cape birding route > birding spots > kalahari > introduction
Info Service
About Us
Birding Spots
Day Guiding
Car Hire
Contact Us
    Site Map

To the south of the Kalahari runs the Orange River, a powerful passage of water cutting through the aridity of the Northern Cape en route from its catchment in Lesotho’s alpine reaches to its destination on the desolate Atlantic shoreline (see p.101). Visitors approaching the Kalahari by road from the south will need to pass through the regional centre of Upington, sprawling along the river’s verdant banks. A little to the west is the Augrabies Falls National Park, where the river plunges into a magnificent gorge that it has carved for itself through glistening granite. The birdlife here displays an interesting mix of Karoo and Kalahari elements, and well deserves exploration.

As one moves southeast through the vast and varied area between Upington and Kimberley, the provincial capital, the red sand, yellow grass and sculpted acacias continue. Here, a selection of bird species characteristic rather of South Africa’s more wooded eastern regions add a tropical flavour to the birding. Our focus will not be on these more peripheral species, as they are much easier to find elsewhere, and we will concentrate rather on the specials of the region. In recent years, birders have been drawn to Kimberley in winter following the fascinating discovery of a new species of migrant pipit, which has added an exciting element of endemism to the already diverse birding.

Indeed, the Kalahari receives the majority of its tourists during winter, when the days are mild and cloaked by a resolutely blue sky, and the nights often bitterly chilly. In the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, game is most visible at this time, and conveniently concentrated in the accessible riverbeds. During summer, the birdlife is augmented by a significant migrant cohort, and the resident birds are more active, especially after the late summer rains when the afternoon skies pile up with spectacularly dark and forbidding thunderheads that provide a dramatic backdrop to the lush veld.

Good roads (mostly tarred) link all the sites described below, and they can be easily combined with a loop through Bushmanland (p.86). A very bare minimum of two full days should be devoted to the park, although those with more time on their hands will find a week or more successfully spent. The Upington region and the Witsand Nature Reserve, in addition to being good birding spots in their own right, provide pleasant staging posts to break the otherwise gruelling full-day drives from Cape Town to the entrance of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, and from here to the Kimberley region. Visitors should note that Kalahari distances are vast, and should take particular care to allow sufficient travel time on unsurfaced roads (see page on trip planning).

This website is maintained by Birding Africa.
Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without permission.
© Birding Africa 1997-2009
4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton Gibbs reports back from Gough Island! Read the blog!

26/09/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September 2009.

30/08/09: British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful, with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!

12/08/09: New Cape Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've adopted the IOC World Bird List, Version 2.1.

13/07/09: The 8th African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount on a Cape Town Pelagics trip, a copy of Southern African Birdfinder, or African Bird Club membership for 1 year.

6 July 09: Cape White-eye research in our garden.

2 July 09: Cape Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.

2 July 09: Campbell Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer, joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here, to see what he got up to.

2 July 09: New pelagic trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June 2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel

30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip reports feature Hottentot Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...

26 June 09: Tungsten mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei. Read the Media Release.

22 June 09: Claire Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders, was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain is part of the newly discovered largest rainforest in Southern Africa.

11 June 09: A colour-ringed Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden. Read why it's a 10 months old male!

14 June 09:
Wildlife at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa and Cape Town Pelagics.

31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN a Birding Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!

30 May 09: A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09