Klaas's Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas ©Stephen Hammer Website

Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. It is named after the Limpopo River, which forms the province’s western and northern borders.[6] The capital and largest city in the province is Polokwane, while the provincial legislature is situated in Lebowakgomo. Limpopo Province shares international borders with districts and provinces of three countries: Botswana to the west and northwest, Zimbabwe to the north and northeast, and Mozambique to the east. It is the link between South Africa and countries further afield in sub-Saharan Africa. On its southern edge, from east to west, it shares borders with the South African provinces of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and North West. Its border with Gauteng includes that province’s Johannesburg-Pretoria axis, the most industrialised metropolis on the continent.

The bushveld is beef cattle country, where extensive ranching operations are often supplemented by controlled hunting. About 80% of South Africa’s game hunting industry is found in Limpopo. Sunflowers, cotton, maize and peanuts are cultivated in the Bela-Bela and Modimolle areas. Modimolle is also known for its table grapes. There is an embryotic wine industry growing in Limpopo. Tropical fruit, such as bananas, litchis, pineapples, mangoes and pawpaws, as well as a variety of nuts, are grown in the Tzaneen and Louis Trichardt areas. Tzaneen is also at the centre of extensive citrus, tea and coffee plantations, and a major forestry industry. Most of the farmers and households suffer from water supply, therefore they drill their boreholes in their premises.

Limpopo’s rich mineral deposits include the largest platinum deposit in South Africa, as well as iron ore, chromium, an estimated 40% of South Africa’s coal reserves, diamonds, antimony, phosphate, and copper, as well as mineral reserves like gold, emeralds, and other minerals. Mining contributes to over a fifth of the provincial economy.

Limpopo contains much of the Waterberg Biosphere, a massif of approximately 15,000 km2 (5,800 square miles) which is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Birding Limpopo

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.

Maraklele National Park ©Dylan Vasapolli

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.

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. 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, such as 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.

This page is sponsored by Birding Ecotours

Top Sites
  • Kruger National Park

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 687

    (As at March 2024)
  • Avibase - The World Bird Database

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Limpopo Province , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers.
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Kruger National Park

    | By Keith Barnes & Ken Behrens | WILDGuides | 2017 | Paperback | 224 pages, 400+ colour photos, 2 colour maps | ISBN: 9780691161266 Buy this book from
  • Guide to Birds of the Kruger National Park

    | By Warwick Tarboton & Peter G Ryan | Random House Struik | 2016 | Paperback | 224 pages, 600+ colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781775844495 Buy this book from
Museums & Universities
  • 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
  • BirdLife South Africa

    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.
  • BirdLife Soutpansberg

    Contact Geoff Goetsch
  • Birdlife Polokwane

    The Pietersburg Bird Club as it was then known was born in the mid 1970's and then unfortunately died a premature death in 1987, mainly as a result of the coincidental relocation of some of the key committee members. During these initial years the club was instrumental in turning a portion of the City's water purification works into a world-class bird sanctuary. Due to the efforts of the late Kobus Venter and the current chairman Joe Grosel the club was resurrected in 1998 when a core group of eight enthusiastic birders was assembled. In 2004 under the chairmanship of Dave Johnson the club joined ranks with BirdLife South Africa and is today one of three affiliated branches, and the largest in the Limpopo Province.
  • Friends of Nylsvley

    Friends of Nylsvley have run work parties at Nylsvley since March 1991 and courses since April 1996. Over the years we have financed and helped install the Kingfisher and Dabchick Hides, the Sasol Dragonfly Walkway, the Bittern Bridge and replaced the Jacana Walkway. We’ve rehabilitated the notorious long drop toilets in the campsite, installed an Enviro Loo at Vogelfontein and replaced the lookout tower ladder. Also see the Facebook page.

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Waterberg Biosphere

    InformationSatellite View
    The Waterberg (Northern Sotho: Thaba Meetse) is a mountainous massif of approximately 654,033 hectare in north Limpopo Province, South Africa. The average height of the mountain range is 600 m with a few peaks rising up to 2,000 m above sea level. Vaalwater town is located just north of the mountain range. The extensive rock formation was shaped by hundreds of millions of years of riverine erosion to yield diverse bluff and butte landform. The ecosystem can be characterised as a dry deciduous forest or Bushveld.
  • GR Lleweni

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    Lleweni Game reserve is situated 10km from Naboomspruit, in Limpopo, South Africa, just over 2 hours drive (220km) from Johannesburg on a tarred road. The reserve is very scenic with a dense vegetation of bushveld and boekenhout trees, a large number of game species, 5 dams containing a variety of fish species and it holds a record for 184 bird species recorded within 3 hours by the South Africa birding society.
  • GR Makulu Makete

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • GR Tilodi Wilderness

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • NP Kruger

    InformationSatellite View
    Out of the 517 species of birds found at Kruger, 253 are residents, 117 non-breeding migrants, and 147 nomads. Some of the larger birds require large territories or are sensitive to habitat degradation. Six of these species, which are by and large restricted to Kruger and other extensive conservation areas, have been assigned to a fanciful grouping called the "Big Six Birds". They are the lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, saddle-billed stork, kori bustard, ground hornbill and the reclusive Pel's fishing owl, which is localized and seldom seen. There are between 25 and 30 breeding pairs of saddle-billed storks in the park, besides a handful of non-breeding individuals. In 2012 178 family groups of ground hornbills roamed the park and 78 nests were known, of which 50% were active.
  • NP Mapungubwe

    InformationSatellite View
    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. 387 bird species have been recorded in Mapungubwe National Park and over 400 species occur in the region. There is a high density of Verreaux’s (black) eagle in this craggy landscape and other raptors are also prominent. Particularly enticing is an abundance of cuckoo species in summer with up to eleven species being found, including the rarer common and thick-billed cuckoos.
  • NP Marakele

    InformationSatellite View
    Marakele is home to the big five (buffalo did not exist in the park, but 20 disease-free buffalo (nine cows and eleven bulls) were re-introduced on 15 October 2013) as well as sixteen species of antelopes and over 250 species of birds, including the largest colony of Cape griffon vultures in the world (around 800 breeding pairs). The Matlabas River runs through the park.
  • NR Doorndraai Dam

    WebpageSatellite View
    The reserve includes the large Doondraai dam and is set amidst hilly country south west of Potgietersrus. It is about 60 km from Naboomspruit. It's main attractions are good camping facilities and the freedom and space to walk unhindered to a wide variety of habitats. Game viewing can also be good, although summer weekends around the main campsite can be quite busy…
  • NR Nylsvlei

    InformationSatellite View
    Situated in the upper catchment area of the Nyl River, and covering about 20% of the floodplain, the area boasts some 370 bird species - of which more than 100 are waterfowl - and during peak floods, over 80,000 birds are to be seen. The reserve is also home to roan antelope and tsessebe. The only stands of wild rice in South Africa, Oryza longistaminata, are to be found here.
  • NR Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve came into existence on July 1956, when a group of conservation-minded persons who owned 'game farms' on the western boundary of the Kruger Park came together to form the Timbavati Association…
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Avian Leisure

    Tour Operator
    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

    Tour Operator
    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.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    South Africa is one of the best value destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, great accommodation, excellent food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in...
  • Rockjumper

    Tour Operator
    There are 39 tours available in South Africa... Our Kruger Extension to our South Africa Mega Birding tour takes us to one of Africa’s most famous and fabulous reserves – The Kruger National Park!
Trip Reports
  • 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 [09 September] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    It was a day well spent in the well-known Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, and, known among birders, Marievale Bird Sanctuary. The fact that we did the tour in two separate vehicles made the birding challenging at times, but nonetheless we managed to record a total of 107 species for the day, finding a good amount of specials for the area. We also managed to find seven mammal species, which all resulted in a good, successful day out birding in the Johannesburg area.
  • 2016 [09 September] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    We had a nice leisurely start to the day, only leaving Outlook Lodge at 7:30. The wind picked up quite seriously and caused some doubts about the unknown for the day’s birding; only time would tell what would be in store for us. Planning to visit two well-known local birding spots, Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve and Marievale Bird Sanctuary, we started in a positive mood.
  • 2017 [08 August] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    En route we saw Blacksmith Lapwing, House Sparrow, Western Cattle Egret, and Cape Wagtail. We soon reached the dirt road leading to Zaagkuilsdrift, on which we recorded a plethora of hovering Black-winged Kites, Magpie Shrike, Marico Flycatcher, and Ring-necked Dove. As we continued along the dirt road we connected with African Stonechat, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Blue Waxbill, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Helmeted Guineafowl, and African Wattled Lapwing, as well as African Grey, Southern Red-billed, and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills.
  • 2018 [02 February] - Pieter & Nicola Vrey - Magoebaskloof and Polokwane Bird Sanctuary

    PDF Report
    ...We didn’t plan to target specific species but rather have a relaxed birding weekend, hoping toconnect with some of the specials the area has to offer: Cape parrot, Black-fronted and Olive bushshrikes, Olive woodpecker, Green twinspot, Red-backed mannikin, Narina trogon, Knysna turaco, Barratt’s warbler, etc....
  • 2019 [11 November] - Michael Wright

    PDF Report
    Top 10 Birds of the Trip: Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Southern Pied Babbler, Ground Woodpecker, Sentinel RockTrush, Barratt’s Warbler, White-backed Mousebird, Eastern Long-billed Lark.
  • 2023 [09 September] - Michael Wright

    PDF Report
    ...We entered Kruger through Phabeni Gate around lunchtime and soon found a Striated Heron and an African Grey Hornbill. A stop at Nyamundwa Dam produced an African Darter and several African Openbills on the water’s edge with a grunting pod of Hippos in the water. Around the viewing area we also found Southern Black Tit, Golden-breasted Buntings, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers and Southern Cordonbleu (Blue Waxbill). We made our way gradually towards Satara, and along the way we encounter Southern Red-billed Hornbill, Black-headed Oriole and White-crested Helmetshrike...
  • 2023 [10 October] - Birding Ecotours

    The Kruger leg produced some fine regional specialties as well, such as Gurney’s Sugarbird, Cape Eagle Owl, Orange Ground Thrush and Knysna Turaco, along with some of Kruger’s iconic species such as Southern Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard and Saddle-billed Stork.
  • 2023 [11 No vember] - Ann Gifford

    PDF Report
    We started off in the Rust-De-Winter area then moved north to Magoebaskloof, Mount Sheba, Kruger NP, Wakkerstroom, Mkuze Game Reserve, St.lucia, Mtunzini and Durban, thus covering a good range of altitudes and habitats.
Places to Stay
  • Hanlin Lodge

    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…
  • 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
  • River Lodge

    Luxury lodge in wildlife reserve
Other Links
  • Birds of Limpopo National Park

    Limpopo National Park offers an excellent variety of birds due to its habitat diversity. Raptors, woodland and wetland species are all particularly well represented. Due to the lack of a road network, most of the wildlife viewing in the park is done on foot, which is excellent from a bird-watching point of view. About 200 of the 500 species in total are migrants.

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