Birding Routes

Birds and birding in the central Karoo region Show details

Endemic and other special birds of the Karoo Show details

The Karoo National Park Show details

Cape Town to Beaufort West Show details


The N1 highway from Cape Town ascends gradually from the Hexriver Valley and eventually reaches the semi-arid plains of the Great Karoo. Typical birds to be seen on telegraph poles can include Southern Pale Chanting Goshawks, Greater and Rock Kestrels, Black-shouldered Kite and many crows. The identification of LBJ’s now also becomes challenging. Serious birding along the N1 is, however, not advised as the road is usually very busy and conditions are not favourable for sudden stops to watch birds. For this reason a few interesting turnoffs from the N1 are described in this panel.

MATJIESFONTEIN (S33º 13’28.62” E20º 34’54.47”) and the LORD MILNER HOTEL is certainly worth a visit. The museum illustrates wonderful stories of bygone days and the pub lunch is recommended - a worthwhile break from the tedium of the N1. The R354 to Sutherland is also found at this intersection and described elsewhere. A visit to the Flood Museum at the Tourism Office in LAINGSBURG (S33º 10’55.79” E20º 42’18.40”) is always rewarding. The turnoff to the Little Karoo and the R62 is clearly signposted in town and takes one to either Seweweekspoort or the Anysberg Nature Reserve.

Farther along the N1, the TURNOFF TO MERWEVILLE (S33º 05’51.61” E21º 29’41.09”) should also be considered seriously. Most of this road is in fairly good condition. The road gives access to the typical birds associated with both the Karoo plains and Acacia woodland along the Karoo’s water courses and drainage lines. This road is particularly good for birds of prey. A visit to Merweville, and maybe even an overnight stay, is recommended.

From Prince Albert Road (32º 59’03.57” E21º 41’14.60”) the tarred R407 can be taken to Prince Albert. The R407 is again very good for Karoo birding and time should be spent at the bridge over the Gamka River as this often produces a good selection of waterfowl particularly during wetter cycles. Birding at Prince Albert is described later on. The R353 from LEEU-GAMKA (S32º 45’50.05” E21º 58’06.89”) to Fraserburg should also not be underestimated. There are a number of private nature reserves and farm lodges along the N1 offering excellent birding.

Birding at Beaufort West and surroundings Show details

From Beaufort West to the North Show details

Tanqua National Park Show details

The Tanqua Karoo to Sutherland and beyond Show details

Seweweeksport to Laingsburg Show details

The Swartberg Pass Show details

From Meiringsport to Prince Albert Show details

Prince Albert and surroundings Show details

The Karoo plains to the east of Beaufort West Show details

Murraysburg and surroundings Show details