Karkloof Conservation Centre

The Karkloof has a long and rich history. Having once been on the main wagon trail linking Natal and the old Transvaal it is named for an overturned ox-wagon that became a landmark along the route in the mid-1800’s.

Karkloof Conservation Centre

Karkloof Conservation Centre

In modern times, local farmers, foresters and other landowners have joined hands to manage this beautiful piece of land in harmony with nature, establishing the Karkloof Conservancy in 1998.The conservancy covers an area of 40,000 hectares and protects wetlands, grasslands and natural forests and all manner of associated wildlife, including all three of South Africa’s endangered crane species, among a patchwork of scenic farmlands and plantations.

Karkloof Conservation Centre

Karkloof Conservation Centre

The farmers here pride themselves on their environmentally friendly farming practices and, realising the need for and value in greater public awareness of the work of the Karkloof Conservancy, a centre dedicated to the message of conservation, education and tourism was created and officially opened in October 2007. The Karkloof Conservation Centre is located at the entrance to Gartmore Farm, 15km to the north of Howick in the Natal Midlands. Gartmore and neighbouring Loskop are working dairy farms and here, among the beautiful green pastures, two bird-viewing hides overlook natural wetlands frequented by over 180 bird species (including the blue, crowned and wattled cranes) and a variety of naturally occurring small game animals. A small picnic site is available at the entrance, from where it is a short walk along a tree-lined path to the two hides.

Gartmore

Gartmore Hide

Gartmore

Gartmore Hide

Loskop Hide

Loskop Hide

Loskop Hide: pied kingfisher

Loskop Hide: pied kingfisher

Loskop Hide: sacred ibis, spoonbill and yellow-billed ducks

Loskop Hide: sacred ibis, spoonbill and yellow-billed ducks

Even a short visit to the Karkloof Conservation Centre will have you excited in the realisation that humans and nature can co-exist to the benefit of both, and perhaps you will be lucky, as we have, to get a glimpse of some of South Africa’s rarest birds as a bonus.

Crowned Cranes in a patch of long grass

Crowned Cranes in a patch of long grass

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20 thoughts on “Karkloof Conservation Centre

  1. Pingback: Kamberg Nature Reserve | de Wets Wild

  2. Karkloof Conservation Centre

    Hi There, we just want to say a big thank you for this lovely blog post on our venue! We are glad you saw the Crownies. The Blue Cranes are busy breeding in the area at the moment. The flock of about 50 Crownies are busy pairing off, and we have about 19 Wattled Cranes flying around together and stopping at the hides at random times of the day. The photographs are beautiful and it is so interesting to see how dry it was during your visit. Everything has greened up and grown leaves since then.
    Thank you again.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thank you very much for taking the time to write to us!

      We really enjoyed visiting the Karkloof Conservation Centre, spending some time in the hides and taking in the fantastic farm atmosphere. We would have loved to see the wattled cranes, but not seeing them this time around just gives us more incentive to visit again (and again, and again!).

      I can only imagine how lush Gartmore and Loskop are looking now, now that summer is in full swing. We’ll try our level best to visit in summer next time!

      Sincere thanks again for commenting on our post. You are doing admirable work and we’re only too happy to have been able to showcase a small piece of it here at de Wets Wild.

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      1. Karkloof Conservation Centre

        I would highly recommend arranging a visit in late May. The farmers will have just removed their crops for silage and it attracts the cranes and many other special birds to the lands surrounding the pans. It is also the season for the Wattled cranes to start pairing up, doing their graceful dances and flinging leftover mealie stalks in an attempt to impress their partners.

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  3. Pingback: Midmar Dam Nature Reserve | de Wets Wild

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Glad to hear that you like our posts on some of our lesser known destinations – I’m sure there’s also many on your side of the country that we’ve not heard of before and that are well worth a visit.

      The Karkloof is definitely a birder’s paradise – we were also hoping for Cape Parrots but missed them this time. All the more reason to return!

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  4. scrapydo

    This look s awesome. So sad I didn’t know about the place while teaching in 1969-1970. I toured every year with my school the route from Jhb to Umdloti passing and stopping at Howick every year.

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