhado. The water in the dam is seasonal, as is the birdlife; the eastern end is better for bird watching. Birds that have been seen here include Knob-billed, African Black, White-faced Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, White-fronted Plover, Kittlitz´s Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and on occasion Greater Flamingo. White-bellied Sunbird, Marico Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Kalahari Scrub-robin, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Long-billed Crombec, Crimson-breasted Shrike and a variety of seed-eaters can be found in the surrounding dry acacia veld. Some interesting larks and cisticolas may be seen on the old fields below the dam wall.

Directions: Travel on the road to Vivo from Louis Trichardt / Makhado; after 24 km the dam is visible from the road on the left. Stop next to the road just before the railing to get a view of the reed beds below; be careful as the road is quite narrow. Continue on the road until you see a BP Garage and General Dealer on the right; almost opposite this turn left onto a straight gravel track. The track then forks; park your car under a tree and walk to the dam wall. If you need to open a gate, be sure to close it behind you.