Karoo National Park – a Birders dream

South Africa hosts about one tenth of the world’s bird species.

Malachite sun bird
Malachite sun bird. Photo: Clive Wright

The country’s national parks offer excellent venues to view these birds, and with parks located in all corners of the country, in a variety of habitats, from coastal to semi desert.

The Karoo National Park is one of the national parks that every birder needs to visit.

The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape of which the Karoo National Park is but a small portion. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions.

Karoo National Park. Photo: Clive Wright
Karoo National Park. Photo: Clive Wright

Karoo National Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, where many species that originally occurred here now occupy their former ranges.

The Karoo National Park has a wide variety of endemic wildlife. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges – such as brown hyena, lion and Cape mountain zebra.

Karoo Korhaan. Photo: Clive Wright
Karoo Korhaan. Photo: Clive Wright

Over 20 breeding pairs of black eagle find sanctuary within the park. There is also a wide diversity of succulent plants and small reptiles.

While birding on the Karoo plains route, larks and chats are prominent.

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Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard and Namaqua Sandgrouse should also be looked for. The park’s best birding occurs in and around the campsite.

Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Scrub Robin, Cape Robin-chat, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomola, Pale-winged Starling, Southern (Lesser) Double-collared and Dusky Sunbird and Redheaded Finch are all ever present. Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler (Prinia) and Pririt Batis are regional specials to be looked out for.

European bee eaters. Photo: Clive Wright
European bee eaters. Photo: Clive Wright

Raptors to look out for include Booted Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel and large numbers of Lesser Kestrel in summer.

The park also has a high concentration of Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle.

Karoo National Park offers good affordable accommodation and visitors can choose between cottages or campsites.

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