Day visitors may explore the reserve on foot, by mountain bike or self-drive. High ground clearance vehicles are recommended.

Three hiking routes traversing rocky highveld grassland and bushveld of 3, 7 & 12kms are shown on the map, (See map below) although visitors are welcome to walk anywhere on the reserve.

Game viewing and bird watching

To date, fifty species of mammals have been recorded on the reserve ranging in size from Giraffe to the pygmy mouse weighing in at just six grams!

A number of antelope species can be seen during drives and walks on the reserve. Although many of the smaller nocturnal mammals are shy and difficult to observe, tracks and signs give away their presence and can be seen virtually anywhere if one looks closely. Somabula Nature Reserve is well known for its howling jackals which may be heard at just about any time of the day but most often in the early evening. Visitors are advised to pack away all food items before leaving your accommodation, as Vervet monkeys may become problematic.

Frogs are common at Somabula Nature Reserve. They are most easily seen after dark on warm summer nights when males gather at wetland areas to call. Choruses can be almost deafening at close range and may be heard from any part of the reserve during the summer breeding season. Listen out for frogs on summer nights. You will probably be able to hear sand frogs, kassinas, cacos and toads calling. Thirty-five reptile species can be seen.

Bird species

Over two hundred and forty species of birds have been seen on Somabula nature reserve.

A quiet walk or drive will reward the birdwatcher with many sightings. Listed below are some of the more productive birding areas on the reserve.


Look out for Arrow-marked babbler, Dark-capped bulbul, Black-collared and Crested barbet and Cardinal woodpecker. Our woodland specials include Bronze-winged courser, Black sparrowhawk, Pearl-spotted owlet and Yellow fronted tinkerbird.


Look out for Egyptian goose, Reed cormorants, Blacksmith lapwing and Masked weaver. Green-backed heron, Purple heron and Red-chested flufftail are among the more special sightings.

Nocturnal birdlife:

At night, Pearl-spotted, Barn and Spotted eagle owls, Spotted thick-knee as well as Fiery-necked and Rufous-cheeked nightjars may be heard. Some of our less often seen nocturnal birds include Bronze-winged courser, Red-chested flufftail, White-faced scops and Marsh owl.


Look out for Rufous- naped lark, Cinnamon breasted bunting and White-fronted bee-eater. Black-chested snake eagle and temmink’s courser may be seen with some luck.

Koppies and hills:

Look out for Streaky-headed seedeater, Bokmakierie, Black-crowned tchagra, Spotted eagle owl and Striped pipit.

Migratory birds:

Every summer, European bee-eater, Barn swallow, Red-breasted swallow, Red-backed and Lesser grey shrike, Black, Great-spotted, Jacobin, Red-chested and Diederik cuckoo and Amur falcon, among others visit the area on their annual migration from Europe, Asia and north and central Africa. Some South African birds, such as the Fairy flycatcher, undergo short local migrations and visit in the winter months.