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Ezemvelo is private nature reserve offering excellent grassland habitat, as well as riverine bush and small areas of acaciaveld. The roads are quite adequate for two-wheel drive vehicles, except after heavy rain when caution is necessary. A variety of game species occur, and visitors are free to explore the reserve by foot, bicycle or motor car.

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Specials

Orange River Francolin, White-bellied Korhaan, Eastern Clapper Lark, Melodious Lark, Cloud Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Lazy Cisticola, Buffy Pipit, Plain-backed Pipit, Striped Pipit, Red-breasted Swallow, Banded Martin, White-fronted Bee-eater and Greater Honeyguide.

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Habitats

Open grassland, riverine bush, rocky slopes, acacia woodland.

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Facilities

Network of gravel roads, hiking trails, chalet accommodation, camping, game and night drives.

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Birding

1. Grassland. Most of the reserve consists of rolling grassland, about 1350m above sea level. It contains good habitat for ground dwelling species. Red-winged Francolin and Orange River Francolin are often heard, although not frequently seen. Northern Black Korhaan is common, and White-bellied Korhaan occurs in small numbers. Several lark species can be expected, with Rufous-naped Lark, Spike-heeled Lark and Eastern Clapper Lark common, but Red-capped Lark and Melodious Lark are also found. Cisticola are well represented, with Zitting Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola and Levaillant's Cisticola being common. African Pipit is very common, but both Buffy Pipit and Plain-backed Pipit occur, and Long-billed Pipit can be expected where the grassland makes way for rocky ridges. Swallows are very common in summer, especially Barn Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow and Red-breasted Swallow and Rock Martin, Banded Martin and Brown-throated Martin. A wide variety of widows and bishops can also be expected. Although raptors are not common, something unexpected is often seen, including Pallid Harrier. White-fronted Bee-eater are resident along the southern border, and Mountain Wheatear can be expected in the rocky areas at the entrance.

2. Grootspruit Kloof. The Grootspruit flows towards the Wilge River in a deep rocky valley, which is accessible via a well-marked trail. Lazy Cisticola is very reliable on the grassy hillsides. Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Bunting and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting should also be looked for. A walk along the bottom of the kloof should present a substantial number of woodland birds, including African Paradise-Flycatcher, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Black Cuckooshrike, Southern Boubou, Cape Robin-Chat and Yellow-fronted Canary. In early summer views of Red-chested Cuckoo is almost guaranteed. The cliffs are quite reliable sites for Mocking Cliff-Chat and Striped Pipit.

3. Woodland areas. Quite extensive mixed woodland occurs on the hillsides surrounding the main accommodation areas. A varied selection of birds can be found here, including Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Bar-throated Apalis, Lesser Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide and Cardinal Woodpecker. Spotted Eagle-Owl has been flushed during walks. The picnic site is always frequented by a number of Familiar Chat.

4. Wilge River From the main camp a track leads to the Wilge River. Visitors are only permitted to cross the bridge on foot. The bridge provides good opportunities for observing Giant Kingfisher. Patient birders may also find African Finfoot, which is resident along the river.

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General

Ezemvelo has been extended to the east of the Wilge River in recent years. There are three hiking trails of 4 km, 14 km and 23 km in length, as well as picnic spots, chalets, and caravan and camping sites. A map may be obtained at the entrance or main camp office.

The main camp has fully equipped chalets and a couple of lapa's for bigger groups. There is a shady camping area with ample ablution facilities, as well as power points. The camp also has a shop with basic provisions, swimming pool and a picnic area for day visitors (gate opens at 07:00).

For hikers there are three hiking trails of 4 km, 14 km and 23 km in length, hiker's huts and a number of rustic, wooden cottages overlooking the Grootspruit valley.

Ezemvelo offers regular game drives, and night drives are also a possibility.

A nominal entrance fee is charged.

Contact details for reservations and special interest weekends: (Tel) +27 13 680 1399932-2211 (Fax) +27 13 680 1397 (Cel) +27 83 440 5886. Ezemvelo Website

Ezemvelo is about 75 km from Pretoria. Take the N4 eastwards to just beyond Bronkhorstspruit. Turn left on the R25 towards Bronkhorstspruit and Groblersdal. Follow the R25 for about 4 km and turn right towards Vlakfontein. Follow the Ezemvelo signs, until the reserve is reached some 20 km further.

Stephan Terblanche 2001/2007.
Niel Menzies 1998.



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