Garden Route – Diepwalle, Kom se Pad, and Gouna

About the Birding

The Diepwalle and Kom se Pad to Gouna route offers probably the best forest birding in the area. The route can be done in either direction but is best done starting on the Plettenberg Bay side. As the N2 leaves Knysna, turn left onto the R339 (-34.04175, 23.1050). After a few minutes you will see a large stand of mature Eucalyptus trees, these are worth scanning for Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk.

The road traverses exotic plantations that are quite poor for birdlife although Tambourine Dove can be seen on the road and Forest Buzzard can often be seen amongst the exotic trees.

The birding really starts once you reach the junction with Diepwalle (Deep Walls) Forest station (-33.9618, 23.1601). Turn up this road and drive up towards the forest station birding en route. Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, White-starred Robin, Olive Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Black-backed Puffback and Grey Cuckooshrike can all be found here, at the forest station you will have stunning views south, towards Knysna and it is a great spot to scan for raptors hunting over the forest.

The Forest Decks camping site (SANParks +27 (0)12 428 9111) is a very good spot for Narina Trogon. Listen carefully for Green Wood-hoopoe calls as these will often be in mixed flock birding parties comprising Black-headed Oriole, Grey Cuckooshrike, Black-backed Puffback, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Cape Batis, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Paradise Flycatcher and Collared Sunbird.

Continue north along the R339 and take the first junction to the west, marked as Kom se Pad (-33.9496, 23.1487). From here the road traverses beautiful mature forest with excellent birding along its length. In open clearings of mixed Fynbos, usually old plantation sites, listen for the distinctive calls of Victorin’s Warbler and Cape Grassbird. Southern Double-collared Sunbird will also be seen here.

The junction of Kom se Pad and Gouna is a great spot as the canopy opens a bit allowing good views of African Emerald Cuckoo and Grey Cuckooshrike. A large, dead Eucalyptus tree is a good perch for Forest Buzzard.

Turn south onto the Gouna Road (-33.9449, 23.068) and drive back towards Knysna. Sweeping views over the Gouna river valley and some good Fynbos patches change the birding completely once out of the forest. Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Victorin’s Warbler and Cape Grassbird are all present here.

A few small clumps of Milkwood thicket line the road, these are good for Knysna Woodpecker and Olive Bushshrike. The route ends where it rejoins the N2.

Key species:

Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, White-starred Robin, Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, Half Collared Kingfisher, Cape Sugarbird, Victorin’s Warbler, Orange-Breasted Sunbird

About the Birding Site

The whole area above Knynsa, especially the Diepwalle and Gouna area, hold some of the best forest birding in the province. On top of that, patches of fynbos and milkwood thicket throw in some more diversity. Huge yellowwood trees are quite prominent, with some of them being marked as official “big trees”.

One could easily spend a whole day exploring these areas, and up to 100 species are possible in a summer day.

Other Related Information

Contact SANParks
Tel: +27 (0)44 877 1197
N2/R339 junction – GPS Coordinates -34.0417, 23.1051
Time +- 5 hours

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
No permit required.
The road is gravel, and all birding is done from the road so is a good option for mobility impaired birders.
Bathrooms are available at the Diepwalle forest station.

Text prepared by:
Tim Carr

Key species:

Narina Trogon, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-starred Robin, Lemon Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Chorister Robin-chat, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Forest Buzzard, Victorins Warbler

Contact details:

Tel: +27 (0)44 877 1197