The Limpopo Province, with its vast unexplored areas and diverse habitats, offers one of the most exciting birding destinations in Southern Africa. Habitats range from vast tracts of montane grassland to afro-temperate forests, bushveld and wetlands. There have been over 600 species recorded in the province to date.
The Eastern Escarpment (including Magoebaskloof) and the Soutpansberg mountain range create relief in the landscape which allows for the development of afro-temperate forests, with Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Barratt's Warbler, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, and Orange Ground Thrush. While the eastern lower slopes and valleys of Magoebaskloof provide reliable sites for the elusive Bat Hawk and Green Twinspot.
The lowland rivers such as the Limpopo, Levubu and Letaba rivers form corridors for species normally associated with coastal forests with birds such as Mottled Spinetail, Lemon-breasted Canary, Pel's Fishing Owl and White-fronted Plover on them.
Nylsvley is one of the best known wetlands in South Africa and due to its importance for birds has been declared a RAMSAR site. The area has over 365 bird species recorded, with 104 of these being water birds. The flood plain is inundated every two to four years and when it floods, several rare and endangered water birds breed here. All three of the bittern species occur and breed here and all of the southern African herons have been recorded here. The largest recorded breeding concentrations in South Africa of Great Egret, Black Heron, Squacco Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron occur at Nylsvley. Streaky breasted Flufftail have been recorded here and Striped Crake and Lesser Moorhen and Allan’s Gallinule breed here too. Pygmy Goose, White-backed Duck and Comb Duck are some of the 15 duck and goose species that occur at Nylsvley in the wet years.
Many different kinds of woodland and bushveld types are found within the province hosting an incredible variety of birds including Crimson-breasted Shrike, African Wren-Warbler, Short-clawed Lark and Black-faced Waxbill. There are a number of species that are easier to find in the Limpopo Province than in the rest of the country. These are Short-clawed Lark, Shelley's Francolin, Grey-headed Parrot, African Broadbill & Crested Guineafowl. In addition to this, many Central and East African bird species reach their southern-most distribution here and thus will not be found anywhere else in the country. These include species such as Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Arnott's Chat, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Racket-tailed Roller, Senegal Coucal and Tropical Boubou.
The province has three National Parks and numerous provincial and municipal reserves within its borders. Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe and Maraklele National Parks are visited by hundreds of birdwatchers every year. Provincial Nature Reserves and Municipal Reserves are important sites for bird conservation. For example Blouberg Nature Reserve which is the home to one of the largest Cape Vulture breeding colonies in Southern Africa and Polokwane Nature Reserves has healthy populations of Short-clawed Lark.
Because Limpopo Province has tracts of relatively unexplored habitats as well as its more famous sites, intrepid birders are fortunate to have the opportunity to make exiting discoveries wherever they venture.
Kruger National Park
The world-famous Kruger National Park is situated in the north-eastern corner of South Africa. It is predominantly a semi-arid summer rainfall area with rainfall varying from 350mm to 800mm. Most of Kruger is between 250 and 550 metres above sea level, and the interaction of the rainfall and altitude with soil types provides a wide a range of habitats. As one of the largest reserves in Africa it boasts over 500 species. The restcamps, rivers and drainage lines provide for some of the best birding in Kruger in terms of diversity. A morning of intense birding in of these areas in summer may well produce over 150 species. The area around Skukuza restcamp in the south of Kruger is particularly good for birding and is one the best spots for the African Finfoot. Additionally, it hosts a number endemic and near endemics such as Whitethroated Robin and Natal Francolin amongst a diversity of other attractive bushveld and riverine species.
The western half of Kruger is generally more wooded whereas the eastern half of Kruger is generally more open grassland and it is here where species such as Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Lesser Blackwinged Plover and Redcrested Korhaan are more commonly found. Raptors in Kruger are plentiful, and it is a great place to view a large diversity of large and small raptors such as the colourful Bateleur or aerial acrobat. Five species of vulture are regularly recorded in Kruger and it is not all that uncommon to have all 5 species feeding at one kill. This brings us to what Kruger is famous for - its great diversity of carnivores, large mammals and other wildlife. The birders I have guided through Kruger are amazed by the reserve, and the opportunity it offers to record a vast number of bird species, whilst at the same time viewing Africa's charismatic wildlife in a 20,000 square kilometre expanse of wilderness.
Ben de Boer
The Greater Limpopo Birding Routes
Guides & Tour Operators
Essentially our business is organising birding and wildlife tours throughout South Africa - tailored to individual interests and requirements: both fully guided and self drive trips or a combination of self drive & guides in certain places. Patrick has an in depth knowledge of the country and puts together itineraries that are optimised for an individual client's requirements - minimising distances required to travel in one day and using accommodation in or near to the best birding localities. We do not run set departure tours (unless on behalf of another tour operator). Our focus is on small groups (between 2 and 6 ideally). We also run a self catering birder friendly guest house in Cape Town which is a convenient place for birders to stay whilst in the Cape, but this does not necessarily have to be part of the birders itinerary.
Birding Africa is run by three Capetonian birders and naturalists, Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Peter Ryan, all based at the University of Cape Town's Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Callan and Claire are postgraduate research students, and have recently published an new birding site guide to Cape Town and beyond: Essential Birding - Western South Africa. Peter is a lecturer and researcher, and the author of numerous publications, most recently a new field guide to the birds of Afrotropics.
Samson Mulaudzi - Birding Soutpansberg & Venda
Samson Mulaudzi trained as a BirdLife South Africa guide in 2005 and won an Owl Award in 2012 for his contribution to avian conservation and enducation. Samson is involved in the Mottled Spinetails conservation and education project in Sagole, runs the Birds in Trees Project in the Soutpansberg and conducts research projects for the Greater Limpopo Birding routes…
At Wilderness Encounters we're passionate about birds. It's our pleasure to create for you a birding safari sure to delight the eye while expanding your list of lifers…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2010 [11 November] - Honeyguide - Kruger National Park
2012 [03 March] Pat & Judy Hayes - Kruger National Park
…We were sitting at home watching a Golf tournament in South Africa; the course was set above the Crocodile River. The tantalising glimpses of all the various wild beasts coming down to drink, accompanied by continuous bird song and the sight of herons, egrets and storks, not to mention the many unidentifiable birds flying in and out of camera-shot, rekindled our lust for new horizons. It was our intention to bird independently where possible, as we usually do choose destinations which we are comfortable birding in. The Kruger National Park filled all those requirements…
2012 [10 October] – Geoff Crane – Kruger National Park
"We made very slow progress due to the fact that every bird was a ‘new’ bird. Lesser-striped Swallow, Water Thick-knee, African Jacana, Cattle Egret, Egyptian Goose, Natal Francolin, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Cape Glossy Starling, African Green-Pigeon, Lilac-breasted Roller …"
2012 [11 November] - Soutpansberg - Samson Mulaudzi
We started our outing at Muirhead Dams Reserve and forest at about 6:00 on Tuesday early morning and we saw amongst other birds a pair of African Pygmy Goose,Malachite Kingfisher,Purple Heron,Common Moorhen in the dam.In the forest they enjoyed a superb views of Olive Bush-Shrike,Lemon Dove,Tambourine Dove,Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher,Horus Swift,Forest Buzzard,Terrestrial Brownbul and Purple Crested Turaco…
2012 [12 December] - Roodewal Nature Reserve - Samson Mulaudzi
Last weekend Friday and Sunday morning I took out clients from Pretoria and a family from Netherlands on a birding outing to Roodewal Nature Reserve,Hanglip Forest,Muirhead Dams and Reserve and Luvuvhu River in the Soutpansberg,Limpopo Province. As always at Roodewal Reserve we saw a single male African Broadbill.Other good birds we saw…
2016 [01 January] - Lisle Gwynn
2016 [03 March] - Jason Boyce - Kruger
BirdLife South Africa have done us all proud once again by hosting a truly fantastic Flock event in Skukuza, Kruger National Park. The 2016 event included the incredibly popular LAB and Layman’s LAB (Learn about birds) as well as the Annual General Meeting. Both LAB and Layman’s LAB had attractive programs for the delegates, including a whole host of speakers and some very interesting topics and courses – these were all well attended and thoroughly enjoyed.
2016 [03 March] - Pat & Judy Hayes - Kruger National Park
Having spent 2 weeks in the Kruger proper in 2012 we knew we would return. Africa is a very special place and being able to bird independently in an area the size of Wales makes it extra special. Although the Kruger is a game park the very size of it means you are birding in a truly wild environment.
2016 [03 March] - Wian van Zyl - Kruger
Although the weather didn’t co-operate during the first two days of the tour, covering a wide range of habitats, from higher altitude grassland, indigenous forest, broad-leafed woodland with open pockets of savanna, as well as riverine forests, allowed us to record 244 bird species in total, with an additional 10 heard only, as well as 31 mammals.
2016 [11 November] - Matt Prophet
...The following day we birded the vicinity of the main rest camp and found Southern Boubou, Olive Woodpecker, Dark-capped Bulbul, Common Waxbill, Cape Weaver, Cape Canary, and Greater Double-collared Sunbird. Further sightings of Bearded and Cape Vultures were had as we scanned the skies above us...
Places to Stay
xcellent birding opportunities on farms and in rural areas in South Africa - Click around and discover the wide variety of farmstays and activities on farms and in rural areas offering quality facilities in attractive yet unconventional surroundings and at tariffs you can afford - bed and breakfast, self-catering, game viewing, bird watching, hiking, biking, 4x4 routes, fly-fishing, horse riding, and many more…
Situated amongst lush Bushveld in the Waterberg area, Hanlin Lodge was established to give visitors who enjoy nature the opportunity to relax in comfort in Bushveld surroundings. Our core concept is to offer guests the opportunity to take that much needed break from the hectic demands of today’s lifestyle. We offer you a place to give your overloaded senses a break, where you can still see sunrises, sunsets and stars…
Igababa Cabin is popular for birders and nature lovers. Viewing raptors soaring above the cliffs from your bed is hard to beat and some of the guests have found birding from the outdoors double bath a very pleasant and unique experience!…
Koaxa Bush Camp
We have three thatched stone cottages and three luxury safari tents. Each unit nestles in the sandstone ridge amongst the Mopane Veld, creating a very low visual footprint. Their design ensures privacy, and each one boasts a veranda from which to observe the rugged beauty around you. The camp has electricity but is not air conditioned. There is a communal kitchen with an electric oven, gas hob, and fridge and freezer space. All utensils and crockery are provide…
Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge
At Madi a Thavha you will find all the area has to offer, the Dancing Fish Gallery with a permanent exhibition about Venda, Tsonga and Northern Sotho culture, numerous bird species, walking routes, and the textile workshop of Madi a Thavha Design….
Makulu Makete Lodge
Our Lodge is located on a rise next to a dry riverbed, amongst the thorn tree bushveld typical of the area. Six luxury tents, each with its own en-suite bathroom, accomodate a maximum of 12 guests in considerable comfort….
Luxury lodge in wildlife reserve…
Friends of Nylsvley
The role of the Friends at Nylsvley is to support the managing authorities of Nylsvley Nature Reserve. To educate visitors and the general public on all aspects of the intricate biodiversity of the reserve and Nyl floodplain. To provide assistance to help ensure its continued existence as the best preserved inland ephemeral floodplain in South Africa. We lobby for appropriate management of the land, as suitable habitat for the over 400 avifauna species that occur, many of them endangered species, and the +1000 head of game on the reserve…
Mogalakwena Research Centre
The Mogalakwena Research Centre is an independent research entity based in the remote north-western part of Limpopo Province. We prioritize the continued integrity of the ecological and social system. We prioritize the continued integrity of the ecological and social systems…
Friends of Nylsvlei
Friends of Nylsvley is a voluntary organisation dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the Nyl River Floodplain, in South Africa's Northern Province. This unique area is a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance and has been identified by BirdLife South Africa as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Nylsvlei is partially protected in the Nyslvley Reserve…
Lleweni Game Farm
Lleweni, the private game farm on which the Royal Victoria Lifestyle Estate resides, has a rich history and heritage. Lleweni is a Zulu word that fittingly means ‘place of peace’ or ‘place where animals sleep’…
The Limpopo Valley is a birding hotspot. In a single week in summer, a team of birders recorded 396 bird species in the area. Makulu Makete's varied habitats - mountain, riverine and savannah - attract a large proportion of the birdlife of the Limpopo Valley. The Mogalakwena River, and the massive trees lining its banks, provide a rich habitat for many species likely to be found in wetter areas, such as Collared Sunbird, Spectacled Weaver, and a variety of Cuckoos and Kingfishers. Larger birds such as Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Black Stork, and Goliath heron are to be found along the river, whilst the drier bush country, with its impressive baobabs, has White-faced Owl, Kori Bustard, Pied Babbler, Crimsonbreasted Shrike, Barred Warbler, Great-spotted Cuckoo and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater…
Mapungubwe National Park
Because of its new status, the park is relatively unexplored bird wise and with its proximity to Botswana and Zimbabwe, all sorts of species could turn up…
Nylsvley Nature Reserve
South Africa's newest Ramsar site is situated in the upper reaches of the Nyl River near the town of Naboomspruit in the Northern Province, and includes part of the largest floodplain vlei in the country. The reserve is well known for its exceptional avifaunal diversity, with 370 species recorded, of which 102 are waterfowl…
Nylsvley Nature Reserve & Floodplain
Nylsvley Nature Reserve was designated a Ramsar site in July 1998. Ramsar is an international convention that recognizes and urges protection of globally important wetlands. The reserve is one of about 20 sites registered in South Africa and one of 2065+ in the world. Nylsvley, as part of the Nyl River floodplain is listed by BirdLife International as an “Important Bird and Biodiversity Area”.
This page has been prepared for birdwatchers. Print the page to your own printer and there you have your own Field List for bird watching. The next step would be to book your stay at the Tilodi Wilderness for an unforgettable bird watching experience in the Heart of the Bushveld…