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The Downs forms part of the Limpopo Province Drakensberg and offers a lovely matrix of Afromontane grasslands and forests set in a dramatic environment of steep gorges and spectacular vistas.

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Birding

The forest birding is good, offering good opportunities to pick up many of the birds that make forest birding in the Limpopo Province special. These include the Orange Ground-Thrush, Chorister Robin-Chat, Green Twinspot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike and Barratt's Warbler.

The Cape Parrot frequents the forests of the area in small numbers. Keep a look out for them, particularly at dusk and dawn. Be aware that Grey-headed Parrot(that look extremely similar) also fly over the same air space, moving between various bushveld regions. However, the Grey-headed Parrot is only likely to be seen flying over in the summer months (as they breed in the bushveld to the east and northeast during winter).

Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon was recorded in 1974, although there have been no more recent records. Nevertheless, this appears to be such an under-birded area that there is a possibility that they are still around, hiding in the dank corners of the forest.

The grasslands offer a wide range of high-altitude grassland species including many cisticolas and pipits (just to put your I.D. skills to the test). Flowering proteas attract Gurney's Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird.

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General

There is a simple picnic area set in the dappled shade of the forest canopy. Forested streams and waterfalls offer pools for swimming and lazy picnicking. The Downs is also probably the southern-most extent of the range of the Transvaal forest Rain Frog (Breviceps sylvestris) whose plaintive call can be heard in the mists and drizzle of summer (but does call all year round).

From Tzaneen, head southeast towards the Strydom Tunnels and Lydenburg (R36). The turnoff to Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve is to the right (east), about 44km from Tzaneen and is well sign-posted. There is a nominal entrance fee, payable at the gate. A good, tarred road then winds you up through picturesque mountains, up onto the Drakensberg Plateau.

Dale Forbes 2002.



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