Going birding in Wakkerstroom is almost compulsory if you’re a birder. This is one of South Africa’s most rewarding Important Bird Areas with plenty of endemics and seldom-seen, high-altitude grassland species. Some people hardly notice the birds – they’re after the cheese, the peace and a feast of craft shops.

Did you know?

Wakkerstroom literally means 'lively stream'.

If you’re a birder and haven’t yet seen a red-chested flufftail, Rudd’s lark or a blue korhaan, you cannot miss birding in Wakkerstroom.

This bucolic little farming town in Mpumalanga is nestled in a valley, and is on the edge of a spectacular wetland. Even beginner birders will find the town rewarding – there are over 370 bird species here.

Non-birders also enjoy it, incidentally. There are plenty of things to do here: fly-fishing, drumming, golf, cooing over alpaca babies, wild flower walks, cheese tasting, bike riding on country roads, historical tours and plenty more.

But the town and its surrounds are designated an Important Bird Area in South Africa because the sheer variety of habitat provides an unprecedented opportunity to see endemics. South Africa has 13 such unique bird species, and you can see nine of them in and around Wakkerstroom.

This is mostly high-altitude grassland, but there are also gorges and cliffs, mistbelt forests, farm dams and of course, the magnificent wetland where the flufftail lurks.

Grassland birds are notoriously cryptic and hard to spot, but birders in and around town can give you tips on where to find the critically endangered Rudd’s lark, along with Botha’s lark, the bald ibis, eastern long-billed lark, white-bellied korhaan and the yellow-breasted pipit.

In fact, birders have made things very easy here. There are several bird hides (and information on what you might see) along with rewarding drives you can take into the surrounding areas.

To up your chances of seeing the specials in this area, hire one of the local bird guides (trained by BirdLife South Africa). They can guide you straight to all the right places. Your bird list is bound to look rather impressive by the end of a birding trip to Wakkerstroom.

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