Published on 19 August 2013
Written by Etienne Marais/Indicator Birding

NAMAACHA, MAPTUTO PROVINCE:

 

The scenic small town of Namaacha is situated close to the junction of Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. With its moderate altitude of 580 m it provides cool relief from the sweltering coastal plain. The area around Namaacha is scenic and varies from deep wooded valleys just north of town to rolling grasslands towards the Swaziland/South African border. Namaacha is perhaps best known for the scenic waterfall just outside the town where birders are able to access an interesting wooded valley. Just to the north-east of the town lies M'ponduine Mountain which rises to 790m masl. This is an accessible hill which features a good patch of Afro-montane woodland on its southern slope.

 
Birds

The area offers a variety of grassland and woodland species such as Olive Bush-shrike, Golden Weaver, Broad-tailed Warbler, Flappet Lark and Jackal Buzzard. Species which are rare or uncommon in Mozambique include Lazy Cisticola, Cape White-eye, Cape Grassbird and Striped Pipit. Common species include Croaking Cisticola, Red-collared Widow, Lizard Buzzard, Southern Boubou and African Firefinch. Swee Waxbill and Mountain Wagtail have been recorded in the area.

 

Mountain wagtail

 

Mountain Wagtail.

Directions

From South Africa, the easiest way to reach Namaacha is via Swaziland. From Komatipoort take the R571 southwards towards the Mananga Border Post. Once through the border, proceed on the NR24 southwards, turning to the left after 5 km. Continue for a further 32 km and turn left on the MR3 towards the Lomahasha Border Post. Once through the border post one can continue through to Namaacha town.

From Maputo, travel out of the city on the on the main road (EN251) – cross the Maputo River and proceed to Boane. Just 2km beyond Boane turn left towards Namaacha and continue on for 38km.

As one enters the town from the east (Maputo) the road to the waterfall is clearly signposted "cascatas" (GPS: M7-01). Follow the surfaced road which passes through some nice tall woodland and rank grassy gullies, for about 3 km down to the parking area close to the waterfall (GPS: M7-02). One can drive or walk a little further downstream from the waterfall itself. Typical species here include African Firefinch, Red-backed Mannikin, Lazy Cisticola, Lizard Buzzard and Golden Weaver.

An excellent drive which offers a variety of grassland and other habitats, is reached by taking the turn to Mbuzine, just before a soccer pitch on the right of the main road, about 400 m after the waterfall road if travelling towards the border (westwards) (GPS: M7-03). This road crosses over the river above the waterfall and passes through a variety of grassland habitats. Flappet Lark is common here in association with light woodland and may be heard displaying up until May. Other species may include Orange-breasted Waxbill, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Croaking Cisticola and Coqui Francolin. After 9 km there is a fork in the road (GPS:M7-04). Taking the left fork back towards Namaacha takes one through a beautiful area of rolling hills and wooded gullies and past M'ponduine Mountain with its prominent telecommunications tower. The right fork is a dead-end road, which passes mixed woodland and scrub, as well as an undisturbed valley with rank grass and good looking vlei. Follow this road for 3 km until the end and re-trace your route.

The direct route to M'ponduine Mountain is to proceed to the Namaacha. Border Post, just before the border post on the Mozambique side is a road running along the border. Follow this road for 4 km and take an unmarked gravel road to the left which heads straight up towards the imposing bulk of M'ponduine.

 

southern boubou

 

Southern Boubou.

Further Information

The Mbuzini road referred to in the text leads to a special border post which is opened at the time of the commemoration of the death of Former Mozambique President Samora Machel, who was killed in a plane crash close to the border. The Samora Machel Monument is in South Africa and this special border post is only open during the annual commemoration in October. M'ponduine Mountain may be accessed by permission from the manager during office hours – proceed to the gate and ask the guard if permission to look at birds may be obtained. (See directions)

 

Croaking Cisticola

 

Croaking Cisticola.

Accommodation

Hotel Libombos (Sollibombos) is situated in the main road in the town centre. It is a casino hotel with restaurant and comfortable rooms. Tel +258 21 960102. (GPS: M7-10). The Electricity Utility has affordable flats for hire at a complex on the southern end of town, which is not signposted. If coming from the border post, turn right just before a shop (Complexo Chiconela ) and turn right at the end of the street. (GPS: M7-09).

 

African Firefinch

 

Male African Firefinch.

GPS Co-ordinates

M7-01: Turn to Cascates (Waterfall). GPS: S25 58 51.8 E32 01 43.4
M7-02: Waterfall Parking area. GPS: S25 57 35.5 E32 02 10.4
M7-03: Turn to Mbuzini Road. GPS: S25 58 59.8 E32 01 31.8
M7-04: Mbuzini Junction. GPS: S25 55 14.6 E31 59 39.3
M7-05: Checkpoint (road ends). GPS: S25 55 17.4 E31 57 58.1
M7-07: M'ponduine Mountain Turn. GPS: S25 57 31.8 E31 59 25.9
M7-08: M'ponduine Mountain Gate. GPS: S25 56 55.0 E31 59 05.8
M7-09: Electricity Utility accommodation. GPS: S25 59 10.0 E32 00 57.1
M7-10: Hotel Libombos (Sollibombos). GPS: S25 59 10.0 E32 00 57.1