cape birding route > birding spots > kalahari > kalahari gemsbok national park: twee rivieren and beyond
Info Service
About Us
Birding Spots
Day Guiding
Car Hire
Contact Us
    Site Map
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park: Twee Rivieren and Beyond

At Twee Rivieren, have a look around the stand of thorn-trees to your right as you enter the main park gate for typical thornveld birds such as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Scimitarbilled Woodhoopoe, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Kalahari Robin, Marico Flycatcher, White-browed Sparrow-weaver and Ashy Tit. This is a good place to practise the productive birding technique of whistling the piercing call of Pearl-spotted Owl to attract mobbing bush-birds — you may well find yourself calling up an owl in the process, even during the middle of the day. In fact, all three of the Kalahari rest camps are excellent for owls, and a night walk to follow up on calls in any of the three is likely also to turn up White-faced, Scops, Spotted Eagle and Barn Owls. Ask the staff for their daytime whereabouts. Pygmy Falcon regularly hunts inside Twee Rivieren camp, and is in fact fairly common throughout the park.

We recommend spending the first night at Twee Rivieren, in order to make an early morning start northwards into the park. Shortly after leaving the rest camp, take the first turn-off to Mata Mata, and in the first 3 km of dunes look for Pink-billed and Clapper Larks (p.116*) and, if there have been good rains, Kurrichane Buttonquail. Fawn-coloured Lark is the park’s most common lark and is also likely to be seen here, as is Desert Cisticola. Return now to the main Nossob road, and continue northwards past the junction of the Nossob and Auob riverbeds, aiming to reach the waterholes of Leeudril, Rooiputs and Kijkij 2—4 hours after sunrise. This will maximize your chances of seeing the scarce Burchell’s Sandgrouse (p.116*), alongside the much more abundant Namaqua Sandgrouse. In wet years, listen for the incessant calls of Monotonous Lark along the river valleys.

All of the park’s waterholes are invariably lined with flocks of drinking seedeaters making nervous forays to the water’s edge, especially in winter. The most common of these are Scaly-feathered and Red-headed Finches, Sociable Weaver and Lark-like Bunting. During the summer months, huge flocks of European Swift are in evidence overhead, and Lesser Grey Shrike is commonly seen from the roadside. Great Spotted Cuckoo is also present at this time.

Continue towards Nossob rest camp. Dikbaardskolk picnic site, which makes a good lunch spot, is frequented by Ground Squirrels (Geosciuris inauris) and a selection of skinks and agamas. Look for the uncommon Great Sparrow in the larger trees here and in Nossob rest camp. As you approach the camp, particularly northwards of Kaspersdraai, several additional species start becoming more evident: waterholes begin to attract Violet-eared Waxbill and its brood parasite, Shaft-tailed Whydah. Red-necked Falcon also starts to become much more common than further south in the park — look out for hunting birds targeting the flocks of drinking seedeaters; the falcons also regularly hunt over the Nossob rest camp.

If you are spending two nights at Nossob rest camp, it is possible to make the full day’s excursion to the park’s northern fingertip at Union’s End. As you head north from Nossob and towards Union’s End (look for Burchell’s Sandgrouse at Cubitje Quap waterhole), bushveld elements such as Lilac-breasted Roller, Yellow-billed Hornbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and Temminck’s Courser become more evident. The Union’s End waterhole at the lonely junction of three national states — South Africa, Namibia and Botswana — is notable for occasionally hosting drinking flocks of Rosy-faced Lovebird. Nossob rest camp itself offers similar birding to Twee Rivieren. Ask the staff to show you the daytime roost of the resident White-faced Owls.

Two roads cut across the central dunefield between the two riverbeds. There is little game along these routes, but they are well worth the drive not only for the landscape and short-cut to the Auob, but also for Pink-billed Lark. This species is difficult to find in much of the Northern Cape and undergoes local movements. Look out for foraging birds around the bases of grass clumps, and do not be put off by their apparently white (not buff) outer tail feathers. Despite this incongruence with the field guides, they are indeed Pink-billed and not Botha’s Larks (the latter has a localized distribution in eastern South Africa). Northern Black Korhaan, Anteating Chat and Grey-backed Finchlark are also particularly common along these roads.

Having reached the broad and shallow Auob riverbed near Kamqua waterhole, you have the option of either making a detour to Mata Mata rest camp on the Namibian border, or completing your loop through the park by returning to Twee Rivieren. The Auob riverbed is superb Cheetah country — enquire locally about game viewing. It is also an excellent place to see Giant Eagle Owl (p.116*); check the huge and gnarled camelthorn trees that line the riverbed.

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