The Barberspan bird sanctuary lies on the outskirts of the little known Delareyville, close to Vryburg on the N14 highway and roughly three hours’ drive from Johannesburg.
Barberspan is the largest of a series of pans that lie in the fossil bed of the Harts River. The pan, which measures roughly 600 metres wide and 1 550 metres in length lies within the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary. More than 12 000 birds and over 365 bird species have been recorded here – the sheer numbers and diversity mean that the sanctuary is extremely popular with birders.
Part of the reason for so many birds is that it is one of the few permanent bodies of water on the western highveld, and during the dry months, provides food and shelter for these large numbers of waterbirds. It is home to, amongst others, flamingos, pelicans, grebes, terns, herons, cranes, ibis and bitterns, and all but one of the South African duck species have been sighted at the pans.
Power boats are not allowed in the pans and even canoes and rowing boats are restricted to the southern section, although birding from a canoe is particularly gratifying.
However the Barberspan Bird Sanctuary is popular with anglers and several regional and national angling competitions are held here. One is allowed to camp along the angling shoreline and there are also walking trails.
The Barberspan Sanctuary is open daily from 06h00 to 18h00. It is well sign-posted from the N14 which links the small towns of Delareyville and Sannieshof.