The Haenertsburg village and Magoebaskloof area  is located in the north-eastern escarpment section of the Drakensberg, originally made up of grasslands and mist belt forest. The patches of forest have largely remained but the grasslands have been almost entirely planted to gum and pine trees and more recently avocado orchards. Good birding can be found in areas in which the grassland or forest is largely intact.

This map highlights some good birding areas. 

Please note:
Dap Naude Dam and Woodbush Birding Route Explanation.  Click here to download a printed explanation of the route.


Birding areas in Magoebaskoof

Birding Hotspots

Forest Birding - there are two areas accessible to the public:

1.  Swartbos Forest. - 
Download map here..
Park in the grounds of Magoebaskoof Hotel Ask the hotel for directions and a map for the trail. This trail gives excellent walking access to the forest and it is possible to see all the forest specials here.
2.  Woodbush Forest  - 
Download map here..
Woodbush Drive
This 14km dirt road is the best forest birding area in the Limpopo Province, if not the country. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended and a 4-wheel drive vehicle would be needed in wet weather.
The Woodbush Forest Drive winds through pristine afro-montane forests, down into semi-deciduous mixed forest along the lower sections of the drive. Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Orange Ground-Thrush, Brown Scrub-Robin, Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher are simply a few of the specials to be seen on this road. Also look out for African Cuckoo Hawk, Crowned Eagle and African Goshawk. Towards the bottom of the Forest Drive, where the telephone lines cross the road, look out for Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, which has been sighted there on a few occasions.
Directions: To reach Woodbush Forest Drive, take the R71 from Polokwane past Haenertsburg. About 2km past the Magoebaskloof Hotel, turn to the left onto the gravel road to Houtbosdorp/Woodbush. After 2.5km take the right fork to the Woodbush Forest Reserve, which passes through stone gateposts. 200 metres after passing the hikers´ huts (2.1km past the previous junction), turn right onto the Woodbush Forest Drive. This road can be birded for about 13km. There are two forks along this road: at the first, stay left and at the second, take the right fork.
Dap Naude Dam and Woodbush Birding Route ExplanationClick here to download a printed explanation of the route.

Haenertsburg Grasslands  -

Louis Changuion Trail  
This scenic trail starts in the village of Haenertsburg and winds through 200 hectares of protected afro-montane grasslands with forest patches situated above the village. The whole trail is 10 km but various parts of the trail can be done separately depending on your fitness level and enthusiasm. It is one of the most easily-accessible pieces of this rare habitat left in the area. Blue Swallows have been encountered here in the past. On the grasslands, you may find Wailing-, Lazy-, Croaking-, Cloud- and Wing-snapping Cisticola. Grass Owl, White-necked Raven, Red-winged Francolin, Yellow Bishop, Dark-capped Yellow and Broad-tailed Warbler and Drakensberg Prinia are present as well as Cape Grassbird. Jackal Buzzard, and Long-crested Eagle often hunt over the grassland. The patches of forest have Olive Bush-Shrike, African Olive-Pigeon, Cape Batis, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul and Forest Canary in them. The trail starts at the Haenertsburg Village Hall (in the main road),  follow the yellow markers or the map that is available at The Elms restaurant. For the less energetic, a drive up to the village cemetery (surely the most scenic in the country) will take you into the centre of the grassland. Take a sundowner - the sunsets from there is spectacular!

Birding areas in the District

Bathawk Nest  in Agatha

Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve

Polokwane Nature Reserve

Birding Routes

 Dap Naude Route  
The Dap Naude Route takes you past the Woodbush Forest and the wetland and grasslands associated with Dap Naude Dam. There are a number of forest and grassland patches along the way.
Dap Naude Dam and Woodbush Birding Route Explanation.  Click here to download a printed explanation of the route.

Kudu’s Valley Birding Route      |    Download Map here.
Dry thornveld and lowveld.
This spectacular 30 km dirt road between Houtbosdorp and Mooketsi drops down over the escarpment through bush veld and riverine habitats. On this road, you will descend about 1000 metres and be treated to fantastic views and an interesting mix of habitats. Verreaux´s, Crowned and Long-crested Eagle, Lanner Falcon as well as Horus, Alpine and African Black Swift are often sighted soaring over the valley. The exposed granite boulders along the slopes near the top of the route are home to Cape Rock Thrush, Mocking Cliff Chat, Olive Bush-Shrike, Shelley´s Francolin and Lazy Cisticola. The lower end of the pass has more riverine and tropical bush veld areas in which African Green-Pigeon, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Purple-crested Turaco, Green-capped Eremomela and White-throated Robin-Chat can be seen. Look out for African Fish Eagle, Great Egret, Purple Heron and various Indigobird and Firefinch species around the farm dams near the bottom of the route.


Serala Birding Route 
Dry thornveld and high mountain grasslands.  
Download map here     



Guided Birding Tours

David Letsoalo is a qualified Birdlife SA guide with intimate knowledge of the Woodbush forest area.  He has been guiding in the area for many years and has "stakeouts" for most of the specials in the area like Cape Parrot, Bat Hawk, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot, Orange Ground Thrush and many more.  David is the top local bird guide in South Africa, represents the bird guides on BirdLife South Africa Council and trains and mentors Bird Guides throughout the country.  He runs the Cape Parrot Count in Limpopo and is involved in research of the Cape Parrots in the Woodbush Forest.  David runs the Bird in Trees programme in the area which is a greening and conservation programme for local schools.

David Letsoalo has been the focus of numerous magazine and newspaper articles including Die Beeld,  Africa Birds and Birding Magazine, Limpopo Living Magazine, The Star Newspaper and Country Life Magazine.  He has also been interviewed for television slots including Kaelo, Stories of Hope, SABC and for BBC3. David is a living legend in the birding world.

Paul Nkhumane is one of the top five guides in Limpopo and is also based at Kurisa Moya.  David and Paul offer guided walks on Kurisa Moya to the various habitats on the farm. They also guide local and international birders to the birding hot-spots like Woodbush forest, Turfloop Dam, the Short-clawed Lark site at Mamabolo Grasslands, Greatheads mountain site of the Guerney’s Sugarbird, Polokwane Game Reserve and environs or down to the tropical lowveld of the Tzaneen area where the Magpie Mannikins are a special. The Bat Hawks at New Agatha are also much sought after. 

Contact David @ 0835684678