A 4:30am alarm is early, even when you are going on holiday. Our first stop on a 10-day road trip to Durban is in Karoo National Park, just outside the N1 town of Beaufort West. This was to be our second visit to the park but our first with a 4×4 and hence our newfound ability to explore the furthest half of the park which is restricted to 4×4 vehicles only.
This also gave us the option to stay in one of the two remote cottages in this section of the park, ours for the next two nights is Embizweni Cottage, the furthest from the rest camp. Whilst it is an easy 5-hour journey to the park from Cape Town, the trek to Embizweni Cottage is another 3-hours from the reception. And imagine our dismay when we realized that the restaurant only opens for breakfast and dinner but not lunch! Instead we satisfied ourselves with an ice cream from the well-stocked stop and begun the second half of our journey.
See also: Rare birds in Kruger National Park
See also: Birds of Kruger National Park checklist
Embizweni Cottage & the importance of being idle
The rest of the day was spent in quiet contemplation at Embizweni Cottage. Soaking up the view, we were even treated to a visit at our waterhole from a very wary heard of zebra.
The park’s best birding occurs in and around the campsite and around the Interpretive Centre where Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Scrub Robin, Cape Robin-chat, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomola, Pale-winged Starling, Southern Double-collared, Dusky Sunbird and Redheaded Finch can be seen. Also keep an eye out for the Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler and Pririt Batis as well as raptors such as the Verreaux’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel and Lesser Kestrel. You can find a checklist of all the parks birds on the Sanparks website.
Here is a list of everything we say on the trip:
- African Hoopoe
- Ant-eating Chat
- Cape Sparrow
- Chestnut-vented Warbler
- Common Ostrich
- European Bee-eater
- Familiar Chat
- Fiscal Flycatcher
- Ground Woodpecker
- Karoo Chat
- Karoo Koraan
- Karoo Long-billed Lark
- Karoo Scrub Robin
- Karoo Thrush
- Kori Bustard
- Mountain Wheatear
- Namaqua Sandgrouse
- Pale Chanting Goshawk
- Pale-winged Starling
- Rock Kestrel
- South African Shelduck
- Southern Double-collared Sunbird
- Southern Tchagra
- Verreaux’s Eagle
- White-backed Mousebird
- White-necked Raven
Travel Planner: Karoo National Park
Best time to visit the Karoo National Park:
There are multiple accommodation options in Karoo National Park. The largest is the main rest camp which has multiple chalets, cottages and family cottages for between 4 and 6 guests per unit. There is also the option to camp just a few hundred meters down the road from the main rest camp. There are then also the two remote cottages, Embizweni Cottage and Afsaal Cottage.
All accommodation can be booked via the SANPARKS bookings portal. For more information on accommodation options in Karoo National Park, visit the Karoo National Park SANPARKS page.
Good to Know:
- Do not underestimate the distances within the park, it take a good couple of hours to drive from the main rest camp to Embizweni Cottage.
- Fuel and supplies are available at Beaufort West a few kilometers down the road from the park gate.
- There is no Malaria in the reserve.
- Embizweni Cottage and Afsaal Cottage are not fenced so be careful outside from dusk to dawn. The main rest camp and camp site are protected by an electric fence.
- There is a swimming pool at the main rest camp