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Giants Castle Game Reserve lies against the impressive drakensberg Massif and stretches from the foothills to the very top of the 'Berg. It has a most attractive rest camp from which walks and trails radiate in all directions. Two or three days in the reserve will net the visitor most of the available birds species - probably 100 or more - but some will take more effort to see than the casual visitor may be prepared to make. The scenery is breathtaking and worth the visit for its own sake. The birding is tremendously rewarding, even on the most casual morning or afternoon stroll. The weather is treacherous, especially in summer, so take rainwear and warm clothing at all times.

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Specials

Lower down the mountain and in the rest camp area you are likely to see Bearded Vulture, Verreauxs' Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and Cape Vulture soaring overhead in fine weather. Smaller birds include Ground Woodpecker, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Broad-tailed Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Drakensberg Prinia and Fairy Flycatcher. Higher up the mountainside there are likely to be Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane and Yellow-breasted Pipit, while right near the top (for the energetic hiker) there will be Sickle-winged Chat, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Layard's Tit-Babbler and Drakensberg Siskin.

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Habitats

These include clear mountain streams with bush-lined banks, wetlands in the valleys, steep grassy slopes, sandstone cliffs (lower down), towering basalt precipices and buttresses (higher up) and some beautiful protea savanna and Afro-alpine heathland.

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Facilities

These include a beautifully appointed rest camp, a small shop, scenic campsite with ablutions, trails, hikes, horse riding, a vulture viewing hide (the so-called "Lammergeyer Hide") and good access roads.

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Birding

Any walk or ride in this beautiful reserve will produce some good birding.

1. From the rest camp a gentle walk to the Bushman Caves should produce Ground Woodpecker, Gurney's Sugarbird, Malachite Sunbird, Lazy Cisticola and Yellow Bishop. The cliffs above the caves are good for Southern Bald Ibis, Lanner Falcon and Alpine Swift whilst the forest edges should produce Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Forest Canary and Greater Double-collared Sunbird.

2. A more strenuous climb to the top of the sandstone should enable one to see Yellow-breasted Pipit and Long-billed Pipit in the flatter grassland, as well as Sentinel Rock-Thrush in the burnt areas during the winter months.

3. A ride or hike to the basalt crown of the 'Berg will get the birder into the right sort of habitat for Drakensberg Rock-jumper and Layard's Tit-Babbler. Right on top of the escarpment is the home of the Sickle-winged Chat and the Sentinel Rock-Thrush.

4. The vulture hide is an extremely worthwhile way to spend a morning or full day, as one is usually rewarded with close-up sightings of Bearded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Jackal Buzzard, Lanner Falcon, Cape Crow, White-necked Raven, Malachite Sunbird, Buff-streaked Chat, Familiar Chat, Red-winged Starling, and Cape Rock-Thrush. However, the hide is heavily booked and one needs to book well in advance.

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GENERAL

Directions
Giants Castle Game Reserve is reached by good gravel roads from Mooi River (about 60 kilometres) or from Estcourt (about 70 kilometres), both towns on the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban.

The Lammergeyer Hide 'feeding season' is May to September, and bookings open in the previous November.

Contact Details
Tel +27 36 353 3718
Fax +27 36 353 3775
Website: KZN Wildlife Website

Day visitor Entry fee:
A nominal entrance fee is charged.

Gate Opening and Closing Times:
Summer ( October to March ) 05h00 to 19h00
Winter (April to September ) 06h00 to 18h00

Reception Hours:
The office and shop are open from 08h00 to 18h00 from Monday to Saturday and from 08h00 to 16h00 on Sunday

Distance and Time from Gate to Camp:
7km and 20 minutes

Guy Gibbon 2002.
Gordon Maclean 1997.



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