West Coast – Verlorenvlei

About the Birding

Access to the wetland is unfortunately limited to those sections where the visitor does not have to cross private property. Fortunately, large portions of the wetland are visible from public roads, although in some cases a telescope would be required to take full advantage of what the wetland has to offer.

Starting at the eastern end of the wetland, take the turnoff from the R366 to Redlinghuys and stop at the bridge crossing the river that feeds into the wetland (-32.4717, 18.5425). Depending on the season and water levels a wide variety of both wetland species, including African Rail, and African Snipe and aerial insectivores, including Pearl-breasted Swallows (in summer), can be seen from the bridge.

Return to the R366 and travel in a westerly direction. The road is elevated above the wetland and in many places runs close to the wetland. Stop along the way and scan the open bodies of water and reedbeds for numerous wetland birds. Your targets should include Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Great White Pelican, Great Crested Grebe, Little Bittern and locally rare species like Purple Heron, Goliath Herons, Greater Painted Snipe, Red-chested Flufftail, Blue-billed Teal and African Rail. Don’t forget to look northwards as well especially where pockets of natural Strandveld vegetation occur for Southern Black Korhaan, African Hoopoe, Acacia Pied Barbet, White-backed Mousebird, Karoo Scrub-robin and several lark species: Large-billed, Karoo, Red-capped and Cape Long-billed.
About 20 km after the Redlinghuys turnoff on the northern side of the R366 is a small stand of gum trees (-32.3307, 18.4267). Stop and scan for African Fish-eagle that have a nest in one of the trees and are regularly seen here.

Travel along the R366 and take the turnoff to the left to Velddrif, travel across the bridge and scan the nearby reed beds (-32.3129, 18.3552). It is recommended turning right at the T-junction (-32.3156, 18.3551) as the road takes the visitor to Baboon point and travels along the edge of the wetland. Grey Tit is regular in the scrub around this junction.

Just after a sharp bend to the left, find a safe spot to stop (-32.3162, 18.3379) and scan the cliff faces to the south where a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles have a nest and are often seen perched on ledges or soaring along the cliff face.

Continue along the road which becomes a gravel road and stop at the parking spot (-32.3174 , 18.3210) and scan the beach below for African Oystercatchers and other smaller coastal waders like White-fronted Plovers.

After passing the Elands Bay fish factories on the right pull over onto the wide verge (-32.3152, 18.3165) and scan the rocks for Swift (Great Crested), Common (in summer) and Sandwich (in summer) Terns and Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls that usually roost on the rocks below. Cape fur seals can also be seen on the rocks closer to the sea.

You can either continue along the gravel road for another 7 km which joins with the road coming from Velddrif or return via the same route to Elands Bay.
For additional Strandveld birding, it is recommended that the route to Leipoldtville/Lamberts Bay off the R366 is taken There are multiple places where stops can be made enroute. When doing the first steep section of road, look back to get a beautiful vista of the length of the Verlorenvlei wetland.

Key species:

African Fish-eagle, African Rail, Little Bittern, and African Snipe, Goliath Herons, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Blue-billed Teal

About the Birding Site

The Verlorenvlei wetland can be found near the town of Elands Bay about 220 km North of Cape Town. The area can be reached either following the R27 North from Cape Town to Velddrif and then onto a coastal tar road northwards past Dwarskersbos to Elands Bay (more scenic route) or alternatively the N7 to Piketberg and then the R366 to Elands Bay. The most notable habitat is the wetland itself which is a declared Ramsar site indicating its significance as a wetland of international importance.

The surrounding habitat has been converted to agricultural lands, but pockets of Strandveld are scattered throughout the area providing for birding opportunities other than wetland birds. It is important to note that most of the wetland is bounded by private property and should the visitor wish to get to the edge of the wetland, permission is required.

This is one of the larger wetlands (over 22 km long with very deep sections) along the dry West Coast and during summer months when smaller pans and wetlands have dried up birds congregate on this wetland in large numbers.

Key species:

African Fish-eagle, African Rail, Little Bittern, and African Snipe, Goliath Herons, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Blue-billed Teal

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Most of the roads in the above text are all public roads and require no permission or admission costs. However, should the visitor wish to cross private land to gain access to the wetland, it is advisable to get permission from the relevant landowners prior to entering the property. Please note that the substrate is soft sandy soil and many of these private roads may require a 4×4.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There are numerous types of accommodation in and around Elands Bay. It is recommended that visitors wishing to overnight consult the websites provided above

Text prepared by:
Kevin Shaw, Ecologist: CapeNature

Key species:

African Fish-eagle, African Rail, Little Bittern, and African Snipe, Goliath Herons, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Blue-billed Teal

Contact details:

Elands Bay Tourism Office
Tel: +27 (0)27 482 2024
Email: cederberg@lando.co.za

For more information please refer to the following websites:

https://www.west-coast-info.co.za/region/town/245/elands-bay or https://www.lambertsbay.co.za/about-elandsbay.html