Three great bird hides in the Eastern Cape

bird hides

Even if you are not a bird watcher, visiting the ird hides around the country can be an enjoyable experience. With this in mind, Home Food and Travel visited three fantastic bird hides and enjoyed a pleasant few hours snacking, whispering, watching and sipping on sweet, hot tea poured steaming from a flask. The tranquil solace of the dim interior, quiet surroundings and hushed tones does wonders for the stretched, urban soul.

Birds weren’t all that we saw either as rhino, kudu, otters, butterflies, grysbok, amongst others, graced us with their presence. The birds abounded too and they weren’t bothered by the rustling and shushing from their hidden neighbours. Goliath herons, purple gallinules and marsh harriers went about their business without so much as a glance in our direction.

The best time of the day to visit these sites is sunrise or sunset, as the hotter the day becomes the less likely the birds and game are to emerge from the shade. Many birds migrate northwards in our winter, so for species variety, summer is best. However, even in the depths of the coldest months, South Africa still has more bird species than almost any other country on earth. If you venture to take a peek, there will be plenty to see.

Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve

Andries Vosloo kudu reserve


The Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve between Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort has an enormous bird hide with picnic benches and even basic ablution facilities. Because of its remoteness, the thatched bird hide is seldom used, except by the birds themselves. A family of redwinged starlings soon got over the shock of sharing their home with us and made regular foraging trips to feed their young.

We had brought our own forage and in no time had laid out a veritable feast. It was here that we saw the black rhino which left us wide-eyed and excited with the closeness of its presence. The hide looks out over a large expanse of water and we spent hours watching a pair of malachite kingfishers feeding, preening and just sparkling in the sun.

This is one of my favorite bird hides in the country.

Cape Recife Nature Reserve

Cape recife Nature Reserve


Cape Recife Nature Reserve, one of my favourite places, is home to a well-placed and maintained bird hide. A stretch of mown lawn to the left of the hide reminds me of Central Park on a hot summer’s day, except that the Cape Receife lawn is crowded with all types of birds and not all types of people. The hide offers views in three directions and has been built over a small lake.

If you venture there at sunrise you will, in all likelihood, see the resident family of otters. I have witnessed some unusual sights here including a juvenile fish eagle doing aerial combat with a squadron of kelp gulls! This hide is so close to the heart of Port Elizabeth that you can pay a visit during your well-earned lunch break and return to work refreshed and rejuvenated.

Seekoei River Nature Reserve

Seekooi River Nature Reserve

The Seekoei River Nature Reserve just outside Jeffery’s Bay has an elevated bird hide that is set well back from the river and requires a good set of binoculars to appreciate the avian fauna. The hide itself is perhaps not the best spot for a picnic, but the nature reserve does offer a wonderful lapa near the car park where visitors may enjoy a great picnic or braai. This reserve has plenty of aloes, and at this time of the year they are in full bloom, thus making a very attractive meal to the wide variety of sunbirds found in the Eastern Cape.

So pack your picnic baskets, don your woollies and focus your ocular enhancements! There is plenty to do this winter besides sitting next to a roaring fire. 

If you’re looking for places to stay on your visit then visit our accommodation section for a great selection of hotels, guest houses and self catering units.

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About us

Actually, Home Food and Travel offers a lot more than just reviews of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities.  We also visit great destinations, receive advice from interior designers and stop to smell the roses and taste the coffee.

Our team of journalists are seasoned travels and love visiting the myriad of exciting places around South Africa.  Whether it is off the beaten track or in the heart of the top attractions of the country, we’ll be there,

Home Food and Travel advice on finding the right accommodation

So what is the right accommodation?  Well more often than not, it’s your travel budget that dictates the type of accommodation that you choose. 

Expensive is not always better.  Our team at Home Food and Travel will tell you that they have camped in areas with limited ablutions and had a wonderful holiday.  They have also spent a night in a five star hotel only to be disappointed because their expectations exceeded the experience.

The reason for your travels will also affect your choice.  A business trip requires different amenities to a beach holiday. 

Our articles, reviews and experiences can certainly help you make your decision.

Restaurants with a good mix of service, food and ambiance

To my mind a great restaurant offers three things – excellent service, great food and a wonderful ambiance.  Of these, service is the most important. 

No matter that the food is delicious and the setting delightful, poor service can ruin the occasion.  However, great service combined with mediocre meal and a plane jane restaurant can still be a pleasant night out.

We’ve eaten in restaurants that are really dirty but with incredible food and couldn’t help but give a rave review.  We’ve also hardly noticed what we ate because the setting was just amazing.

However, the best restaurants come with the best of service, food and ambiance.

Spas are the ultimate relaxation aid

How do you know when you have had a great spa experience?  The answer, of course, is when you doze off on the treatment table. 

Well that’s our theory anyway.  It also doesn’t take a grand location with enormous facilities for a spa to be really good

A small, personal spa that is owner run can result in the best massage you have ever experienced.  However, the grand spas in five star hotels offer unsurpassed facilities in an environment that just makes the stress in your shoulders and neck melt away before you even finish checking in.

Adventure!

You don’t have to be an adrenaline junky to enjoy an exciting experience.  In fact, what are commonly termed adventure activities usually have incredibly high safety standards and unblemished safety records.

Ziplining, bungy jumping and shark cage diving are all very safe.  It’s just that our mind tells us we are craaazzzzyyyy to be doing this.

On the road to great places of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities

If you’re driving, be safe and make use of all the wonderful farm stalls that populate South Africa’s open roads.

If you overhear somebody asking a lot of questions or see someone taking photos of empty bedrooms chances are it’s one of our Home Food and Travel team members.

We’re out looking or those great places of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities.

See you on the road!

 

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