Nestled on the serene banks of the Sand River, just north of Polokwane, lies a hidden gem for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike – the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary. Despite its proximity to the sewerage works, where water undergoes treatment before flowing into a sequence of ponds and eventually into the Sand River, the sanctuary exudes a unique charm that transcends any initial concerns about its surroundings.
One of the highlights of the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary is the presence of a resident pair of African fish eagles. Their majestic presence and remarkable calls make a visit to the sanctuary truly worthwhile. As you explore the sanctuary, you’ll be captivated by the diverse range of habitats it offers, including reeds, riverine woodland, sedges, and savannah woodland. These varied environments attract a plethora of bird species, creating a haven for avian enthusiasts.
While the sanctuary boasts a rich bird population, it’s worth noting that it also harbors a significant amount of non-indigenous, invasive plant life, including prickly pears. However, this coexistence doesn’t seem to hinder the birdlife, except in certain areas where the reeds are so dense that birding becomes a challenging task, especially near a couple of the bird hides.
Throughout the year, the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary plays host to a variety of waterfowl, waders, and rails, drawn to the allure of acacia thickets and reeds. During the summer months, birders are treated to sightings of magnificent species such as the grey-backed camaroptera, yellow-bellied greenbul, and various warblers.
Venturing towards the eastern side of the sanctuary, you’ll encounter shallow ponds that serve as a magnet for an even wider array of waders. Sandpipers, greenshank, ruff, little string, African snipe, and greater painted snipes grace these ponds with their presence. The area also attracts other notable bird species, including the African hoopoe, black crake, waxbills, lapwings, cisticola, mousebird, and sunbirds, painting the sanctuary with a vibrant palette of feathers.
To enhance your experience at the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary, there are conveniently located picnic and braai sites, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature while enjoying a delightful meal. The sanctuary also features walking trails, perfect for those seeking a tranquil stroll amidst the peaceful surroundings.
If you’re planning to visit the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary, follow the Dendron Road (R521) and, after crossing the Sand River, make a right turn diagonally opposite the petrol station. Please note that there is an entry fee per person and per vehicle, which contributes to the maintenance and preservation of this remarkable avian sanctuary.
Popular Activities in and near Polokwane Bird Sanctuary
Beyond the captivating Polokwane Bird Sanctuary, the surrounding area offers a multitude of activities, tourist attractions, and points of interest to further enrich your visit. Here are some highlights to explore during your time in and near the sanctuary:
Bakone Malapa Open-Air Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Bakone people at this open-air museum. Experience traditional village life, witness craft demonstrations, and gain insights into the local customs, artistry, and architecture.
Polokwane Game Reserve
Embark on an exciting safari adventure at the Polokwane Game Reserve, home to a variety of wildlife species, including giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and various bird species. Enjoy guided game drives, nature walks, and birding opportunities within the reserve’s pristine wilderness.
Meropa Casino and Entertainment World
If you’re seeking some entertainment and nightlife, head to Meropa Casino. Try your luck at the gaming tables, enjoy live performances, savor delectable cuisine at the restaurants, or simply unwind with a refreshing drink at one of the bars.
Hugh Exton Photographic Museum
Delve into the world of photography at this fascinating museum dedicated to the renowned South African photographer, Hugh Exton. Explore his extensive collection of historic photographs and gain insight into the region’s past through visual storytelling.
Polokwane Art Museum
Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Polokwane Art Museum, showcasing a diverse range of contemporary and traditional artworks. The museum hosts regular exhibitions and events, providing a platform for local and national artists to showcase their talent.
Peter Mokaba Stadium
Sports fans may want to visit the Peter Mokaba Stadium, a notable landmark in Polokwane. This modern stadium played host to several matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and continues to be a venue for various sporting events and concerts.
Polokwane City Centre
Take a stroll through the bustling streets of Polokwane’s city center, where you’ll find a vibrant blend of shops, markets, and eateries. Explore the local arts and crafts markets, sample traditional cuisine, or indulge in some retail therapy.
Polokwane Golf Club
Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the Polokwane Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course set amidst picturesque surroundings. Enjoy a challenging round of golf while appreciating the natural beauty of the area.
Moletzie Bird Sanctuary
For an additional birdwatching experience, venture to the nearby Moletzie Bird Sanctuary. This sanctuary is home to a diverse range of bird species, including waterfowl, raptors, and migrant birds, providing ample opportunities for bird enthusiasts to observe and photograph these magnificent creatures.
Wolkberg Wilderness Area
Nature lovers seeking an outdoor adventure can explore the Wolkberg Wilderness Area, situated northeast of Polokwane. This scenic mountainous region offers hiking trails, stunning viewpoints, and opportunities to encounter unique plant species, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas.
Whether you’re interested in culture, wildlife, art, sports, or simply immersing yourself in nature, the Polokwane region and its surroundings have something to offer every visitor. From bird sanctuaries to museums, game reserves to vibrant city life, your journey in this captivating region is sure to be filled with memorable experiences.
Embark on an unforgettable journey into the world of birds at the Polokwane Bird Sanctuary. Immerse yourself in its natural splendor, where the symphony of bird calls, diverse habitats, and picturesque landscapes await your exploration.