Birding Routes

Introducing the Flamingo Birding Route Show details

Birds and Birding along the West Coast Show details

The West Coast National Park: Geelbek and Surrounds Show details

The West Coast National Park: The Outlying Areas Show details

The Swartland Local Municipal Region: Malmesbury, Hopefield and Moorreesburg Show details

The Swartland Local Municipal Region: Darling and Yzerfontein Show details

The Saldanha Bay Local Municipal Region: Langebaan and Surrounds Show details

Saldanha Bay Local Municipal Region: Saldanha to Velddrif Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: Porterville to Velddrif Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: The Lower Berg River Wetlands Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: Laaiplek & Rocherpan Show details

The Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Cederberg Wilderness Area Show details

The Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Citrusdal to Verlorenvlei & Elandsbaai Show details

Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Clanwilliam to Lambert Show details

The Matzikama Local Municipal Region: Olifants River Estuary Show details


The OLIFANTS RIVER ESTUARY is an Important Bird Area (SA 099), where more than 200 bird species have been recorded. This includes more than 60 waterfowl and the estuary often supports more than 15,000 individual birds. The extent and salinity of the Olifants River estuary can change dramatically over seasons, as rainfall in winter flushes the system with fresh water, and in summer seawater penetrates the estuary. Saline water is often recorded deep into the interior. This results in a huge variety of bird species and different suites of birds utilise the estuary during different times of the year. There are bird hides near the guest house at PAPENDORP, (S31º 41’43.87” E18º 12’43.53”)and at the lapa near the estuary mouth. There are outstanding opportunities for bird-watching by boat along the river closer towards the mouth.

Important species recorded here in large numbers include Lesser and Greater Flamingos, African Marsh Harrier, African Black Oystercatcher and Caspian and Swift Terns. Damara Tern can be found occasionally, and significant numbers of Hartlaub’s Gull, Curlew Sandpiper (summer) and SA Shelduck have been recorded. The sighting of a single vagrant Little Blue Heron some years ago caused great excitement in birding circles. The area also boasts important breeding sites for Cape Cormorants and Swift Terns. Most importantly, the mudflats and shorelines are used as a critical staging and foraging ground for migratory waders and flamingos moving between the north, and the important overwintering wetlands to the south and east.

Birding in the surrounding areas and vegetation along the river can be exceptional as three biomes are found here and to the north: Fynbos, Nama Karoo and Succulent Karoo. The species diversity here is therefore outstanding. Look for Karoo, Sickle-winged and Tractrac Chats, Karoo Korhaan, Karoo, Large-billed, Red-capped and Cape Long-billed Larks, Grey Tit and Namaqua and Rufous-eared Warblers. The fynbos dominated hills and mountains hold most of the species associated with this habitat type at the north-western extreme of its distribution range. The area also hosts good numbers of Black Harriers that breed here. To the south of Papendorp, the villages of DORINGBAAI and STRANDFONTEIN offer very good coastal birding and the vast majority of terrestrial birds to be expected in the region. The gravel road that follows the railway line from here to LAMBERT’S BAY can also be investigated as many exciting species have been recorded along it. The area is also well known for the Crayfish Hiking Trail which stretches from Elandsbaai to Ebenhaezer along the coastal cliffs. It offers a variety of birds and plants, as well as spectacular views of whales in season. Birding along the river from KLAWER (S31º 46’19.69” E18º 37’32.15”) to LUTZVILLE (S31º 33’21.67” E18º 20’43.09”) can similarly be very good and waterfowl abound.

The Matzikama Local Municipal Region: Vanrhynsdorp and the Knersvlakte Show details