This tour package combines the best of KwaZulu Natal with the 8 day Flock to Marion Cruise.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal on South Africa’s eastern seaboard boasts some of the country’s finest birding as well as exceptional mammal viewing. An impressive 550+ bird species occur within the region, reflecting the incredible natural diversity of the area; and this, coupled with a modern infrastructure well suited to the needs of the modern traveller, makes birding here an absolute delight. From the endemic-rich mist-belt forests of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to the lofty peaks of the magnificent Drakensberg, this tour of KwaZulu Natal offers some of the very best of southern African birding!
This 8 day voyage out of Cape Town will sail through the Indian Ocean towards The Prince Edward Islands group, comprising two small islands in the sub-antarctic Indian Ocean. The islands are a declared Special Nature Reserves under the South African Environmental Management and activities on the islands are restricted to research and conservation management.
The wildlife on Marion is particularly vulnerable to introduced species and has suffered terribly with introduced mice and cats. While cats are now believed to have been eradicated, mice are still a major problem. A portion of the fees paid for this trip will be donated to the Mouse Free Marion Project.
We expect to see a host of seabirds with highlights including Kerguelan, Blue and Grey Petrels; Grey-headed, Sooty, Light-mantled and Wandering Albatrosses; King, Gentoo, Macaroni and Southern Rockhopper Penguins; Fairy and Salvin’s Prions and Kerguelan Tern. Should we obtain permission to venture into the marine protected area around Marion, we should also find Crozet Shag and Black-faced Sheathbill. A number of marine mammals are also anticipated, with Southern Elephant and Subantarctic Fur Seals; Fin, Sperm, Humpback and Killer Whales, as well as Dusky Dolphin being amongst the most likely.
More than 40 bird tour leaders and guides will be onboard for the cruise, including many who are very good at their cetacean identification too. Peter Harrison MBE, author of Seabirds: An Identification Guide – considered the bible of seabird identification will also be onboard, during which time he will not only be guiding, but also release his new seabird identification guide.
The tour is dynamically priced, and will become more expensive over time.
Flock to Marion Cruise
Good chances - Black-faced Sheathbill, Grey-headed, Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls; Greater Crested, Sandwich and Kerguelen Terns; Brown Skua; King Penguin; Wilson's and Black-bellied Storm Petrels; Wandering, Sooty, Black-browed, Shy, Grey-headed and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses; Southern Giant, Northern Giant, Great-winged, Soft-plumaged, Grey, White-chinned and Blue Petrels; Salvin's and Fairy Prions; Cory's, Sooty and Great Shearwaters; Common Diving Petrels; Cape Gannet; Cape Cormorant; Crozet Shag.
Moderate chances - Sabine's Gull; Common and Antarctic Terns; Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers; Gentoo, Southern Rockhopper, Macaroni and African Penguins; Light-mantled and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses; European Storm Petrel; Cape, Kerguelen and White-headed Petrels; Antarctic Prion; Subantarctic Shearwater.
Low chances - Lesser Crested and Arctic Terns; Long-tailed Jaeger; Grey-backed and White-bellied Storm Petrels; Southern Royal and Northern Royal Albatrosses; Leach's Storm Petrel; Southern Fulmar; Slender-billed Prion; Barau's, South Georgia Diving and Spectacled Petrels; Manx and Little Shearwaters; Crowned, Bank and White-breasted Cormorants.
Very Low chances - White-faced Storm Petrel, Amsterdam and Tristan Albatrosses, Broad-billed Prion, Atlantic Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater.
Land - Blue, Wattled and Grey Crowned Cranes, Denham’s Bustard, Southern Bald Ibis, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Bush Blackcap, Ground and Olive Woodpeckers, Knysna, Purple-crested and Livingstone’s Turacos, Chorister Robin-Chat, Drakensberg and Karoo Prinias, Grey Tit, Olive Thrush, Fairy Flycatcher, Layard's Warbler, Cape Parrot, Narina Trogon, Olive Bushshrike, Spotted and Orange Ground Thrushes, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrushes, Woodward’s and Cape Batises, Grey Waxbill, Brown Scrub Robin, Buff-streaked and Sickle-winged Chats, Scarlet-chested and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Green Malkoha, Half-collared and Giant Kingfishers, Little and White-fronted Bee-eaters, Southern Boubou, Cape and Forest Canaries, Cape, Spectacled and Southern Brown-throated Weavers, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Drakensberg Siskin.
Good chances - Subantarctic Fur and Southern Elephant Seals; Humpback Whale.
Moderate chances - Antarctic Fur Seal; Sperm, Killer, Fin and Long-finned Pilot Whales; Dusky Dolphin.
Low chances - Heaviside's, Short-beaked Common, Hourglass and Bottlenose Dolphins; Southern Right, Common Minke, Sei and Bryde's Whales.
Very Low chances - Southern Right Whale Dolphin; Blue Whale.
Land - African Buffalo, White Rhinoceroses, Blue Wildebeest, Nyala, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Plains Zebra, Warthog, Sloggett’s Vlei Rat, Hippopotamus.
Cruise - Pelagic
Land - mist-belt forest, acacia savanna, coastal grasslands, mountains, wetlands
Cruise - cold and windy,
Land - subtropical with chances for occasional rain, warm to hot in lowlands, cooler in highlands
Max Group Size
Land - 9 with 1 Rockjumper Leader / Flock - 2300+ with 40 leaders
Tour Pace & Walking
Cruise - easy
Land - moderate pace with undemanding walks, some long drives
comfortable ship, and comfortable guesthouses & lodges
Ease of Birding
Number of Species Expected
Remote and rarely visited island, Indian Ocean, Sani Pass and Drakensberg Mountains, dramatic scenery, Zulu culture, iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
good to excellent