South Africa: Kruger NP to Durban

Overview

Because of the combination of wonderful birding and mammalwatching, excellent infrastructures and great lodges, South Africa keeps being a modern but classic journey  for any birdwatcher or nature lover all over the world. Over 140 species of birds are endemic to Southern Africa, the highest number in the continent. And many of them are confined to the arid and semi-arid western regions (known as karoo) and the unique scrubby bioma known as fynbos. With good roads and accommodation, and a quiet, rural atmosphere over much of the country, South Africa offers some of the most exciting and most comfortable birding experiences in Africa.

Our journey shall start in Johanesburg from where we will move East trough the bushveld of Limpopo and Magoebaskloof to reach our first birding site near Polokwane. From here we will enter Kruger National Park, one of the most impressive places in Africa in terms of wildlife. Here we will enjoy the amazing array of both birds and great mammals living on it, including really good chances for the famous Big Five the same than for bird specialities such as Purple-crested Turaco or Bushveld Pipit.

From Kruger National Park our journey will continue southwards to reach the border of Zululand at Wakkerstroom. Here, the dry thornbush and grassy plains host Southern Bald Ibis and Blue Korhaan, but also some extremely restricted in range endemics: Rudd’s & Botha’s Larks. Our route will then go eastwards to Mkuze National Park, in the Transvaal. This extremely bird rich area shall provide us with key species such as Pink-throated Twinspot, Rudd’s Apalis and Neergaard’s Sunbird. Mkuze is also one of the best places in South Africa to see African Wild Dog and Cheetahs, and we shall be granted with these species appearing during our stay in the area.

Before ending our journey in Durban, we will explore some exuberant forests in the montane greenveld of Zululand. Here we will enjoy of the wide variety of birdlife living in this spectacular forests such as Green Barbet, Eastern Nicator, Green Twinspot, Southern Tchagra and Brown-backed Honeybird to name a few.

At the end, South Africa keeps offering a great combination of a massive list of birds, relict bird endemics, a long list of endemics and near-endemics, superb general birding and one of the best mammal watching in the continent along with excellent facilities.

 

Tour leader

Passionate about Africa, Carles Oliver fell in love with South Africa a few days after arriving for the first time due to its incredible wildlife and the efforts of the South African society to try to sew together a country divided by decades of horrific leadership.

 

A book to know more about South Africa: Burger’s Daughter (1979) by Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014).

Pláning

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Day 1: Magoebaskloof and Polokwane 
During our first day we will pick up tour participants from Johanesburg International Airport or from a nearby hotel/B&B. For those tour participants landing that same morning remember to arrive before noon! After a short meet and greet we’ll get all the luggage in the vehicle and head straight to our first destination, the town of Polokwane. A short stop at the Polokwane Game Reserve should hopefully net us the Southern African endemic; Short-clawed Lark.  
We continue to our destination in Magoebaskloof were we will have our first taste of forest birding, species to look out for include Knysna Turaco, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Gorgeous and Black-fronted Bush-Shrikes, Swee Waxbill and with luck we could even find African Wood-Owl after dinner.  We will spend some time in the gardens of Kurisa Moya as well as the bird hide on the property.  

Day 2: Magoebaskloof 
We’ll start the day with some more forest birding and if we missed Short-clawed Lark the previous day we might even pop in at another stakeout nearby where we also have a good chance of finding the elusive Shelley’s Francolin. We will stop for a quick lunch at a roadside coffee. 
Forest birding can be hard work but often the reward is worth its weight in gold, with tantalizing species such as Cape Batis, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Olive Bush-Shrike, Lemon Dove and African Emerald Cuckoo waiting to be found. 

Day 3 & 4: Kruger National Park 
After some more birding around the magnificent Magoebaskloof we head for the savannahs of the famous Kruger National Park with the odd birding stops and lunch break en-route. Once we enter the park proper our focus, while still on birds, will also divert a bit to the possibility of sightings of any of the Big 5. We will explore some of the smaller dirt roads and thereby keeping off the main tar road for the best birding experience. 
The Greater Kruger conservation area includes vast areas of adjacent Mozambique and is one of Africa’s most famous parks. We will explore the superb road system in an attempt to locate big game, including the legendary “Big 5” – Lion, African Elephant, Leopard, African Buffalo and White Rhinoceros. Kruger will be our best opportunity to watch these spectacular animals in their natural habitat and some of them we may encounter in very large numbers and at very close quarters.  
Of special interest here is some of the larger terrestrial birds as well as birds of prey that are difficult or near impossible to find reliably outside protected areas such as Kruger, these include Kori Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Lappet-faced Vulture, Secretarybird and Saddle-billed Stork. Other typical bushveld birds that we will encounter are Southern Yellow-billed and Southern Red-billed Hornbills, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, Brown-headed Parrot, Purple-crested Turaco, Crested and Swainson’s Francolin, Whitecrowned Lapwing, Grey-headed Bushshrike and African Mourning Dove.


A night drive through the park may encounter some of the rarer nocturnal mammals such as African Civet, Small-spotted and Blotched Genets, Side-striped Jackal, the beautiful Serval, White-tailed Mongoose and African Wild Cat, along with several species of owl and nightjar. These include Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, and Square-tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjars
Overnight:  Kruger National Park – Letaba Rest Camp (2 nights) on a B&B basis 

Days 5 – 8:  Satara Camp and Skukuza Camp – Kruger National Park 
Travelling to the southern part of the Kruger National Park we will concentrate on slightly different habitats with the focus on areas of open grassland, waterholes and broad-leaved woodland hosting species such as African Cuckoo-Hawk, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Green-capped Eremomela, Bennet’s Woodpecker and even Bushveld Pipit. The damp depressions around streams sometimes yield Black Coucal and in season after good rain, the odd Corncrake. This area is particularly good for the elusive Black Rhino and Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest.  
Overnight: Kruger National Park   -Satara Rest Camp  (2 nights) Skukuza Rest Camp (2 nights)on a B&B basis 

Day 9: Kruger National Park to Wakkerstroom 
We have a fairly long but scenic drive from the Kruger National Park, where we will do a last bit of birding before breakfast, to the small hamlet of Wakkerstroom, which stands in stark contrast to the habitats we’ve visited thus far.  
Wakkerstroom in situated on the Highveld plateau dominated by rolling hills and upland grassland. Several special birds occur here, with a good number of them being endemic and many are difficult to find elsewhere.  
We should arrive in time for some afternoon birding and usually our first port of call is the marsh just on the outskirts of town, here we have a good chance of finding skulkers like Little Rush Warbler, African Rail and who knows even a Red-chested Flufftail if we are very lucky. Commoner species include African Purple Swamphen, Purple Heron, Cape Shoveller, Cape Weaver and we often find Grey-crowned Cranes roosting here in the late afternoons.  
Dinner will be in town at one of the restaurants. 

Day 10 : Wakkerstroom 
After an early morning coffee we head out in search of Wakkerstroom’s to very special and endemic Larks, Rudd’s and Botha’s, the former critically endangered. In our search for these two dowdy 
denizens of the grasslands we’ll also be on the lookout for their more common cousins, Eastern Clapper, Eastern Long-billed, Pink-billed and Red-capped Larks.  
Wakkerstroom isn’t just about LBJ’s though Yellow-breasted Pipit, Blue Korhaan and Cape Canary will add a subtle touch of colour and in the village the striking Bokmakierie is usually an easy find alongside the peculiar Red-throated Wryneck.  
We’ll also visit a local sit in search of White-bellied Korhaan, Denham’s Bustard and at another spot we’ll look for the enigmatic African Rock Pipit and Buff-streaked Chat. Some of the other birds that we might encounter include Southern Bald Ibis, Jackal Buzzard, African Pied Starling, Cape Crow, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Grey-winged and Red-winged Francolins and the ‘often-heard-but-rarely-seen’ African Quail-Finch.  
Dinner will be in town at one of the restaurants. 

Day 11: Wakkerstroom to Mkuze 
A quick spot of birding in the morning, for birds we might have dipped on the previous day before we pack the car and continue our journey south, this time to one of Kwazulu-Natal’s premier birding spots, Mkuze Game Reserve.  
We should arrive in the Mkuze area mid- to late afternoon and after arrival in the park we’ll waste no time finding some of the spectacular birds that call this remarkable area home. A possible drive down to the Sand Forest, a dry and localized type of forest that is home to several spectacular species such a Pink-throated Twinspot, Four-coloured Bushshrike, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Crested Guineafowl and Rudd’s Apalis, before we head  to our accommodation outside the park. 
Dinner at Ghost Mountain Inn 

Day 12: Full day Mkuze National Park 
We have a full day ahead to explore the incredible diversity of Mkuze, not just birds but also a whole host of fascinating mammals, from one of Africa’s smallest antelope the Suni to the largest mammals, the African Elephant. African Wild Dog sighting is a very real possibility as is sighting of Cheetah and even Serval.  
Birding wise we’ll keep an eye out for Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, several Vulture species, Martial Eagle, White-crested Helmetshrike, Grey Penduline Tit and at one of the large wetlands, species such as Pink-backed and Great White Pelican, African Openbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Goliath Heron and Whiskered Tern. Several good hides are situated in the park, mostly overlooking waterholes and these can be worth a visit, sometimes producing memorable moments.  

Day 13: Mtunzini 
We’ll spend the morning birding in the gardens of the accommodation where birding can be topnotch, we often find birds such as Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Eastern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Green Twinspot, Eastern Nicator and Purple-crested Turaco in camp. 

After breakfast we’ll head out and make our way to Mtunzini. En route to Mtunzini we’ll stop at several wetlands near Mtubatuba where we might add the likes of Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Redheaded Quelia and many more.  
We’ll arrive in Mtunzini around lunch and head out shortly afterwards in the hope of finding Palmnut Vulture, usually a good spot for them. From Mtunzini we’ll head to Amatikulu Nature Reserve where we’ll look for Swamp Nightjar, Broad-tailed Warbler, Bokmakierie, Crested Barbet, Croaking Cisticola and Brown-backed Honeybird. We’ll arrive at our lodge in Eshowe later that evening. 

Day 14: Ongoye Forest and Dlinza Forest 
Our first stop today will be at Ongoye forest, a remnant patch of coastal scarp forest which straddles the hills for about 20km between Eshowe and Empangeni. This is the only spot in Southern Africa where Green Barbet can be found. The forest here is also good for Green Twinspot, Narina Trogon, Chorister Robin-Chat, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, African Crowned Eagle and Striped Pipit.  
We’ll use a different route back to Eshowe, travelling through rural Zululand, giving us an exciting and eye-opening perspective on the everyday life of the Zulu people. Back in Eshowe we’ll enjoy lunch before heading out of town to a good stakeout for Southern Tchagra and we’ll also enjoy more forest birding at another nearby forest. Dlinza forest with its aerial boardwalk will be our birding spot of choice this afternoon. 
Overnight: Birds of Paradise B&B (Eshowe)  

Day 15: Departure 
Early morning birding in the gardens and after breakfast we will travel to Durban King Shaka International airport for your onward flight. Please check our extension to Cape Town if you want to arrange it.

Información adicional

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INCLUDED

Please advice that this tour offers two options; including flights from Barcelona and excluding flights.

Ground price (without flights to/from South Africa) includes accommodation in double room (please check single room supplement) along the itinerary; birding guide; local birding guide/driver; transportation along the tour in air conditioned vehicles; entrance fees to natural sites & National Parks; refillable water bottles; all meals along the tour (out of dinners inside Kruger National Park and Wakkerstroom). VAT included.

EXCLUDED

Please advice that this tour offers two options; including flights from Barcelona and excluding flights.

If not joining the option including flights to/from South Africa, exclusions will be: VISAS to get to South Africa (if necessary); alcoholic & premium drinks; cameras and optical fees in parks & reserves; tips; soft drinks; dinners inside Kruger National Park and Wakkerstroom; items of personal nature; any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”.

ACCOMMODATION

All rooms during the tour are en-suite. Please check the single supplement if a single room is required. We will combine lovely birding B&B and cottages with lodges inside the National Parks.

PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

Nationals from most European countries and US citizens are excluded of any VISA to get into South Africa for any stay shorter than 60 days.

Please check standard health and innoculation requirements applies in your local authorities. Normally it is recommended to vacune against A-type Hepatitis. If you are travelling from or have recently travelled in a region with Yellow Fever, you will require the innoculation certificate to travel. Most of the itinerary runs into areas where malaria is possible. Please check standard health regarding malaria in your local authorities.

Reportes de viaje:

Precio

5490€

Por persona

4520€

Por persona

Suplemento habitación individual:

450€

Depósito:

950

Próxima Edición:

From October 16th
to October 31th, 2022

Duración:

16 days, 15 nights

Tamaño de grupo:

6 clients + 2 tour líders

Inicio/Final:

Johannesburg (or Barcelona if chosing the inflight option)

Tour Leader:

Carles Oliver

Tarifas de grupo:

15% off if 3+ bookings

Price in twin rooms. Price can vary depending on the flight ticket tariff at the moment of your booking. VAT included
  • White-bellied Bustard

  • leopard

  • lapped-faced vulture

  • double-banded sandgrouse

  • Retz’s helmetshrike

  • pearl-spotted owlet

  • green twinspot

  • southern ground hornbill


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