Lower Drakensburg Foothills – Sisonke Central Route
About the Birding
East Griqualand, comprising Matatiele Commonage and Mountain Lake, Queen’s Mercy Wetland and the Cedarville Flats are among the richest high-altitude grasslands anywhere in South Africa supporting the full complement of grassland specialists including a number of incredibly threatened and range restricted species. Matatiele is the most westerly town in southern KwaZulu-Natal, flanked by the Drakensburg to the north and high-lying grasslands to the south. Among the most interesting species to occur in the area are the critically endangered Rudd’s Lark and the near-endemic Yellow-breasted Pipit.
About the Birding Site
The Lower Drakensberg Foothills Birding Route lies inland and to the south-west of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Birding Route and is easily accessible from both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the two nearest points of entry. The source of this route is found in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site at the majestic Sani Pass where birders get the unique opportunity to view birds in a rugged and stunningly beautiful environment, consisting of five different habitats and ranging in height from 1600m to 3200m.
Other Related Information
Visitors should travel the R56 northwards from Kokstad over the van Niekerk’s Pass, across the Cedarville Flats along the Umzimvubu River plain. Mountain Lake lies above and south of Matatiele, and the Queens Mercy Wetlands a few kilometers due west of town.