The Limpopo Province, with its vast unexplored areas and diverse habitats, offers one of the most exciting birding destinations in southern Africa. Habitats range from vast tracts of montane grassland to afro-temperate forests, bushveld and wetlands.
The Eastern Escarpment (including Magoebaskloof) and the Soutpansberg mountain range create relief in the landscape which allows for the development of afro-temperate forests. The lowland rivers such as the Limpopo, Levubu and Letaba rivers form corridors for species normally associated with coastal forests. Nylsvley is one of the best known wetlands in South Africa and due to its importance for birds has been declared a RAMSAR site.
Many different kinds of woodland and bushveld types are found within the province hosting an incredible variety of birds. There are a number of species that are easier to find in the Limpopo Province than in the rest of the country. These include Short-clawed Lark, Shelley's Francolin, Grey-headed Parrot, African Broadbill and Crested Guineafowl.
In addition to this, many Central and East African bird species reach their southern-most distribution here and thus will not be found anywhere else in the country. These include species such as Black-fronted Bushshrike, Arnot's Chat, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Racket-tailed Roller, Senegal Coucal and Tropical Boubou.
The province has three National Parks and numerous provincial and municipal reserves within its borders. Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe and Marakele National Parks are visited by hundreds of birdwatchers every year. Provincial Nature Reserves and Municipal Reserves are important sites for bird conservation. For example, Blouberg Nature Reserve is home to one of the largest Cape Vulture breeding colonies in Southern Africa and Polokwane Nature Reserve has healthy populations of Short-clawed Lark.
Because Limpopo Province has tracts of relatively unexplored habitats as well as its more famous sites, intrepid birders are fortunate to have the opportunity to make exciting discoveries wherever they venture.
This is an ideal destination for both the beginner and the experienced birder. The abundance of birds will always make a short trip to the region well worthwhile. The area boasts 35 Southern African endemics and 48 Southern African near endemics. Over 600 bird species have been recorded in the province, of which 420 are resident. The area offers pleasant and easy bird watching.
The Greater Limpopo Birding Route grew out of the original 'Soutpansberg-Limpopo Birding Route'. It now consists of four sub-routes:
The Capricorn-Letaba birding route stretches from Polokwane in the west to the Great Letaba River beyond the Letsitele valley in the east. The route runs just a few degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn, mainly along the R71 road which links the towns of Polokwane, Haenertsburg, Tzaneen and Gravelotte.
The route starts at Graskop and the top of the Blyde River Canyon from where it meanders along the course of the panoramic Canyon before plunging down through the Abel Erasmus Pass, the only known breeding site of the rare Taita Falcon in South Africa, and into the Lowveld. The drop in altitude from 1730 to 250 meters above sea level gives rise to a multitude of breathtaking views of a Tufa waterfall, wooded valleys and the expanse of open savanna below.
The Soutpanberg-Limpopo Birding Route is situated in the northern-most part of the Limpopo Province. This area includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park, Venda and the Soutpansberg Mountain Range.
The Waterberg-Nylsvei Birding Route covers the vast Waterberg mountains and the surrounding areas. The key attraction of this Birding Route is the spectacular Nylsvei floodplain when it is in flood.