Current birding sites on the Vaal Birding Route.
Find some downloadable GPS coordinates as self-drive itineraries to visit these sites for your Garmin or GDB compatible device at the bottom of the page.
The town of Devon (situated in the far north-eastern corner of Sedibeng) lies on a high plateau dominated by a mosaic of cultivated land, stock farming and patches of remnant Highveld grassland. The area features extensive upland seeps, three river systems, many seasonal wetlands and plenty of good farm dams.
||Marievale Bird Sanctuary|
Marievale Bird Sanctuary is approximately 1 000 ha in extent, and is located at the southern end of the Blesbokspruit Wetland, close to Nigel. Marievale is both a RAMSAR wetland of International Importance and an Important Bird Area (IBA SA021).
||Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve|
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is a provincial nature reserve near Heidelberg which protects 18 000 ha of Highveld habitats, of which 12 000 ha is accessible to visitors. Imposing hills are a feature of the reserve and the altitude varies from 1 545 to 1917 meters above sea level. The reserve is easily accessed via a tarred tourist road 67km in length which enables birders to access a variety of different habitats along the way.
Klipkraal is a large conservancy area covering 10 farms to the South of Heidelberg. Primarily developed as a hiking destination, it offers a variety of rustic accommodation in isolated locations amidst hills cloaked with natural vegetation. Some of the area is managed as game reserve and a wide variety of mammals can also be seen.
Panfontein is a water treatment facility, which encompasses an extensive area of wetlands and settling ponds administered by the Rand Water Board. Unlike most waste water plants, Panfontein has pleasant air, but offers similar rich birdlife to some of the more famous Sewage plants around the world!
The N3TC Grootvlei Pan is situated within a 30 hectare reserve leased and managed by N3TC. Long-term protection of the pan has ensured that it is usually inhabited by substantial numbers of birds. The pan is situated on a long stretch of road and a stop here is an excellent way to break the tedium of a long journey!
||Henley on Klip|
The village of Henley on Klip offers some good urban and wetland birding in pleasant surroundings. Long-crested Eagles have extended their range into this area and are often seen in and around the village. The well-developed residential area has plenty of mature trees, which attract a variety of species including Karoo Thrush, Green Wood-hoopoe, and Cape White-eye; and in summer, Woodland Kingfisher. The Klip River is a focal point of birding in the area and can be accessed from the Scout Hall which is on public land.
In the vicinity of the OTK Silo at Goeiehoek, there is an excellent tract of thornveld which is situated on private land. This offers a good range of woodland species including a variety of species which are localized in the Vaal region. Common endemics include Fiscal Flycatcher, Acacia Pied Barbet, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Bokmakierie, Ashy Tit, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Violet-eared Waxbill, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Yellow Canary and Streaky-headed Seed-eater.
Perhaps the best roadside birding in Sedibeng – this area consists of three gravel roads and associated farming areas in the south-western corner of Sedibeng. The roads traverse a great variety of open grassland, rolling hills and wooded valleys. The high diversity of habitats makes for excellent birding and over 100 species are possible in summer.
The "Barrage" is essentially a low dam which ensures that a significant stretch of the Vaal River has stable water levels and is navigable. This site covers the stretch of Vaal River between Letaba Weir and the Barrage Wall – also known as Loch Vaal. It is a length of river of some 52km, but the focus here is on three of the best birding localities.
West of Sebokeng is a magnificent tract of open countryside with sweeping grasslands. Klipkop is an accessible farm with excellent grassland and wetland birding. It is easily linked with the Zeekoefontein area to the South.
The Leeukuil Dam is a large, shallow water body which lies adjacent to Sharpeville, and is visible from the R59 Highway. The site consists of the main "pan" – about 120 hectares in extent, and a smaller, deeper lake to the North-east, which is more tricky to access. At times there are over 3000 water birds at the pan, and this provides an excellent stopping point for birders in transit.
Follow the Vaal
Northern Sedibeng - East to West