Soutpansberg & Limpopo, home to 60% of South Africa’s bird species

Soutpansberg Birding trips

There are rare birds in Limpopo, high on birders’ covet and bucket lists – this is only region in South Africa where you can, if you are lucky and persistent, see the Mottled Spinetail.

Birdlife SA guide

Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge offers guided birding trips to Birding hot spots of choice with Samson Mulaudzi, a qualified BirdLife South Africa guide. These hotspots are all in relative close proximity to Madi a Thavha: Hanglip,Thathe vondo Forest, Roodewal, Entabeni, Muirhead Dams and Reserve, Luvuvhu River, Albasini Dam whilst places like Golwe, Sagole Baobab Tree, Crook,’s Corner and Pafuri Picnic site can easily be managed in scenic day-trips from our lodge.

Bird watchers going with Samson, leave early in the morning and return to the lodge in the afternoon to relax at the swimming pool or to continue bird watching around the farm house or in the surrounding mountains. Samson is always on the look-out for varied species such as White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot and Osprey. Various kingfishers can be seen in his area of operation, as well as Buff-spotted Flufftail. Rarities such as the Rock Pratnicole have turned in on occasion too.

Hanglip Forest, an easily-accessible Afro-temperate mist-belt forest, has a resident Narina Trogon, Lemon Dove, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, White-starred Robin, Knysna Turaco and Yellow-streaked Greenbul. Roodewal Nature Reserve is renowned for its fairly reliable sightings of the elusive African Broadbill, Samson has stake-outs for this enigmatic bird, as wel l as for the gorgeous Bush-Shrike, the Eastern Nicator and Green Twinspot in this forest. Entabeni Forest’s special birds include a resident Bat Hawk. Other birds to be found around here are Orange Ground Thrush, Brown Scrub Robin and Green Twinspot.

Expert’s Soutpansberg big five

Local bird expert and co-writer of the book Greater Limpopo birding, Dr Sarah Venter gave us her pick of the Soutpansberg’s ‘big five’ and if you’re patient, persistent and fortunate you might just tick them all during one visit to our region. Here they are: The Blue-spotted Dove and African Broadbill, not readily found elsewhere in South Africa but can be seen in the subtropical Levubu valley 50 km from our lodge. During specific times and seasons the Mottled Spinetail can be found only at Sagole’s Big Tree (Baobab) and nowhere else in the country. Our region is also a hot spot for the African Crowned Eagle with many of these magnificent birds nesting in the Soutpansberg. The Crested Guinea fowl is a regular sight in our indigenous forests and at Madi a Thavha.

Northern Kruger Park also part of us

Apart from regularly hearing and seeing purple crested Loeries in Madi a Thavha’s garden whilst having breakfast on the veranda, birders can look forward to abundant birdlife with the Soutpansberg region being home to 60% of South Africa’s bird species. The National Kruger Park’s two most northern gates are in Limpopo and their Big six: Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle, Lappet faced Vulture, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Saddle-billed Stork and Southern Ground Hornbill, are also part of our repertoire of possibilities.

Birding hotspots

  • Tshivhazwa Dam: The dam is situated just 7 kilometers from the R524 road turn off to Vuwani on the road from Louis Trichardt to Punda Maria. This is the best place to see African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule and White-Backed Duck
  • Hanglip Forest: An easily accessible Afro-temperate Mist-belt forest with a picnic site and short trails. This is the best place to find White-starred Robin and Yellow streaked Greenbul.
  • Roodewal Nature Reserve Forest: This is the best and most reliable site in the Soutpansberg for African Broadbill.


Rates birding trips

Self drive – birding guide – picnic. From 3 persons then per person. Valid until 31/10/2020 R 550
Self drive – birding guide – picnic. For 2 persons, per person. Valid until 31/10/2020 R 825
  • All tour programmes and activities can be adapted to personal needs and interests.
  • Bookings can be made through | +27 (0) 83 342 4162 | +27 (0) 15 516 0220 |

The birds around Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge

The numbers are according to the 6th edition of Roberts Birds of Southern africa.

Drawn from a list supplied by Samson Mulaudzi and supplemented by records from Dave Brown.

131  Verreaux’s Eagle 600   Red–capped Robin – Chat
141  African crowned Eagle 602   White–throated Robin – Chat
152  Jackal Buzzard 613   White–browed Scrub – Robin
157  Little Sparrowhawk 643   Willow Warbler
160  African Goshawk 645   Bar–throated Apalis
189  Crested Francolin 648   Yellow-breasted Apalis
196  Natal Spurfowl 651   Long–Billed crombec
203  Helmeted Guineafow 657   Green–backed Camaroptera
204  Crested Guineafowl 674   Red – faced cisticola
350  African olive–pigeon 679   Lazy Cisticola
352  Red – eyed Dove 683   Tawny–flanked prinia
358  Emerald–spotted Wood –Dove 689   Spotted Flycatcher
359  Tambourine Dove 693   Grey Tit–Flycatcher
371  Purple–crested Turaco 700   Cape Batis
374  Common Cuckoo 701   Chinspot Batis
377  Red–chested Cuckoo 710   African Paradise–Flycatcher
385  Klaas Cuckoo 712   Mountain Wagtail
394  African Wood–Owl 720   Striped Pipit
404  European Nightjar 733   Red–backed Shrike
405  Fiery–necked Nightjar 736   Southern Boubou
415  White–rumped Swift 740   Black–backed puffback
424  Speckled Mousebird 747   Gorgeous Bush–Shrike
427  Narina Trogon 750   Olive Bush–Shrike
432  African Pygmy–Kingfisher 751   Grey–headed Bush-Shrike
435  Brown–hooded Kingfisher 769   Red–winged Starling
438  European Bee–eater 785   Greater Double–collared Sunbird
444  Little Bee–eater 791   Scarlet–chested Sunbird
449  Purple Roller 792   Amethyst Sunbird
464  Black–collared Barbet 793   Collared Sunbird
470  Yellow–fronted Tinkerbird 796   Cape White–eye
475  Scaly–throated Honeyguide 810   Spectacled Weaver
476  Lesser Honeyguide 814   Southern Masked–Weaver
486  Cardinal Woodpecker 821   Red–billed Quelea
487  Bearded Woodpecker 826   Yellow–crowned Bishop
488  Olive Woodpecker 827   Yellow Bishop
518  Barn swallow 831   Red–collared Widowbird
527  Lesser Striped Swallow 835   Green Twinspot
543  Eurasian Golden Oriole 840   African Firefinch
543  Eurasian Golden Oriole 841   Jamesons Firefinch
568  Dark–capped Bulbul 846   Common Waxbill
569  Terrestrial Brownbul 857   Bronze Mannikin
572  Sombre Greenbul 860   Pin–tailed whydah
574  Yellow–bellied Greenbul 864   Dusky Indigobird
575  Eastern Nicator 869   Yellow fronted Canary
576  Kurrichane Thrush 881   Streaky–heade Seedeater
689  Familiar Chat 884   Golden–breasted bunting
599  White–browned Robin–Chat