Did you know?
You’ll find 35 South African endemic birds in the Greater Limpopo Birding Routes area.
If you were to ask a serious South African birder about the most productive area for birding in the country, he would most likely recommend the Greater Limpopo birding route.
In this upper crescent of South Africa, roughly north-west, north and north-east of Johannesburg up to the Limpopo river, the birding list stands at an awe-inspiring 600, of which 420 birds are resident.
The terrain, of course, is the reason. Here you’ll find a series of mountain ranges, plus floodplains where thousands of birds gather every year, as well as lowland riverine forests and bushy savannahs.
There are bird specials here that are far easier to find than anywhere else in the country. You’ll probably be able to tick off lifers like grey-headed parrot, African broadbill, short-clawed lark, Shelley’s francolin and crested guineafowl.
Others, like Arnott’s chat and the Senegal coucal, are central African birds at the southern edge of their range here.
Another reason for the prolific birdlife here is that the region is home to no less than three national parks and several provincial parks. Many landowners have also turned to ecotourism.
Because several ornithological studies are on the go in the region, birders are encouraged to report their sightings, especially of southern ground hornbills, short-clawed larks, raptors and the Kalahari scrub-robin.
There’s another reason to be especially alert. Parts of the Great Limpopo Birding Routes area have not been fully explored, and intrepid birders stand a good chance of making new discoveries.
If you're keen on exploring this route, visit the Greater Limpopo Birding website which has downloadable maps, itineraries and information about accommodation and guides.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Greater Limpopo Birding Routes
Cell: +27 (0)82 200 4596 (Lisa Martus)
Tel: +27 (0)15 276 1131
Best time to visit
Weatherwise, May to August is very temperate. But most of the birds are here in summer, which can be very hot and rainy. You'll get your best sightings between November and February.
Tours to do
If you'd prefer the benefit of a guide, you'll find a few listed on the website. It might be useful if you're a first timer in the region, or are looking for a specific bird.
The roads are fair and can easily be navigated in a normal sedan. There are some areas, though, that require a high-clearance vehicle.
Length of stay
A weekend will yield plenty, but the longer you stay, obviously, the more birds you'll see.
What to pack
Birding paraphenalia: relevant bird book, binoculars, scope (if you have one), comfortable walking shoes and hat.