Mount Sheba Nature Reserve – A Bird Watcher’s Paradise
If you are a bird lover who is planning to travel through the Pilgrim’s Rest area of Mpumalanga, the Mount Sheba Nature Reserve is a must-see for you. The area is reputed as being one of the province’s best forest-birding localities and as such, it offers an excellent selection of birds – both typical escarpment birds and more localized specials. Though the reserve is privately owned, it is open to the public and you can spend a week here or just a day – it all depends on you.
Mount Sheba covers roughly 1,110 hectares of land in the Pilgrim’s Rest area. Because of its size, you will need at least a full day to enjoy all the habitats found here. However, if you have less time than that, you’ll still enjoy your time spent here. The area is covered by an excellent network of walking trails which take you through the various areas of the forest. You’ll also find that the reserve features a small hotel and a few lodges – accommodation which is perfect for the whole family. If you decided to visit for just the day or morning, make sure that you check in at reception and let them know that you will be walking on their trails. It’s common courtesy.
One of the great things about the Mount Sheba Nature Reserve is that it is not only about birding. Though you can expect to see a wide variety of birds here such as the Cuckoo Hawk, Crowned Eagle, Redwing Francolin, Cinnamon Dove, Knysna Lourie, Bush Blackcap, Barratt’s Warbler, Bluemantled Flycatcher, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Bush Shrike and Forest Canary, there is also a variety of vegetation and a number of rare plants to be seen. Plants such as Clivia caulescens, Disa extinctoria and Gladiolus varius are great finds. Add to this the occaisional sightings of animals such as oribi, klipspringer and the African wild cat and you have a well-rounded nature-orientated experience. So whether you prefer the afromontane forest found on the hillsides or river valleys, or the thorny thickets that can be found lower down, make sure you stop to appreciate the many different facets of this stunning nature reserve. The Mount Sheba Nature Reserve is a great stop as you tour this picturesque geographical region.