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 - 10 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

Glen's pacing of the tour was particularly good - relaxed whenever possible and upping the pace when necessary. His responsiveness and attention to client requests was admirable, as was his general demeanor throughout. Nice to spend such a long trip with someone so enthusiastic and sociable.

Doug McCulloch was a wonderful leader – skilled and informative, with patience and good humour in spades. This was the kind of tour that I enjoy most, where I learned about many aspects of natural history, and the culture and history of a country, in addition to seeing many bird species. An excellent experience!

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.

I'd read and heard positive feedback about Rockjumper before I booked the tour, so I was quite pleased when Keith Valentine, our guide, and Rockjumper were able to exceed my expectations. I knew Keith's role within the firm, so my expectations were particularly high. Keith was terrific. He knows the birds in great detail, including their field marks, calls, and where they can be found. He also deeply understands what it means to provide his customers a great experience, which he did his best to provide. A true leader and nice person that others in the firm can hopefully learn from and follow. All in all, this was a trip of a lifetime for me and my wife.

Wow! We assume Wayne Jones trains your new guides. He is the example of what an excellent bird guide should be. Most sightings are pointed out with apparent off-hand references to the unique characteristics and differences, so they become learning experiences rather than a mere bird count. He attempts to preempt difficult and time-consuming situations by planning in advance how best to solve them. He worked hard to make the tour work - and we got the birds!

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
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