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

Birding at Beaufort West and surroundings Show details

From Beaufort West to the North Show details

Tanqua National Park Show details


KAROOPOORT (S33º 13’06.39” E19º 42’14.16”) is about 45 km east of Ceres on the R46. A stop at THERONSBERG PASS (S33º 17’17.76” E19º 27’25”) is recommended, as species such as Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Clapper Lark and Cape Rock-Thrush can be spotted. Karoopoort can also be reached from the N1, along the R46. At Karoopoort, time should be spent along the dry river bed, where Namaqua Warbler, African Reed-Warbler (summer), several species of canaries and even Cinnamon-breasted Warbler may be found. Inspect the acacia thickets along the drainage lines and look for Fairy and Fiscal Flycatchers and both Chestnut-vented and Layard’sTit-Babblers. Mountain Wheatears are common along the rocky slopes and raptors such as Jackal Buzzard, Booted and Verreaux’s Eagles and Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk may be spotted. Spend some time at the PICNIC SPOT about 200 metres beyond the turnoff to Sutherland. (S33º 48’11.7” E19º 53’01.9”) The road to Sutherland is discussed later. From here drive slowly along the R355 looking for several Karoo specials. About 5 km along the road you will find small dams on the right hand side and, farther on, the INVERDOORN DAM. (S33º 06’43.42” E19º 46’06.69”) Spotting scopes are useful at this site. Look out for a variety of waterbirds including SA Shelduck and African Rail, as well as raptors such as Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk and Greater Kestrel. A little farther on, two tillite hills are located where the base of EIERKOP (S33º 03’29.84” E19º 46’22.46”) (on the right) can be searched for Karoo Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo Lark and Tractrac Chat. Turn left to Kagga Kamma and Op-die-Berg 21 km after Eierkop. The ‘KATBAKKIES’ (S33º 45’51.51” E19º 52’08.48”) picnic spot is a short distance up this road and is the most reliable spot for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. Also look for Pririt Batis, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Ground Woodpecker, Long-billed Crombec and some interesting waterfowl. The best time of year to visit the Tanqua is between August and October when the spring flowers provide a breathtaking display and the majority of birds make the area come alive with their breeding displays and antics. A word of caution: the roads in this remote area are often in poor condition – take enough fuel, fresh water and spare tyres.

KATBAKKIES PASS (S32º 53’58.26” E19º 33’29.12”) and the SWARTRUGGENS road (S33º 48’10.91” E20º 05’44.98”) takes one from the village Op-die-Berg due east to the Tanqua Karoo. It must certainly rate as one of the most scenic drives in the Western Cape Province and is best known for sightings of Cape Siskin and Cape Eagle-Owl. The previously mentioned ‘Katbakkies picnic site’ is reached just before the intersection with the R355. 25km after this the P2250 (S32º 40’53.81” E19º 42’28.20”) is reached. This road represents the best of Tanqua birding, and slow birding is advised. Specials to look out for include nomadic Ludwig’s Bustard and Black-eared Sparrowlark, as well as Tractrac Chat, Burchell’s and Double-banded Coursers, Karoo Eremomela and Karoo Korhaan. Raptors include Booted and Martial Eagles, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Black Harrier, Greater and Rock Kestrels and Black-breasted Snake-Eagle. Observant birders may also come across Lark-like Bunting, Black-headed Canary, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Rufous-eared Warbler. Also look out for Karoo, Large-billed, Red-capped and Spike-heeled Larks and Grey-backed Sparrowlark. Turn left to the TANQUA GUEST HOUSE (S32º 22’09.04” E19º 50’52.58”) that now forms part of the Tanqua Karoo National Park. Alternative accommodation is now also available in the Park – visit www.sanparks.org.za or make reservations at 021-428 9111. The immediate area around the Tanqua Guest House affords wonderful birding opportunities. The dense reeds and acacia thickets along the Tanqua River should produce Pririt Batis, Long-billed Crombec, Fairy Flycatcher, Dusky Sunbird, Namaqua Warbler and many more. The stunning OUDEBAASKRAAL DAM (S32º 23’19.14” E19º 53’20.90”) is a gem of a water mass in this arid landscape and one can expect to find large numbers of waterbird, that include nomadic Greater Flamingo. Expect to find all three grebes, both cormorants and most of the ducks and herons of the region. A birding visit to the TANQUA KAROO NATIONAL PARK (S32º 10’42.36” E19º 44’02.64”) is highly recommended: the Park has a species list of 174 birds, and 18 endemics are wholly restricted to this area. It is recommended that the park be used as a stopover when travelling between Cape Town and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

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