Namaqualand – Springbok & surrounds

About the Birding

Goegap Nature Reserve
Located within the interior of the Namaqualand and only 15km southeast of Springbok, the Goegap Nature Reserve is the first place many birders will find themselves when visiting Springbok. Covering more than 7000 hectares, this reserve offers a brilliant show of flowers during the spring flower season, and outside of that, the rolling hills and rocky ridges host a number of really special birds and mammals too. Around the offices you have a good chance of finding Acacia Pied Barbet, White-backed Mousebird, White-throated Canary and Dusky Sunbird.

From here, one can take a 17km drive suitable for sedans and mountain biking, or a 80km 4×4 route to better explore the area. Either one of the two will take you through scenic granitic outcrops and grassy plains and one might see Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Steenbok, Springbok and occasionally Bat-eared Fox along the way. Key birds to look out for are Cinnamon-breasted Warbler on the rocky ridges, and Karoo Eremomela which prefer the flatter plains. Within the first 10km of the route, you’ll pass through two rocky areas and they’re worth scanning for Ground Woodpecker, Grey Tit, Mountain Wheatear and Layard’s Tit-babbler. The luckiest of birders might spot a roosting Cape Eagle-Owl, but these would be best located by driving the perimeter of the reserve after dark. The reserve is stocked with Common Ostrich and Ludwig’s Bustards also occur from time to time. The flat plains can be good for Karoo Lark, Large-billed Lark, Pririt Batis, Yellow Canary, Bokmakierie, Ant-eating Chat, Karoo Chat, Sickle-winged Chat and Tractrac Chat amongst many other species this brilliant reserve has to offer.

Springbok to Kamieskroon: Aardvark Kloof
If you have time in the area, “The Aardvark Kloof” loop not far out of Springbok also comes highly recommended. Make sure you have enough fuel, food and water, as you won’t find any along the route. To reach the area, head back to the entrance turnoff to Goegap Nature Reserve and continue on the R355 to Gamoep. At the town one can quickly take the turn off to the east towards Poffadder and Aggeneys, and continue up the road for around 7 km, where Red Lark can be found relatively easily. Return to Gamoep to do the loop, passing through the town for roughly 3km, you’ll find a turn to your right at -29.9312 18.422. This forms a 76 km road to Kamieskroon, where you can then turn right onto the N7 and return to Springbok to finish the loop road. All the specials in this area are found throughout the year, but again, spring is when the landscape is looking its best and many of the birds are breeding and vocal. Again, the rocky ridges are the place to search for the charming Cinnamon-breasted Warbler as well as Grey Tit, Mountain Wheatear, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Pale-winged Starling, Dusky Sunbird, Fairy Flycatcher, Ground Woodpecker and White-throated Canary. Scan flocks of Black-headed Canary for the white headed subspecies, occasionally split off as a species of its own, Damara Canary. Any open plains can yield Karoo Lark, Large-billed Lark as well as Karoo Eremomela. For those willing to head out at night, driving around the outskirts of Springbok and the road between Kamieskroon and Leliesfontein can produce Cape Eagle-Owl and Freckled Nightjar. However, it’s not advised to drive on these gravel roads after dark, punctures are common and in some places cell phone reception is poor to non-existent.

Key species:

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Pririt Batis, Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Eagle Owl, Grey Tit, Dusky Sunbird, Red Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Freckled Nightjar

About the Birding Site

Springbok is the commercial and cultural centre of Namaqualand, and the last major stop along the N7 route from South Africa into Namibia. Its beautiful spring flower displays are a major attraction, but don’t underestimate the birding potential this small town has to offer.

Key species:

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Pririt Batis, Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Eagle Owl, Grey Tit, Dusky Sunbird, Red Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Freckled Nightjar

Other Related Information

Directions:
Getting to Goegap Nature Reserve is easy, and is located just past the airport southeast of town on the R355 towards the town of Gamoep.

Access and facilities:
Main Entrance Turnoff: -29.6937 17.9239
Main Gate: -29.6779 17.9859
Goegap Campsite: -29.6650 17.9977

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
Gate hours are currently 07:30-16:30 throughout the year, please visit the website prior or phone ahead to confirm the details prior to arrival. At the time of writing, a small fee of R30 per person is payable at the entrance gate. R18 for pensioners and disabled persons.

Springbok and the surrounding birding routes are situated in the semi-desert Succulent Karoo region, due to this, extreme temperature fluctuations can be experienced. Pack sufficient warm and light clothing to accommodate for this.

Goegap Nature Reserve offers a number of activities, which include:

  • Spring Flowers (guided and self-guided)
  • Hiking Trails
  • Mountain Biking
  • 4×4 Wilderness Routes

Important information:

  • Campsites and simple chalet accommodation available at Goegap Nature Reserve.
  • No ATM facilities, shop or restaurant facilities on site. All available in Springbok itself.
  • No fuel on site, nearest station in Springbok, only 15km away.
  • Sedan vehicles can access sections of the park, 4×4 recommended for other trails.
  • Although this is a low risk malaria area, consult your doctor/chemist.
  • Limited toilet facilities in the park.
  • No pets permitted within the park.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There are a number of private Bed & Breakfasts and lodges in the area, which are all available through online booking sites. At present, there are no BirdLife Recommended Accommodations listed for this area.

Local guide information:
There are no community bird guides available for this site. However, there are a number of BirdLife Recommended Tour Operators that can supply guides or guided tours for this site, Unearth Safaris.

Text prepared by:
Justin Rhys Nicolau (Unearth Safaris)

Key species:

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Pririt Batis, Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Eagle Owl, Grey Tit, Dusky Sunbird, Red Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Freckled Nightjar

Contact details:

For enquiries, please contact:

Goegap Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)27 718 9906
Email: Goegap@outlook.com
Website: https://thegrowcery.co.za/places-of-interest/goegap-nature-reserve/

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