Posted on the 12th July 2015

Tokai Forest, now called Tokai Park, is a favourite spot for hiking, horse riding, dog walking, cycling, and picnics. Note that cyclists and dog walkers require a permit from SANParks. The forest consists mostly of exotic plantations in which a diversity of bird species is not usually found. It is best known for the Tokai Arboretum which was established in 1885 by Joseph Lister to find out which exotic trees would grow well in the Cape. The forest consists of more than 1,500 trees, most of which are marked. A booklet documenting these trees can be obtained at the office and the Lister's Place tea room.
Tokai Forest is popular with birdwatchers. The plantation fringes around the arboretum and the area adjoining the tea room support common species such as CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, PIED CROW, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (summer), CAPE ROBIN-CHAT and SWEE WAXBILL. More difficult to find are CAPE BATIS, FOREST CANARY, LESSER HONEYGUIDE and AMETHYST SUNBIRD. Two highly sought-after birds that can often be seen are COMMON CHAFFINCH and CAPE SISKIN. Patience is required, however, as both these species prefer to perch higher up in the trees.

More energetic birders may choose to tackle longer trails to the Elephant’s Eye cave up the slopes of Constantiaberg where there is a larger diversity of species. A map illustrating the trails is available. Walk along the gravel road through the arboretum and take any of the network of forest roads to the north. A strenuous hike leads to a clearing where a concrete reservoir becomes visible. This area and the area at the fire watch hut in front of the Elephant's Eye cave allow superb views of parts of the Peninsula.

The mature fynbos beyond the hut often produces GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, NEDDICKY, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. In summer the higher slopes support large numbers of ALPINE, AFRICAN BLACK and LITTLE SWIFTS. From a birding perspective Tokai Forest and Constantiaberg are, however, best known for birds of prey. AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, and BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS breed in the plantations. FOREST and JACKAL BUZZARDS and BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES are often seen along the slopes of Constantiaberg, together with PEREGRINE FALCON and ROCK KESTREL. Summer migrants recorded include EURASIAN HOBBY, STEPPE BUZZARD, EUROPEAN HONEY-BUZZARD, and YELLOW-BILLED KITE.

DIRECTIONS: Follow the M3 from Cape Town until the Tokai turn-off is reached, and turn right into Tokai Road, which runs directly to the forest. Take a left turn off Tokai Road at the T-junction at the Tokai Manor House and follow the road to the parking area at the Tokai Arboretum. Register at the entrance ¬ entrance is free.
PHONE: +27 (0)21 712 7471
PHONE: +27 (0)21 715 4512

Forest Buzzard   Image by Anton Odendal
Cape Siskin   Image by Anton Odendal













Swee Waxbill  Image by Craig Adam
Bar-throated Apalis  Image by Richard Masson










Cape Grassbird  Image by Anton Odendal










(All images by BirdLife Overberg members).


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