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Click on one of the following reserves below for more information!


 Less than an hour's drive from Rosetta lies Giant's Castle Game Reserve, probably one of the best mountain birding spots in South Africa. It also has some of the most impressive mountain scenery anywhere in the world with its backdrop of the Drakensberg escarpment rising to over 3000 meters. The reserve can be approached either through Mooi River or along the Kamberg road through the village of Rosetta itself. Both routes are tarred all the way, but the latter route is rather badly potholed at present.

It has a most attractive rest camp as well as a camping site. Visitors may walk anywhere in the reserve, mostly along easily graded paths and trails which take one through every habitat: grassland, riverine bush, evergreen forest, protea savanna and high basalt cliffs. There is also the famous "Lammergeier Hide" where visitors may sit in comfort and watch (as well as photograph) some impressive raptors and carrion eaters which come to carrion set out for them: Bearded Vulture, Black Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Lanner Falcon, Whitenecked Raven to name the main callers to the feast.

The bush provides much good birding, notably of such special species as Bokmakierie, Greater Doublecollared Sunbird, Fairy Flycatcher (mainly in winter), Gurney's Sugarbird and Goldenbreasted Bunting. Along the Bushmans River one may well encounter the African Yellow Warbler, Broadtailed Warbler and Yellowrumped Widow. Higher up the mountain slopes the grasslands are inhabited by Yellowbreasted Pipit, Blue Crane and Greywing Francolin. The Afroalpine region at the very top of the Drakensberg escarpment is the home of Sicklewinged Chats, Orangebreasted Rockjumpers, Layard's Titbabblers and Drakensberg Siskins. Plan at least a day 's horseriding or a two-day hike to get to the top.


Although not as good for birding as Giant's Castle, Highmoor is a wilderness area with beautiful walks through breathtaking scenery and is famous for its wildflowers. It has no accommodation, so visitors should plan to visit for a day or to camp if staying longer. Highmoor is reached via the Kamberg road from Rosetta village, which is tarred as far as Glengarry, after which a good gravel road takes one to the entrance to the reserve. The drive into the reserve is spectacular and provides some good birding on the bushy slopes: Malachite Sunbird, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Robin, Bush Blackcap and Spotted Prinia are some of the species to be seen.

From the nature reserve office a walk takes one past three large dams in the open grassland, where one may see a variety of waterfowl, as well as Ethiopian Snipe, Blacksmith Plover and some species of heron. It is not unusual to see Wattled Cranes there too. The scenic photographic possibilities are among the best along the Drakensberg.


Somewhat south of Highmoor is the Kamberg Nature Reserve. It can also be reached from Rosetta along the Kamberg road, but an alternative route is via the village of Nottingham Road along the road to Loteni. The birdlife of Kamberg Nature Reserve is similar to that of the other two Drakensberg reserves, but the visitor can see some waterside birds at closer range around the trout ponds: bishops, widows, warblers, cisticolas and suchlike. The walks are interesting and afford access to grassland, protea savanna and the higher parts of the escarpment, where one may see birds similar to those in Giant's Castle and Highmoor. Kamberg Nature Reserve is perhaps best known for its troutfishing, however, so if you are a keen fisher take your rods and flies as well as your binoculars.


Very different in character from the Drakensberg reserves is Weenen Nature Reserve overlooking the valley and town of Weenen. It consists of Acacia savanna, some very nice Valley Bushveld and some open grassland. It is about an hour's drive from Rosetta via Mooi River and Estcourt on a good tarred road. Roads in the reserve are gravel, but in excellent condition. The birding in Weenen Nature Reserve is outstanding, especially in summer when the cuckoos are present and the birdsong resounds everywhere in the bush. As in any bushveld habitat, the main groups of birds include raptors (25 species) cuckoos (eight species), shrikes and bushshrikes (13 species), flycatchers (nine species), barbets (four species), weavers (five species), kingfishers (six species), swallows (nine species) and waxbills (ten species). Other specials include the Blackbellied Korhaan and Scimitarbilled Woodhoopoe.

 A comfortable hide overlooking a waterhole provides good views of game and waterbirds, as well as nesting weavers and Hadeda Ibises in the adjacent trees. Picnic sites are available at various spots throughout the reserve, at each of which the birdlife is worth stopping for.

The only possible hazards are Cape Buffaloes and Black Rhinos, bu these are seldom seen. Other game, however, is plentiful and can be encountered frequently on the drives through the reserve. The birding potential of this reserve is underestimated by most people and deserves at least a full day's visit.



The Rosetta area is essentially rural. The birdlife can be placed roughly into three habitat types: (a) Field and Farmland, (b) Water and (c), Garden and Bush. The most characteristic garden birds are the *Fiscal Shrike, *Greyheaded Sparrow, *Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, *Cape Robin, *Blackeyed Bulbul, *Glossy Starling and *Bokmakierie; all of these species may also occur in the surrounding bush. More typical of farmland and open fields are the Blackheaded Heron, *Helmeted Guineafowl, *Crowned Crane and Longtailed Widow, as well as a number of small brown warblers which present some challenges in identification. Of the waterbirds to be found on and around the Mooi River and the many farm dams the most conspicuous are the African Black Duck, *Yellowbilled Duck, *Egyptian Goose, *Giant Kingfisher, *Malachite Kingfisher and Cape Wagtail. In the associated wetlands and flooded reedbeds the *Red Bishop, *Spottedbacked Weaver and *Cape Weaver can be seen especially in summer when they are in their bright red and yellow breeding plumages.

Apart from birds typical of certain habitats, several raptors (birds of prey) occur in the area, which are less habitat specific and can often be seen soaring or perched in the open. These include Longcrested Eagle, *Jackal Buzzard, Gymnogene, African Fish Eagle, *Blackshouldered Kite and, in summer, *Yellowbilled Kite.