This incredible tour incorporates the best of South Africa in a 28-day birding extravaganza which will be difficult to match anywhere else in the world. The variety of breath-taking landscapes and shear number of bird species combined with beautiful accommodation settings make this tour a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We will keep a steady pace but also allow for time to relax, enjoy and soak up the surroundings.
Day 1 and 2 – Grasslands
Arrival at Johannesburg International Airport. A 30min drive will take us to our accommodation next to Rietvlei Dam, one of the largest urban reserves in the world with 319 bird species. We will spend 2 days visiting the reserve an our focus will be on grassland species as well as water- and wetland specials like Great Crested Grebe, Little Bittern, Cape Shoveller, Secretarybird, African Fish Eagle, Greater Kestrel, Purple Gallinule, African Rail, Northern Black Korhaan, Greyheaded Gull, African Grass Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Halfcollared Kingfisher, Greater Honeyguide, Spikeheeled Lark, Capped Wheatear, Anteating Chat, Fairy Flycatcher(winter), Desert Cisticola, Buffy Pipit, Orangethroated Longclaw, Thickbilled Weaver, Longtailed Widow and Orangebreasted Waxbill. In summer this list includes: Hobby Falcon, European Roller, Banded Martin, African Yellow Warbler, White Stork and Common Quail
Day 3 to 7 – Kruger National Park
A four hour drive will see us descending down to the lowlands and the next four nights will be spend in the vast and world-renowned Kruger National Park. Wildlife and bird species abounds in Kruger with a 500+ bird species list. We will visit the central and southern parts of the park and do two night drives looking for nocturnal species.
Day 8 and 9 – Swaziland, Lebombo mountain
Crossing the border into the Kingdom of Swaziland will see us driving through sugarcane fields before our ascend to the Lebombo mountains. Birding will be done along the walking trails in thick, almost tropical forest looking for Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Pink-throated Twinspots, Livingston’s Turaco, White-browed Robin-chat, Wood owl, Trumpeter Hornbill, Red-chested Cuckoo, Crowned Hornbill, Marabou Stork, African Emerald-cuckoo, Little Sparrow-hawk, Forest weaver, Brown Snake-eagle and many more
Day 10 to 15 – Northern KwaZulu Natal
This part of the tour bring us to another highlight, the coastal dune forests and floodplains of Ndumo-, Mkhuze and St. Lucia Nature Reserves. Specials such as African Pygmy-Goose, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, African Cuckoo Hawk, European Honey-Buzzard, African Finfoot, Black Coucal, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Narina Trogon, Broad-billed Roller, Eastern Nicator, Rudd’s Apalis, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Retz’s Helmet-Shrike, Woodwards’ Batis, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Green Malkoha and Pink-throated Twinspot are just some of the 400+ species occurring in this biodiversity rich area.
Day 16 and 17 – Lesotho, Sani-pass
Ranking as one of the top 10 birding areas in Southern Africa the Sani-pass road along the Drakensberg escarpment is another highlight on our tour. Specials are Bush Blackcap, Cape Grassbird, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape Rock-Thrush, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker, Buff-streaked Chat, Red-winged Francolin, Barratt’s Warbler, Wailing Cisticola, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Sickle-winged Chat, Large-billed Lark, Southern Bald Ibis, Mountain Pipit, African Rock Pipit, and Grey-winged Francolin. Karoo Prinia, Fairy Flycatcher, Yellow Canary and Grey Tit are regular, while Black-headed Canary and Layard’s Tit-Babbler are occasional. Raptors include Bearded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Black Harrier, and Jackal Buzzard, while Cape Eagle-Owl is a rare sighting.
Day 18 to 21 – Western Cape, Simon’s Town
A short flight from Durban to Cape Town will see us in the Cape Fynbos biome where we will spend 3 days exploring the reserves, bays and botanical gardens surrounding Cape Town in search of Hartlaub’s Gull, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Common Ringed Plover Bank Cormorant, Crowned Cormorant, African Black Oystercatcher, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, Cape Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia, Cape Longclaw, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Batis and Southern Boubou. We will also pay a visit to the wild African Penquin colony.
Day 22 to 25 – West Coast to Lambertsbay
Driving north along the coast we will visit the West-coast National Park and Velddrift and spent a day at Lambert’s bay Cape Gannet breeding colony. Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Grey-backed Cisticola, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Lark, Large-billed Lark, Cape Penduline-Tit, African Black Oystercatcher, Chestnut-banded Plover, Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Curlew. Fairly ‘regular’ vagrants include American Golden Plover, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Red Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope,Black-tailed Godwit, Hudsonian Godwit, Common Redshank, Dunlin, Red-necked Stint and Pectoral Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper and Baird’s Sandpiper. Great White Pelican, Lesser Flamingo, Jackal Buzzard, Chestnut-banded Plover, Fairy Flycatcher, Yellow Canary and White-throated Canary
Day 26 to 28 – South Coast, Swellendam to Rooi Els
The last part of our tour will take us to the Renosterbush and wheat fields in the southern part of the Western Cape. In the open renosterbos, Denham’s Bustard are fairly common while Secretarybird, Cape Spurfowl, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, and Southern Black Korhaan also occur in this habitat, as do Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Large-billed Lark, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, and Karoo Scrub-Robin. On our return journey to Cape Town we will spend our morning at Rooi Els which is excellent for Cape Rock-jumper, Cape Rock-Thrush, Ground Woodpecker, Familiar Chat, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Siskin. Other species to look for include Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Red-winged Starling and Cape White-eye. The cliffs above should be checked constantly for Peregrine Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Verreauxs’ Eagle, Rock Kestrel and White-necked Raven.
Our last night will be spend in Cape Town and depending on your return flight to Johannesburg we may have the opportunity to visit Table Mountain.