South Africa Birding Safaris

THIS TOUR SHALL BE RUN IN COLLARBORATION WITH ROCKJUMPER BIRDING TOURS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Our South African tours offer, quite simply, the best of African birding. South Africa boasts the highest total of endemic bird species of any African country. In addition, a rich seabird assemblage and large numbers of more widespread, yet no less spectacular, African birds and large mammals occur. Add to this the rich botanical heritage and scenic splendor of Africa’s most varied country, fine food and wines, comfortable accommodations, first-world infrastructure and superb value for money. It’s not hard to see why this is our biggest selling destination!

 

As South Africa is our backyard and our team of guides are some of the country’s most experienced birders, we have specially designed several different tours to maximize various aspects of our magnificent country.

 

Most popular is the combination of our two-week Eastern South Africa tour and six-day Cape Extension. Eastern South Africa offers the classic African savanna of the world-renowned Kruger National Park (we also stay at an adjoining exclusive private game reserve), the teeming Zululand game parks, the endemic-rich mist-belt forests and grasslands of the Natal Midlands and the lofty peaks of the magnificent Drakensberg. Target birds include Southern Bald Ibis, Bearded Vulture, the rare Taita Falcon, Blue and Wattled Crane, Barrow’s and Blue Korhaan, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Ground Woodpecker, Rudd’s and Botha’s Lark, the endangered Blue Swallow, Spotted Ground Thrush, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Gurney’s Sugarbird and the lovely Pink-throated Twinspot. Our chances of achieving the classic ‘Big Five’ (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino) are excellent and less common mammals on the route include African Wild Dog, Cheetah, the endemic Black Wildebeest and even Aardvark.

 

The Mother City, Cape Town, widely considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities, is our axis for exploring the breathtaking Cape Peninsula, the succulent Tanqua-Karoo, flower-laden West Coast and teeming offshore pelagic waters. Cape targets include the comical Jackass Penguin, Black Harrier, Ludwig’s Bustard, the elusive Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, attractive Victorin’s Warbler, stunning Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Rockjumper and Cape Sugarbird. The last two mentioned species belong to families entirely endemic to southern Africa. These combined tours produce up to an incredible 500 bird and 50 mammal species.

 

Our Cape Wildflowers and Birding tour is scheduled to take in the very best of the Fairest Cape, at a time when the Cape Fynbos biome and Namaqualand Spring flowers are at their peak. This wildflower display is one of the Mother Nature’s most colorful ceremonies and a once-in-a-lifetime event that no nature-lover should miss. Whilst we are in the region, we will explore the Mother City, enjoy the breath-taking revolving cable-car trip to the top of Table Mountain, visit famous wine estates, revel at Southern Right Whales frolicking just off the coast, seek out-of-the-way endemic birds in the plains of Bushmanland and safari in the famous Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. Here the huge blond-maned Kalahari Lions hunt Gemsbok and other big game, and chances for the seldom seen Brown Hyena are better than anywhere else.

 

The Best of the West, Cape Town to Windhoek tour is a two-week adventure that can be taken in conjunction with our overland Namibia, Botswana & Zambia tour. Besides covering much of the same ground as our Wildflowers and Birding tour, we also include a pelagic birding trip off the Cape and the endless plains of southern Namibia and the Great Fish River Canyon, one of the world’s deepest and largest gorges.

Our South African Mega-Birding Tour is the ultimate South African adventure. We visit every far-flung corner of our beautiful land and target all 146 regionally endemic bird species! From Barlow’s Lark in Port Nolloth to Black-rumped (Hottentot) Buttonquail at Cape Point and Short-clawed Lark near Polokwane, we will traverse deserts, Fynbos, high mountain passes, tropical dune forests and prime Acacia savanna. In the course of this 24-day tour, we can expect to amass a huge bird list, observe scores of mammal and herp species and intimately get to know one of the world’s most spectacular countries.

Please contact us for the detailed itineraries for these tours.

tour name & dates for 2010

South African Endemics Mega-Birding Tour I: 3 -26 Oct (24 days)
South African Endemics Mega-Birding Tour II: 19 Oct – 11 Nov (24 days)
South African Endemics Mega-Birding Tour III: 20 Nov – 13 Dec (24 days)

tour cost 2010

South African Endemics Mega-Birding Tours: US$6,175 pp, US$450 ss

max group size

8 & 1 Rockjumper leader

tour leaders 2010

Gavin Lautenbach (I), Erik Forsyth (II & III)

habitats covered

dune and mist-belt forest, Acacia savanna, high elevation and coastal grasslands, mountains, semi-desert, Fynbos, coastal and pelagic waters, wetlands

climate

subtropical conditions with occasional rain, cooler in highlands and Cape

tour pace & walking

moderate to brisk, undemanding walking, some long drives

accommodation

comfortable guesthouses and lodges

ease of birding

easy with some difficult species

no. of species expected

500 – 550

top mammals

Black and White Rhinoceros, Leopard, Meerkat, African Wild Dog, Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Cape Grysbok, Aardvark

other attractions

Cape Peninsula, Sani Pass, Lake St. Lucia, Zululand game reserves, superb food & wine, remote and seldom visited areas, spectacular scenery

photographic opportunities

excellent

tour name & dates for 2010

Eastern South Africa I: 7 – 20 Feb; Eastern South Africa II: 1 – 14 Aug;
Eastern South Africa III: 19 Oct – 1 Nov; Eastern South Africa IV: 12 – 25 Nov (14 days)
Cape Extension I: 20 – 25 Feb; II: 14 – 19 Aug; III: 1 – 6 Nov; IV: 25 – 30 Nov (6 days)

tour cost 2010

Eastern SA: US$3,850 pp, US$ 350 ss; Cape Extension US$1,750 pp, US$110 ss

max group size

8 & 1 Rockjumper leader

tour leaders 2009

Markus Lilje (II), Athol Marchant (III & IV)

habitats covered

dune and mist-belt forest, Acacia savanna, high elevation and coastal grasslands, mountains, semi-desert, Fynbos, coastal and pelagic waters, wetlands

climate

subtropical with occasional rain, cooler in highlands and Cape, can be cold in winter

tour pace & walking

moderate pace with undemanding walks, some long drives

accomodation

comfortable guesthouses and lodges

ease of birding

easy

no. of species expected

400 (winter) – 500 (summer)

top mammals

The ‘Big 5’, Meerkat, African Wild Dog, Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Aardvark

other attractions

Kruger, Sani Pass, Cape Peninsula, great food & wine, Zulu culture,
whale watching

photographic opportunities

excellent

tour na
me & dates for 2010

Wildflowers & Birding: 20 Aug – 2 Sep (14 days)
Cape to Windhoek – The Best of the West: 17 Sep – 1 Oct (15 days)
Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers: 1 – 9 Nov (9 days)
Kruger Extension: 9 – 13 Nov (5 days)

tour cost 2010

Wildflowers & Birding: US$ 3,950 pp, US$ 500 ss
Cape to Windhoek – The Best of the West: US$ 3,950 pp, US$450 ss
Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers: US$ 2,650 pp, US$ 200 ss
Kruger Extension: US$ 1,650 pp, US$ 375 ss

max group size

Wildflowers & Birding: 8 & 1 Rockjumper leader
Cape to Windhoek – The Best of the West: 6 & 1 Rockjumper leader
Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension: 8 & 1 Rockjumper leader

tour leaders 2010

Fraser Gear – Wildflowers; Rainer Summers – Best of the West;
Jeremy Exelby – Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension

habitats covered

Fynbos, semi desert, wetlands, coastal estuaries, mountain passes, bushveld, savanna

climate

Cape to Windhoek & Wildflowers & Birding: Mediterranean conditions with cool evenings, warmer in the north

Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension: Hot and mostly dry in Kruger with occasional afternoon thunder showers, Thunder showers in Drakensberg, very variable from cool to quite hot, weather can change quickly and without much warning

tour pace & walking

leisurely pace with undemanding walks, some long drives

accommodation

comfortable guesthouses and lodges

ease of birding

easy

no. of species expected

250+

top birds

Cape to Windhoek & Wildflowers & Birding: Jackass Penguin, Black Harrier, Ludwig’s Bustard, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, Pygmy Falcon, Namaqua Sandgrouse

Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension: Bearded Vulture, Rudd’s & Botha’s Lark, Blue Korhaan, Blue Crane, Cape Parrot, Blue Swallow, Bald Ibis, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird

top mammals

Cape to Windhoek & Wildflowers & Birding: Southern Right Whale, Kalahari Lion, Cheetah, Brown Hyaena, Aardvark, Bat-eared Fox

Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension: Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, White Rhinoceros, African Wilddog

other attractions

Cape to Windhoek & Wildflowers & Birding: Namaqualand & Fynbos flowers, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Fish River Canyon, Augrabies Falls, Cape Peninsula, wine estates, shopping

Drakensberg Birds & Wildflowers & Kruger Extension: Drakensberg Mountains including foothills and majestic peaks, Kruger national Park

photographic opportunities

excellent