Birding trip eastern South Africa 29 Oct - 20 Nov 2005 

John van der Woude  -  www.jvanderw.nl 

See also
- Photos of the scenery of the birding sites
- Some bird photos
- Species list 

 

If you have Google Earth you can view the location of most sites by opening EasternSouthAfrica2005.kmz. Once there, also try View > Play tour!


Eastern South Africa is a highly varied region, ranging from bush savanna to wide montane grasslands and true forests (montane and coastal), all with many wetlands. Even after our previous visits to western South Africa, Namibia and some other african regions, we got over 120 lifers. And of course many mammals, like the Big five in Kruger park.

Again, this was a private trip for the two of us, with rental car from Johannesburg and accommodation in lodges, rest camps, hotels and B&B's. Roads, shops and restaurants are mostly of western standards. Besides, South Africa is a relatively cheap country to travel. All in all, we can hardly imagine an easier quality trip for independently travelling worldbirders.

The ease of birding was highly helped because we had the relevant section of a draft of the birdfinding guide to Southern Africa by Callan Cohen et al. (see reference below). Hence, this report is just supplementary to Callan's outstanding book.

The trip was planned to coincide with the start (November) of the rainy season, and we got a few showers indeed, but less than 'normal' (normal years are becoming rare, it seems). So some areas, like Kruger park, were still dry. This may have delayed the arrival of the true summer migrants a bit, but on the other hand we had very good visibility and dry dirt roads all the time, so we got plenty of birds nevertheless. Towards the end of the trip, we had more, and perfectly timed, rain showers.

Daylight starts very early in eastern South Africa in November, at 4.30 h already. Even the most breakfast-addicted birders will have to give up here. So, as we do on nearly all our trips, we brought cereals and other food stuff in the car, and often had breakfast in the field at about 9 or so, many hours after we had started the day.

Drinking enough water is highly important, so always have several bottles of mineral water in the car. In Kruger park I forgot to keep drinking enough water, and then I got kidney problems, a very painful matter. Luckily enough, I got it while we were in the only camp (Skukuza) with a permanently stationed doctor, so I got rid of this nasty problem within a few hours (although the rest of the day was lost of course). The doctor said it happens often here, so please be warned.

Apart from English, we also spoke quite a bit of Dutch. People often switched from English to Afrikaans once they discovered we were from Holland. If the Afrikaans was spoken clearly and not too fast, we could understand nearly all of it.

ATM's (cash machines) are everywhere, but we advise not to use the ones at petrol stations, as people tend to flock around those. So just use the ones outside bank offices, with guards. For the rest we felt very safe. Besides, you will rarely be inside major towns and you will just drive from one park to the other, or just inside the Kruger park (400 km long).  

Unexpectedly, we encountered a totally different safety problem, and that was elephants. In Kruger NP, they normally had about 7000 elephants, which was regulated by shooting. After stopping this regulation, the number of elephants has risen to about 14000 now. Practically no tree in (northern) Kruger park has not been damaged somehow by elephants, and we think that the increased population pressure may have made them a bit nervous of all the visitors too. We saw a group of elephants, including a few young, crossing our dirt road while we were still far away. We waited till they were about 50 meters or so from the road (on their way to the river at Pafuri), and we slowly drove past. At that moment, the rear one, a large female, suddenly turned around and started running in our direction. I have never pressed a gas pedal so hard as then, and we got away safely. So please be very careful with elephants in Kruger and keep your distance. Meanwhile, there are new talks about what to do with these beautiful but highly destructive animals.

Besides Callan Cohen's birdfinding guide, there are many resources on the internet. Browsing these while preparing the trip, I encountered the excursion program of the Pretoria bird club, and saw that they would visit a highly diverse area on our second day. We emailed them and got the chance to take part in the excursion, so we had a nice birding and social introduction to this trip.

Apart from the first nights we did not make reservations for accommodation, in order to have a flexible itinerary (like: not having to press on before you have seen that rare lark). In the end, the actual itinerary was very like I had roughly calculated so if you don't like to go without reservations it should not be a problem. Just in case any lodge inside the parks (esp. Kruger) would be full, we had brought light camping gear but we never needed it.

We rented a mobile phone at Jo'burg airport (Voda counter in the hall) for the same low rate as we would have paid at the Avis rental car counter 20 minutes later (buying a sim card may even be cheaper but we still had a sim lock on our mobile phones). This was handy for phoning beforehand to hotels etc. while we were on our way to these, just to check if they had vacancies. As a matter of fact a mobile phone also gives a feeling of security, because in case of a car breakdown you can just stay in the car and phone the rental car company.

For general directions we used the Rough Guide map of South Africa (1:1.700.000) which again proved to be reliable, like two years ago in western South Africa. Cohen's birdfinding guide has some detail maps, and when entering Kruger park we bought the detailed map (including visitor's guide) of this park. Leaflets with maps were obtained for any park we entered. Our field guide was Sinclair et al. Birds of Southern Africa (3rd edition, 2002).

Apart from our Leica binoculars (8x32 and 12x50) we also brought our lightweight Nikon ED Fieldscope, which was especially handy in the vast open grasslands of the higher altitudes. We also had brought a selection (on minidisc) of bird sounds, taken from Guy Gibbon’s cassettes (Southern African Bird Sounds). We used them for learning the sounds of the specialties just before entering a new birding site. We sparsely used these for playback in the field with a small but strong RadioShack speaker (mini amplifier-speaker cat.no. 277-1008C), recently imported from the UK by a Dutch birder (Guus, thanks!).

A word about Kruger NP. Birders often include only a small part of this enormous park in their itinerary, e.g. just the northern tip, plus some of the south. However, we think that traversing the whole park from north to south (400 km) gives a tremendous feeling of space and nature in general, plus a lot of good birds (and mammals of course). Also, this park is really easy to travel (in terms of roads, accommodation, food, petrol, safety) and not expensive, at least when compared to parks in e.g. Kenia. OK you are not allowed to leave the car outside the camps and picnic sites, but this was less a  problem than I feared, also because several of the smaller birds can be seen inside the camps.

As said earlier, Callan Cohen's birdfinding guide (draft version) was of utmost importance for us. At many of the sites we really saw a lot of the specialties he clearly indicates for each site. The reference for this book is:
Southern African BirdFinder: where to find 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar. Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode, Jonathan Rossouw 2006. For more information, visit www.birdingafrica.com.

At the bottom of this page I've put some comments and additions based on our trip. 

 

 

Itinerary:

(with some of our birding highlights in italics; for the bird specialties of each site, see Cohen's book; see also our species list)

Friday 28 October 2005. Arrival at Johannesburg international airport at nine p.m. with KLM, transfer to nearby Town Lodge hotel with their own shuttle bus (hotel pre-booked on internet).

Saturday 29 October. Had the hotel shuttle bus back to the airport and picked up the Avis rental car at the airport. Drove north to Pretoria where we visited the excursion leader of the next day (Erik de Villiers). From there on to the Tamboti lodge about 70 km north of Pretoria, along a dirt road in a savanna area. Did some birding on the lodge grounds (garden, savanna; Crested Barbet). Great food in the lodge.

Sunday 30 October. The excursion to the very diverse Ditholo bush savanna area started at 6.30 h. The area seems only accesssible with a special permit. White-backed Duck, Southern Pochard, African (Blue-billed) Firefinch, Jameson's Firefinch, and many others. Around noon we had our first and only real braai (barbecue).

At about 3 p.m. we left the area and went back to our lodge (only 10 minutes drive). An hour or so later we left again for a short visit to the Rust de Winter nature reserve. This was far less interesting than the Ditholo area, partly also because of the late hour. We really had been lucky to have had the opportunity of being introduced to so many bird species at Ditholo. Superb food at the Tamboti lodge again.

Monday 31 October. At dawn we left the lodge (with packed lunch in stead of breakfast) and drove in about 20 minutes to the Zaagkuildrift dirt road. The first few km of this is wide open grass savanna with bustards etc (Northern Black Korhaan, Pallid Harrier). Then the road passes a mature wooded savanna (amongst others Kalahari Scrub-Robin). There is practically no traffic so you can easily bird along the road. The final part is a floodplain area near the village Kgomo-Kgomo (Capped Wheatear, Kittlitz's Plover, Zebra (Orange-breasted) Waxbill).

Turned back around noon and went on to Nylsvlei nature reserve. We knew it would be too dry but we wanted to see the area nevertheless. We picked up the key code at the entrance and then drove around the reserve to the best birding spot, Vogelfontein ('bird spring'). There was very little water left (Ostrich, Cape Vulture).

We got a room at the Vivaldi hotel/guesthouse (recommended in the Lonely Planet) in Polokwane/Pietersburg. Actually it was a room at the neighbour because the hotel was full. Good service! The hotel has a good location both for the Polokwane nature reserve as for the largest shopping mall we have seen on the whole trip. In this mall (Savannah Centre, near eastern border of town) we had a nice dinner on a terrace, and the next day we would stock up here for our long stay in Kruger NP (although you can buy many things inside Kruger itself).

Tuesday 1 November. Polokwane NR opens at 7 a.m. only so we had the hotel's breakfast before going there. We got our Short-clawed Lark (at site C on Cohen's map) and also encountered a family of rhinos closeby. We went to the Avis airport in order to try to change our rental car because the security belt didn't work properly. They had no comparable car left, but in Kruger we would hardly need the security belt. After shopping in the mall we drove on to Kurisa Moya, the splendidly located lodge in the Afromontane forests of the Magoebaskloof. We drove straight to our cottage inside the forest and never came out of the forest until two days later! Today we did the shortest circular trail from the cottage (the 'birder's loop'; Chorister Robin-Chat, Forest Canary, Square-tailed Drongo). A lovely meal was served at our cottage.

Wednesday 2 November. All day forest birding along the loop trails above the cottage (Green-backed Camaroptera, Bar-throated Apalis, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Olive Woodpecker, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Olive Bush-shrike, Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler, White-starred Robin, Narina Trogon, all before breakfast; then Knysna Turaco, Grey Cuckooshrike, Jackal Buzzard, Red-breasted Sparrowhawk, Thick-billed Weaver, Lemon Dove, Scaly-throated Honeyguide; end of afternoon: Green Twinspot, Brown Scrub-Robin . Great meals again.

Thursday 3 November. After some final early-morning birding in the forest uphill from the cottage (Buff-spotted Flufftail!) and a last vast breakfast we left Kurisa Moya. We passed by the Magoebaskloof waterfalls (no birds of note) and drove on to the Bat Hawk site a bit further on (got the pair).

Then the long drive to the Punda Maria gate of Kruger NP which we entered at about 4 p.m. At Punda Maria camp (the northernmost in Kruger) it was very hot. Some birding in camp (White throated Robin-Chat).

Friday 4 November.  All morning at Pafuri, esp. the dirt road along the river + picnic site. At the latter we were helped to some birds by Frank the warden, also a bit outside the perimeter of the picnic site (gave him a tip). After some rest in our room at the Punda Maria camp (a hot day again) we tried out some of the Mahonie loop behind Punda Maria camp.

Some Pafuri highlights:Trumpeter Hornbill, Tambourine Dove, White-headed Lapwing, Martial Eagle. Brown Hawk-eagle at pylons south.

Saturday 5 November. Mahonie loop in early morning (Grey-headed Parrot, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike). Left camp in time for checkout and slowly drove to Shingwedzi, the next camp south (we even did part of the Mahonie loop again too). In late afternoon did a bit of the dirt road SE of camp, also as a reconnaisance for the next morning.

Sunday 6 November. Left Shingwedzi very early and hence witnessed the waking up of a pair of lions on the dirt road SE along the Mozambique border. On along some wetter areas (Nshawu vlei) and then along the main road along Letaba and Satara camps (brief visits for some birding) all the way down to Skukuza camp, the largest camp of Kruger NP. All cabins were full so we had a pre-erected tent for this night.

Some highlights near Shingwedzi: Wahlberg's Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Red-crested Korhaan, Southern Ground-hornbill.

Monday 7 November. A bad day. Gradually increasing pain in my belly (or so I thought) from about 5 a.m. onwards. At 7 a.m., the pain was such that Nollie arranged a visit to the doctor here (the only one in Kruger, what a luck), and he immediately recognized it as kidney problems because of drinking too little the previous day(s). Helped me straight away out of it, with injections and other medications. Had to rest most of the remaining day. Meanwhile, we really had to change our car at the local Avis office here in Skukuza camp, because now also the gearing was more and more problematic. This change of cars would only be possible later the next day, but we got a temporary replacement car. Later in the afternoon we did some birding in camp.

Tuesday 8 November. The day of the leopard (the last of the big five for us). We did the circuit east of Skukuza (S114-S112-S65) along some granitic outcrops (kopjes) and had the leopard halfway along the S65. Nearly back at Skukuza, we had great views at the Lake Panic bird hide. Some more rest at the camp and we finally got a good replacement car.

Some highlights near/at Skukuza: African Black Duck, African Finfoot, Purple-crested Turaco, Burchell's Cuckoo, Malachite Kingfisher, Mocking Cliff-chat, White-browed Robin-Chat,  Burchell's Starling, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Violet-eared Waxbill.

Wednesday 9 November. Morning drive from Skukuza to Lower Sabie camp, along the Sabie river (road H4-1) and then the long Salitje dirt road (S30), ending at Mlondozi dam (Striped Pipit, Yellow-breasted Apalis). Then a long lunch rest at the fabulous terrace of Lower Sabie camp, the last stop of our stay in Kruger NP. Then on to mountainous Swaziland (mainly for Blue Swallow, which we saw indeed). We hoped to find some accommodation in Piggs Peak, and we soon saw signs for a luxury casino hotel called Orion Piggs Peak, situated c. 10 km N of Piggs Peak town. We knew from Spain that such hotels can be cheap during the week and so I informed at the counter of this lovely situated hotel. Within two minutes the rate went down from a ludicrous 1200 to a surprising 340 rand (no meal or breakfast then; we didn't need dinner because we had had a vast lunch at Lower Sabie, and breakfast would be too late for us anyway). This was a very good rate for the great room we had, the best of the whole trip. Made a short stroll around the hotel (pine forest + garden) before dark.

Thursday 10 November. Entered Malolotja NP after a 30 minutes drive from the hotel. The lady at the park reception advised to search for the Blue Swallows at the first picnic site, and she was right. Take the righthand fork c. 2 km after the entrance; the obvious picnic site (encircled on map section below) is just 100 m or so after the fork. The map is provided at the entrance. 

We got about 6 Blue Swallows (probably 3 pairs), flying around low over the grassy slopes, esp. just downhill from the picnic site. After ticking several more mountain birds here (Buff-streaked Chat, Red-winged Francolin, Wailing Cisticola, Sentinel and Cape Rock-thrush, Malachite Sunbird, Plain-backed Pipit, Orange-throated Longclaw, a stray juvenile Southern Bald Ibis) we left and crossed the border to South Africa again (formalities take about 30 minutes), and drove on to Wakkerstroom, first along the fast N17, then along the much slower N11 (potholes and repairs). In Wakkerstroom we just chose the first B&B for which we saw a sign (Toad Hall) and this was a good choice. It has a nice location away from the main street with a birdy garden and close to a good restaurant (Country Inn; their pub also serves good meals). After some rest, we did a first reconnaisance of the 'lark road' about 9 km N of Wakkerstroom

Friday 11 November. With our packed breakfast/lunch and a copy of the Wakkerstroom birdfinding guide (Tarboton; edition June 2004) we went straight to that lark road (E2-E8 in Tarboton's guide; sites A-C in Cohen). This is the road to the left after 8.6 km along the road North from Wakkerstroom to Amersfoort (Blue Korhaan). All these roads are dirt roads, easily manageble by normal cars. We completed the circuit via E2 and C2 (Tarboton)/ E and H (Cohen; at H we had Rudd's Lark) and the wetland near Wakkerstroom. Later in the afternoon we successfully did the Yellow-breasted Pipit site K (Cohen), had the bird right along the road.

Saturday 12 November. First went to the Dirkiesdorp area (Cohen's R) for Barrow's Korhaan (saw several of them). Then back to Wakkerstroom for more birding along the lark road etc. In afternoon paid a visit to the other side of the large wetland (Grey-crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard). At the Birdlife office here we learned how to get into the best lark pasture at Cohen's C site (all guides were occupied, esp. because of a raptor course).

Sunday 13 November. Went straight to site C, but didn't dare to enter the enormous pasture because of a bull in a large cow herd. Soon after, a birding guide came with two clients and showed that you had nothing to fear from the bull. So we also entered and had a great time while successfully searching on our own for both rare larks (Rudd's and Botha's). After a few hours we left the pasture and went back to our accommodation.

Some other highlights at Wakkerstroom: Secretarybird, Jackal Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Spike-heeled Lark, Mountain Wheatear, Anteating Chat, Wing-snapping and Pale-crowned Cisticola, Red-collared Widowbird.

At 11 a.m. we left and drove on to Mkuzi game reserve, via Piet Retief. At the start of this drive we had phoned to Mkuzi to ask if they had accommodation left. This was the case; otherwise we would have tried accommodation outside Mkuzi or we would have camped inside Mkuzi (on hindsight, both options would have been far less attractive, esp. because of the distances involved). At the camp of Mkuzi (called Mantuma camp, with simple shop; no unleaded petrol!) we got the bungalow just at closing time of the reception (4 p.m.!). Made a short reconnaisance trip to both hides in the nearby Sand forest.

Monday 14 November. Whole day Mkuzi. First the Sand forest, then on to Nsumo Pan, through lovely green savanna of all sorts. Made an early dinner ourselves in the bungalow because the camp's snackbar wasn't that good (we saw no restaurant), and because we wanted as well bird the full period from 5 p.m. till dark (6.40 p.m.) as also take part in the night drive (7-9 p.m.). During the latter (we were the only participants) we saw several nightjars (Fiery-necked and Square-tailed) and mammals, but also learned where to find the African Broadbill the next morning, a species that we had not found at Callan's stake-outs in the Sand forest (the parking places of the hides).

Tuesday 15 November. First thing at dawn was the African Broadbill, in the narrow stretch of sand forest along the tar road towards the air strip. Then to Nsumo Pan and surroundings again. Back at the bungalow at check-out time but staying an hour longer was no problem.

Some other Mkuzi highlights: Openbill Stork, Martial Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Marsh Sandpiper, both Dikkops, Collared Pratincole, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Bearded Woodpecker, Eastern Nicator, Red-capped Robin-chat, Bearded Scrub-robin, Rudd's Apalis, Bar-throated Apalis, Gorgeous, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bush-shrikes, Purple-banded Sunbird, Pink-throated Twinspot, Golden-breasted Bunting.

Then on to the coast, for the St. Lucia wetlands. In St. Lucia we had a very good fish meal at the recently opened branch of Ocean Basket. We also did this because we would not have a restaurant at Cape Vidal tonight, the hotspot for dune forest birds here. At the KZN Wildlife office of Cape Vidal at the end of the tar road (a very nice slow 1 hour drive from St.Lucia) we got the bungalow that was promised us at their St.Lucia office, and then did some reconnaisance at the camp site and a bit along the road back.

Wednesday 16 November. Walked into the forested camp site at first light. Got the specials after quite some searching, especially in the nearly empty distant part of the camp site. After that also did some roadside birding along the tar road back south plus the 18 km long dirt road loop which starts just south of the Cape Vidal area, and winds through various dune habitats (nice but not very birdy, except for a Little Sparrowhawk). Upon return to the bungalow we had a look out at sea, and were surprised by the many Cape Gannets migrating south.

Highlights in Cape Vidal: Southern Banded Snake-eagle (halfway St. Lucia and C. Vidal), Livingstone's Turaco, Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Brown Scrub-robin, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Woodward's Batis, Black-bellied Starling, Eastern Olive Sunbird.

In St. Lucia we had a fish lunch again in the Ocean Basket, so we would need no dinner in Eshowe.

The drive to Eshowe (coastal hill forest) took about 1,5 hours and we arrived at the George hotel in the rain. At the end of the afternoon we made a short walk at the back end (George hotel side) of the Dlinza forest reserve, and also drove to the proper entrance to check the opening time and ask for the best tactics for the next morning (trail vs. canopy tower).

Thursday 17 November. A very nice early morning in the Dlinza reserve. First did the loop trails (for the thrush) and afterwards the canopy walkway + tower. Got both specialties (Delegorgue's Pigeon and Spotted Ground-thrush) at the same spot, along the long trail, clockwise, at about 1/3. Saw several canopy birds from the canopy tower (White-eared Barbet, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Cuckoohawk, Grey Cuckooshrike), a lovely spot, and easily manageable even for those with some fear of heights.

Then back to the hotel and onwards North for the long drive to Golden Gate NP. Beautiful scenery around Vryheid. From Harrismith we had a splendid road all the way to the camp of Golden Gate, where we got the last available cabin (rondavel type; circular roof) for two nights. We had called them from St. Lucia already. Made a walk from the camp up to the base of the cliffs (see photo). Good dinner (buffet type) in the large Protea hotel 1 km downhill from the camp. The camp (called Glen Reenen) has a reasonable shop and a petrol station.

Friday 18 November. Whole day Golden Gate NP, mainly by car: both loop roads and some birding along the main road. The Generaalskop loop road and the Protea viewpoint were best, but we never managed to see the main target bird (Drakensberg Rockjumper; although we probably heard it at the Protea site). Buffet at Protea hotel again.

Highlights in Golden Gate: Bearded and CapeVulture, Rock Kestrel, African Black Swift, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock-thrush, Cape Grassbird, Mountain Pipit (shortly before Generaalskop viewpoint), Bokmakierie, Malachite Sunbird, bishops and widowbirds, Swee Waxbill, Drakensberg Siskin.

Saturday 19 November. After some final birding in Golden Gate we drove back in the direction of Harrismith, and suddenly saw in Cohen's birdfinding guide that we could have another chance for the rockjumper, at Witsieshoek (didn't known it was closeby). However, we could not find the site. So we drove on to Memel, our last site, and for just the last night. We had called already for accommodation at the Mahem guesthouse which appeared to be a splendid place. Memel doubles with Wakkerstroom but for us it meant a good location for a last day of birding plus driving to Jo'burg airport. It was raining in the afternoon which was not too bad as we needed some more rest. Went up the road to the large wetland (west side) for a few km and saw a group of four Marsh Owls.

Sunday 20 November. Grassland and some wetland birding in beautiful weather on our last morning. The larks were a bit more difficult to find (at B in Cohen) than in Wakkerstroom, but maybe we were just not too bird-hungry anymore on this last day. Got a territorial Eastern Long-billed Lark at A. Had a splendid view on the large wetland N of Memel from the knoll described by Cohen (with African Quailfinch along the approach road). We were allowed a very late checkout at the guesthouse on this Sunday afternoon, so we could have a last shower and rearrange the luggage for the departure.

Easy drive to Jo'burg (arrived at dusk) where we had plenty of time for some shopping in the terminal. Departed at 11.30 p.m.

 

 

 

Accommodation addresses (see also Lonely Planet and Cohen's birdfinding guide):
(international code for South Africa is +27)

Town lodge near Johannesburg international airport:
phone 011 974 5202, email tljia.resv@citylodge.co.za, website www.citylodge.co.za (with online reservation)

Tamboti lodge (NE of Hammanskraal, in the Dinokeng area):
phone 012 711 0909, email info@tamboti.co.za, website www.tamboti.co.za

Vivaldi guesthouse in Polokwane (Pietersburg):
phone 015 297 0816, 015 295 3445, email vivaldi1@mweb.co.za

Kurisa Moya (in Magoebaskloof area):
phone 015 276 1131, mobile 082 200 4596, email info@krm.co.za, website www.krm.co.za.

Kruger NP reservations:
phone 012 428 9111, email reservations@sanparks.org, website www.sanparks.org (online reservations possible). Direct phone for Skukuza is 013 735 4152, for Punda Maria 013 735 6873.

Orion Piggs Peak hotel (for Malolotja NP in Swaziland):
phone +268 437 1104 (or 1105)

Toad Hall B&B (Wakkerstroom):
phone 017 730 0427, email pmooney@mweb.co.za, website www.wakkerstroom.com

Mantuma camp in Mkuzi: 
phone 035 573 9004, website www.kznwildlife.com

Cape Vidal camp (St. Lucia):
phone 035 590 9012, website www.kznwildlife.com

George hotel in Eshowe:
phone 035 474 4919 or 2691, email info@eshowe.com

Golden Gate NP camp:
phone 058 255 0012, website www.sanparks.org

Mahem guesthouse in Memel:
phone 058 924 0034, email mahem@xsinet.co.za

 
GPS waypoints (in WGS84): 

Most of these are also visible in Google Earth by opening EasternSouthAfrica2005.kmz

W252    S26°07'13.55" E028°10'07.45"  -  (back side of) Town lodge hotel near Johannesburg international airport
W253    S25°22'38.04" E028°18'45.97"  -  start of road to Ditholo reserve, from road Hammanskraal – Rust de Winter
W254    S25°22'55.21" E028°20'26.45"  -  near water hole on land of Tamboti lodge
W255    S25°22'52.23" E028°20'42.50"  -  (garden of) Tamboti lodge NE of Hammanskraal
W256    S25°20'25.85" E028°19'47.60"  -  birdy spot inside Ditholo reserve
W257    S25°19'14.03" E028°20'30.51"  -  ‘dam’ (pond) inside Ditholo reserve (ducks)
W258    S25°21'50.47" E028°20'28.10"  -  start of side road to Tamboti lodge
W259    S25°11'55.97" E028°17'38.36"  -  start of Zaagkuildrift road
W260    S24°36'56.11" E028°41'30.63"  -  Vogelfontein area (?) of Nylsvlei reserve
W261    S23°58'18.03" E029°28'34.49"  -  Short-clawed Lark site in Polokwane nature reserve
W262    S23°56'12.87" E029°28'28.64"  -  entrance road of Polokwane nature reserve
W263    S23°55'08.13" E029°27'38.78"  -  Vivaldi guesthouse, Polokwane/Pietersburg
W264    S23°48'11.98" E029°56'23.39"  -  parking place of our cottage (nr. 1) of Kurisa Moya lodge
W265    S23°52'07.18" E029°59'42.44"  -  where direct road from Kurisa Moya to Magoebaskloof joins the R71
W266    S23°48'04.84" E030°03'46.79"  -  (ask by email)
W267    S23°06'31.11" E031°26'01.72"  -  bungalow in Shingwedzi camp, Kruger NP
W268    S23°29'22.25" E031°29'19.82"  -  junction of S143 and S50 along Nshawu vlei S of Shingwedzi, Kruger NP
W269    S25°05'30.72" E031°32'31.64"  -  granitic outcrop with Mocking Cliff-chat near Skukuza camp, Kruger NP
W270    S26°07'10.38" E031°07'30.96"  -  slightly above ‘first picnic site’ (Blue Swallow) of Malolotja NP, Swaziland
W271    S26°08'52.77" E031°08'16.45"  -  entrance to Malolotja NP, Swaziland (along main road)
W272    S27°17'12.46" E030°07'01.98"  -  start of ‘lark road’ Wakkerstroom
W273    S27°18'09.29" E030°03'34.82"  -  at Cohen’s site B along ‘lark road’ Wakkerstroom (Spike-heeled Lark)
W274    S27°09'50.18" E030°04'50.68"  -  at Cohen’s site H north of Wakkerstroom (Rudd’s Lark)
W275    S27°12'38.61" E030°19'18.09"  -  between Cohen’s sites R and S east of Wakkerstroom (Barrow’s Korhaan)
W276    S27°17'28.12" E030°05'15.65"  -  at small bridge in ‘lark road’ Wakkerstroom (White-rumped Swift; Secretarybird)
W277    S27°21'25.96" E030°06'58.44"  -  Birdlife centre near Wakkerstroom, start of trails into border of wetland
W278    S27°17'27.58" E030°02'55.19"  -  one of the Rudd’s Lark territories inside pasture of W279
W279    S27°17'49.21" E030°02'59.38"  -  gate of large lark pasture at Cohen's C, Wakkerstroom
W280    S27°35'45.92" E032°13'10.29"  -  Mantuma camp in Mkuzi reserve
W281    S27°39'52.96" E032°05'25.44"  -  start of dirt road to Mkuzi reserve (from larger dirt road)
W282    S28°31'43.61" E028°37'39.47"  -  Mountain Pipit site along Generaalskop loop in Golden Gate NP
W283    S27°46'37.97" E029°32'18.55"  -  Eastern Long-billed Lark site S of Memel (1.3 km after start of ‘lark road’)
W284    S27°38'37.20" E029°34'29.51"  -  viewpoint on knoll near Waterval farm N of Memel
W285    S27°38'30.62" E029°34'02.10"  -  African Quailfinch on track towards W284
WJNB   S26°07'55.30" E028°13'35.30"  -  Johannesburg international airport (taken from Google Earth)
 

 

Some comments and additions to Southern African Birdfinder (Cohen et al. 2006; see also above):

Site 120 - Mkuzi (Mhkuze):

  • Neergaard’s Sunbird seems very difficult. The night drive guide told us that many birders come in vain to see it here.
  • We had the broadbill where the tar road to the airstrip crosses the narrow Sand Forest belt. This seems a reliable spot (we got this tip from the night drive guide).

  • Lots of Gorgeous Bush-Shrike halfway the “6.7 km” stretch of road before Nsumo Pan.

  • According to the visitor’s map, Ediza Pan is much further north, about 5 km from the airstrip. We did not drive there because other visitors said we would never make it with our 2WD car.

  • The petrol station is at Mantuma camp, but it did not provide unleaded petrol.

  • Mantuma did not have a restaurant, but an outlet for simple meals (snacks).

  • The office at Mhkuze closes already at 16.30 (16.00 Sundays).

Site 130 - Malalotja:

  • We had the Blue Swallows immediately at the first picnic site, as advised by the local staff.

  • The road to C was not suitable for 2WD, the staff said.

Site 131 - Wakkerstroom:

  • We did not find the ‘wire entrance gate’ at K, but saw the pipit nevertheless, just along the road.

  • Dirkieskop: as we countred it, it was rather 39 than 33 km fromWakkerstroom.

  • We had both larks at C, in the Crane Custodian pasture. 

Site 132 - Memel:

  • There was no signpost to Normandienpas/MontPelaan along the S56. There is an obvious road climbing up indeed, but without a signpost you might think it only leads to a farm. Just drive on past the farm.

  • At the rocky area (A) we had a very territorial Eastern Long-billed Lark. We could not find African Rock Pipit.

Site 133 - Golden Gate NP:

  • A very nice area indeed, but the birding was a bit slow.

  • We had Mountain Pipit along the Generaalskop loop, just before the Generaalskop itself.

Site 134 - Witsieshoek:

  • We never found the road to Witsieshoek!

Site 145 - Zaagkuildrift road:

  • After crossing the railway, just follow the S-bend (first left, then right) and drive on straight west.

Site 162 - Nylsvlei:

  • Season: even Vogelfontein can be almost dry! (It was for us, and yet it was a lovely area.)
  • Vogelfontein: you have to go to the park's entrance first, in order to pick up the key code for entering Vogelfontein (gated now).

Site 166 - Polokwane:

  • We had the Short-clawed Lark at C.

Site 168 - Bat Hawk:

  • contact me, see www.jvanderw.nl