Greater George – Montagu & Paardepoort Route

About the Birding

Starting in George, on the N9/N12 heading towards Oudtshoorn, take the first turn-off to the Montagu Pass (about 800 metres after the circle at the Engen Garage), GPS: -33.944348, 22.427502. You then pass the entrance to the Outeniqua Nature Reserve on your right, before heading down to the causeway bridge across the Keur River. Look out for Forest Buzzard along the first 2 kilometres of this road. Also watch for Half-Collared Kingfisher and African Black Duck at the river crossing, GPS: -33.937699, 22.421975.

Soon after you have passed the link road to the Outeniqua Pass, you will reach the Old Toll House, GPS: -33.918688, 22.416376. This is a good spot for Orange-breasted Sunbirds, but only when the Ericas are in full bloom. From the Old Toll House, you drive down to the second river crossing, GPS: -33.906858, 22.418442. It is worth checking the pools in the river for African Black Duck and be on the lookout for Half-collared Kingfisher. At this point in its course, the Keur River is surrounded by lush riparian forest, and here you can find forest species such as African Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Cape Batis and Forest Canary.

From there you drive up the pass. There are several points where there is enough space to pull off the road and climb out to search for birds. The Fynbos, especially where in the valleys, is good habitat for Victorin’s Warbler and Yellow Bishop which are common in the Fynbos habitat below the pass. There is a short wall on the side of the road and Ground Woodpeckers enjoy sitting on it, so be on the lookout for them as you drive up the pass. As you near the top of the pass, and when the Proteas are in bloom, you should be able to find Cape Sugarbird without much trouble. The Fynbos right at the top of the Montagu Pass is home to Striped Flufftails, GPS: -33.883199, 22.431114.

Heading down the Northern Slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains you will notice that the landscape gradually becomes more and more arid. Nearing the foothills of the Mountain, you will pass Herold, a small hamlet, GPS: -33.847118, 22.445553, and passing through the foothills you will come to a T-junction with the N9 / R62, GPS: -33.834213, 22.448419. Turn right and proceed 150 metres to the turn-off to the road that leads to the Paardepoort, GPS: -33.833896, 22.449969. This gravel road leads you through a rugged valley with jagged sandstone cliffs, and an arid Fynbos / Succulent Karoo habitat. Here you can find Cape Rock Thrush, White-throated Canary and Cape Bunting. The river is good habitat for African Black Duck. Lookout overhead for Verreaux’s Eagle that prey on the dassies that live in these hills.

When you exit the valley, you enter the Klein Karoo landscape and you will start seeing yet a different array of birds, including Karoo Scrub Robin, Familiar Chat, Bokmakerie and the like). You will soon reach a 4-way junction, GPS: -33.767413, 22.420541, and here you can turn left on the Heimersrivier Road that will eventually lead you back to the N12. But first the road leads you down to the same river, the Doringrivier, that you have been following all the way down from the top of the Montagu Pass. Here you should be on the lookout for birds that are coming to drink at the river, before heading on, and into another small valley GPS: -33.770873, 22.407944. This little valley is quite special, because it provides access to the Arid Drainage-line Woodland that grows here and the bird community that lives within: Long-billed Crombec, Pririt Batis, Fairy Flycatcher and Chestnut-vented Warbler.

As you make you way West from this little valley towards the N12, scan the open fields for Ludwig’s Bustard and Blue Crane. You should also be on the lookout for raptors such as Pale-chanting Goshawk and Booted Eagle. The T-junction where the Heimersrivier Road meets the N12 at GPS: -33.768655, 22.341381, marks the end of the route and from here you can head back to George via the beautiful Outeniqua Pass; and look out for Jackal Buzzard and White-necked Raven along the way.

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

About the Birding Site

Situated along a broad coastal plain with a backdrop of the Outeniqua Mountains, which overlook farmlands, wooded gorges, coastal forests, fynbos covered mountain passes and a section of the dry Klein Karoo providing a mosaic of birding habitats.

This route will take you over the Outeniqua Mountains and down into the Klein Karoo. It is an exciting route that passes through a wide array of habitats ranging from Southern Afro-temperate Forest and Fynbos to Succulent Karoo and Arid Drainage-line Woodland (dominated by Sweet Thorn). These assortments of habitats lead to the amazing bird species richness that this landscape has to offer.

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

Other Related Information

Text prepared by:

Christiaan Viljoen

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

Contact details:

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