Nata Bird Sanctuary
Lonely Planet review
This 230-sq-km community-run wildlife sanctuary was formed when 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 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 (P5) from reception at the entrance, although supplies often run short.
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 enquire about the condition of the tracks in the sanctuary before entering. During the rainy season, however, a 4WD is essential.
The entrance to the sanctuary is 15km southeast of Nata.