Dear Bird Club members and visitors
Wakkerstroom Bird Club outing, April 2017 to Ingula
The outing is scheduled (after the Easter weekend) from the 18th to 20th April, returning on the 20th after breakfast and a possible tour of the visitor centre at the Ingula pumped storage scheme facility.
Ingula is a massive project in the De Beers Pass area of the Drakensberg, and falls within van Reenen/Swinburne’s tourism region. Several years ago ESKOM, BirdLife South Africa, the Middelpunt Wetland Trust and other conservation NGO’s signed an unprecedented and binding agreement to rehabilitate and maintain the habitat around this scheme, for perpetuity. The major reason for this was to protect a small, shy and highly endangered bird, the White-winged Flufftail, which dwells in a small wetland next to the project. To protect this wetland, ESKOM bought thousands of hectares of its surrounding catchment area. Under the direction of Conservation Manager, Peter Nelson, and his team, this estate has become one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the district, with a wealth of indigenous plants birds and small buck.
Ingula is not open to the public, but with Malcolm Drummond’s assistance and Fifi Meyer (Visitor Centre Manager) we can arrange a private visit. There is no charge for this, but Ingula has initiated a local disadvantaged community garden Project and material donations to it (such as packets of basic vegetable seeds or perhaps gardening hand-tools) presented on entry, would be much appreciated and would be used in this community project.
Wakkerstroom to Van Reenen, the nearest town to Ingula, is approximately 230 kilometres and about three hours’ drive (give it a little extra time).
There is no accommodation at the Ingula Nature Reserve itself. There are some bed and breakfast establishments in Van Reenen which is the closest town to the Ingula nature reserve. There are top class, middle range and low range bed and breakfasts and self-catering accommodation options:
- Oaklands Country Manor near Harrismith, starting from R1900 for two guests per suite.
- The Green Lantern offering a dinner, bed and breakfast rate of R450 per person, sharing, per night, and
- Llandaff Lodge in Van Reenen, in a stunning setting overlooking the gorge and the Drakensberg, has four bedrooms. Master bedroom with double bed and bathroom, a flat with a very large bedroom with a double and two single beds and bathroom, another bedroom with double bed, sharing a bathroom with a bedroom with two single beds. It is a fully equipped house, including gas braai facilities and a swimming pool. (Say 7 pax). The charge is R375 per person, per night, including breakfast from the menu at the nearby Little Church Tea Garden.
- Church House(400 metres from Llandaff) has five bedrooms with three bathrooms. R325 (as above) (say 5 pax)
- Mike’s Cottageis a delightful, period cottage with a double bed. R350 (as above)
- Pauls Cottage, with a double bed. R325 (as above)
I have been dealing with The Green Lantern and Llandaff Lodge and cottages.
Robin Collyn and Malcolm Drummond have been very kind with suggestions of what to do, and will probably guide us on parts of our visit.
As our outing is in the week, we could book Sakhile Mtalana, the birdlife bird guide. The cost is the same as here (R450 or so, half day).
We should see the breeding pair of Wattled cranes, blue cranes and other forest birds. There are easily accessible trails that go into Grassland pockets.
|Llandaff Cottage options|
|Accommodation Bed and Breakfast, 18 April per person, sharing||R450.00||R375.00||R350.00|
|B & B 19 April, per person, sharing||R400.00||R375.00||R350.00|
|On 18th April, optional lunch at The Little Church Tea Garden and a drink||
|Lunch on the 19th April (tea garden, packed lunch or at Green Lantern)||
|Bird Guide (if divided by 10)||R50.00|
|Braai on one evening, added cost||R120.00|
|Incidentals – Donation of bird seed, gardening tools or similar for the Ingula Disadvantaged Community Garden Project (if 10 people)||
|Fuel (this will be less if sharing travel costs)||R800.00|
|Total per person (this is an estimate if at Green Lantern)||
|Total per person (this is an estimate if at Llandaff Lodge or Cottage accommodation)||
If birders do a “lift-scheme” and share fuel costs this reduces the individual cost by about R300.00 to R400.00.
Kindly bear in mind “single” accommodation will be a little more pricey around R600.00 per person, bed and breakfast, but confirm all details when you reserve your accommodation.
A two day trip with all meals, a bird guide for half a day and a braai at ± R1 500.00 is really good value for money.
Suggested Itinerary (still to be finalised)
Tuesday, 18 April
Travel to Van Reenen, (lifts to be arranged by individuals), arrive around lunch-time.
13H00 Lunch – at The Little Church Tea Garden (maybe Geraldine and her team can prepare a big salad, and we all have one meal).
Visit the smallest church in the southern hemisphere. The Oratory is a fully consecrated Catholic Church, the only privately-owned Catholic Church in the World.
14H30 Check into our accommodation (whether at Llandaff Lodge, Llandaff cottages, the Green Lantern or other)
Some may wish to snooze
15H30 Re-group at Llandaff Lodge to do a bit of birding in the afternoon on foot around Llandaff and cottages.
18H30 Group braai at Llandaff Lodge. (I will arrange this, details to follow).
19H30/ 20H00 – possible talk, update by Malcolm Drummond on Flufftails.
Wednesday 19th April
06H00 coffee and rusks
07H00 – meet with Malcolm and Sahkhile for some early birding. Venue to be decided.
08H30 – Return for breakfast at The Little Church Tea Garden.
09H30 – continue guided birding with Sahkhile and Malcolm down into the gorge.
12H30 – back to the The Little ChurchTea Garden for a bit of lunch, I suggest everyone make their own arrangement for lunch, either at the Tea Garden or at the Green Lantern pub.
14H30 – All meet at the Tea-Garden, for a possible trip to Nelsons Kop in various 4X4 vehicles. (await your feedback on the road condition) to see the Cape Vulture colony and possibly the pair of Bearded Vultures.
Some may wish to just rest instead.
18hH30/19H00 meet at the Green Lantern pub/ dining-room for a set menu dinner
Suggestions received from Leanne below: (I would ask them to have 2 options available so we may select meat or fish)
- Lemon Cream Fillet of Hake
- Lamb Cutlets
- Grilled half chicken
- Rump steak egg and Chips
- Mutton Curry
- Pork Steak
Thursday 20th April
07H30 Breakfast either at the Green Lantern or at Llandaff (depending of where you’re lodging)
Check out of accommodation (luggage can be stored at venue’s)
08H30 – trip to the Visitor Centre at Ingula pumped storage scheme.
12H00 – tea at the Tea garden, or leave to return to Wakkerstroom
Some might stay on another night (rates will be higher at the Green Lantern over week-ends).
Please let me know if you’re interested so we may have numbers.
The sooner you chat to each other for a lift, and book accommodation the better.
WHEN BOOKING YOUR ACCOMMODATION, SAY YOU’RE FROM THE WAKKERSTROOM BIRD CLUB.
- The Green Lantern, Leanne Tel. 058 671 0027, email : email@example.com
- Llandaff Lodge, Geraldine Tel. 058 671 0106, email : firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m looking forward to this trip and hope you are too!
Should you have any queries, please contact me.
017 730 0316
083 347 2770