At 2 500 m this is the highest pass in South Africa and also one of the more spectacular. Two Naude brothers Stefanus and Gabriel pegged this pass on horses and a start was made on construction using picks, spades and Scotscart in 1896. It was completed under the direction of roads engineer, George Mandy in 1911.
Birds to look out when driving from Rhodes to the top are: Drakensberg Rockjumpers, Drakensberg Siskin, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape and Bearded Vultures, Black Harriers, Rock and Mountain Pipits, Ground Woodpeckers and Grey-winged Francolin.
Bearded Vultures – Barry Kurten
Grey-winged Francolin – Barry Kurten
When descending from the top to Maclear look out for Gurney’s Sugerbird in the Proteas next to the road.
Gurney’s Sugerbird – Corné Erasmus
Plus minus 11 kilometers from Maclear (when coming from Naudesnek) on your right hand side is a vlei or a bit further a dam. Look out for Grey Crowned Cranes and if lucky Wattled Cranes.
The pass is only suitable for vehicles with high ground clearance. Enquire at Maclear or Rhodes info centre (firstname.lastname@example.org ) as to the condition of the road. Allow at least 4 hours (rather more) if birding between Maclear and Rhodes.
Loch Ness, a dam near the Tiffindell Ski Resort, on the Ben McDhui plateau at 2555m above sea-level is the highest self-sustaining wild trout fishery and one of, if not the highest dam in the country. It has a healthy population of water-fowl representative of the species in the area. Being at least 25km from the nearest still water, only the birds would know how they found it after it was constructed in 1997.
Other than the Naudesnek route, a birdwatching trip to the dam is an experience unlike many others in the area where Alpine flowers in abundance can be seen in the summer months. Bald ibis, Bearded vultures, Drakensberg Rockjumpers, Ground Woodpeckers, Egyptian Geese, Red-knobbed Coot, South African Shellduck, Yellowbill Duck, Grey Heron and Hadeda Ibis amongst others abound.
Drakensberg Rockjumper – Corné Erasmus
Accommodations in Rhodes:
Lundin’s Nek (Lundeansnek)
From Rhodes drive towards Barkly East on the R 396 for 25.8 km. Turn right on the R 393 and do this scenic route while birding along the way. (± 25.3 km before you turn back on the same route.)
Birds to look out for: Verreaux’s Eagle, Mountain Pipit, Mountain Wheatear, Black Harrier, Black Duck, Prinias, African Grassbird, Cisticolas, Vultures.
Moshesh’s Ford Road (Rhodes to Elliot = 95.5 km)
From Rhodes follow the R 396 road towards Barkly East. Just after the bridge over the Kraai River, turn left on the R 393 (Moshesh’s Ford Road). Continue until this road join with the tar road (R58) near the Mountain Shaddows Hotel). Turn left to Elliot or right to Barkly East.
Birds along this road: Ground Woodpecker, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Bald Ibis, Vultures, Grey Crown Cranes, Black and African Marsh Harriers.