South Africa offers some of the best birdwatching spots in the world and is renowned for its exquisite avian diversity. With the country’s wide range of habitats, it’s no wonder our country is native to many rare and endemic species. From dense forests, bushvelds, mountain ranges and stretches of coastline, we’ve compiled a list of top 5 birdwatching spots in South Africa.
1. The Kruger National Park:
With over 507 species of birds in the park, the Kruger National Park made it to the top of our list. Although the larger animals generally tend to take the glory, the birds of the park aren’t something to be missed. The birds who seem to own the sky are the Bateleur Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, African Fish Eagle and Tawny Eagle. The smaller, more colourful species who share the sky with the big birds are birds such as the Lilac Breasted Rollers, Bee-Eaters, Kingﬁshers, Weavers and Starlings. Although the park covers an extremely large area of land, birdwatchers have established that the best spot for birdwatching is in the south, near Lower Sabie and in the north around Pafuri.
2. Mkhuze Game Reserve
The Mkhuze Game Reserve forms part of the North Western spur of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, and home to 420 different species of birds. The park office provides maps, directions and guides. Visitors can also opt in for a guided early morning walk - ideal for spotting various bird species. Common sightings during the walk have been Southern Banded Snake-Eagles, Broad-billed Rollers and Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher.
3. Ndumo Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal
Located in the far most north district of Kwazulu Natal, Ndumo Game Reserve is a relatively remote and small reserve over 400km for Durban. Due to its diverse range of habitats, including sand forests, floodplains, grasslands and dense thornveld, Ndumo is adored among many birdwatchers. Ndumo also boasts with a variety of 430 recorded bird species. This spot is perfect for those wanting to escape the city hustle, looking for a more secluded and isolated reserve. At the reserve, you can expect to see, amongst others, the Pel's fishing owl, Narina trogon and African broadbill
4. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Western Cape
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is known for being one of the major attractions in Cape Town. Although usually quite busy, when visiting on a quiet and calm day, you will quickly become aware of the abundant avian wildlife. The gardens are also a great place to view some more common mountain fynbos and forest endemic bird species. The higher slopes of the botanical garden usually tend to be less busy. Birds to look out for include are the Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbirds. Cape Spurfowl, the Southern Boubou and Cape Batis are also commonly seen in the gardens
5. Langebaan, Western Cape
The tidal lagoon at Langebaan has been described as the ‘richest stretch of water in South Africa’, visited annually by 60 000 birds, with around 200 species calling it home. The West Coast National Park in Langebaan is popular among birdwatchers and is a beautiful place to spend the day enjoying various outdoor activities. Other areas in Langebaan known for spotting some rare bird species are the three hides on the shore of the lagoon, providing great vantage points.
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