Overberg – Bontebok National Park

About the Birding

Bontebok National Park is situated a mere 6 km from Swellendam. The park was established in 1931 to save the endemic Bontebok, which at one point numbered only 17 individuals globally. This handsome antelope is now common in open areas of the park.

The entry gate (-34.0538, 20.4293) is reached from a turnoff on the N2 (-34.0523, 20.4272). Start your birding as you head east, from the four-way junction immediately next to the reception (-34.0591, 20.4306).

As you drop down the ridge, scan the prominent plain ahead for large terrestrial species like Denham’s Bustard, Secretarybird and Southern Black Korhaan. This area is also favoured by hunting Black Harriers.

The road turns to meet the Breede River, and passes a thick tangle of thorny riparian vegetation. This habitat is favoured by Cardinal Woodpecker, Southern Tchagra, Southern Boubou and Bar-throated Apalis.

On reaching the four-way junction (-34.0725, 20.4550) turn north (towards the mountains) and continue on until the turnoff for the viewpoint (-34.0574, 20.4646). Here you will be able to look back over the plains for further chances of the above-mentioned species.

Continuing east, you pass the old park reception (-34.0555, 20.4730) and onto another plain. The roadside vegetation is excellent for Cloud Cisticola and the distinct Agulhas Plains form of Cape Clapper Lark (once a separate species). Less common is Agulhas Long-billed Lark. Small coveys of Grey-winged Francolin are also possible. The areas of restios are home to Fynbos Buttonquails but this species is nearly impossible to see.

This route ends up back at the afore-mentioned four-way junction (-34.0725, 20.4550) where you can retrace your route to the junction at the reception. From here is worth heading south (away from the mountains) and down to the Die Stroom picnic site (-34.0761, 20.4304) which overlooks the Breede River. Giant Kingfisher and African Black Duck are known inhabit this section of river. The aloe-lined ridge just across the river is favoured by Southern Black Korhaan.

Key species:

Black Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cloud Cisticola, Cape Clapper Lark, Secreatarybird, Southern Black Korhaan

About the Birding Site

Situated very close to Swellendam, Bontebok National Park is famed in conservation circles for saving the last of its name-sake species. Despite being the smallest national park, it offers excellent birding, with several sought-after species on offer. The habitat is a mix of Fynbos and Renosterveld covered plains and ridges, with the Breede River forming its southern boundary. It makes a great stop enroute to the Garden Route, or as a stop while birding the Agulhas Plains.

Key species:

Black Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cloud Cisticola, Cape Clapper Lark, Secreatarybird, Southern Black Korhaan

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Entry gate (-34.0538, 20.4293)
Reception (-34.0591, 20.4306)

Admission costs (daily rate):
South African: Adult: R48 / Children: R24
SADC Nationals: Adult: R70 / Children: R35
International: Adult: R140 / Children: R70

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
WildCard applicable.
The reception and picnic facilities are disabled friendly. The viewpoints are rough and unsuitable.
A map is downloaded at: https://www.sanparks.org/images/parks/bontebok/maps/bontebok_map_new.jpg

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Bontebok offers a wide variety of accommodation choices from camping to chalets. The nearby town of Swellendam also had numerous accommodation options.

Local guide information:
Absolute Birding: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800486296-4d544ea0-b3b6
Birding Africa: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800843201-e0dd8be5-1491
Birding Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837069054-d73b5915-e2a1
Cape Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837703508-e06f57e0-d098
Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and custom Safaris: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d

Text prepared by:
Vincent Ward, Birding Africa Tours

Key species:

Black Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cloud Cisticola, Cape Clapper Lark, Secreatarybird, Southern Black Korhaan

Contact details:

Bontebok National Park
Landline: +27 (0)28 514 2735
Email: bontebok@sanparks.org
Website: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/bontebok/

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