The Outpost Lodge lies in the Makuleke Contractual Park, a vast and remote wilderness of approximately 26 500 hectares in the very north of the Kruger National Park. The region is well known for its abundant, year-round birdlife, with over 350 recorded bird species in the area and an impressive list of specials, The Outpost is truly a birdwatching paradise.
The region has been identified as the Kruger National Park’s best birding destination. It is the southern limit of many central African bird species that are rarely seen further south, as well as home to most South African birds. The Outpost is one of only three concessionaires within the Makuleke Contractual Park in northern Kruger. This remote concession is the largest and most biodiverse in the Kruger National Park. As much as 80% of Kruger’s total biodiversity occurs here in an area only slightly more than 2% of its total size. Within the area lie two rivers which are hugged by some of the largest fever tree forests in the world and sandstone gorges, such as Lanner Gorge, dotted with thousand-year-old baobab trees and wide open flood plains. These habitats welcome a spectacular diversity of beautiful birds
BIRDING IN THE AREA
The Luvuvhu and Mutale rivers, surrounded by diverse riverine forests, are incredibly special spots for birding, with most of the area’s specials being found along these rivers along with a host of more commonly sighted birds. Common sightings include Black-eyed, Yellow-bellied and Terrestrial Bulbuls; Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills; a variety of Robins and many small insectivorous birds such as Bleating Warblers, Apalises and Eremomelas.
The Makuleke Contractual Park is dotted with massive baobabs, which host entire eco-systems on their own and support the nesting of Red-winged Starlings and Red-billed Buffalo Weavers. You will also spot Kingfishers, Rollers, Hornbills and Mottled Spinetails frequenting these baobabs as they provide nesting holes and food in the form of insects.
The geology of the far north is mainly sandveld, with sandy, well-drained soils and dramatic sandstone koppies. This area is the southernmost range for a number of tropical birds including Böhm's Spinetail, which nests in the baobabs, along with other rarities such as the Crested Guineafowl, Purple Roller and Dickinson's Kestrel.
The area is also incredibly well known for its raptorphiles. There are 13 species of eagles, 12 owl species and many other smaller raptors. You might spot Wood Owls and Spotted Eagle Owls, as well as African Hawk Eagles, Black Eagles and Crowned Eagles. The area is also know to be home to the Pel’s Fishing Owl, which is extremely elusive and difficult to spot but can often be heard in the trees.
The evergreen forests in the park are home to birds such as the Cinnamon Dove, Knysna Loerie, Pink-throated Twinspot and Blue-spotted Dove. You may also find the Crimson-breasted Boubou, Kalahari Robin, Kori Bustard and Grey-backed Finch Lark in the dry woodland areas. The established Mopane forests in the area offer two of Kruger's most sought after rarities - Arnot's Chat and the Racquet-tailed Roller.
The Makuleke Contractual Park is known for its 'specials', and due to the fact that the region is largely unexplored, new birds (for the area) are constantly being discovered.
Less common but seen occasionally:
Pel's Fishing Owl
White-backed Night Heron
THE UNLIKELY BIRDMAN
If you're a bird enthusiast, then we highly recommend you add The Outpost Lodge to your bucket list. We offer guided birding and walking safaris, tailor-made for you, and we are lucky to have one of the best birding specialists in South Africa in our midst, Samuel Japane. His knowledge and passion for birding is truly second to none. We chatted to him about his love for birding, what makes The Outpost so special and his recently released book, ‘The Unlikely Birdman’. Head this way to read our Q&A and for more of an insight into birding at The Outpost.
If you are not interested in birds before your visit, you probably will be before you leave. Join us and tally up a host of 'best ever' sightings! Get in touch to book your stay.