Published on 28 May 2014
Written by Etienne Marais/Indicator Birding

KRUGER TO COAST 4X4 BIRDING ITINERARY:

 

Start: Punda Maria (Kruger National Park)
Finish: Letaba (Kruger National Park)

Day 1 Punda Maria to Mamba Pan Camp
Day 2 Mamba Pan Camp to Mbona Kaya
Day 3 Mbona Kaya to Covane Lodge
Day 4 Covane Lodge to the Limpopo Mouth
Day 5 Limpopo area birding
Day 6 Limpopo to Aquia Pesqueira
Day 7 Aquia Pesqueira to Letaba

 

Summary

This is a 7 day itinerary with a significant dose of wilderness and adventure. There is plenty of interesting birding on this route, and the trip starts and finishes in the Kruger National Park. While birding is in some ways similar to that in the Kruger, the itinerary also provides the opportunity to see a host of species which are not common or are absent from the Kruger National Park. The itinerary has a significant focus on the new Limpopo Transfrontier Park (PNL), and will appeal particularly to birders with a sense of adventure – who are keen to discover and experience a part of Africa that is somewhat wild and untamed.

This trip can be done primarily as a 4x4 Camping trip, although one may choose to use accommodation at some of the locations. This trip can be combined with a number of possible extensions, which include more time on the coast and a canoe trip along the Rio dos Olifantes.

 

Habitats 
Arid Savannah’s, Riverine Gallery Forest,  Mixed woodland, Riverine Forests, Wetlands, Floodplains, Miombo Woodland, Estuarine mudlfats, Coastal Scrub Thicket.

 

PIC 20110609 PIC 20110609  0010881 

Sub-adult Saddle-Billed Stork.

Bird Specials which may be seen on this route

This route offers huge potential in terms of birding.  The Parque Nacional do Limpopo offers a similar avigauna to the Kruger National Park, but also many species which are rare or special for Kruger including Pink-backed Pelican, Red-crested Korhaan, Kori Bustard, Bateleur, Dark-Chanting Goshawk, African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Racket-tailed Roller, Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Barred-Owl, Horus Swift, Meve’s Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Tropical Boubou, and. Bohm’s and Mottled Spinetails, Grey-rumped Swallow, Mosque Swallow, Arnot’s Chat, Eastern Nicator, Grey Penduline-Tit, Lemon-breasted Canary, Green-winged Pytilia, Purple-banded Sunbird and Violet-eared Waxbill.

 

Species which are rare, but which can be found by dedicated birders include Pennant-winged Nightjar, Rudd’s Apalis and Pink-throated Twinspot. The Limpopo floodplain and coastal region offers a host of different species including: African Openbill, Rufous-bellied Heron, Senegal Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Rufous-winged Cisticola, African Marsh-Harrier, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Red-headed Quelea, Mangrove Kingfisher, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Grey Waxbill, Magpie Mannikin, Rudd’s Apalis, Purple-banded Sunbird, Brimstone Canary, African Hobby and Dickinson’s Kestrel.

 

Species which are more likely to be seen when seasonal flooding occurs include African- Pygmy Goose, Lesser Jacana, Great Bittern, Allen’s’ Gallinule, Greater Painted-Snipe and Dwarf Bittern.

 

Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill

Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill

Duration: 7 nights minimum
Distance covered: 1300km (min) – 2000 (depending on birding undertaken)
Costs: Fuel – R1800 – R2800 (estimated)
Accommodation Costs These are variable – For a camping trip the total for accommodation and entry fees would be approximately R1800 (per person sharing) Using lodge options where available the total would be significantly higher depending on accommodation used. Note that this does not include the cost of border crossings.
Note that pre-booking all accommodation is essential, particularly for Mamba Camp and Kaya Mbona – which are small camps with very limited numbers.
Road Conditions and Navigation
This route is a 4x4 self-guided route and 4x4 is strongly recommended because of variable road conditions. Birders should be equipped with GPS (SatNav) and be self-sufficient.

 

Day by Day Itinerary


Day 1 Punda Maria to Mamba Pan Camp (164 km, 5 hours minimum, 7- 8 hours recommended)
From Punda Maria camp (R2_D1-01: S22 41 30.1 E31 00 58.4), travel 4km to the S60 and turn left to the north. Continue on the gravel for 20km and then turn left into the main north-south tar road. Follow this road for 25.3km and then turn right into the main Pafuri gate road. Pafuri gate is a further 12km eastwards. (R2_D1-02: S22 26 55.4 E31 18 47.3) Complete your border formalities at both border posts. This border is usually quiet and border formalities should not take that long. From the international border, it is 94km to the official gate of the park just beyond Mapai but one should budget for at least 3 hours and 5 hours is preferable.

 

Once through the border, the riverine woodland is dominated by Fever Trees and Lala Palms with groves of giant Baobabs in the hilly areas. Riverine woodland is perhaps less disturbed than that in the Kruger National Park and birds may to be seen may include  Meve’s Starling, Tropical Boubou, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Gorgeous Bush, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Lemon-breasted Canary, Mosque and Grey-rumped Swallow and array of raptors. Bohm’s and Mottled Spinetail occur at low densities along the Limpopo, in the vicinity of large Baobab trees.

 

The road down to Mapai provides a good variety of woodland birds. This is part of the buffer zone, so one is free to explore tracks which take one closer to the Limpopo River and good areas of riverine forest. In particular you may want to explore Pafuri Lagoa at R2_D1-03 (S22 26 08.1 E31 22 42.1) some 7km from Pafuri Gate and also an old informal camp site at Pafuri “island” set in excellent riverine forest. R2_D1-04(S22 27 33.2 E31 33 55.2). There is particularly good riverine forest around R2_D1-05 (S22 28 19.2 E31 34 13.1)

 

After travelling 88km from Pafuri Border Post you are Mapai: R2_D1-06 (S22 51 28.4 E31 56 03.1), which is also the name of the northern gate, and the nearby dry-season crossing over the Limpopo River. Here the better used road turns northwards and crosses the Limpopo. To reach the Park entrance, keep right and continue on for a further 6km to the Mapai gate R2_D1-07 (S22 53 36.5 E31 55 31.6) and adjacent Nhampfule Camp.

 

Campismo Nhampfule is set amidst a beautiful forest of mature mopane woodland, and offers interesting birding – African Barred Owlet, Grey Penduline Tit, Ashy Flycatcher, Red-Headed Weaver and Racket-tailed Roller (Rare). In summer Broad-billed Roller, Southern Carmine and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Dusky Lark are also present, along with European Golden-Oriole and African Golden Oriole.

 

Once through the gate it is 13km to the turn to Mamba Pan Camp R2_D1-08 (S22 58 52.6 E31 51 21.2).  Continue on for 4.4 km to this exclusive camp. R2_D1-09  (S22 57 59.3 E31 49 13.1)

 

Overnight Mamba Pan Camp. This is a very basic camp with water supply, showers and toilets.

 

White-Fronted Bee-Eater

White-Fronted Bee-Eater

 

Day 2 Mamba Camp to Kaya Mbona via Shingwedzi Cliffs (106km 6 hours recommended)
Excellent birding is to be had at Mamba 4x4 Camp which is situated within the sandveld pan system. When inundated Mamba Pan may hold species such as Allen’s Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Greater Painted Snipe, Saddlebilled Stork and Lesser Jacana. The woodland habitat in this area holds sandveld specials such as Pink-throated Twinspot and Rudd’s Apalis. The main road south from Mamba Camp is a very scenic road, with expanses of open country, interspersed with patches of woodland and thickets. These woodland areas host a variety of species, including Woodpeckers, Hornbills and Shrikes. Common Scimitarbill, Green-winged Pytilia and Violet-eared Waxbill (this species rather restricted in Mozambique) are common. Resident Lilac-breasted and Purple Rollers are joined in summer by European Rollers, European and African Golden Oriole and migrant raptors including Steppe Eagle. Dark-chanting Goshawk, Bateleur and Brown Snake-eagle are the more common of the raptors that occur, but the full suite of big eagles is possible including Martial Eagle. One can expect Red-crested Korhaan, while Black-bellied Bustard and Kori Bustard are also possible.

 

The recommended route follows a very scenic loop which takes in the Shingwedzi Cliffs viewpoint.  This spectacular area offers amazing views over the wilderness, but does entail some serious 4x4 driving (steep and rocky track). To reach the Shingwedzi cliffs road, continue on the main road southwards to Point: R2_D2-01(S23 08 28.9 E31 36 23.0). Here you turn left off the main central road, and proceed southwards to R2_D2-02(S23 13 15.7 E31 35 22.9). At this point turn left and proceed for several hundred metres to R2_D2-03 (S23 13 25.1 E31 35 45.7) here turn left again and head north to point R2_D2-04(S23 13 04.7 E31 36 38.7). At this point turn right and head in a southerly direction.

 

This approach route from the north crosses a diverse array of habitats and will provide one with the opportunity to see a host of bushveld birds including Shrikes, Woodpeckers, Eremomelas, Hornbills and others. Flappet Lark occurs in the area. The Shingwedzi Cliffs Look-out provides a spectacular view over the Shingwedzi River – in a remote and wild area. Here you may see a wide array of bushveld species such as Cinnamon-breasted Rock-Bunting, Brubru, Chinspot Batis, White-crested Helmet-shrike and Brown-crowned Tchagra. Watch the skies for raptors such as Bateleur, Little Sparrowhawk and Martial Eagle. One reaches the impressive viewpoint at R2_D2-05(S23 22 29.8 E31 39 21.8). Here you can park your car and enjoy the incredible solitude and views over the river. Continue southwards. Care is required to ascend the steep track at R2_D2-06 (S23 23 40.2 E31 41 12.2)

 

After re-joining the main road at point (R2_D2-07) the road travels in a south-easterly direction. You will now enter an area from which communities are being moved out of the park, and you will see signs of human habitation. The road approaches and then crosses the Shingwedzi River R2_D2-08 (S23 26 07.1 E31 46 31.8). Beyond (south of) this point you you will see the large trees of the Shingwedzi River on your left. The area is good for raptors and you may see Bateleur, Wahlberg’s Eagle and others. For the next few km the mixed habitat, old farmlands and riverine woodland provide a good mosaic of habitats and one may encounter a good variety of bird species.

 

At point R2_D2-08 (S23 29 40.2 E31 53 03.4) one turns left to Mbona Kaya – this is a dry camp set on a bank overlooking the Shingwedzi River and is a basic camp. The woodland around the camp and along the river here is quite varied, offering a wide variety of woodland species. Brown-headed Parrot, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, White-browed Robin-Chat, Yellow-breasted Apalis and many others. Horus Swift nest in high banks along the river. If you are visiting in the dry season, large numbers of seed-eaters and weavers may be present at the water below the camp.

 

Overnight Mbona Kaya Camp (Dry Camp – Fire circle and Enviroloo)  Camping – self-sufficiency essential!)

 

Meve's Starling

Meve's Starling

 

Day 3 Mbona Kaya to Massingir (114 km, 5 hours recommended)
Today you will drive southwards towards the park border and the impressive Massingir Dam.  The first 19km of the route follows the Shingwedzi River – and this part of the river is attractive and offers good birding.  Tracts of substantial riverine woodland offer a host species different to that of the surrounding areas.  Here one can expect birds like Trumpeter Hornbill, White-browed Robin-Chat, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, African Green-Pigeon, Broad-billed Roller (summer) and Brown-headed Parrot being typical. Raptor species may include Tawny Eagle, Bateleur and Little Sparrowhawk.  In wet seasons the rank vegetation along the lower Shingwedzi may hold Thrush Nightingale and River Warbler.

 

At point R2_D3-01 (S23 37 45.7 E31 55 55.2) the road swings away from the river and the area is characterised by rather uniform Mopane Woodland. At R2_D3-01 (S23 40 51.5 E31 55 12.9 ) there is a fork in the road– here one should keep right. From the fork continue for 900m to R2_D3-03 (S23 41 12.9 E31 54 55.4) where there is a indistinct track on the right. This track leads to several natural pans known as the Sandveld Pans, which provide an interesting focal point in terms of game viewing and birds. These pans may offer interesting waterbirds when indundated in the wet season, including Dwarf Bittern and Lesser Moorhen. In the dry season they are often a hive of activity as various birds come to drink. The last of the worthwhile pans is Pan2 at R2_D3-04 (S23 41 20.4 E31 54 24.2).

 

After birding the area around the pans, the more interesting and diverse route is to travel back to point R2_D3-01 (S23 40 51.5 E31 55 12.9 ) and turn right. You are now on the main road towards the Massingir Gate and will reach the main east-west transit route after 27km of travelling parallel to the Shingwedzi River.

 

At the main transit route (R2_D3-05 - S23 48 10.0 E32 02 36.3) turn left, and it is 15.5km to the Gate and Campismo Albufiera. This camp (R2_D6-11: S23 52 06.7 E32 08 42.5) is set amidst interesting vegetation with mixed woodland and thicket-type vegetation. Typical species of the camp area include Purple-banded Sunbird, Grey Penduline-Tit, White-browed Robin-Chat, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Crowned Hornbill.

 

Once you leave the park gates you will see the huge dam wall ahead.  At the beginning of the dam wall (northern end) one passes over the weir of the dam, and just after this, there is a track visible to the left. (R2_D3-05   S23 52 30.9 E32 08 42.3). If you follow this track it allows access to part of the river just below the dam wall. This and associated fever tree forest and riverine thickets are a good birding area, and the river here is often very productive.  (The dam wall is currently undergoing reconstruction so this route may not be advisable)

 

To reach Covane Community Lodge, proceed across the dam wall in a southerly direction.  Take a right turn when you see a BCI ATM on the right.  R2_D3-07. (S23 54 59.4 E32 09 45.1)  Proceed for 600m to a circle in the centre of town. Take the road right of the one going straight on and follow the signs to Covane Lodge. Take the right turn 3.4k after leaving the main tar road R2_D3-08 (S23 56 16.0 E32 08 24.5) and then proceed along this road for another 4.1km before turning right again and proceeding to the lodge. R2_D3-09 (S23 53 05.2 E32 04 44.3).  The last 3km of road towards Covane Lodge passes through excellent woodland, which has the advantage that one can safely get out of one’s vehicle and explore.

 

Depending on water levels one may also explore the waterline. Ask at the lodge which areas of the shoreline are most accessible. Depending on water levels a summer visit may produce a good array of shorebirds, while Pelicans, Storks and an array of herons are often present. Look out for Osprey – usually avoiding the attention of the resident Fish-Eagles.   The closest shoreline is reached by taking an unmarked road to the right just 1 km before the lodge is reached. R2_D3-10 (S23 53 25.5 E32 05 03.8).

 

Covane Lodge offers boat trips and a cruise on the lake is a good way to get up close to many bird species. The most interesting birding however is at the t op end of the dam, in the Olifants River Gorge where species like White-backed Night-Heron, Pel’s Fishing-Owl and African Finfoot are possible. Bear in mind that is a newly developed avi-tourism destination, so there is still much to be discovered.

 

Overnight Covane Lodge (Camping or Lodge Accomodation)

 

Great White Pelican coming into land

Great White Pelican coming into land.

 

Day 4 Massingir to the Limpopo Mouth (292 km, 5.5 hours min)
Morning birding around Covane Lodge. You have the shoreline or woodland in the area around lodge to choose from. The woodland along the main access road offers excellent bushveld birding and has the advantage that you can get our of your vehicle and follow the birds. Woodland birds include African Hawk-eagle, Red-crested Korhaan, Double-banded Sandgrouse, , Brown-hooded Parrot, Nicator, Southern White-crowned Shrike and   Summer migrants to the area include Bronze-winged Courser, Southern Carmine and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Grey-hooded and African Pygmy-Kingfisher, European Golden-Oriole, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Verreaux Eagle-Owl and African Scops Owl.  Swallows include Grey-rumped and Mosque Swallow and Horus Swift is fairly common in association with eroded banks around the lake and along the river.

 

From the Town of Massingir, travel towards Chokwe on a moderately good tar road. After 102km you reach a T-Junction at R2_D4-01.(S24 25 30.4 E32 50 41.6) Turn left here and proceed a further 21km to the town of Chokwe.  At Chokwe  R2_D4-02 (S24 31 53.6 E32 59 56.3) turn left and proceed over the Limpopo river. Once over the river turn right at point R2_D4-03 (S24 29 54.5 E33 00 36.3)

 

Follow this road for 27km and at point (R2_D4-04) S24 36 03.8 E33 14 51.0 start to look for pans on your right. These lakes are seasonal and birding conditions are very variable depending on the last flood occurrence – so you need to approach this area with some flexibility and be willing to explore promising looking wetlands.  Very good wetlands are also accessible at R2_D4-05 (S24 39 44.9 E33 20 25.8) and beyond towards Chibuto. As you approach the town of Chibuto – which lies on a high hill overlooking the vast Limpopo Floodplain, you will see extensive damp grasslands on your left. R2_D4-06  (S24 40 53.6 E33 30 45.7)  At times, the moist grassy plains to the north of the road hold Rosy-throated Longclaw, and this is the site where a single Northern Wheatear was photographed in the winter of 2009.

 

Continue through the town of Chibuto and at R2_D4-07 (S24 41 22.0 E33 31 55.4) turn left towards the Limpopo. This road is currently damaged due to flood-waters, but is still passable. Follow this road for 19km and then turn left at R2_D4-08 (S24 49 26.8 E33 28 42.5). After just 1km you will see the wetland on your right. It is suggested that this first pass of the wetland serves only as a recce since this area is best birded in the early morning and should probably be visited early on your way back from Xai-xai area. Once you have completed your birding, continue along the same tar road – it is just 14km to the EN1. On reaching the main national highway, turn left. (Honeypot camp is situated just 300m from this junction) and continue 5.1km towards Xai-Xai. At Chicombane R2_D4-09 (S24 58 59.5 E33 33 03.4R2-) turn right towards the coast.

 

This road crosses a variety of woodland, grassland and wetland habitats and roadside birding can be interesting with African Openbill, Rufous-winged Cisticola, Red-headed Quelea, various herons and Storks. Common species along here include Yellow-throated Longclaw, Croaking Cisticola, Striped Kingfisher. Rosy-throated Longclaw may occur in areas of damp grassland. Follow the main road for 32.6km, at which point you will reach a fork in the road. R2_D4-10 (S25 10 29.0 E33 28 53.3). Take the left fork and you will reach Zongoene after a further 1.9km. R2_D4-11 (S25 11 47.2 E33 30 38.7) Overnight Zongoene Lodge (Camping or Lodge Accomodation)

 

White-Crowned Lapwing

White-Crowned Lapwing.

 

Day 5 Limpopo River Mouth and surrounds.  10 – 70km
There are several good options for birding in the area.  The Zongoene Lodge area offers some interesting estuarine and coastal birding.  Check the sand spit at the mouth of the river for roosting terns and other shorebirds. Tern roosts are likely to contain Lesser Crested and Little Tern. Shorebirds typical of the area include Grey Plover, Whimbrel and Sanderling, but anything can turn up.

 

Coastal bush harbours a host of species including Grey Waxbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Yellow White-eye, White-eared Barbet and many others.   A good tract of mangrove swamp offers species  like Mangrove Kingfisher and Black-throated Wattle-eye.  To reach the mangrove swamp, head back on the main road and 1.5km from the lodge take the road to the right R2_D5-01  (S25 11 04.9 E33 30 46.6) S25 11 04.9 E33 30 46.6  . Proceed to the parking area 300m further on at R2_D5-02 (S25 11 14.4 E33 31 12.7) From the parking area, walk about 300m upstream and you will find yourself in the mangrove swamp. R2_D5-03 (S25 11 03.3 E33 31 05.7)

 

Coastal grasslands and swamps just south of Zongoene lodge will provide the adventurous birder with plenty to explore. Ask at the lodge how to access the area around the runway. Rosy-throated Longclaw, Magpie Mannikin, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Marsh Harrier and Red-headed Quelea are some of the possibilities in this area. A very scenic birding drive can also be completed parallel to the coast on the southern side of Zongoene Lodge. This offers some interesting wetlands and grassland areas. Travel from Zongoene Lodge, keep left at R2_D4-10 (S25 10 29.0 E33 28 53.3), and follow this road for 9km to the first of the lakes on your left R2_D5-04 (S25 13 22.4 E33 24 30.3) Look for Grey-rumped Swallow, Rufous-winged Cisticola and in the adjacent woodland, Brown-headed Parrot, Striped Kingfisher, Long-crested Eagle and on the lakes, Greater Flamingo, Whiskered Tern and other shorebirds. The road goes past another large wetland at R2_D5-04(S25 13 07.5 E33 22 33.3) – which is also worth examining.

 

Marabou Stork feeding  in the shallows

Marabou Stork feeding  in the shallows.

 

Day 6 Limpopo to Aquia Pesqueira  (301km, 5 hrs min 8hrs recommended)
An early departure for the wetlands around Lake Sacativa is recommended, as this is best birded in the morning.

 

Retrace your footsteps back to the EN1, turn to the South-west (away from Xai-xai) and after 5 km take the main tar road to Muzingane on the right. R2_D6-01(S24 57 27.8 E33 30 36.0).

 

Proceed for 14.5km and you will see the first of several impressive looking oxbow lakes on your right-hand side. Continue for a further 4km and you will cross a small river. Beyond the river one can see a large wetland on the left.  This is a small in reality a section of Swamp which makes up just a small proportion of the whole Sacativa Lake complex. Baillon’s Crake has been seen from the road and African Rail is common. Rufous-bellied Heron is regular and Great Bittern has also been recorded here. You can park your car off the road and walk as far as is possible around the lake. Close to R2_D6-02 (S24 49 57.5 E33 28 37.9) there is a raised berm wall which provides access to a variety of good lakeshore habitats.

 

For adventurous birders (4x4 essential) you may want to access the eastern shoreline of the lake proper and this can be done by travelling through the villages to the east. The eastern shoreline of the lake is open and offers views over a spectacular expanse of lake and wetland. The area is good for African Pygmy-Goose, Lesser Jacana, Pink-backed Pelican, African Marsh Harrier and many other wetland species. Conditions on the sandy tracks and roads change from time to time, but the best way to get there is to follow the following

 

GPS Positions

* R2_D6-03 (S24 50 33.0 E33 29 29.8) (Turn-off main road),

* R2_D6-04 (S24 50 34.5 E33 29 19.2) ,

* R2_D6-05 (S24 50 44.6 E33 29 19.9) * R2_D6-06 (S24 51 11.9 E33 28 45.0)

* R2_D6-07 (S24 51 10.0 E33 28 35.5)

* R2_D6-08 (S24 51 03.1 E33 28 23.5) Track to Lake

* R2_D6-09 (S24 50 40.1 E33 27 58.9) Lakeshore lookout

 

The lakeshore here can be excellent for shorebirds and Collared Pratincole is usually present in numbers and exploring the flats may turn up interesting species such as Western Yellow Wagtail or even Caspian Plover. Woodland birding can also be good in the acacia woodland adjacent to the lake.

 

It is suggested that one spend the better part of the morning birding the area before heading back inland towards Massingir Dam and the PNL. Given that the last leg of the trip will take about 4 hours, one should not leave later than 13:00 pm and should leave earlier if you want time to explore the camp evening on arrival.

 

From the tar road past the Sacativa wetlands proceed southwards to a T-junction – less than 1km from the lake.  Turn right and proceed for 19km to the town of Chibuto. From here retrace your route (see day 4) back to Massingir Dam.

 

After crossing the dam wall, you proceed to the park gate at R2_D6-10 (S23 52 08.1 E32 08 50.8) and after completing formalities, you may want to visit the Albufeira Camp at R2_D6-11 (S23 52 06.7 E32 08 42.5) – which often has good birding (see day 3) Continue on the well-signposted main road through the park for 19.5km. At this point R2_D6-12  (S23 48 18.3 E31 59 38.7) you reach a fork – take the left fork and shortly afterwards at R2_D6-13 (S23 48 28.4 E31 58 58.1)  Proceed for 7km to Campismo Aguia Pesqueira R2_D6-14 (S23 51 30.1 E32 00 25.0)  The camp is set high over the lake, and offers spectacular views. Good bushveld birding is on offer in and around the camp itself.  Specials include African Barred Owlet, Eastern Nicator, Bearded Scrub-Robin and Purple Indigobird.  Other species around the camp include Yellow-bellied and Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and White-throated Robin-chat  There is a trail running down to the lakeshore (ask the camp attendants for directions) and while the shoreline is very stony, one is very likely to see African Fish-Eagle and distant Pelicans on the lake.

 

Lappet-Faced Vulture

Lappet-Faced Vulture.

 

Day 7 Aquia Pesqueira to Letaba   (98 km, 4 -6 hours) 
It is suggested that one spend the early morning birding in the camp area, followed by a relaxed drive to the border post at Giriyondo.

 

From Campismo Aguia Pesqueira travel north for 7 km, turning left at at R2_D6-13 (S23 48 28.4 E31 58 58.1).  Keep right at the first junction, a few hundred metres later on and turn left on the main road at R2_D7-01 (S23 48 06.4 E31 58 40.2)

 

After 5km, there is a pleasant picnic spot a short distance off the road at R2_D7-02 (S23 46 42.3 E31 56 32.4). From the picnic spot it is a further 5.3km to a junction: R2_D7-03  (S23 45 08.6 E31 54 38.3) proceed straight on in a westerly direction.  The border post is 27.5 km along this road. From the Border Post at R2_D7-04 (S23 35 08.4 E31 39 28.5).  From Giriyondo Border-Post, it is at least an hour’s drive (43km) to Letaba camp in the Kruger National Park. Proceed along the road until you reach the tarred north-south road at R2_D7-05(S23 42 32.0 E31 32 31.0). Turn left and proceed to the camp at R2_D7-06 (S23 51 15.4 E31 34 28.1)

 

Woodland Kingfisher

Woodland Kingfisher.

 

Accommodation Options and Information

Day 1

Punda Maria Camp has a variety of accommodation ptions from Camping to luxury sfari tents .Shop and restaurant on site. Visit http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/kruger/camps/punda/ or call +27 (0)12 428 9111 or mobile: +27 (0)82 233 9111 Alternatives:

 

The new Pafuri 4x4 camp is set in riverine forest near the border post and offers excellent riverine birding, similar to that at Crookes Corner. Please check with PNL Office as regards the status of this camp which is scheduled for completion in June 2014.  GPS: R2-a-01 (S22 26 15.6 E31 19 45.8)

 

Day 2
Mamba Pan Camp. Located 20km west of Mapai gate this private camp has hot water showers and flush toilets and is ideally suited for 4?4 trail adventures with its own waterhole. Visit http://www.limpopopn.gov.mz/ or contact Lodovico SalinhaMobile: (+258) 84 3011719 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . GPS: R2_D1-09 (S22 57 59.3 E31 49 13.1)

 

Alternatives:
Nhampfule Camp (Mapai):  Located at Mapai gate approximately 5km from the Limpopo river crossing. This would serve as a good alternative is Mamba is booked or you are running late! The camp has 6 camp sites with communal hot water showers and flush toilets. Mamboreni Camp:  the turn to this dry camp is 23km south of the turn to Mamba Pan camp. It also overlooks a perennial pan system. The dry camp has a fire-circle, enviroloo and bucket shower enclosure. GPS: R2-a-02 (S23 07 21.7 E31 43 39.2)

 

Day 3
Mbona Kaya 4x4 Camp:   Located in the center of the Park, this camp has spectacular views over a permanent Shingwedzi river water hole where good game sightings are experienced in the dry season. The dry camp as one large and one small camping area each with a fire-circle and and sharing an enviroloo and bucket shower enclosure. The camp also features a 5km circular 4?4 game drive along the Shingwedzi river. Visit http://www.limpopopn.gov.mz/ or contact Lodovico SalinhaMobile: (+258) 84 3011719 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alternatives 1. 
Campismo Sandalo: basic campsite positioned in the centre of the Park and would be ideal for those wanting take their exploration of the park a little slower. It has a water supply with showers and toilets. GPS: R2_a-3 (S23 20 51.9 E31 41 52.2)

 

Alternatives 2.
Covane Lodge Covane Fishing & Safari Lodge provides accommodation and camping facilities for adventure travelers and backpackers, The lodge is run by Barra Resorts. Visit http://www.barraresorts.com/covane-lodge-accommodation/

 

Day 4
Zongoene Lodge is an upmarket lodge option on the southern bank of the Limpopo River. The area has patches of good coastal thickets and offers the potential of interesting shorebirds as well. It also provides access to Mangrove swamps on the southern bank. Tel: +27 15 295 9038 Cell: +258 82 402 6791 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: http://www.zongoene.com/ GPS: S25 11 48.5 E33 30 38.9

 

Alternatives 1.
Honeypot Camp. This is a popular stop-over just off the EN1. It is situated just 5km before the floodplain proper, on the left hand side of the road, and offers camping and accommodation in wooden cabins. Meals are available and African Wood-Owl is resident in the camp. Honeypot is 15km from Xai-xai towards Maputo. Tel +258 82 7813 460, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: http://www.honeypots.co.za GPS: R2_a-04 (S24 57 33.7 E33 30 54.0)

 

Alternatives 2.
Zona Braza, at Praia de Chizavane, is some 40 km north of Xai-Xai. This lodge is close to several birding sites with extensive wetlands and remnants of coastal dune forest in the area. Self-catering accommodation is available. Tel: +258 282 64016  Cell: +258 847 633-846  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ,    Website: http://www.zonabraza.co.za   GPS:  R2_a-05 (S25 00 49.9 E34 02 13.3)

 

Day 5
See Day 4 for details.

 

Day 6
Campismo Aguia Pesqueira (Fish Eagle Camp): Both camping and chalet options are available. This is a tented camp which also has wooden chalets and an overland camp-site. Each chalet has a bathroom en suite as well as kitchenette and a deck overlooking the dam. The camp is situated high on the escarpment and all camping sites and chalets have magnificent views of the dam which is located 250 m away. The only electricity provided is for chalet, ablution and kitchen lighting. Visit http://www.limpopopn.gov.mz/ or contact Lodovico SalinhaMobile: (+258) 84 3011719 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alternatives 1.  
See Day 7 for Machampane Wilderness Trails Camp, which may also serve as a final stop in the  park.

 

Day 7
Letaba Camp A variety of options available, from Camping to luxury sfari tents .Shop and restaurant on site. Visit http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/kruger/camps/punda/ or call +27 (0)12 428 9111 or mobile: +27 (0)82 233 9111

 

Alternatives 1.
Giriyondo 4x4 Camp: Located 2km from Giriyondo border post where animals such as impala, zebra, buffalo are frequently seen, in addition to the excellent birding in this perennial river valley. The dry camp has 3 separate and private camping areas each with a fire-circle and sharing an enviroloo and bucket shower enclosure. GPS: R2_a-06(S23 34 00.6 E31 39 40.3)

 

Alternatives 2.
Machampane Wilderness Trails Camp is a privately operated luxury tented accommodation facility about 30 km from Giriyondo border gate. The camp has a rich wildlife and birding environment and overlooks the beautiful Machampane river. All meals are included as well as guided game walks and game drives. The Camp operators, Transfrontier Trails, also offer Guided Wilderness Walking Trails and Guided Self Drive 4x4 Trails through PNL. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (+27) 021 701 7860 for more information and reservations.  GPS: R2_a-07 (S23 46 16.9 E31 46 49.5)

 

Male Purple-Banded Sunbird

Male Purple-Banded Sunbird.

 Additional Information 


The official web-site of the Parque Nacional do Limpopo has the latest information on developments, facilities and access: http://www.limpopopn.gov.mz/. You can download the park fact-sheet which is very useful and has a map and updates on the development of the park. Transfrontier Destinations runs a guided trails, hikes and canoeing trips down the gorge of the Rio dos Olifantes (Olifants River). Pel’s Fishing Owl is quite often seen on the Canoe Trail along the gorge of the Rio dos Olifantes. One can also access a comprehensive list of the birds of the Parque Nacional do Limpopo & Massingir Dam area. (visit http://www.dolimpopo.com)

 

Road Conditions in the PNL:   The main road through the park is accessible to a sedan vehicle, as is the road down to Campismo Aguia Pesqueira – but a high clearance vehicle is highly recommended. For all other routes, a 4x4 and some degree of self-sufficiency is essential. Some routes (i.e. south of the Shingwedzi Lookout) are not suitable for casual 4x4 drivers without proper off-road tyres and low-range!

 

All visitors are expected to comply with the Park Rules including: obeying the 40km/hr speed limit; not littering and being courteous to wildlife, fellow visitors and communities within the Park.

 

The distance between Giriyondo and Massingir is 70km and will take the visitor approximately 1? hours. The road has speed bumps and elephants frequently use the road so travel with care. Sufficient time must be allowed to accommodate for Gate opening times. General (PNL)

 

Fuel, ATM and Nearest Shops (basic supplies only) are located in Massingir and at Letaba (KNP). Mobile reception is possible at Albufeira Camp and Massingir gate. Guests are recommended to bring their own firewood and Drinking Water.