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Sani Pass Birding Tour

N3 Gateway / Sani Pass Birding Tour
Sani Pass, Mkhomazi Wilderness area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Call us anytime Stuart McLean – Birds and Beyond Tours +27 (0)82 742 6981 / +27 (0)33 702 1761
Core Activity:Birding Type:Three options: Facilitated 4x4 or own 4x4 with accompanying guide or target species. Duration:One or two days Budget:Sani Pass full day: Cost per person R750, which includes packed lunch and refreshments. We are able to tailor Mistbelt Forest and Grassland trips to budget or target species.Accommodation at Cedar Garden B&B and Self-catering ( or +27 (0) 83 648 4111) When to Go:Best during high summer (October to March). While the winter months (April to September) are also suitable, several species will be absent. Other:Passports essential. Remember to include a few layers of clothes as the mountains may get cold, even in summer. It is best to leave a message when contacting us and we shall call you back on our return as we are usually in the mounts where there is no cell phone reception. Other Activities:Fitter individuals can go on San Rock Art walks, while botanical enthusiasts will enjoy the wide variety of plants growing on the Sani Pass. Points Of Interest:For people who love mountains, Sani Pass is a destination with a history of its own, breathtaking views, hundreds of flowering plant species and weather for all seasons.

A full-day drive from Underberg and Himeville up the Sani Pass, with Stuart McLean to view the special birds of the Drakensberg and Eastern Highlands area of Lesotho.

Day 1 – The Sani Pass:
The Sani Pass features a great variety of southern African endemic birds. Travelling through a series of habitats – from the grasslands around the villages, to farms with their dams and trees – you enter the World Heritage Site of the Ukahlamba Drakensberg Park. In this vicinity, several duck and water birds may be found. The small Mkomazana River provides a belt of riverine scrub, perfect for the secretive Bush Blackcap and Barratt’s Warblers, which are both high on birders’ wanted lists. Venture into the Protea belt to find a real southern African endemic, the Gurney’s Sugarbird. Restricted to Protea areas, this nectar-feeding bird has only one other species in its family; the Cape Sugarbird found in the Protea regions of the Cape Province. Also in this area with its sandstone boulders, look for other good endemics such as Ground Woodpeckers, Buff-streaked Chats, Cape Rock Thrush, Red-throated Wryneck, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds.

Once through the Protea area, you will enter the sub-alpine grasslands with Basalt scree. This area is the start of habitat that is home to the Drakensberg Rockjumper and Siskin, two iconic Drakensberg birds.

On entering the highlands of Lesotho you will notice an immediate change in the vegetation, which with its small shrubs, gravel beds and lack of trees, resembling the Karoo. This is an ideal habitat for species such as Large-billed Lark, Grey Tit, Layard’s Tit-babbler and Fairy Flycatcher. Remember to time your visit to suit the birds you wish to see, as many species will move elsewhere in winter.

You may even glimpse the majestic Bearded Vulture, one of the world’s rarest vultures from afar, although it is difficult to get a close up view of them.

Day 2 – Mistbelt Forests Birding:
If you add this excursion to your visit, you will join Stuart early morning to look for the very rare Cape Parrot and elusive Orange Ground Thrush in the Mistbelt Forests. Committed birders can expect to leave Underberg in the early morning hours to ensure they arrive at the forest at first light. Enjoy a cup of steaming coffee to celebrate any good fortune or drown your sorrows before venturing further to find other birds such as the stunning Knysna Turaco, Cape Batis, Olive Bush Shrike and Grey Cuckooshrike among others.

Sani Pass, Mkhomazi Wilderness area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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