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The mere two and a half hours’ drive from Cape Town to the Tanqua Karoo leads you through everything from the majestic peaks of the Du Toit’s Kloof mountains (burrowed through by the 4-km Huguenot Tunnel) to the pleasingly geometric vineyard mosaic of the Hex River Valley. Fynbos grades into progressively drier scrub, and one ultimately emerges through a gap in the mountains onto the arid, scrubby plains of the Tanqua Karoo.

Before venturing into the Karoo, it is well worth stopping at Karoopoort, the gateway to the Karoo, for a number of dryland specials. To reach it, take the N1 from Cape Town and, 10 km before Touws River, turn left (north) onto the R46 (signposted ‘Ceres/Hottentotskloof’). At the T-junction 33 km further on (75 on map, opposite), turn right (east) onto the R355. Along the R46, and particularly in the vicinity of this T-junction, tense coveys of Grey-wing Francolin are regularly seen feeding on the roadside in the early morning. From here, the R355 follows a reed- and thicket-lined riverbed, which passes though a gap in the mountains before reaching the open Karoo.

The essential Karoopoort species for many visitors will be Namaqua Warbler, which is a common and noisy bird of the Phragmites reedbeds and adjacent acacia thicket (see p.85*). A good area to look for it is opposite the oak-shaded farmhouse (1 on map above). Though noisy, it sometimes requires a little effort to see.

Among other typically dry west-ern species of the acacia thicket are White-backed Mousebird, Titbabbler, Fairy Flycatcher and White-throated Canary. Mountain Chat occur on the rocky hillsides flanking the road and a pair resides along the first kilometre of gravel road. Flocks of Red-winged and, notably, Pale-winged Starlings fly purposefully overhead, balance on the cliff-faces, or feed on the fruiting fig trees next to the farmhouse. Cinnamon-breasted Warbler (p.85*) does occur here (especially at the picnic site at 2), but is more reliably found at Katbakkies, a little further north (p.79).

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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