Birding at Zaagkuilsdrift and KgomoKgomo: an easy 2 hour drive from Joburg

Liz at Lancaster is a bird friendly establishment 

Liz at Lancaster is recognized by BirdLife South Africa as a birding friendly establishment and we have hosted several members of Birdlife SA and arranged tours for international birders.  I’m a very amateurish birder, tending to glaze over when it comes to warblers, pippits, larks and cisticolas ((but at least I know the names of some of those infuriating LBJs). I’ve even seen the Rudd’s and Botha’s larks 

Zaagkuilsdrift and Kgomo Kgomo

But what I lose in novicehood, I make up for in enthusiasm, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend 4 days birding with my son at Zaagkuilsdrift and Kgomo Kgomo one of South Africa’s most renowned birding spots. It’s about 50 km north of Pretoria so a very easy 2 hour drive from Jozi.  There is a wonderful variety of birds as the 25km odd stretch of Zaagkuilsdrift gravel road traverses Acacia woodland and grassy plains and then becomes the Kgomo Kgomo floodplain where Pienaars, Plat and Tshwane Rivers meet.

Kgomo Kgomo Flood Plain Birding site

Zaagkuilsdrift Lodge

We stayed at the excellent Zaagjkuilsdrift Lodge run by Marlene and Wiaan Van Rooyen who both go out of their way with good old-fashioned hospitality to make everything as easy and comfortable as possible. It was wonderful having our two meals, breakfast and supper, fully catered, so nothing to think about with 4 very special evenings under the stars: in the boma, under the lodge Acacia trees and out on the lawn in front of our chalet. 

Dinner under the stars in the Boma
Dinner under the Acacia trees
Sunset at Zaagkuilsdrift Lodge

The lodge is currently undergoing quite a bit of renovation as there was a fire some time back which razed two units to the ground. A new covered dining area is being finished off and a games room is planned for kids who might tire of twitching adults’ endless searches for warblers, crakes and LBJ’s.  For me the peace and quiet of the lodge grounds was particularly restoring. So hopefully, when up and running,  the kids’ entertainment room will not be too intrusive. There are currently 9 chalets as well as a self-catering guesthouse and camping sites nearby.  The Lodge welcomes day visitors for  drinks and meals. There are bird breeding programmes (ground hornbills) and an aviary, but we preferred to trundle through grass and wetlands! 

Apart from birds, the butterflies,  grasses and trees were beautiful  

Sadly though we did not get any butterfly photographs …. next time! 

Beautiful variety of grasses
And more grasses
Wonderful spider webs across the road but so pleased we were not in an open vehicle!
Kameeldoring Acacias
Fields of flowers

And a taste of what’s to come in the next post  

Allen’s Gallinule from the bridge on the KgomoKgomo Road ; Just love those feet!


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