Plett for bird lovers
Plettenberg Bay, situated along the Garden Route region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa, is internationally renowned as a tourist destination – and understandably so. Plett offers visitors the delights of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s 9 000 fynbos species, spectacular forest, mountain and seascapes, whale and dolphin watching, cultural history and cultural diversity.
One of the region’s greatest assets is the diversity of bird species found here. It hosts a range of often sought-after endemic bird species. In fact, 50% of the endemic bird species found in South Africa, can be seen in Plettenberg Bay.
Many exciting birding opportunities exist: Forest birding at Nature’s Valley, the Kelp Gull breeding colony at Keurbooms Beach, the migratory waders on the Bitou River floodplain, and the seabirds along the Keurbooms estuary; all present excellent birding opportunities. The region further boasts a well-established tourism infrastructure that offers a broad spectrum of accommodation alternatives to suit every budget. The area is well equipped to cope with the demands set by local and international birders and offers qualified and experienced bird guides and birding checklists for the intrepid and experienced twitcher.
Many visitors to the Plettenberg Bay area are attracted by the diversity of bird species in the region. This diversity has two basic characteristics: On the one hand, a variety of endemic species are to be found and, on the other, many species not usually associated with the Western Cape are fairly common in the Plettenberg Bay region.
Endemism refers to species that are restricted to a certain region and that can be found nowhere else in the world. Southern Africa is fortunate to have a high level of endemism in all forms of life and South Africa, as a country, is considered by some to be the third most biologically diverse country in the world.
A whopping 57 of the Southern Africa’s endemic bird species and 32 of the near-endemic species are found in relatively close proximity to Plettenberg Bay. With these 89 species, this region alone boasts more endemic birds than most countries have to offer. A further advantage is that most of these species are fairly easily accessible and bird guides, eager to part with appropriate local knowledge, are readily available (see Guiding & Hot Spots).
Visit an off the grid Biomimicry Camp is nestled in the heart of the Bitou Valley in the Cape Floristic Kingdom. At this family getaway, all you are required to do is relax and immerse yourself in the natural environment. This experience is enhanced by your accommodation which is sheltered under a canopy of indigenous forest next to the Bitou River. Our luxury tents come with comfy beds and fresh white linen, our food is sourced locally and prepared in our bush kitchen, served alongside the meandering Bitou River. If sleeping to the sound of a gently flowing river and waking to the cry of Fish Eagles is for you – then look no further.
Birdlife Plett is a not-for-profit organization for all ages and for both residents and visitors, with exciting talks, outings, and projects.
The Bitouvlei Birding Route is situated on the R340 in the pristine Wittedrift valley, only a 10-minute drive from Plettenberg Bay. The birding route consists of four distinct biospheres forming habitats for a large number of seasonal and local birds. These include an open salt estuary, a kloof with natural Knysna forest, the Bitou river, and surrounding riverine forests, and two large natural water pans.
Whether you are new to the wonderful world of birding or interested in gaining more confidence in your birding knowledge, join me, Ian Pletzer, certified nature and adventure guide for a relaxed, fun morning birding in and around the picturesque town of Plettenberg Bay. Find out where the birding hotspots are and what to look for. Open your eyes and ears to a whole new world of ornithology.
The Wittedrift Birding Festival is a 3-day event, generally in October each year in the Wittedrift valley. Many destinations are self-guided or with a local guide, where you can see the bold, beautiful and rare birds of the area – Knysna turaco, Knysna warbler, Narina trogon, Karoo Prinia, Cape longclaw, whimbrel, Knysna woodpecker are some. Wittedrift is home to more than 193 species of migrant and resident birds in wetland, fynbos, grassland and forest areas.