Spectacular birders’ paradise

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The Karkloof Conservancy’s Jacquie van der Westhuizen explains what makes Karkloof conservancy a little paradise for birders.

Karkloof Conservancy has two beautiful hides, both with different attractions. Our Crowned Crane Hide attracts more waders whereas our Wattled Crane Hide is where the three crane species are mostly found and roost at night.

A wide variety of birds can be found at the hides, including crakes, flufftails, ducks, geese, five different kingfishers species, African snipe, wattled, grey crowned and blue crane and fish eagle.

From April to September the cranes roost at the Wattled Crane Hide and are an amazing spectacle to witness in the evenings when they fly in.

Up to 34 wattled cranes and over 50 grey crowned cranes come in to roost every night, with the blues cranes gracing us with their presence too.

This is one of the few places in South Africa where all three crane species can be seen together.

We recommend you visit our Conservation Centre, take a slow walk down to the hides and spend time in them.

The birding is amazing and a must for birders.

Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy at the conservation centre’s picnic area

But the hides are not only about birds.

Common reedbuck, duiker and jackal are seen at the hides too.

The hides are open to the public from 5am to 6pm, seven days a week.

Bookings are not necessary for visits during the day, but are required for the evenings, when the cranes come in to roost and the hides are very popular. Numbers are limited to meet Covid-19 restrictions too.

To book for the evenings, email conservancy@karkloof.co.za or call 076 1476 686.

A small fee is charged to visit the hides.


The wattled crane (Grus carunculata) is thought to be among the most habitat sensitive of all the crane species. By the late 1980’s the Wattled Crane was in critical danger of extinction, with only 80 breeding pairs remaining in the wild. Since then conservation efforts have lifted the bird’s numbers to around 300. Picture: Jacquie van der Westhuizen