We just turned 21! But what is 21 years, really, though?
It may not seem like much when you compare it to what Wisdom has seen in her 68+ years of life, or how the American Birding Association just celebrated their 50th Anniversary with us in Colombia, or how our friends at Audubon and BirdLife International have roots that run 100 years deep. But for us, 21 years is all we know. It all began in August of 1998, at the International Ornithological Council Congress (now the IOU) in Durban, South Africa, when Adam Riley announced a new company dedicated to finding, seeing and sharing the world’s birds. And, well, just look at us now!
Today we have “Rockjumper House”, our office run largely on green energy that hosts a couple of dozen staff. We have some of the best tour leaders in the business, spread across the globe, and operate tours to over 130 countries, on all 7 continents. We have a conservation fund, conservation partners, and departments within the company dedicated to conservation-centered tours, as well as custom-designed “Tailor-made” tours that represent about a third of our business. We have also created thriving sister companies – ORYX Photo Tours, Rockjumper Wildlife Tours, Out of Bounds, ORYX Wildlife Safaris for Conservation and Tau Anthropological Safaris. Our scheduled departures of course remain the backbone of what we do, and perhaps primary among them is one of our oldest and best-known destinations, tried and true, our own backyard, South Africa. And wouldn’t you know it, this is an exceptional place for wildlife, full of endemic plants and birds including, happily, the rockjumpers.
So yes, the honor of our featured image this month is given to the unique and charismatic Drakensberg Rockjumper. There are but two species in the family, the Drakensberg and the Cape, and while they are quite similar, the former has a brilliant orange breast with a rufous-red rump, and the latter features rich rufous-chestnut underparts. Quite local, our favourite and the namesake for our company, the Drakensberg Rockjumper is primarily found among the Drakensberg mountains – an astonishing 1,000km long, they separate the high-seated grasslands of South Africa’s interior from the low-lying coastal plain, sporting peaks that reach heights of up to 3,350m (11,000ft). One of South Africa’s most striking geographical features, their steep alpine habitats and subalpine grassland slopes with rocky outcrops are perfect for this snappy little bird, which as chance has it enjoys jumping from rock to rock, giving voice all the while.
We encourage you to join us in experiencing our home country for yourselves. Our Eastern South Africa tours travel through the fabled Kruger National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rolling-green hills of the midlands, and up the scenic Sani Pass in search of many of southern Africa’s most desirable species. Our most recent trip racked up a whopping 475 species in just 15 days, including Drakensberg Rockjumper, Bateleur, Southern Ground Hornbill, Blue Crane (Adam Riley’s favorite bird!), Southern Bald Ibis, and Pink-throated Twinspot, just to name a few. And while the birding is always spectacular, the mammals sometimes steal the show, and we have excellent chances of viewing Africa’s Big 5 – Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Rhino and the elusive Leopard – and Cheetah and African Wild Dog are other highly desirable species that we also stand good chances of finding.
If you would like to know more about any of the above, just shoot us a message or give us a call. In the meantime, see here for a video looking back on some great moments over the last 21 years, or here for some of the Rockjumper Team members’ favorite stories.
South Africa – Eastern IX
Nov 15 – 29, 2019 (15 days)
Tour price: ZAR56,500 * USD3,696 * GBP3,036 * EUR3,348
South Africa – Falcons & Big Cats
Jan 10 – 21, 2020 (12 days)
Tour price: ZAR56,000 * USD3,663 * GBP3,010 * EUR3,319
South Africa – Mega Birding Tour I
Jan 11 – Feb 02, 2020 (23 days)
Tour price: ZAR89,750* USD5,871 * GBP4,823 * EUR5,319
South Africa – Rallid Quest
Feb 14 – 22, 2020 (9 days)
Tour price: ZAR33,500* USD2,192 * GBP1,801 * EUR1,986