Due to the efforts of a pioneering local birder, Soweto has become known as a fascinating area to go birding. Key areas for birding center around the iconic painted towers of Orlando Power station, and includes excellent wetland and Highveld koppie birding.
The wetland at Orlando Dam offers Little Grebe, Grey-headed Gull, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Blacksmith Lapwing, Little Rush Warbler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler amongst others. Swallows and swifts are numerous…watch for Rock Martin and White-throated Swallow.
The Enoch Sontonga hill is situated close by – adjacent to the University of Johannesburg Campus and is named after the composer of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. A walk on the hill can produce surprising birds including Diederik Cuckoo, Cape Sparrow, Black-chested Prinia, Red-throated Wryneck, Bokmakierie, Brown-backed Honeybird and Crested Barbet.
Other good sites in Soweto include Thokoza Park and Moroka Dam. Orlando Dam is reached from just north of the Bara Mall on Chris Hani Rd.
* Note: Children under 12 get 50% off
What to bring
Water,hat,sun-screen and comfy shoes
Raymond Rampolokeng, or ‘McBirdie’ as he likes to be called, is the first and only bird guide in Soweto. His mission is to change the perceptions around the township and to show people the incredible natural surroundings that persist in these spaces. He is also passionate about youth education and climate change. He runs Bay of Grace Tours.
We set off our walk at Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers heading towards our look out point with a panoramic view over Soweto. The guide will points our various landmarks and areas and the history of the various sites around the township. You will also see our community garden project as well as the beer brewing station of the home brewed sorghum beer made by women in our community.
We will start our cycling by reaching a look out point of Orlando East and West. You will get an introduction of Soweto – it’s size, the history of how Soweto was formed and the people that make up this large township. You will see and learn more about some of our landmarks such as the Orlando stadium and the brightly painted Orlando towers.