Birding Routes and Hotspots
Green icon indicates that permit and/or special permission required from SANpark management. (See Contact)
ℹ Blue icon indicates that special permission required from SMA management.
Route 1 - Struisbaai to Suiderstrand
Langerzandt - In Struisbaai visit the Langerzandt Fisherman's Village(GPS -34.792245, 20.041706). As you enter the gate, follow the road to a T-junction. On your way there, look to your left for open public area(GPS-34.791161, 20.041322) , park and walk to the wetland area. Carry on and at the T-junction turn left, drive till you reach the new development(GPS -34.785146, 20.042709) . Park and walk into the wetland on the path in front of you. As you reach water, look for the heronry(reedbed in front of you). You may see Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, African Snipe, African Rail, Black Crake, Greater Painted Snipe, Water Thicknee and a variety of waders.
Struisbaai Boardwalk - Visit the boardwalk(GPS -34.798238, 20.051514) which starts at the beach or the harbour and look for Damara Tern as they feed along the coast.
Struisbaai Sewerage Works - Drive towards Bredasdorp from Struisbaai North and take first road right(GPS -34.777392, 20.031217) . Take first road to the left and reach the sewerage dams. If the gate is open, drive to the new plant and observe the dams from South and the North for Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Maccoa Duck and Southern Pochard.
Agulhas lookout - As you enter the town of Agulhas, turn right on the Lookout road(GPS-34.819920, 20.026821). At the reservoir (GPS-34.819920, 20.026821) look and listen for Ground Woodpecker Drive to the top for a stunning view and some fynbos species such as Southern Tchagra. Black Harrier and Peregrine Falcon is seen here occasionally.
Agulhas Tern Roost - Drive into Agulhas. As you reach the first campsite on your left, park the car(GPS -34.825275, 20.014932) and walk towards the rocky beach where you will see mostly Swift and Sandwich Terns. Drive on past Agulhas National Park HO (GPS-34.828031, 20.009587), historical Agulhas Lighthouse and the Most Southern Tip of Africa and Icon which is worth a visit! Drive on as road becomes gravel.
Rasperpunt Boardwalk - Drive towards Suiderstrand. About 1 km before Suiderstrand you will see a dedicated parking on the left where the boardwalk starts (GPS -34.820369, 19.969474). Walk the beautiful path towards the beach. Look towards the mountain for Black Harrier. As you reach the beach, you will see a peninsula with a tern roost at its furthest tip. You may see Common, Caspian, Sandwich and Swift Tern. Walk towards it and look among the stones for Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Common Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Little stint and Black Oystercatcher. On the large rocks look for the four cormorant species. Return and drive on through Suiderstrand towards:
Agulhas Rest Camp - (GPS-34.810628, 19.953974) - If you are staying at the rest camp, look for sunbirds, Grey-backed Cisticola, Bar-throated Apalis. At the lagoon watch the Caspian Tern feed. Look towards the see for Cape Gannet feeding off the coast. This probably the best spot to see some pelagic species on stormy days!
Sandberg ℹ - Drive the gravel road(which starts at GPS-34.811566, 19.962640) Eastward up the Sandberg. The Orange-breasted Sunbird is a regular in flowering season and in early morning look for Hottentot Buttonquail on the gravel road.
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Route 2 - Struisbaai to Elim
From the T-junction drive 4.87km until you see a dirt road on left(GPS -34.7509, 19.9803).
Turn left, and drive 140m until you see water-filled quarry on your right.
This is a favourite sight of the annual visitor to the Agulhas Plain, the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, but approach carefully as large raptors favour this as watering hole as well.
Retrace and at the entrance gate turn left and drive another 180m towards Elim until you see a gate on your left.
Park at the gate and walk to the second water-filled quarry. This is also Bee-eater country and sometimes Malachite Kingfisher.
As you leave again on the opposite side is a gate that leads to the future Vleihuis birdhide (GPS -34.749933, 19.978833).
Enter (Permit and special permission required from Park management.) ℹ and after 55m turn left and drive and then walk to the Nuwejaarsriver.
Ducks, waders and large waterbirds are seen in this beautiful environment.
Retrace. Drive on track for about 305m and turn left to park(GPS -34.7506, 19.9821).
Walk down to the river for a similar experience. Retrace. Drive on another 215m. Southern Tchagra next to road.
The road turns left and goes down to the Nuwejaars river (Future Hide GPS -34.749100, 19.980533).
Find Hottentot Teal and African Darter roost here. Retrace. Leave the area by turning right at the gate.
Nuwejaarsrivier loop ℹ - Drive to the Biocontrol Gate(GPS -34.7429167,19.969628)
and follow the track through the Port Jackson, down to the Nuwejaarsrivier. Turn
left if the water level allows and drive along the river towards Elim (but only
if you have an old 4x4 - scratches possible!) Here you might encounter African
Rail, Purple Swamphen and many other waterbirds. The track enters the Elim Rd
again at Reed cutter gate(GPS -34.738267, 19.967367). Beware of mud patches!
Permit and special permission required from Agulhas National Park. Turn right
and drive until you see the whitewashed Soutbos cottage on the left(GPS S34.43.486
E19.57.061). Look for Wattled Starling, Denham's Bustard and Black-shouldered
Kite. On the right there is a locked gate.
Soetendalsvlei Access ℹ - Turn Right at the gate (you will need the key and
special permission from ranger) and drive toward the Nuwejaarsriver. Cross the
river at the bridge and explore the opposite side of the river and
Soetendalsvlei keeping to the right. You might need to hack your way due to
overgrowth of this seldom used track. Return on the same track and turn right at
the gate. After 200m you will find the Soutbospan.
Soutbospan ℹ - Stop next to the road and approach the pan from behind the trees
passing on the left of the trees. The future Flamingo hide is planned at GPS
S34.43.345 E 19.56.700. This small pan can produce hundreds of Flamingo and/or
Red-Knobbed Coot. Drive further to the Petrus Swart Pan(GPS S34.43.368
E19.56.895) on the right. Park next to the road and walk to the pan hiding
behind the Milkwood tree. The future Petrus Swart birdhide could be built at GPS
Here you could encounter some waders and African Snipe.
Drive on until you reach Brandfontein/Springfield Saltpan turn-off(GPS
Turn left if you want to do Route 3 - Brandfontein route ℹ (See later). On the right look for Jackal Buzzard in the gumtree forest.
Drive on until you reach the sign Wiesdrift(GPS -34.6888, 19.9247).
Turn right if you want to do Route 4 - Heuningberg ℹ (See later). Drive on until you see a sign Bergplaas(GPS -34.6750, 19.8975)on the left. Follow this gravel road if you want to follow Route 5 - Voelvlei/Anysberg ℹ.
Drive on until you see the farm Elandsdrift.(GPS -34.6487, 19.8903)On the left there is access to Voelvlei(private-no access accept on organized birding days). 50m on turn right on the gravel road for access to
Nuwejaarsrivier(GPS -34.6464, 19.8918) and possible view of Malachite and Pied Kingfishers. Go back to main gravel road and drive on towards Elim until you reach tar. When you get to
T-junction (Bredasdorp) GPS -34.6380, 19.8580 Turn right and drive 500m until you reach the bridge. This gives access to Nuwejaarsrivier and possible view of African Black Duck and other water birds.
Drive back towards Elim and drive until you get to large gate on left (GPS -34.6400, 19.8424) Enter if you have permission (private) to enter Waschkraal vlei(if you use Black Oystercatcher Accomodation).
Drive on until you reach the Dam T-junction GPS -34.6345, 19.8327, turn left if you want to do Route 6 - Die Dam ℹ(see later). Drive on towards Elim, enjoy some wine and a meal at Black Oystercatcher Winery GPS -34.6317, 19.8264
on your left or drive a further km where a gravel road goes to left(GPS -34.6259, 19.8180) into a gumtree forest(permission required). Drive past the housing on the right until you reach the dam on right(private) where you could
find some White-faced and other ducks. Return to the tar, drive past The Berrio Winery where some wine-tasting is permitted! At Soetendal Winery visit the Black Duck hide and then drive on to the picturesque town of Elim.
Visit the historic Church and old Mill and have coffee at the Waterfront or Maakit Mooi cafe.
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Route 3 - Brandfontein (see route 2!)
At the junction (GPS -34.7128, 19.9329) turn left and drive to south. Look to the left for some Larks and Pipits. When you reach the Saltpans there is a hidden track on the left (GPS -34.7197, 19.9229)running left around the Saltpan. The Springfield Saltpans ℹ - Stop sporadically and peak onto the Saltpan for Chestnut-banded Plover and other waders. On the Eastern side of the Saltpan you may encounter Hottentot Buttonquail in the track early morning(GPS -34.7349, 19.9317).
Return to gravel road and about 100m further (GPS -34.7206, 19.9218) there is parking behind an excavation sight. Pop over the edge for Chestnut-banded Plover and other waders.
Return to the gravel road, drive until you see the historic Saltworks on the left. Enter the gate(GPS -34.7224, 19.9190 permit and special permission required from Park management), park behind the wall marked parking and carefully walk towards the Saltpan hiding behind the shrubs. To your right you will see the Caspian Tern Roost(on the elevated paths), in front, the Cormorants and Great White Pelican roosts (possible site for a bird hide).
Depending on the season you may encounter anything from 10 to 30000 waders in the pan, mostly Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Common Ringed Plover and Pied Avocet. You could see Lesser and Greater Flamingo in very large numbers.
Drive back to the gravel road turn left. Turn right at the next entrance to a dam(GPS -34.7234, 19.9171). Look for SA Shelduck and other waterbirds. Return to gravel road and 200m further(GPS -34.7276, 19.9151) turn right again and investigate the next dam for waterbirds.
Drive on and opposite the Springfield farm entrance turn left(GPS -34.7317, 19.9138 ) to see Saltpan from southern side. At certain water levels the best vantage point for waders. Return to gravel road and turn left.
Drive on until you see a clump of Milkwood trees on the right. At GPS -34.7370, 19.9152 turn right and scout the clump of trees and dam behind it for Cape Batis, African Fish-Eagle and Bar-throated Apalis. Private permision required.
Back to the gravel road, turn right and drive until the next track to right(GPS -34.7428, 19.9180). Drive to the dam(Private) and find Little Grebe and African Fish-Eagle. Drive back to gravel road, turn right again.
Drive on until you find a T-junction to the left. This takes you back to Soetendalsvlei on a bumpy track. Ignore and drive on further 50m. To your right is a marshy wetland where Black Crake and Baillons Crake can be found.
- The marshy wetland is the overflow of the pan. Drive on and turn right onto the grass and find thousands of Coot, Cape Shoveler, Maccoa Duck, all three Grebes and resident African Fish-Eagle. Drive on.
At the Renosterkop farm the road goes right and as soon as you see natural vegetation again, you enter private nature reserve, look for sunbirds and Streaky-headed Seed-eater among the Protea and possible African Grass-owl. Carry on until you reach the parking zone at Brandfontein beach. On the rocks look for Cormorants, Black Oystercatcher and White-fronted Plover. Cape Gannet and Terns could be seen out at sea.
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Route 4 - Heuningberg Elim Route
From the Elim road turn right onto the Wiesdrift road(GPS -34.6881, 19.9240). As you cross the Nuwejaarsrivier just before all the buildings, stop on the bridge for White-throated Swallow, White-faced Duck and almost anything not expected!
Look to your left for the small dam next to the road for more surprises. Drive on and at the farm sheds look for the resident Rock Kestrel. Drive on for another 2 km and look for Lanner Falcon and Booted Eagle at the start of the Heuningberg. The road now nears the Nuwejaars river again and the wetland surrounding it.
In a wet year, look left for excellent viewing of waterbirds including Black-crowned Night-heron and Black Crake. Once you have passed the many farm cottages on the right, look left and right for Martial Eagle and Booted Eagle, possibly breeding in the Heuningberg.
At the second turn left GPS -34.6361, 19.9256 take the track until you reach a small dam on the left(private permission). Stop and enjoy a few moments of birding: Cape Grassbird, Canaries, Streaky headed Seedeater and many more.
Return to the gravel road. drive on. At GPS -34.6124, 19.952695 (private) is the entrance to the Agulhas Guest House. This garden is very productive for seedeaters. (permission required). About 500m further there is a small quarry permanently filled with water. Looks for ducks, Water Thicknee and Little Grebe. Drive on for another 1.7km and stop at a small dam on the right. Scan the dam and the Eucalyptus trees for Cape Sugarbird, Fiscal Flycatcher and Cape Batis. Drive to the T-junction.
When you reach T-junction, turn left and drive towards Elim. To your left and right you will see multiple wetlands in the rainy season which can produce interesting species such as Black Sparrowhawk feeding on Blacksmith Plovers. Find two small dams on the left. Observe.
Drive on. Find more small dams on left, scrutinize and drive on until you reach Rondevlei, a large body of water(private). The cultivated land has Common Quail and various Larks.
Drive on until you reach Langpan a large water body with various water species including Maccoa Duck, all the Grebes and Flamingoes. At the picnic site stop and look for resident Southern Black Korhaan pair.The marsh below can produce ducks and waders. The route ends at the bridge crossing the Nuwejaarsrivier (see route 2).
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Route 5 - Voelvlei/Anysberg
At the sign Bergplaas, Agulhas National Park ℹ, turn left(coming from Struisbaai, GPS -34.6751, 19.8976). To your left and right you may encounter African Sacred Ibis, Hadeda Ibis and also perhaps Lanner Falcon.
In Summer you will see Common Buzzard. When you see a cement dam on your right(GPS -34.6764, 19.8886) turn right(private, special permission required).
This gives access to Voelvlei where Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and many more rare waders can be found. Flamingoes and Pelicans in large numbers are always somewhere to be seen. Many duck species including Southern Pochard and Hottentot Teal can be found. Swamphen, Black Crake and African Snipe together with thousands of Red knob Coot.
On the fallow land next to the vlei you will find Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Large-billed Lark and African Pipit. The jetty will almost always have White-breasted Cormorant, African Darter, Reed Cormorant and often African Fish-Eagle.
Return to gravel road. Drive south looking for Capped Wheatear and some LBJ's. When you drive through a small stream just before the farmhouse, stop and look for Cape Grassbird, Levaillant's Cisticola and Yellow Bishop.
At the gumtree forest, stop and look for Cape Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher(Spishing required) and on a good day, Lesser Honeyguide.
Drive on toward Bergplaas, stopping briefly at the dams left of the road. As soon as you enter the Agulhas National Park(GPS -34.7125, 19.8748), look for Southern Double-banded Sunbird, Cape Clapper Lark and Red-capped Lark.
Drive toward the Bergplaas cottage and pass behind it turning right. Follow the road up the Soetanysberg to one of the most pristine fynbos areas in the country. In the flowering season this is just exquisite! You need permission ℹ from management in order to go up the mountain(included when you stay at Bergplaas).
Sentinel Rock-Thrush has been photographed on the mountain. The mountain track requires a 4x2 at least.
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Route 6 - Die Dam
At the "Die Dam", Wolvengat road sign(GPS -34.6345, 19.8327) turn left and stop. On your left lies one of the outlets of Waschkraalvlei. Look for Pied and Malachite Kingfisher as well as Black Crake. Drive on and stop sporadically for LBJ's such as Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Red-capped Lark and African Pipit. Look for Denham's Bustard, Crowned Lapwing and the ever present Cape Crow.
Keep driving until Strandveld Vineyards(GPS -34.6604, 19.7859), turn left and taste some wine, walk through the garden for some Cape Batis and other species. Go to the dam and look for waterbirds.
If you stay at Strandveld Cottages, enter farm across the road (GPS -34.6603, 19.7858), stop and have a peak onto the dam, do the same for the next 100m and look for waterbirds, Lesser Swamp-warbler and some ducks. Drive on until you reach the vineyards, turn right and drive down to the dam. Find Pin-tailed Whydah and Plain-backed Pipit on the way. Spend some time around the dam for an array of birds. Cross the dam wall and turn right (GPS -34.6518, 19.7738). This is one of the best spots for Red-chested Flufftail. Drive slowly and be patient! Continue back to the gravel road.
Continue on this road looking for Jackal Buzzard in the left gum tree clump. At Vlooikraal (GPS -34.6699, 19.7739) turn left(private, special permission required). The farm yard delivers on Black Sawwing, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Amethyst Sunbird, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and even Spotted Flycatcher. The farm has pristine fynbos where Cape Clapper Lark, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Long-billed Pipit, all the sunbirds of the region and Souther Black Korhaan can be found.
On the main gravel road drive on until the T-junction(GPS -34.6733, 19.7446) signposted "Die Dam, Buffelsjacht". Stop down at the river for some birding and call Black Crake. The gumtree forest on the river to your left has Buff-spotted Flufftail which can be heard on misty mornings or in the evenings.
Drive on and at second gate to left there is a sign for Uintjieskuil (GPS -34.6763, 19.7416). Search the Gumtree forest for Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher and listen for Greater and Lesser Honeyguide. This is the start to Route 7 - Rietfontein, but for now drive on towards Die Dam. The next 2 km is good for local LBJ's. Stop and listen for the cisticolas, pipits and larks of the area. Then look for a gate on left (GPS -34.6914, 19.7255), enter(private, special permission required) and follow the track to a pan with almost any waterbird possible. Find Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, African Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Spoonbill, Ibis, ducks etc. return to gravel road.
Drive on looking or Denham's Bustard until you reach T-junction(GPS -34.7054, 19.7036), keep left. Below you lies the Ratelrivier valley which is being rehabilitated with great success. Down at the river (GPS 34.7128, 19.6980), stop and listen for Red-chested , Dideric and Klaas's Cuckoo.
Drive on until you see gate on left(GPS -34.7279, 19.6794) and the Ratelrivier supply "Soetwaterfontein". Stop and listen for the resident Greater Honeyguide across the road in the gumtree forest. Carefully approach the "Soetwater" fountain and quietly sit and wait for local birds to come and quench the thirst(Permission required ANP ).
Drive on until Die Dam T-junction (GPS -34.7330, 19.6722). Stop and look for Orange-breasted (and other) Sunbird against the hill. Turn left and drive South past fountain on right and Ratelrivier Guest house on left looking for fynbos species such as Karoo Prinia, Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola and Southern Tchagra.
Enter the Ratelrivier ANP property(GPS -34.7509, 19.6878) if you are booked for accommodation and roam the Ratelrivier wetlands for some special birding which includes Red-chested Flufftail and Hottentot Buttonquail.
Proceed to Gansbaai T-junction(GPS -34.7522, 19.6882) the start of Route 8 - Quoin Point. Keep straight for Die Dam. Drive on. At GPS -34.7596, 19.6891 the road splits. Drive straight on to reach the beach parking bay for Streaky-headed Seedeater, Brimstone Canary and Soutern Tchagra. On the beach look for Black Oystercatcher, White-fronted Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling and Hartlaub's Gull. Or turn right towards Die Dam resort and ask permission to walk through the campsite for similar species and the resident Rock Martin.
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Route 7 - Rietfontein
At the sign Uintjieskuil (GPS -34.6763, 19.7416), turn left and drive through the gum tree forest which you have just explored. You are now entering prime LBJ country. For the next 4.5km you will see natural fynbos and cultivated(fallow) land. Stop sporadically along the way, stay quiet and look and listen for Grey-backed Cisticola(.5m-1m shrubs in open veld away from water), Zitting Cisticola(restios and grass .5m-1.5m), Levaillant Cisticola(always near water or streams with reeds or tall restios) and Cloud Cisticola(open grassy veld ,3m-,5m high devoid of trees and large shrubs).
Look and listen for larks:
1) Agulhas Long-billed Lark that favours sparse fynbos veld and fallow land (The call is the give-away), the long decurved bill diagnostic
2) Cape Clapper Lark, which displays in breeding season with descending call. The rest of the year they are secretive, quiet and tend to flush with difficulty. They rather run away from you staying just far enough and when they flush fly short distances before they drop away behind a shrub. Be patient as they will eventually show! The rufous chest distinguish them from other local larks.
3) Red-capped Lark, when you see a lark in the gravel road, almost always RCL! The will sit in the road and allow you to come quite close. Red cap and shoulder diagnostic.
4) Large-billed Lark, memorise the call because you will hear it first. Quite tame and sometimes seen on fence calling early morning. Thick bill diagnostic.
Look for pipits and longclaw(memorise their calls as they are notoriously difficult to ID):
1) African Pipit - the more vocal pipit, darker striped on chest than other 2 species. Open habitat.
2) Long-billed Pipit - less vocal, lighter marked on chest, back similar to African Pipit. More hilly areas.
3) Plain-backed Pipit - diagnostic plain back, less vocal, chest striping variable.
The Cape Longclaw juvenile can be confused with pipits. Keeps in .2m-.3m grassy areas. Diagnostic call!
Along the way, on your right, look for poor soil, sparse fynbos with proteas and restios to find Hottentot Buttonquail. This area also hosts Southern Black Korhaan.
Just after crossing the first stream, there is a gate (GPS -34.6883, 19.7530). This leads to a dam ℹ(private, permission required) that can be productive at times.
At 5km you reach the Agulhas National Park. At the green tank(GPS -34.7142, 19.7658) turn right ℹ(special permission and 4x4 required) on a track which goes through beautiful fynbos. This is prime Hottentot Buttonquail habitat. The track turns south(GPS -34.7157, 19.7393) following the shore of the Melkboschpan. Skip the 2 tracks to left and carry on South until next track left(GPS -34.7390, 19. 7345). This takes you back to the Melkboschpan, but only after passing a small pan on your right and experiencing breath-taking proteas on the way.
Keep on the used track until you reach the clump of Milkwoods on your right. Park and look for Spotted-Eagle Owl, Speckled Mousebird, Sombre Greenbul and Cape Bulbul in the trees.
Now walk directly north 200m parallel to the pan keeping away from the low land until you reach a permanent fountain with surrounding wetland about 350m away. Approach carefully. Look for Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, African Snipe, Red-billed Teal, Cape Teal, Yellow-billed Duck and in summer Whiskered tern.
From the fresh water fountain/wetland, walk directly West to the trees on the Melbospan Eastern shore. See Greater and Lesser Flamingo in large numbers(up to 4000), Pelican, Pied Avocet and any possible wader depending on the water level. Walk back to the vehicle.
Drive East on the track until you reach the main gravel road to Rietfontein(GPS -34.7235, 19.7672).Turn right and drive about 2 km until you find Rietfontein Cottages on your left. If you are booked here, enjoy the Milkwood forest for Spotted Eagle-Owl, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Batis and Bar-throated Apalis. Drive on. At GPS -34.7375, 19.7897 a track goes left(special permission required). This track traverses Hottentot Buttonquail habitat but requires some foot work!
Or drive on until you reach the Rietfontein beach where you may see, African Black Oystercatcher, White-fronted Plover, Ruddy Turnstone(on rocks) and Sanderling. Cape Gannet, Sandwhich Tern and Swift Tern may fly by.
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Route - 8 Quoin Point, Maccoavlei
To reach Quoin Point Nature Reserve, this will be your route. Do not try to reach Quoin Point via Die Dam Resort as this entrance is now closed.
From the Gansbaai T-junction ℹ(GPS -34.7522, 19.6882), drive West towards Gansbaai on a tar road(R317). Look for African Black Swift and White-rumped Swift and fynbos species. Drive past the Wolvengat on your right and 500m further on your left find a track that turns left(GPS -34.7444, 19.6506). This is ANP becoming Cape Nature, so Wild Card required. ℹ
Drive South on the track until you reach T-junction. Turn right and look for Rock Kestrel, Black Harrier and African Marsh-Harrier from this point onward. After 300m turn South(GPS -34.7547, 19.6455) on a rough track. From here an off-road vehicle advisable.
Drive slowly South finding Cape Bulbul, Grey-backed Cisticola and South Double-collared Sunbird. At GPS -34.7773, 19.6463 a track runs in a South -Eastern direction. Turn right, drive until you cross a challenging dune and see the sea before you.
Keep going East on the main track stopping from time to time to see Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Whimbrel and African Black Oystercatcher. At GPS -34.7836, 19.6658 stop and look for Quoin Rock island. Look for Bank Cormorant among the hundreds of seal.
Drive back along the coast until you see the Light house where Rock Kestrel keeps. Drive on keeping away from holiday homes and check the rocks for Bank, Cape, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorant.
Anywhere along this coast you may also see Caspian, Sandwich and Swift Tern.
Retrace your path and at GPS -34.7802, 19.6450 turn left to cross the dune and drive back towards tar road. At GPS -34.7565, 19.6452, follow the track to left for some coastal fynbos birding (Find Southern Tchagra) At the Buffelsjacht gravel road turn right and drive north until you reach tar road. Turn right and drive 1.7km. Turn left towards Wolvengat and stop after 370m. On your left is the Maccoavlei.
Park at the gate and slowly move towards the vlei. Look for ducks and teals, Whiskered Tern, African Snipe, Maccoa Duck(when vlei is full), all three Grebes, African Rail, Black Crake and a variety of waders as vlei receeds.
Drive on another 1.5km and stop at the Protea covered hill-side for Orange-breasted Sunbird.
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Route 9 - Klipfontein Keep
This route is open to residents of Klipfontein Keep(private) self-catering farmhouse.
As you leave Struisbaai, drive to Elim T-junction(GPS S34.45.919 E20.01.783). From here carry straight on for 4.6km until you reach Klipfontein Keep gate(-34.7241, 20.0292) on your right. Yellow-billed Kite and Common Buzzard should be around. Turn right and follow the road for 520m and stop. On your left is a seasonal pan with a variety of waders. Also check the fallow land for African Pipit, Large-billed Lark, Denham's Bustard and Capped Wheatear. About 600m further there is a gate, turn left and look for Zitting Cisticola and Streaky-headed Seedeater.
Follow this track for 1.3km and then turn left(GPS -34.7135, 20.0438) and drive another 500m, while looking for Cape Spurfowl, Cape Clapper Lark, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Bulbul. Stop and look to your right for a pan. Slowly approach the pan through the fynbos for Glossy Ibis, Pied Avocet, Spoonbill, Southern Pochard, Whiskered tern, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper.
Retrace your tracks to the main entrance road. At the T-junction(GPS -34.7237, 20.0447), turn right and drive towards the farmhouse, pass on the left and between the 2 outbuildings. Follow the track between the cultivated land and natural fynbos until you reach a gate to the right of the small house(GPS -34.7212, 20.0548).
Enter the private nature reserve ℹ and stop at the small dam on your left which often delivers an array of fynbos species including Pin-tailed Whydah, Brimstone Canary and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow. Follow the track through the cultivated land, interchanging with natural fynbos sporadically, looking for species such as Common Quail, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Spurfowl, Bokmakierie, Southern Tchagra, Spotted Thicknee and Crowned Lapwing. Two km's from the gate you will see a gumtree forest(Look for Malachite Sunbird, Cape Batis and Cape Sugarbird) which has Jackal Buzzard and a small dam which can be productive. This is where Bontebok and Eland can be found.
Drive on as track now enters fynbos. Now you are in Hottentot Buttonquail country!
All of the natural fynbos in this nature reserve is ideal for Hottentot Buttonquail, but to see it you need to be in a group of birders 4-10 and walk through the vegetation and cover large tracts of fynbos. Look for areas with proteas, restios and tufts of grass between 30 and 70 cm and sparsely spread. They only flush once you are within 1-2 meters of them, flies off approximately 30m and then drop behind shrub, never to be seen again. At occasions you can flush them a second time if you cover a wide circle around the drop zone.
At 1.1km you reach the fence of the De Mond nature reserve ℹ , turn right and follow the track along the fence. Look for Black Harrier, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, Grey-winged Francolin and Pearl-breasted Swallow. For 4.5km along this fence you can stop at any place and venture into the fynbos to try and find Hottentot Buttonquail. At several points tracks appear on the right. All of these can be followed as they all eventually return to the entrance gate.
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Route 10 - Vissersdrift/Langrug Lodge/Soetendalsvlei
For the guests at Langrug Lodge, the entrance gate is at GPS -34.7159, 20.0300. Entrance strictly for visitors to the lodge.
As you enter the gate, look for Zitting Cisticola among the restios to your left and listen for Cloud Cisticola and Agulhas Clapper Lark to your right. In summer, Common Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite should be around as well and fields often are covered with hundreds of Sacred Ibis, Hadeda Ibis, Spurwinged Goose and Egyptian Goose. Capped Wheatear and Crowned Lapwing is common while African Pipit, Large-billed Lark and Denham's Bustard could be around.
Drive towards the Langrug Cottage next to the Soetendalsvlei. In the gumtree forest next to the cottage you will find Cape Canary, Yellow Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher and Cape Sugarbird. In early morning, stroll down to the vlei and look for Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed, Hottentot and Cape Teal, Lesser Swamp-warbler, African Rail, Black Crake and African Purple Swamphen among the reeds. Deeper into the vlei look for Greater Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe and Maccoa Duck. Later in the day the African Marsh-Harrier could come by.
From the Cottage, drive North along the vlei on a good track. Look for above species among the reeds and Cape Longclaw in the grass next to the vlei. On the fence to your right look for Pearl-breasted Swallow. At GPS -34.7030, 19.9985 the track starts to run very close to the water and becomes sandy in areas, so be aware! Soon you will reach beautiful Milkwood trees on the right. Stop and look(and listen) for Bar-throated Apalis, Klaas's Cuckoo, Sombre Greenbul, Bokmakierie and Fiscal Flycatcher. In the more open beach you could encounter Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper.
As you approach the farmhouse be on the lookout for the resident Goliath Heron and other herons such as Purple and Grey Heron. Little Bittern keeps to these reeds and could be seen at first light basking in the sun. The track enters the farm yard between two barns. Stop and look for the resident Spotted Eagle-owl, Dideric Cuckoo and Cardinal Woodpecker in the gumtrees.
Drive past the barns and turn left(GPS -34.6876, 19.9973). Drive for 370m until the last house on your right and keep right at the split(GPS -34.6859, 19.9941).
Keep driving for 560m and turn left(GPS -34.6832, 19.9894) towards the Heuningnes river. Drive another 200m, stop and walk along the river to look for Malachite, Giant and Pied Kingfisher. Where the track crosses the river, look for Hottentot Teal and African Snipe.
Cross the river(depending on the depth!) and follow the track along the vlei edge for 1.5 km until you reach an open marshland of exceptional beauty. For the next 300m quietly search the reed beds for Crakes, Swamphen, and Snipe. The mudflats can produce almost any wader thinkable in this very secluded spot. This is the highlight of the trip, spend some time here.
Retrace to the farmyard and at T-junction(GPS -34.6876, 19.9973), turn left away from the vlei. Drive 300m and at GPS -34.6851, 20.003 turn left. Follow the track until you reach the bridge crossing the Heuningnes river. Look for White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin. Turn left or right and scan the river for ducks, kingfishers, Grey-winged Francolin, Levaillant's Cisticola and perhaps Marsh Sandpiper. Return to Langrug Lodge.
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Route 11 - De Mond Nature Reserve
At the R319 (Struisbaai-Bredasdorp) T-junction to De Mond(GPS-34.6614, 20.0465) drive East for 2.9km and stop at the pan to your left.
This can be packed with waterbirds but this is the most reliable spot for Whiskered Tern.
Drive on until you reach the gum tree forest where Spotted Eagle-Owl and Jackal Buzzard keep. As you drive on you may see Denham's Bustard, Southern Black Korhaan to your right.
At the next gum tree forest and T-junction, stop and scan the trees for Forest Buzzard, African Paradise-Flycatcher and African Dusky Flycatcher.
Turn right, drive 720m and stop at the small dam on right for photographic opportunities of canaries, sparrows, larks etc.
Drive on for a further 1.7 km until you see the sign Meulvlei on left(GPS -34.6530, 20.1102). Turn right and scan the dam on right.
This track for the next 2 km may produce Lanner Falcon, Secretarybird and Agulhas Long-billed Lark. Retrace. At the junction turn left towards De Mond.
A further 3.5km south you will reach the Vogelgezang farm and wetland. This is one of the best birding spots in the wet season, available to visitors at their cottages(see accommodation).
In season the Cafe(GPS -34.6931, 20.1121) is open for refreshments. There is a track north which starts at the Cafe and runs next to the wetland for about 3km.
You can spend all day on this wetland and be surprised around every corner. Anything seen in the Agulhas Plain can be seen here and in large numbers. Ducks, waders, snipe, Flamingoes, Spoonbill on the wetland side and larks, pipits and cisticolas on both sides of the track. Both harriers and Lanner Falcon occur. A Gem in the wet season! Retrace.
Drive on until you reach De Mond Nature Reserve(GPS -34.7101, 20.1045), a RAMSAR site.
At the entrance gate find Southern Boubou, Spotted Eagle-Eagle(which breeds there), Sombre Greenbul, Bar-Throated Apalis, Olive Thrush and Water Thicknee.
Before you venture on one of the estuary routes, prepare: Enough water, hat and suntan lotion! The estuary is extremely hot and energy sapping.
- Route A: Cross the suspension bridge. While crossing look for Banded Martin and Caspian Tern patrolling the estuary. Once across, climb the stairs to the lookout. This gives you a great perspective of the area and you might see some raptors such as Black Harrier(breeding in dunes) and occasionally Western Osprey. Retrace and at the bridge turn left(upstream). Look for waders to your right and fynbos species to your left. At 150m a track goes to the left which could be explored for fynbos species. Keep straight, walking along the shore on a barely visible track. This track can be followed for approximately 700m from the bridge. Take it slow as you could find rarities like American Golden Plover and Terek Sandpiper here among the many waders.
- Route B: As you cross the suspension bridge, turn left towards the sea. The first 300m plus is on a boardwalk which allows for fynbos birding. Once the boardwalk ends, follow a track for another 700m until you reach the beach where hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of cormorants gather. They are mostly Cape Cormorant and White-breasted Cormorant, but Bank Cormorant has been recorded here. Damara Tern and thousands of Common, Sandwich and Swift Tern are often seen on the sandbank below.
- Route C: This route starts at the office and follows the left bank of the estuary on a boardwalk for about 350m . Hundreds and often thousands of waders will keep you busy for hours! White-fronted and Kittlitz's Plover is seen close to the shore and gives ample opportunity for pictures. Deeper into the sandy estuary thousands of Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover and Curlew Sandpiper form the bulk of the species encountered, but look carefully among them for Greater Sand Plover, Common Whimbrel, Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and the odd Broad-billed Sandpiper. Look overhead for the Damara Tern feeding.
At the end of the boardwalk, either turn left towards a track that runs parallel to the shore behind the shore dunes. Sporadically peep over the low dunes to see whether you are near some waders. The low dunes allow for excellent photographic opportunity. At 1.4 km the track splits, turn right towards the estuary. At high tide this is a good spot with thousands of waders feeding in the shallow water.
Enjoy your stay at one of the world's best birding destinations, but don't spoil it by being unprepared.
REMEMBER THE EXTRA WATER, SUNTAN LOTION AND A HAT!
A Spotting Scope and some long lenses will be useful!
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Route 12 - The Grashoek/Kosierskraal Raptor Route
From Bredasdorp, turn right at the Elim R43 road (GPS -34.5694, 20.0494), keeping an eye open for the resident African Harrier-hawk. Drive for 4.7km and take the Graskloof dirt road turning right(GPS -34.5843, 20.0021).
On this route be on the lookout, in no particular spot, for: Common Buzzard, Forest Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard, European Honey-Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Goshawk, African Marsh-Harrier, African Fish-Eagle, Amur Falcon, Black Harrier, Black Sparrow-hawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Long-crested Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Rock Kestrel, Rufous-chested Sparrow-hawk and Pale Chanting Goshawk.
For some reason this route produces the highest number of raptors in the Agulhas Plain and many of the rarities. Stop at the gumtree forests next to the road, for Forest Buzzard and the Sparrow-hawks. After 750m, at the small stream (GPS -34.5842, 19.9948), stop for African Paradise-Flycatcher.
After a further 1.71km, a dirt road turns left(private, available to those staying at De Ouwe Werf to the farm Mierkraal. Drive 200m to just before a small stream and look left for Cape Clapper Lark displaying(in summer). Scan the stream for African Black Duck. Proceed to the farmyard(another 630m) and stop at the dam on left. Here you will see an array of ducks, herons(including Black-crowned Night-heron) and other waterbirds. Drive on and turn left on a track towards the East, proceed for another 240m and enter a gate on left and follow the track for 250m to another dam. Retrace and turn left at the main route T-junction.
Drive for a further 1.7km, until you see a sign De Ouwe Werf(private). As you enter, on your left, is a barn. Look and listen for Greater Honeyguide. Guests have a view of the Grashoek river below which could produce interesting raptors.
From the gate, follow the main route for another 500m and stop at the dam on left. Find Burchell's Coucal, Little Grebe, Lesser Swamp-warbler and African Black Duck. Drive another 2.5km and find White Stork feeding on the cultivated land. Proceed down to the stream and scan the trees. Drive a further 125m and stop at the Grashoek river. Spend some time here and find Swee Waxbill, African Dusky Flycatcher, Borwn-hooded Kingfisher and Cape Batis. Drive towards the homestead and scan the vegetable garden area, drive on to the Gumtrees past the milk shed and look for Olive Woodpecker.
As you leave the farmyard a road goes left. Before you take this road, carry on the road that says Berg-en-Dam (private, open to the quaint Berg-en-Dam cottage guests). Listen for Common Quail and find Cape Canary until you see the dam down below on the right. Scan for African Fish-Eagle. The track drops down into a valley. Striped Flufftail reported but not confirmed. The vegetation at the stream requires some attention and delivers on a range of small species. Drive up the hill until you see the cottage on the right. The gum tree forest in front of you can produce Lesser Honeyguide.
If you are a guest at the cottage, walk through the gum tree forest, down to the stream (and romantic waterfall) and follow a track to the top of the Soetmuis mountain.
Retrace to Graskloof and at the T-junction, turn right. Drive 2 km's until you find a dam on right where you will find Cape Shoveler and other ducks, Black Crake and other waterbirds. At the T-junction turn right and drive a further 830m. At the T-junction(GPS -34.5682, 19.9208) turn left.
Drive 1.5km and then slowly scan the gum tree lane for raptors who favour this specific spot. Keep driving West until you reach Kosierkraal(private). On the dam look for resident African Black Duck, Burchell's Coucal and sometimes White-faced Duck. In the garden look for Streaky-headed Seedeater and others. With special permission, drive south-west into the nature reserve area following the stream on the right. Follow the track for 1.25km until you reach the stream. Park and scan nearby trees for Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Lesser Honeyguide, resident Black Sparrow-hawk and in summer, Black, Klaas's and Red-chested Cuckoo.
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