Koper Rd, Phalaborwa, Limpopo South Africa

Sefapane is for the birds

The paradise fly-catcher’s magnificent copper tail catches the morning light as it dances through the branches of a large marula tree in the grounds of Sefapane Lodge and Safaris. With its persistent, trilling call and it cobalt eye ring, it’s a marvelously attractive bird, especially in the breeding season, when several pairs nest in the gardens of the main lodge.


Sefapane is a birding paradise. Main Lodge is 9 hectares of gardens, studded with mature, indigenous trees like marula and knobthorns. “When I moved to Sefapane 21 years ago, the previous owners had already spent 4 years planning these gardens to be as attractive to guests as possible. They’re just as attractive to birds,” say owner and Managing Director, Joris Bertens, who has recorded over a hundred species of birds on the property.


Its large dams attract water birds like jacanas, green-backed herons and coots and there are occasional rare visitors like ??. The call of the African fish eagle is ubiquitous and visitors can spend hours watching the antics of the spectacled weavers. Their intense nest building is a colorful annual spectacle, as is the love dance of some favorite migrants, the woodland kingfishers, who vie for mates and attention each year in mid-November, when they return from central Africa to breed in South Africa.


An African Jacana enjoying our water lilies on one of our dams outside our Safari Houses


Bertens is a keen birder himself who has [done what] to make sure the establishment is completely birder friendly. “We support and host various annual birding events, like [insert] and the annual Pels Fishing Owl survey, which I am always excited to be part of,” he says.


Birding at Sefapane River Lodge


The latter takes place from Sefapane River Lodge, which is located on a prime spot along the Olifants River, open to the Kruger National Park. There are estimated to be x many known pairs of this incredibly rare birds that nest in the riverine trees and at dusk, swoop along the water course, catching fish. Protecting this vulnerable and dwindling habitat for these birds is a major conservation imperative and the opportunity to see them is a privilege few are afforded.


This is also where Sefapane shines in the conservation stakes – not only as a custodian, but also by actively supporting a number of important research projects, including work with the Endangered Wildlife Trust on vulnerable vulture populations and ground hornbill research. [quote from Joris].

Visitors have a good chance of seeing these and other rare birds and more in the 4000 hectare concession. They also have all the common bushveld specials, including… “One of the best sightings of my life…” says Bertens.


Catering for hardcore birders who want dedicated excursions, the lodge’s guides know their birds and also work with specialized freelance guides like [insert], who are famous in the birding world. “We also take a lot of pride in introducing people who have never birded before to the spectacular birdlife at Sefapane. Once you have experienced the dawn chorus, you won’t forget it,” says Bertens.


He is also particularly proud of Sefapane’s work with young people from around Phalaborwa, who are able to discover nature for the first time at the Sefapane Tented Camp. “These are the birders and hopefully, bird guides of the future. The great thing about birding is you can do it anywhere. And the more you discover, the more you want to know…”


To book a stay at Sefapane Main Lodge or River Lodge, check out these specials. Don’t forget to tell us if you’re a birder and let us know if you’d like specialized guiding, or just some tips and information on the diversity of birds you will see.


Follow us on social media and use the #SefapaneMagic hashtag and book to experience some #SefapaneMagic for yourself.

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