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SSouth Africa's seven biomes are home to over 850 bird species, which makes the country a popular birding destination.
One of the most spectacular venues for birdwatchers is the Nylsvley Nature Reserve in Limpopo. Historically, one of the major wetland floods led some 19th century Voortrekkers to believe that they had reached the famous Nile River – and they named the area for it.
Close on 400 species of birds are known to reside in or visit the reserve. With luck, you might spot a rare Eurasian bittern, a Rufous-bellied heron or a streaky-breasted flufftail.
Every few years, Nylsvley experiences a peak flood. When it floods, up to 80 000 birds take up residence on the floodplain.
TThe surrounding area makes birding at Nylsvley particularly interesting. There are about 600 plant species to take in, as well as 79 species of mammal. Look out for giraffe, zebra, kudu, warthog and the black-backed jackal. A glut of ducks, herons and egrets can also be seen, feeding on the tons of fish that the floodplain produces.
The reserve offers five bird hides, a game drive network and the freedom to hike where one pleases.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Friends of Nylsvley
Tel: +27 (0)15 293 3612
BirdLife South Africa
+27 (0) 11 789 1122
How to get here
Nylsvley Nature Reserve is located just off the N1 highway, about two hours north of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Best time to visit
If you can time your trip to coincide with a flood, you’re in for a treat. Get in touch with Friends of Nylsvley for more information.
Things to do
Friends of Nylsvley sometimes offers courses in birding and photography.
What to pack
A good pair of binoculars and a local bird book are in every birder’s backpack.