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Witsieshoek is situated in the corner formed by the boundaries of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho and is characterized by magnificent mountain scenery, of which the Sentinel Buttress on the western side of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre is the most prominent.

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Specials

Bearded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Verreauxs' Eagle, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Bush Blackcap and Southern Bald Ibis.

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Habitat

The habitat is mostly montane grassland with scattered clumps of ouhout (Leucosidea) trees and proteas on suitable slopes. A small patch of indigenous montane forest can be found on the eastern side of the Fika Patso Dam.

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Birding

The area boasts a list of 141 species, including a number of specials such as Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Bush Blackcap and Southern Bald Ibis. This is also one of the few areas where a sighting of the elusive Bearded Vulture is virtually assured, especially in the vicinity of the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge. The Vulture Restaurant at Witsieshoek has been re-opened, and most days there are now sightings of Bearded and Cape Vultures. Other raptors such as Cape Vulture, Verreauxs' Eagle and Lanner Falcon are also regularly observed here.

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General

Accommodation is available at the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge (Tel.+27 58 713 6361/2), who arrange vulture feeding on request, with prior notification. A number of hiking trails of varying lengths are also found in the area.

The area can be reached via the R720 from Kestell, through Phuthaditjhaba, and the route is clearly signposted. Most of the route is tarred, but the last 10-15 km to the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge and Sentinel Car Park is gravel, with quite a few sharp corners to be negotiated. A number of lookout points are however strategically placed along this section, where it is possible to stop your vehicle, get out, and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Guy Gibbon 2002
Andre Botha 1998



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