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South Africa Holiday: Kalahari Raptor Route

A brochure, available free from the Northern Cape Tourism Authority , depicts nearly 2,000km of road routes that can be driven in the Northern Cape�s Kalahari to view raptors.

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1. Twee Rivieren to Nossob

Gravel road - 180km
This road in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park follows the ephemeral (occasionally flowing) Nossob River. It is generally suitable for saloon cars except after heavy summer rainfall.
The raptors are mainly observed in the river's magnificent camelthorn Acacia eriolaba trees, in which they roost and breed. During summer, with the arrival of migratory raptors and the emergence of highly nutritious termite alates, it is not uncommon to see a raptor in almost every tree along some sections of the riverbed. You will be astounded by the number of Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lanner Falcon, Black-shouldered Kite, Tawny Eagle and Bateleur. Four species of vulture and several species of owl are  present in the Park.
Waterholes are generally good places to observe large raptors, particularly Bateleurs and Secretary Birds.

2. Vanzylsrus to Andriesvale

Gravel road - 160km
This route runs parallel with the Botswana border and the ephemeral Molopo River. It is only suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles.
Raptors are common and Bateleur, Martial Eagle, African White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures are often seen.

3. Vanzylsrus to Askham

Gravel road - 180km
This route follows the Kuruman River and may be suitable for saloon cars except after heavy summer rainfall.
The Camelthorn Trees provide habitat for many species, making it one of the prime raptor-watching routes in the Kalahari.
Near Askham there are 100 pairs of breeding African White-backed Vultures, the largest colony in the Northern Cape.

4. Upington to Andriesvale

Mainly gravel road - 220km
Not the most direct route from Upington to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, but highly recommended for raptor watching.
Leaving the tarred road 36km north of Upington, the gravel road first follows the dry Molopo River and then the Namibian border.

5. Upington to Andriesvale

Tarred road - 180km
This route crosses the southern Kalahari in an area characterised by parallel sand dunes, ephemeral salt pans and an interesting diversity of plants and animals.

6. Upington to Augrabies Falls

Mainly tarred road - 110km
This route passes through the heart of the Orange River grape-growing area, making much of it unsuitable for raptors.
The gravel road in Augrabies Falls National Park (suitable for saloon cars) is one of the best places in the Northern Cape to see Verreaux's (Black) Eagle, Booted Eagle and Peregrine Falcon.

7. Upington to Olifantshoek

Tarred road - 170km
This road crosses typical southern Kalahari dune veld. Southern Pale Chanting Goshawks, Jackal Buzzard and Common Buzzards are often perched on telegraph poles, while pairs of Secretary Birds walk in the veld in search of their reptilian prey.

8. Rooiberg circular route

Tarred and gravel road - 140km
This is a circular route around Rooiberg (Asbestos Mountain) passing through Griekwastad, Niekerkshoop and Volop.
It provides and excellent opportunity to see Verreaux's (Black) Eagle and many of the smaller raptor species, such as Common and Greater Kestrel.

9. Volop to Olifantshoek

Gravel road - 140km
This gravel road, with a relatively easy crossing through the Koedoesnek Pass in the Langberg Mountain, can be very slipper following heavy summer rainfall.
There are many Sociable Weaver nests, so look out for Pygmy Falcon.
The route passes by Witsand Nature Reserve which provides excellent accommodation (self-catering chalets).

10. Olifantshoek to Kathu

Mainly gravel road - 150km
This route, via Dedeben, is one of the most picturesque roads in the Kalahari, with spectacular views of the Langberg and Korannaberg Mountains and the surrounding Kalahari thornveld savannah.
Gabar Goshawk and Shikra are regularly encountered, especially during early morning when they are most active. Martial Eagle and Brown Snake Eagle are relatively common and Secretary Birds are often observed foraging in the veld.

11. Vanzylsrus to Hotazel

Gravel road - 100km
Along this route, which goes via Sonstraal, you are likely to see Black-breasted Snake Eagle, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, African White-backed Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture.

12. Hotazel to Vanzylsrus

Gravel and tarred road - 130km
This highly recommended route follows the Kuruman River via Frylinckspan. It is one of the most likely places in the Kalahari to find the African Hawk Eagle, and Tawny Eagles and Martial eagles are relatively common.

Text by Mark Anderson & Abrie Maritz, extracted from the Kalahari Raptor Route brochure available free from the  Northern Cape Tourism Authority.
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