Deep in a sand-forest in northern Maputaland, a group of highly excited birdwatchers crane their necks to get another look at a tiny yellowy-green bird with a blue bib flash past. The bird on view is none other than the dashing plain-backed sunbird, one of SA’s feathered treasures. It’s rare. Let’s put it this way … seeing a plain-backed sunbird is like scoring a goal in the world cup final from an offside position. That’s sand-forest birding for you … expect the unexpected.

South Africa is blessed with its diversity of wildlife flavours, and if bird-watching is your taste, the Maputaland coastline is a smorgasbord. From St Lucia to the Mozambique border this exquisite stretch of coastline contains the prized habitats of coastal and dune forests – home to over half of our bird species, and countless specials. Seasoned twitchers will maintain that until you have tramped through dune forests bent double, crammed into tiny secluded reed and canvas bird hides and waited for hours, or strained for even a half-glimpse, you haven’t lived.

For the sand forest teems with specials such as African broadbill, green malkoha, crowned eagle, cuckoo hawk, pink-throated twinspot and countless other treats.
Perhaps they’re right. And for dessert, if bird-watching is not your thing, the coastline serves up miles of the cleanest beaches in the country, clear blue surf, sublime snorkelling and diving, as well as some of the most underrated and breathtaking accommodation in the country. South Africa is full of surprises, hidden away jewels. And none more so than our little know northern coastline. If you’re a birder, you’ll love it, if not you still will. Bring your binocs!


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