Greater Tsitsikamma – Crags to Nature’s Valley

About the Birding

Crags to Nature’s Valley – from the Plettenberg Bay side, you can start this route, by turning off the N2 just past Kurland Village onto the R102 (-33.9382, 23.4899). You will pass farmlands, a dairy farm and the Natures Way Farm stall. Look out for Black-wing Lapwing in the fields which are usually present if the grass is not too long. From the Farm stall (-33.9435, 23.5112) there is access to a road through a small coastal forest patch where Forest Buzzard, Narina Trogon, White-starred Robin, Cape Batis and other forest species may be seen.

As this is private property a permit and a route map must be obtained at the Natures Way Farm Stall. Birders are welcome and access is free but is only allowed from January to November.

Further along the plateau, through the fynbos reserve, there are several spots for Victorin’s Warbler, (listen for their call) and African Cuckoo-hawk, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk and Long-crested Eagle may be seen from time to time on the telegraph wires/poles or flying over the Fynbos reserve. Also look out for Red-necked Spurfowl along the road verges and Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird on the Proteas and other flowers, along with Karoo Prinia.
Just before the Grootrivier Pass there is a parking area (-33.9673, 23.5397) for the Salt River hiking trail through the fynbos reserve. A 20/30 minute walk along this trail and back to the car park is another good area to look for these species and Southern Tchagra.

Travelling down the pass there are several places to stop and scan the forest and large trees for African Olive Pigeon, Grey Cuckooshrike, Green-backed Camaroptera and Tambourine Dove.

From the Nature’s Valley Rest Camp entrance (-33.9706, 23.5616) you can bird along the road to the Groot River bridge checking for White-starred Robin, Grey Cuckooshrike, Terrestrial Brownbul and Knysna Turaco. At the bridge look for African Finfoot, Half-collared Kingfisher and African Black Duck then follow the Grootrivier Trail along the boardwalk and loop through the forest back to the bridge. The resident Scaly-throated Honeyguide should be at least heard while you look for Forest Canary, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Narina Trogon, Knysna and Olive Woodpecker, Collared Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Lemon Dove, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Black-backed Puffback and Olive Thrush.

In summer, African Emerald, Klaas’s and Red-chested Cuckoo and Black Saw-wing are present and raptors that occur are African Goshawk, Crowned Eagle, Forest Buzzard and African Fish-eagle, while Peregrine Falcon and White-necked Raven patrol the cliffs in the gorge.

Take a drive along the estuary (Lagoon Drive -33.9784, 23.564) for some water and shore birds. Reed and White-breasted Cormorant are often sitting on exposed rocks or dead trees, while near the mouth African Oystercatcher and Water Thick-knee may be present. On the beach, look out for White-fronted Plover and Greater Crested and Sandwich Tern over the sea. Driving through the village of Nature’s Valley look out for Swee Waxbill, Collared and Amethyst Sunbird, Tambourine and Lemon Dove, Cape Bulbul and Sombre Greenbul.

At night the Groot River Bridge is a good place to watch for African Wood, but they can be also be found in the Rest camp and in the village along the forest edge. Water Thick-knee are also abundance on the roads alongside the lagoon.

Key species:

Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird , Cape Grassbird, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Batis, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, African Finfoot, Forest Buzzard

About the Birding Site

The Greater Tsitsikamma covers the area from the N2 along the plateau on the R102 through the Fynbos reserve to the Grootrivier Pass, Nature’s Valley estuary and forest trails around the Groot River, then continuing on the R102 to the N2 and on to the Tsitsikamma National Park and Storm’s River mouth. Afromontane forest, deep river gorges and fynbos covered plateaus predominate in this coastal strip against the backdrop of the Tsitsikamma mountains.

Key species:

Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird , Cape Grassbird, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Batis, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, African Finfoot, Forest Buzzard

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Wild Cards are applicable for all Garden Route National Parks
N2/R102 junction for Crags to Nature’s Valley: -33.9382, 23.4899
Natures Way Farm forest road access: -33.9417, 23.5107
Salt River Fynbos trail parking area: -33.9673, 23.5397
Nature’s Valley Camp Site entrance: -33.9706, 23.5616

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
Groot River Trail Boardwalk (after bridge): -33.9681, 23.5593
Tsitsikamma Toll Plaza: -33.9508, 23.6235
N2/Tsitsikamma NP turnoff: -33.9712, 23.8398
Tsitsikamma – Walks and Short Hikes in Storms River Village and Tsitsikamma National Park
Storms River Village: -33.9695, 23.8879

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There is a good variety of accommodation available in both Natures Valley and Storms River towns.

Local guide information:
No BirdLife South Africa Birder Friendly tour operators in the area.
Ian Pletzer
Cell: +27 (0)83 357 5267
Email: Pletzer.Ian@gmail.com operates locally

Text prepared by:
Bruce Ward-Smith – Birdlife Plettenberg Bay

Key species:

Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird , Cape Grassbird, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Batis, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, African Finfoot, Forest Buzzard

Contact details:

Farm Stay Accommodation
Accommodation: Anne Wilson
Cell: +27 (0)73 565 6400
Farm stall & Nursery: Judy Wilson
Tel: +27 (0)44 534 8849
Email: Natureswayfarmstay@gmail.com
Website: naturesway-sa.com

Garden Route National Park – Nature’s Valley Camp Site and Storms River Mouth
Reservations: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/garden_route

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