Highlands and Wetlands – Verloren Valei Nature Reserve

About the Birding

As the reserve is now a closed reserve to travel around the reserve you must be accompanied by an environmental monitor, but generally there are three directions in which to travel.

Before entering the main gate one can travel in a northerly direction up the road past the reserve known as De Berg Road which ultimately takes one up to the highest point on the Escarpment known as De Berg (2331m asl). This route will present Sentinel and Cape Rock Thrush, Ground Woodpecker, Mountain Wheatear, Pied Starling, Grey and Red-winged Francolin, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Denham’s Bustard, Jackal Buzzard, Lesser and Rock Kestrel, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Levaillant’s, Lazy, Wing-snapping, Cloud and at times Pale-crowned Cisticola. There is a large wetland patch on the western side of this road some 3 to 4 kilometres north of the entrance gate where Grass Owl, Corn Crake, and White-winged Flufftail have been recorded, which is particularly rewarding in the late summer. The largest wetland is off De Berg Road some 3 km further north where the cranes especially the Wattled Cranes are often seen. This road is also usually very good for Swifts White-rumped, African Black, Alpine and Common in summer.

The second area of interest in the reserve is the rocky outcrops southeast of the office where the Lunsklip River flows out of the reserve where in recent years Cape Eagle -Owl has been breeding, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Malachite Sunbird, and many of the other specials can be seen.

The third route to follow is in a clockwise circuit from the office in a southerly and western loop to the western edge of the reserve, and then back to the office. This is the most likely route in which to see Yellow-breasted Pipit, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Buff-streaked Chat, Jackal Buzzard, Sentinel and Cape Rock Thrush, swallows and an array of larks in the right conditions. This westerly route is where Rudd’s Lark has been historically seen.

About the Birding Site

Verloren Valei Nature Reserve is situated in near-pristine wetlands and offers excellent examples of the natural wetland characteristics of the sour grasslands of the Steenkampsberg Plateau. The wetland system of some 850 hectares was declared a Ramsar Site in 2003. It spans the watershed of the Crocodile and Olifants catchment basins, and four rivers making up these systems rise on the reserve. It is particularly rich in orchid species that come into flower between September and the beginning of February.

Other Related Information

Directions:

From Dullstroom travel for 6 km on the R540 in a northerly direction then turn off onto De Berg Road, and proceed for 8 km to the reserve entrance gate on your left.

Alternatively, head out of Dullstroom towards the Town Dam and immediately before the gates turn left up to the railway line. Turn right before the railway line and follow the service road for some 8 km before joining the De Berg road. This route passes wetlands and dams where many specials have been seen.

Contact Details:

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

As mentioned above the reserve is now a closed reserve so to book a visit contact the reserve office on 013 254 8800, or the reserve manager on 063 927 7362 (WhatsApp 076 279 63150 or email velaphis@yahoo.com/ shirley.sibiya@mtpa.org.za. A nominal charge is levied by the reserve.

Friends of Verloren Valei: info@verlorenvalei.org.za.

Text prepared by:

GJ Skinner – Chairman Escarpment Bird Club (with credit to The Friends of Verloren Valei).

Other related information:

Directions:

The easiest access to Addo Elephant National Park is from Port Elizabeth. To reach the Matyholweni Gate, take the N2 east from Port Elizabeth for 40km. The gate itself is located a few kilometres to the north of the small village of Colchester along a well sign-posted road. Alternatively, take the Motherwell off-ramp from the N2 and follow the R335 to the left for about 50Km to enter the main gate. The main gate is 70Km north of Port Elizabeth and 15km from Addo village.

Notable points of interest include the:

Addo Elephant National Park main gate: -33.4444, 25.7383
Addo Elephant National Park main camp: -33.4434, 25.7460
Bird hide at the main camp: -33.4443, 25.7470
Underground wildlife and bird viewing hide: -33.4453, 25.7465
Reserve entrance: -33.4416, 25.7506
PPC discovery trail: -33.4427, 25.74954
River Bend Lodge: -33.4260880119258, 25.75315138742868
Jack’s Picnic site: -33.5168, 25.7615
Spekboom tented camp: -33.5126, 25.7535
Matyholweni gate: -33.6804, 25.7992

The nearest towns to the main rest camp at Addo Elephant National Park are:
Addo: 16Km
Paterson: 27Km
Uitenhage: 55Km
Port Elizabeth: 70Km
Colchester: 41Km

Access and facilities:

Gate times vary seasonally (Apr-Sept: 06:00-18:00; Oct-Mar: 05:30-18:30), and standard national park conservation fees apply. Wild Cards are accepted for both day visitors and overnight stays. Note that accommodations are mostly of a self-catering nature, however there is a small restaurant and convenience shop at the main rest camp. Various shopping facilities are available in Port Elizabeth and the nearby villages of Colchester and Addo. A fuel station is provided at the main rest camp for your convenience, though it is advisable to top up in either Colchester or Addo prior to entering the park itself. A selection of activities are available through the lodges in Addo Elephant National Park including game drives, walking safaris, horse trails and elephant back safaris. However, self-driven tours are permissible.

Contact details:
Addo Elephant National Park
PO Box 52, Addo, 6105
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8600
Fax: +27 (0)42 233 8643
Email: addoenquiries@sanparks.org

For more information, visit: www.addoelephantpark.com

For bookings, visit: www.sanparks.org

SANPARKS head office
Tel: +27 (0)12 426 5000
www.sanparks.org

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency
17-25 Oxford Street
East London CBD
Tel: 043 492 0081
Email: info@ecpta.co.za


Recommended accommodation nearby:

The nearest Birder Friendly Establishment is within the Nytathi private concession of Addo Elephant National Park. Through River Bend Lodge, one has private access to over 14 000 hectares and over 332 species are known to occur in this section of the park. Guided birding activities are on offer. For more information, or to make a reservation, contact:

River Bend Lodge
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8000
Fax: +27 (0)42 233 8028
Email: reservations@riverbendlodge.co.za

www.riverbendlodge.co.za

A range of self-catering accommodation options are available through SANPARKS, mainly at the Addo Main Camp and the Spekboom tented camp. Accommodation options include luxury guest houses, chalets, rondavels, and both caravan and camping sites. Gorah Elephant Camp offers high-end accommodation options, located in private concessions within the park and with limited access to standard Addo visitors.


To reserve accommodations at the main camp, contact:

SANPARKS reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Fax: +27 (0)12 426 5500
reservations@sanparks.org

Alternatively, to reserve accommodations at Gorah Elephant Camp, visit: https://gorah.hunterhotels.com/


Local guide information:

No local guides are currently available for Addo Elephant National Park, though a range of guided activities are available through the Main Camp and private lodges.


Text prepared by:

Daniel Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Yellow-breasted Pipit, Blue and Wattled Cranes, Denham’s Bustard, Cape Vulture, Cape Eagle -Owl, Buff-streaked Chat, Eastern-Long-billed Lark, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Grey and Red-winged Francolin, Nicholson’s Pipit, Ground Woodpecker and Southern Bald Ibis.

Contact details:

The reserve is now a closed reserve so to book a visit contact the reserve office (+27(0)13 254 8800) or the reserve manager (+27(0)63 927 7362 / WhatsApp +27(0)76 279 63150 / email velaphis@yahoo.com/ shirley.sibiya@mtpa.org.za).

A nominal charge is levied by the reserve.

Friends of Verloren Valei: info@verlorenvalei.org.za

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