Kruger National Park – Berg-en-Dal

About the Birding

Berg-en-dal is a large camp and offers up some excellent general bushveld birding, and typical species such as Magpie Shrike, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Chinspot Batis, Golden-breasted Bunting, Blue Waxbill, Green-winged Pytilia, Yellow-fronted Canary, Black-crowned Tchagra, Black-backed Puffback, Long-billed Crombec, Rattling Cisticola and Southern Black Tit are common and easy to find. The diminutive Pearl-spotted Owlet – a diurnal owl with a lovely, characteristic call – is also a regular in this area, and wherever present or calling it never fails to attract the attention of numerous birds. Inside the camp is a small dam, which occasionally produces some interesting species: even White-backed Night Heron and African Finfoot have been recorded before.

The thick woodlands surrounding Berg-en-dal can be one of the best places in the park to search for the uncommon Stierling’s Wren- Warbler; while raptors are also regularly recorded, with Dark Chanting Goshawk often occurring here at higher density than elsewhere in the park. It is also a very good area for Brown Snake, African Hawk-, Wahlberg’s and Martial Eagles; while Gabar Goshawk and Lizard Buzzard are also frequently seen. The riverine zones and thickets associated with the Crocodile River can often be a good place to try for the uncommon African Barred Owlet; while many other common species including Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Jacobin, Levaillant’s, Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoos, Burchell’s Coucal, Little Bee-eater, Brown- hooded and Woodland Kingfishers, Red-breasted Swallow, Willow Warbler, Southern Black, Ashy, Spotted and Pale Flycatchers, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-faced Cisticola, Black-headed Oriole, Black-collared Barbet, Red-faced Mousebird and Green Wood Hoopoe can also be found.

The nearby Malelane Gate and Bridge is a must stop spot for any birder where a wide variety of water associated species can be found, highlights here include: Giant Kingfisher, Greater-painted Snipe, Glossy Ibis, Saddle-billed Stork, African Sacred Ibis, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Greenshank, Trumpeter Hornbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Eurasian Hobby, Water Thick-knee, Martial Eagle, African Spoonbill, Goliath Heron, Wood and Common Sandpipers. From time to time the rare Sooty Falcon and Red-footed Falcons are reported from the area as one enters the park at Malalane Gate.

About the Birding Site

This is one of Kruger’s southernmost camps, and it offers a good variety of habitat to explore. The camp is surrounded by rocky hillsides covered in mixed broad-leafed woodland known as Malelane Mountain Bushveld. The camp is built on the Matjulu watercourse within the protective ring of the Malelane Mountains. The large amount of natural bush in the camp is conducive to birding. It has a small, pleasant dam in front of it where the African Fish-Eagle often sits on the dead trees protruding from the water- watch for the Red-billed Buffalo Weavers that breed in the same tree.

The best Berg-en-Dal Camp birding experience is to do the wheelchair-friendly Rhino Walk around the camp perimeter. The gentle, hour-long walk beneath the tall trees that line the Matjulu River is punctuated by a series of interesting, educational boards along the trail. To the east, the Crocodile River and its associated thickets and riverine vegetation can easily reached from Berg-en-dal; while the camp is surrounded by numerous rocky outcrops, which in offer a few unique species that can be tricky to locate elsewhere in the park.

The park is fully fenced and covers an area of 179 918 hectares, including a 7 022 hectare marine reserve that encompasses both St Croix and Bird Islands; an important sanctuary for seabirds and other marine fauna. The core area of Addo Elephant National Park includes a detailed network of paved and unpaved roads, all of which are easily traversable in sedan-type vehicle, covering a variety of habitats. However, as a ‘Big 5’ reserve, it is important to remain within your vehicle at all times except at designated picnic spots and viewpoints where it is permissible to walk about at own risk. Several private concessions are included within the core area of the reserve, in areas that are out-of-bounds to the general public.

Much of the core section of Addo Elephant National Park is covered by succulent thickets and reclaimed agricultural pastures, though it includes isolated patches of evergreen and coastal forest. From a birding perspective, Addo Elephant National Park has an incredibly rich avifauna with as many as 450 bird species recorded from the park! Over 150 of these are possible on a standard visit to the core section, where several accommodation options are available to visiting birders. The private concessions are accessible to overnight guests at one of the more luxurious lodges situated there, but these concessions support a similar species diversity to the main section of the park. Other facilities include a network of trails leading from the main rest camp and three bird and wildlife viewing hides. Most areas in the core section of Addo Elephant National Park can be covered within just a single day, though 2-3 days are recommended to do the route proper justice.

Key species:

Southern Tchagra, Knysna Woodpecker, Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Southern Black Korhaan, Secretarybird, Martial Eagle

Other Related Information

The southern camps can be accessed through the gates at Crocodile Bridge, Malelane, Numbi, Phabeni and Paul Kruger. The closest access gate to Skukuza is Paul Kruger gate and the closest town is the town of Hazyview.

Contact details:
SANPARKS Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

Skukuza GPS Point: -24.993, 31.593
Crocodile Bridge Gate GPS Point: -25.358, 31.893
Malelane Gate GPS Point: -25.461, 31.534
Numbi Gate GPS Point: -25.156, 31.200
Phabeni Gate GPS Point: -24.970, 31.410
Paul Kruger GPS Point: -24.981, 31.485

The Kruger National Park charges a conservation fee as below for 2021: Wild cards are accepted at all the gates. South African Citizens and Residents (with ID) R105 per adult, per day R52 per child, per day. SADC Nationals (with passport) R210 per adult, per day R105 per child, per day. Standard Conservation Fee R424 per adult, per day R212 per child, per day.

Entrance Gates Opening Times:

Oct – Mar: 05:30
Apr – Sep: 06:00

All visitor facilities, i.e. entrance gates, restaurants, shops and venues, are accessible for wheelchairs.

Text prepared by:

Marc Cronje – Nature Travel Birding

Key species:

African Barred Owlet, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Saddle-billed Stork, Eastern Nicator, Amur Falcon, Martial Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill

Contact details:

SANPARKS Central Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

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