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

The Tanqua Karoo to Sutherland and beyond Show details

Seweweeksport to Laingsburg Show details

The Swartberg Pass Show details


The SWARBERG PASS, connecting Oudtshoorn with Prince Albert, is yet another great entry point into the Karoo. The Swartberg, (S33º 21’37.46” E22º 03’15.61”) Gamkaspoort (S33º 21’01.26” E21º 45’15.79”) and Towerkop (S33º 22’58.70” E21º 24’56.20”) Nature Reserves are managed as a single unit by CapeNature and forms a natural barrier between the Great and Little Karoo. This conservation area (180,00ha in extent) is critical to the management of catchments and water yields, and biodiversity conservation in the region. Deep gorges and steep cliffs are formed by the Buffels-, Gamka-, Seweweekspoort- and Meiringspoort Rivers in the western portion of the range. Water from these rivers ends up in the Olifants-, Touws-, Groot- and eventually in the Gourits Rivers. The Swartberg is recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA SA112) and proclaimed as a World Heritage Site. The Seweweekspoort, Swartberg and Meiringspoort passes connect the Great and Little Karoo through the reserve.

The diversity of habitat types along the Swartberg pass gives birders access to species associated with both fynbos and Karoo habitats. The montane fynbos is home to Cape Bulbul, Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird. Cape Rockjumper is common on exposed rocky outcrops at higher altitudes. Booted and Verreaux’s Eagles, Cape Eagle-Owl, Peregrine Falcon and Black Stork can be found along the cliffs and African Rock Pipit, Pale-winged Starling and Ground Woodpecker along kloofs and rocky gorges. Other notable species include Cape and Sentinel Rock-Thrushes, Cape Spurfowl and Victorin’s Warbler.

A further attraction is the remote and isolated GAMKASKLOOF VALLEY. (S33º 22’20.13” E21º 37’27.02”) Travelling by 4x4 is essential. Birding can be exceptional as Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, African Fish-Eagle, Martial Eagle, Giant and Pied Kingfisher and Southern Tchagra can be found. A variety of accommodation options is available, and reservations can be made through CapeNature - details elsewhere in this brochure.

A circular route that takes in both Seweweekspoort and the Swartberg Passes can give access to the majority of fynbos and Karoo specials and many of the Little Karoo’s top tourism attractions.

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