Did you know?You can employ a specialised community bird guide at BirdLife South Africa’s Wakkerstroom Centre.
South Africa is home to over 800 bird species, including some species that are not only nationally, but also globally threatened. It’s no surprise, then, that it is internationally recognised as one of the world’s great birding destinations. BirdLife South Africa, a member of the global BirdLife International, is a dedicated environmental organisation whose aim is to promote the enjoyment, conservation, study and understanding of wild birds and their habitats.
BirdLife South Africa is your best portal into the fascinating world of South African birds, and the best way to find out about BirdLife South Africa is to visit www.birdlife.org.za where you’ll find a fund of fascinating information from birding travel and birding routes, to online bird guides, events and all kinds of other useful birding information.
The headquarters of BirdLife South Africa are in Wakkerstroom, a lovely little village on the border of the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
Situated in the Grasslands Biosphere Reserve – South Africa’s largest grassland biome, covering 27% of the country and ranked alongside the Russian steppes, North American prairies and South American pampas – the Wakkerstroom Centre sits next to the famous Wakkerstroom Wetlands that attracts birders from all over the world.
Pick up your map of the area and bird list from the Centre and then, binoculars at the ready, take yourself off to one of several hides on the property where you’ll tick off water birds and waders, including, if you’re lucky, Blue and Crowned cranes, and, if you’re very lucky, the elusive White-winged flufftail.
There are lots of charming places to stay in Wakkerstroom: the Centre itself caters for large groups and students, but if you need more pampering opt for a birder-friendly B&B or country hotel.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
BirdLife South Africa (head office)
Tel: +27 (0)11 789 1122
BirdLife South Africa (Wakkerstroom Centre)
Tel: +27 (0)83 227 0128
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good although summer is when the migrant birds are back.
Tours to do
Consult the BirdLife South Africa website for a comprehensive list of birding routes.
What to pack
Good quality lightweight binoculars, bird check lists and a relevant field guide.
Where to stay
BirdLife South Africa has a list of birder-friendly establishments all over South Africa.
What to eat
There are several restaurants in Wakkerstroom that serve excellent home-cooked food.
BirdLife's Sasol Bird Fair occurs annually in May at the Johannesburg Zoo.