Nata Bird Sanctuary
- NE end of Sowa Pan The entrance to the sanctuary is 15km SE of Nata.
- tel, info: 71 656969
- admission per person/vehicle per day US$4/US$2
Lonely Planet review for Nata Bird Sanctuary
The 230-sq-km community-run Nata Bird Sanctuary was proposed in 1988 by the Nata Conservation Committee and established four years later with the help of several local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Local people voluntarily relocated 3500 cattle and established a network of tracks throughout the northeastern end of Sowa Pan.
Although the sanctuary protects antelopes, zebras, jackals, foxes, monkeys and squirrels, the principal draw is the large population of water birds. Over 165 species of birds have been recorded here, including pied kingfishers, carmine and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, martial and black-breasted eagles, and secretary and kori bustards. When the Nata River flows in the rainy season, the sanctuary also becomes a haven for Cape and Hottentot teals, white and pink-backed pelicans, and greater and lesser flamingos. Visitors should pick up a copy of the Comprehensive Bird List & Introductory Guide (around US$1) from the reception office at the entrance.
In the dry season (May to October), it's possible to drive around the sanctuary in a 2WD with high clearance, though it's best to inquire about the condition of the tracks in the sanctuary prior to entering. During the rainy season, however, a 4WD is essential.
Nata Bird Sanctuary offers several serene and isolated camp sites with clean pit toilets, braai (barbecue) pits and cold showers. Camping here costs around US$6r person, and all sites are accessible by 2WD if it hasn't been raining heavily. From the camp sites, it's possible to access the pan on foot (7km), though you should bring a compass with you, even if you're only walking a few hundred metres into the pan.
The entrance to the sanctuary is 15km southeast of Nata.