Soaring to new heights: Kwendalo announces avitourism collaboration

Kwendalo and BirdLife South Africa promote avitourism for nature appreciation and wellbeing.

Kwendalo is thrilled to announce their collaboration with BirdLife Plettenberg Bay and BirdLife South Africa. This avitourism relationship aims to enhance the local community’s connection with nature through a variety of birding activities at Kwendalo including: the joint construction of a bird hide, dedicated birding trails, recognition as a certified avitourism accommodation provider, and the inclusion of birding activities in nature-inspired education programmes with local schools. 

A Bird Hide for Public Enjoyment & Wellbeing 

As part of a commitment to fostering nature awareness and connective experiences for the community, Kwendalo and BirdLife Plettenberg Bay have collaborated on the construction of a bird hide on the estate. This structure will serve as a dedicated space for BirdLife members, visiting birdwatchers, Kwendalo’s guests, school groups and the wider public to observe and appreciate the diverse avian life in the area. Nestled near a quiet vlei, the bird hide will provide a unique peri-urban opportunity for people to absorb nature in ways that have been shown to enhance health and wellbeing. 

“Many people are unaware of the health and wellbeing advantages of birdwatching”, says Dr. Matthew Zylstra, Programme Director and conservation ecologist with the Kwendalo Institute. “Along with the better-known benefits of physical activity and being outdoors, birdwatching specifically has been shown to promote better mental health (e.g. mood, stress reduction), creativity (e.g. cognitive flexibility) and attention restoration (e.g. reduced mental fatigue).” 

Dr. Zylstra – a specialist in the science of nature connectedness – emphasises that “Birdwatching, when coupled with a slowing down and allowing feelings of joy and wonder, is one of the best gateways into a deepened sense of connection with the rest of nature. Birdwatching also supports mindfulness, multi-sensory engagement and social connection. Birdwatching is increasingly being recognised as an effective therapeutic intervention. This aligns with the Kwendalo Institute’s Nature Referrals (NRx) programme that we are piloting with healthcare professionals, so they can feel confident to formally ‘prescribe’ nature-based activities as a complementary lifestyle medicine intervention.” 

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Recommended Avitourism Accommodation Provider 

In line with our journey toward transformative tourism, Kwendalo is proud to announce its certification as a BirdLife recommended avitourism accommodation provider. This recognition highlights Kwendalo’s readiness to offer birdwatchers and other nature enthusiasts a special opportunity to be well-supported in their appreciation of the birding diversity found at Kwendalo. “With almost 90 species already recorded at Kwendalo, including some rarities for the area, we are excited that visiting birding enthusiasts will help us to build on that list and notice things that we may have missed,” adds Dr. Zylstra, who recently completed BirdLife’s avitourism training course. “Members of BirdLife Plett have already been a great support in reporting new bird observations and we hope they and other visitors continue to receive hours of enjoyment from the bird hide and walking trails at Kwendalo.” 

The Harmony Project: Nature-Inspired Learning 

Kwendalo believes in the transformative power of nature-inspired education. In collaboration with Bahia Formosa School, the Kwendalo Institute has tirelessly merged the national curriculum with the Harmony Project teaching methodology to create a revitalized learning experience. Through nature-themed lesson plans and hands-on outdoor experiences, students awaken a fresh sense of appreciation for biodiversity, and hopefully foster a lifelong connection with nature that stimulates learning and nurtures compassion, wonder and reverence for nature. 

For example, the Grade 2 class delved into the intriguing question: “Where do animals live?” This exploration with Bahia Formosa School, and nestled within the framework of the Harmony Project, ignited a place-based passion for environmental stewardship among the young learners. Under the guidance of Kwendalo’s Harmony Project Coordinator, Tash Wilbert, the students built bird feeders from recycled and natural materials, drawing on their maths concepts of 3D shapes and measurements as well as their English focus to write instructions on how to complete the project. 

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Working alongside learning partners from the Nature’s Valley Trust, who generously shared birding expertise, students immersed themselves in the enchanting realm of avian life. They eagerly absorbed facts about local birds, meticulously labelling parts of a bird, and went on exploratory walks around the school in search of winged wonders. Among many observations, the sighting of a hoopoe sparked particular excitement. 

“Many students handled binoculars for the first time, peering into details of a world previously unseen”, said ‘Teacher Tash’, as she is better known. “Such was their newfound enthusiasm, that their class teacher was needed to conduct their subsequent lessons with the curtains drawn as a sighting of a sparrow or crow would bring her class to a disruptive standstill! This feels like a testament to the profound impact of connecting with nature on young hearts and minds.” Teacher Tash is excited about the developments at Kwendalo, “The bird hide at Kwendalo promises to become a favoured – and perhaps favourite – destination for future Harmony Project excursions!” 

ABOUT KWENDALO

Kwendalo is a natural wellness farm dedicated to providing a nourishing and nurturing space for individuals seeking holistic health and wellbeing. Situated just outside of Plettenberg Bay, on the Garden Route, our farm is committed to regenerative agroecology practices, land restoration and community engagement to promote a harmonious coexistence with nature. The Kwendalo Institute is the scientific research and education arm of Kwendalo, focusing on enhanced human-nature relationships in lifestyle and learning. 


For media and general inquiries contact: Jana: hello@kwendalo.co.za  Tel: 063 669 8006 | 044 004 0366 For Kwendalo Institute: institute@kwendalo.co.za  

For The Harmony Project: harmony@kwendalo.co.za  

Come visit and follow us! Connect with Kwendalo on social media: • Facebook: @KwendaloSA • X (Twitter): @KwendaloSA • Instagram: @kwendalo_sa #kwendalo #kwendalowellness #kwendaloinstitute #theharmonyproject www.kwendalo.com

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