Overview

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.

Tour Facts Top Birds
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.
Top Mammals
Cruise - 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.
Habitats Covered
Cruise - Pelagic Land - mist-belt forest, acacia savanna, coastal grasslands, mountains, wetlands
Expected Climate
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
Accommodation
comfortable ship, and comfortable guesthouses & lodges
Ease of Birding
mosty easy
Number of Species Expected
240+
Other Attractions
Remote and rarely visited island, Indian Ocean, Sani Pass and Drakensberg Mountains, dramatic scenery, Zulu culture, iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Photographic Opportunities
good to excellent
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials

On a recent birding trip from Cape Town to Windhoek we appreciated Cuan’s range of talents. His keen eyes, knowledge of bird vocalizations and great enthusiasm for finding birds combine very nicely with his logistical expertise and delightful sense of humour. I was very pleased with the trip — well done, Cuan!

Gareth Robbins' knowledge is awesome, and his ability to keep us organised and focussed was exceptional.

Gareth Robbins is an excellent guide and did a fantastic job managing the group and our expectations. He has a wealth of knowledge and provided information on various topics, including the flora, fauna, culture and everything in between.

Our guide, Doug McCulloch, was outstanding. Both professional and personable. He made sure we all got on the bird if possible. Great eyes and ears, went out of his way at times. Ie: The scope was set up too high, the only way to see the bird, so for Joanie, Doug got down on all fours and had her step up on his back to see an African Finfoot through the scope. (We have a photo of this).

Wayne Jones is one of the best tour leaders I have been with... He is great at making we all see the birds. He knows their songs and call and the habitats where they occur.

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
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