The eastern tip of the Soutpansberg Mountains ends near Punda Maria in the Kruger National Park. Habitats in this northern section of Kruger are surprisingly diverse. The low-lying hills around Punda Maria are home to Crowned Hornbill, Mosque Swallow and Eastern Nicator. Tall Mopane and broad-leafed woodland expanding from the base of these hills holds specials like White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Arnot's Chat and Racket-tailed Roller. In damp, low-lying areas Senegal Coucal, Black Coucal and Little Bittern can be seen.
One of the most exciting areas for birding is in the north, along the Luvuvhu River. Specials such as Pel's Fishing Owl, White-crowned Lapwing, Bohm's and Mottled Spinetail, Black-throated Wattle-eye and Lemon-breasted Canary are to be found here. This is also the best area to find Dickinson's Kestrel. Scarce species which have also been seen here include Sooty Falcon and River Warbler.
The Kruger Park can be visited independently or you can join one of the guided birding trips in the park. These guided trips provide an opportunity to see more and learn more than you would by travelling on your own. If you do explore Kruger on your own, it is best to spend two or more nights in one of the camps and drive along the secondary roads and loops. Recommended drives are the Mahonie Loop (S99), S60 and S61, S58 and S52 near Shingwedzi. An early morning visit to the Luvuvhu River Bridge, Pafuri Picnic Site and Crooks Corner is a must! Detailed maps and information can be found at the park gates and on the SANParks website.
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One of the best-known birding spots in this area is this lovely picnic site on the Luvuvhu River in the far north of the Kruger Park. Certain special birds which are normally only found further north and east can be seen in this area, because of its proximity to the Mozambique coast, and the Limpopo River which acts as a migration corridor. It is recommended that you cover the whole area along the S64 and S63 roads. The bridge over the Luvuvhu River is particularly rewarding and Crooks Corner is well worth a visit. Bird specials are African Cuckoo Hawk, Pel´s Fishing-Owl, Bohm´s Spinetail, Trumpeter Hornbill, White-crowned Lapwing, Tropical Boubou and Black-throated Wattle-eye.