Overview

This tour package combines the best of the Western Cape with the 8 day Flock to Marion Cruise.

Southern Africa’s dry west is a unique and fascinating, yet under-visited land. A hotbed of faunal and floral diversity, this area harbours two botanical regions found nowhere else on earth; the Cape Floristic Region and the Succulent Karoo. Our tour showcases these areas and the range of special birds endemic to them; you can expect not only great birds, but some of the most dramatic scenery in Africa! Tour highlights include the stunning fynbos-clad slopes of the Western Cape, home to the stunning Cape Rockjumper and numerous other endemics; and the arid and semi-arid areas of the Karoo, which provide another great backdrop for a variety of bustards, larks and other endemics before we head back to Cape Town.

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 - Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Cape Bulbul, Protea and Black-headed Canaries, Orange-breasted and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, African Penguin, African Oystercatcher, Crowned, Bank and Cape Cormorants, Hartlaub’s Gull, Southern Black and Karoo Korhaans, Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Spurfowl, Victorin’s, Namaqua, Cinnamon-breasted, Layard’s and Rufous-eared Warblers, Fairy and Fiscal Flycatchers, Karoo Eremomela, Red, Sclater’s and Cape Long-billed Larks, Cape Penduline Tit, White-backed Mousebird, Karoo and Tractrac Chats, Karoo Scrub Robin, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Southern Boubou, Cape Batis, Verreaux's and Booted Eagles, South African Shelduck, Karoo Thrush, Forest and Cape Canaries.
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 - Common Eland, Blesbok (Bontebok), Hartebeest, Cape Grey Mongoose, Cape Grysbok, Springbok, Klipspringer, Grey Rhebok, Chacma Baboon and Meerkat
Habitats Covered
Cruise - Pelagic Land - mountains, semi-desert, fynbos, coastal, wetlands
Expected Climate
Cruise - cold and windy, Land - temperate to very warm
Max Group Size
Land - 12 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
190+
Other Attractions
Remote and rarely visited island, Indian Ocean, Tanqua-Karoo, Table Mountain, Cape Peninsula, great food & wine
Photographic Opportunities
good to excellent
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials

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

Thank you for a wonderful tour. We enjoyed your good company and we appreciate your expertise, effort and enthusiasm. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in South Africa and we hope to travel with you again sometime. P.S It was a cracker

Keith Valentine is a great guide and his knowledge of the birds and their calls was just amazing.

The [Eastern South Africa] trip has become even more exciting and memorable in retrospect, and we can't thank you enough. It was planned particularly well, giving us a great idea of the varied terrain and landscape across eastern South Africa, and it would be hard to choose the best of the places we stayed in - they were all so good and yet so varied. The birds were tremendous, and the animals scarcely behind; I don't think we shall ever forget the elephants in the mudbath. Nor shall we forget the Sani Pass and the rockjumpers, not to mention the hail! It really was a magnificent trip, and we enjoyed it enormously.

Wayne Jones is one of the most incredible bird and wildlife guides I have ever encountered. Always helpful and professional.

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
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