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The Hottentots Holland mountains border the western Overberg and are traversed, via Sir Lowry’s Pass, by the N2 national road. The pass is legendary in birding circles for the numerous fynbos specials that are easily accessible just a short walk from the highway. The site is close to Cape Town and can easily be tackled in a morning out of the city. Just to the south is a spectacular coastal drive winding along the eastern coast of False Bay and through the coastal villages of Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay, where further fynbos and coastal specials are on offer.

Although all the sites described in this chapter are manageable in a long day trip out of Cape Town, a more extensive two- to three-day loop would be more relaxing and productive for those with the time to spare. A good three-day loop might begin at Sir Lowry’s Pass before continuing east, along the N2, to the town of Swellendam, at the foot of the Langeberg mountain range. From here, you can make an eastwards loop to Grootvadersbosch, the Langeberg’s largest afromontane forest, for the best diversity of forest birds reasonably close to Cape Town. Returning to Swellendam, where a good variety of accommodation is available, you can strike south through the wheatlands in search of the localized and recently split Agulhas Long-billed Lark (see p.73). The agricultural lands also offer numerous other sought-after species, which are surprisingly accessible in this highly transformed landscape. Nearing the coast of the Indian Ocean, one can enjoy some excellent birding at Potberg mountain in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, before perhaps continuing southwestwards to De Mond, just east of the rather anticlimactic southernmost point of the African continent, at Cape Agulhas. De Mond is noted for its breeding colony of Damara Tern (p.68), a highly threatened, diminutive and attractive species endemic to the South African and Namibian coasts.

Returning towards Cape Town, you might consider visiting Cape Agulhas and, further west, the resort town and harbour of Hermanus. This is one of the most famous whale-watching localities on earth and home to the world’s only whale-crier, who wields a kelp-horn to inform one of the whales’ appearances. Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) are the most common species, and from July to November you can be sure to see impressive numbers especially close inshore. On your way back to Cape Town, you may wish to visit Betty’s Bay and Harold Porter before setting off on the scenic drive that twists along the coast to rejoin the N2 national road at Somerset West.

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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