The faster pace of the tour (South Africa Mega) was just what I wanted, and maximized chances for as many endemics as possible without adding more days. Markus was on top of things throughout, his timing and logistics were flawless, and his spotting skills are excellent. His precision served the group well and the group size (6) was ideal. He also was great with the many mammals, positioning the vehicle for the best viewing and photography, and sharing information about life histories. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and just wish I could do it all over again!
This Birding, Wine and Big Game tour has been specifically crafted for those who wish to view the wide variety of South Africa’s most sought after birds and mammals, whilst also enjoying South Africa’s award-winning, famous wines. We base ourselves in Cape Town for the beginning of the tour, widely recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful cities and within easy reach of the country’s prime vineyards! From here we venture north along the Atlantic Coast, experiencing the diverse ecosystem of the West Coast National Park, before heading east for the interior dry country riches of the Tanqua Karoo. After exploring and sampling the best wines of the Western Cape, we wing our way to the province of KwaZulu-Natal on South Africa’s eastern seaboard. From our base within the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, a private ‘Big 5’ wildlife reserve, we shall enjoy comfortable game drives through some of the country’s finest birding and mammal habitat. From the endemic rich Fynbos Kingdom of the Western Cape to the teeming wildlife of Manyoni Private Game Reserve, this tour offers the very best of southern African birding, game viewing and wine!
Western Cape: Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Protea and Cape Canaries, Orange-breasted, Malachite & Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, African Penguin, African Oystercatcher, Crowned, Bank & Cape Cormorants, Hartlaub’s Gull, Black Harrier, Southern Black and Karoo Korhaans, Cape Spurfowl, Bokmakierie, Jackal Buzzard, Southern Boubou, Swee Waxbill, Karoo and Large-billed Larks, Karoo Eremomela, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Weaver, Cape Bulbul, Maccoa Duck, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck, Victorin’s, Cinnamon-breasted, Rufous-eared and Namaqua Warblers, Cape Penduline Tit, White-backed Mousebird, Greater and Lesser Flamingos
Zululand: Common Ostrich, Saddle-billed and Marabou Storks, African Openbill, Bateleur, Martial, Crowned, African Hawk-, Southern Banded Snake and Tawny Eagles, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, Natal Spurfowl, Crested Guineafowl, Bronze-winged Courser, Southern White-faced Owl, Trumpeter, Crowned, Southern Red-billed and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills, Neergaard’s and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, African Broadbill, Gorgeous, Orange-breasted & Grey-headed Bushshrikes, Pink-throated Twinspot, Rudd’s Apalis, Eastern Nicator, Bearded Scrub Robin, White-browed and Red-capped Robin-Chats, White-eared, Black-collared and Crested Barbets, Black-bellied & Violet-backed Starlings, Narina Trogon, Blue-mantled & African Paradise Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied & Sombre Greenbuls, Terrestrial Brownbul, Black Saw-wing, Red-faced Cisticola, Lesser Masked & Southern Masked Weavers, Black-bellied Bustard, Lilac-breasted Roller, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Woodland & Striped Kingfishers, Green Malkoha
Western Cape: Afro-Australian Fur Seal, Common Eland, Blesbok (Bontebok), (Cape) Mountain Zebra, (Red) Hartebeest, Cape Grysbok, Cape Grey Mongoose
Zululand: The ‘Big 5’ (Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, Black and White Rhinoceroses, African Buffalo), Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Waterbuck, Southern & Mountain Reedbucks, Natal Red & Grey Duikers, Steenbok, Bushbuck, Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Giraffe, Chacma Baboon and Vervet, Hippopotamus, Spotted Hyena, Cape Porcupine, Black-backed Jackal, White-tailed Mongoose, Common Genet, African Savanna Hare and Thick-tailed Greater Galago
Western Cape: mountains, Fynbos, coastal waters, semi desert, wetlands
Zululand: acacia savanna, bushveld, sand forest, riverine forest, grasslands, rivers, wetlands
Western Cape: subtropical with occasional rain, can be cold at times
Zululand: subtropical and dry, warm to hot
relaxed to moderate pace with undemanding walks
Western Cape: Table Mountain, incredible coastal scenery, Tanqua-Karoo, great food & wine
Zululand: vast, pristine wilderness, large numbers of African mega-fauna
Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town, visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with late afternoon wine tasting
We begin our tour in Cape Town with an afternoon exploration of the picturesque Cape Peninsula at one of the local birding hotspots. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lies on the slopes of Table Mountain and is home to a plethora of endemics restricted to the Macchia-like fynbos vegetation of the southern tip of Africa: Cape Spurfowl scurry across the lawns, the magnificent Protea gardens are home to spectacular Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird, both of which are South African endemics, whilst Cape Bulbul, Olive Thrush, the attractive Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou and Southern Double-collared Sunbird may be found in areas of denser cover. We will watch out for African Goshawk and Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, which occasionally display above the indigenous forest that cloaks the slopes above the gardens. These forests are also home to African Olive Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Cape Batis, Sombre Greenbul and Forest Canary.
With the splendours of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens fresh in our minds, we shall depart for the spectacular mountains and surrounding valleys covered by a myriad of vineyards which welcome us to the heart of the Cape winelands. It is in this magnificent region that we shall enjoy a sample of the superb wines on offer including the South African signature variety, Pinotage, a wine produced from cross pollinating Pinot Noir and Hermitage grapes. Our wine estate of choice this evening will be Groot Constantia. This estate was founded in 1685 and is South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate. Stepped in history we will have some time to explore the gardens a little before enjoying our first tasting on South African soil. We will have the opportunity to taste a wonderful selection of varietals including some of their Chardonnays for which the estate is probably best known for. Over the past 10 years Groot Constantia has collected an incredible total of 66 gold medals, mostly from international wine shows and largely for their Chardonnay’s, although their Shiraz and Pinotage have also collected their fair share of accolades. We will dine tonight at the famous Jonkershuis Restaurant on the property, which serves a lovely selection of food including a number of typically South African dishes.
Day 2: Cape Point, Strandfontein Water Treatment and late afternoon wine tasting
This morning on our South Africa birding tour, we travel to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. This wonderful park showcases the most south-western point of the continent and is very popular amongst birders and more general tourists alike. Here we should again find Cape Sugarbird, stunning Orange-breasted Sunbird, and perhaps the impressive Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Grassbird and Cape Siskin. We will explore the network of roads to less visited parts of the reserve, visiting secluded coves and searching for the elusive Cape Mountain Zebra and Bontebok antelope. In addition we could also find Eland, the largest antelope in the world. We will spend the rest of the day at the productive Strandfontein water treatment works. Regarded by many as the best locality in Cape Town to connect with water-birds, this site hosts Maccoa Duck, Black-necked, Little and Greater-crested Grebe, Great White Pelican, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, South African Shelduck, Cape, Red-billed and Hottentot Teal, African Oystercatcher, African Marsh-Harrier and large numbers of Palearctic migrants including Ruff, Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover, Wood, Marsh and Common Sandpiper all intermixed with Pied Avocet, Three-banded and Kittlitz’s Plovers while African Swamphen and Black Crake dart through the reeds along the edge of the pans.
Later on in the afternoon we will venture back towards the vineyards below the Silvermine/Table Mountain range for another memorable tasting and evening meal. The estate of choice tonight will be Steenberg Estate and we will once again be able to sample a fine selection of the region’s best wines. Like Cape Point Vineyards this estate is most famous for its award winning Sauvignon Blanc’s however also produces some excellent Semillon, Merlot and Shiraz while their Nebbiolo, an unusual varietal to be found in South Africa, has picked up a number of accolades as well. Dinner tonight will be enjoyed at another fine restaurant on the property – Katharina’s.
Day 3: The Cape Peninsula and late afternoon wine tasting
A diverse array of birding habitats are present around Cape Town and today we will visit a variety of sites, ranging from wetlands to fynbos and marine shoreline. Making our way early to the rugged Hottentots-Holland Mountains, we will search for one of South Africa’s finest endemics: the handsome Cape Rockjumper. Though strikingly plumaged and conspicuous by their vocalisations, these charismatic birds possess an incredible ability to disappear amongst the boulders and we may have to be patient if we wish to enjoy sightings of these elusive creatures. The thick mountain fynbos is the favoured habitat of Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin and the beautiful, endemic Victorin’s Warbler, while other species including Verreaux’s Eagle, Grey-backed Cisticola and Ground Woodpecker are also found in the area. Chacma Baboon is fairly common here, but we will have to scan the rocky ridges carefully for the agile Klipspringer.
After a delicious lunch we shall venture to the nearby wine estate of Cape Point Vineyards where we shall supplement the salty ocean scents for the subtle bouquet of further fine wines at an evening wine tasting followed by an early dinner. Nestled against the Silvermine Mountains with phenomenal views over Noordhoek and Chapman’s Peak this fabulous estate is probably best known for their award winning Sauvignon Blanc’s. The estate is situated very close to the icy Atlantic Ocean and the cool breezes are perfect for producing excellent Sauvignon Blanc’s. This afternoon/evening we will have ample time to enjoy exceptional views, sunset, wines and good food on this estate.
Day 4: Cape Town to Ceres via West Coast National Park
Our first site of interest today is the West Coast National Park. Large numbers of waders spend the northern winter here and we will check the exposed banks of Langebaan Lagoon for Red Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover and Eurasian Curlew, as well as Kittlitz’s and the localised Chestnut-banded Plovers. In addition to the shorebirds, these areas also support large numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler and other waterfowl. The surrounding short, coastal vegetation (Strandveld) is home to the endemic Southern Black Korhaan, Grey-winged Francolin, Grey Tit, Cape Penduline Tit, Karoo Lark, Capped Wheatear, Fiscal Flycatcher, Karoo Scrub Robin and the magnificent Black Harrier, surely one of the world’s most attractive raptors! In the late afternoon we will make the drive through to the farming village of Ceres, gateway to the Tanqua Karoo.
Day 5: Ceres and the Tanqua Karoo
Just a short drive from the village of Ceres is the semi-arid, central plateau of South Africa known as the Karoo; a land of endless vistas and spectacular sunsets, renowned for its endemic larks, chats and canaries. We leave the famous fruit-growing valley of Ceres before reaching our first stop at Karoopoort, a narrow canyon that forms the gateway to the Succulent Karoo. Birds inhabiting the arid, rocky slopes and acacia-filled watercourses of this area include White-backed Mousebird, Acacia Pied Barbet, Mountain Wheatear, Layard’s and Chestnut-vented Warblers, the dainty Fairy Flycatcher and Pririt Batis, whilst the adjacent reedbeds are home to the endemic Namaqua Warbler. One of the area’s most charismatic birds is the highly localised Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. Though fairly vocal, this species is highly elusive and seeing it in its habitat of jumbled boulders and rocky scree will require a combination of patience and perseverance.
Continuing northwards onto the open flats of the Karoo, we will watch the roadsides carefully for Karoo and Spike-heeled Larks, Tractrac, Sickle-winged and Karoo Chats, the elusive Karoo Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler and Yellow and White-throated Canaries. Pale Chanting Goshawk and Rock Kestrel perch conspicuously on any vantage points and, if we are lucky on our South Africa birding tour, we may find Booted Eagle or Lanner Falcon. We will also stop to listen for the distinctive flight calls of Namaqua Sandgrouse and the strange, croaking of the Karoo Korhaan, which may help us to locate these cryptically coloured birds. If very fortunate we may even see the nomadic Ludwig’s Bustard striding through the desolate plains or come across a group of highly nomadic Burchell’s Courser on the barren gravel flats.
Day 6: Ceres to Cape Town via Stellenbosch/Paarl
This morning on our South Africa birding tour, we have the opportunity to target one final endemic species, the range-restricted Protea Canary. This uncommon and local bird is fairly regularly seen on the high Protea-clad mountain slopes above Ceres and we will spend time at key positions listening for its distinctive call. The moist gullies here also hold a few other endemics such as the skulking Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Cape Sugarbird and Bokmakierie. After our morning’s birding we will then depart from Ceres for Stellenbosch. On the way we will stop at Paarl Mountain where we can do a little more birding if there are still species that we haven’t yet seen. The site can be a decent backup for the tricky Protea Canary while quality species such as Swee Waxbill, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Sugarbird, Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop and Streaky-headed Seedeater can all regularly be found. Our accommodations tonight will be in the heart of wine country – Stellenbosch. Nearby are some of South Africa’s most prestigious wine estates such as Meerlust and Vergenoegd. Meerlust Rubicon is arguably South Africa’s most well respected wine estate and for years has provided a bench mark for others trying to produce a first class Bordeaux blend. The estate was founded back in 1756 and has been in the Myburgh family for 8 generations. Being only a few kilometres away from our accommodations we can enjoy tasting the Meerlust range of wines that include a fine Pinot Noir, Merlot, oaked Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and their flagship Rubicon (certainly one of South Africa’s most iconic wines). Vergenoegd just happens to be the next-door estate and is also famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Bordeaux Blend. Their wines have always been done in a style of longevity and in general keeping a Vergenoegd for 30 plus years is common place! If time allows we will also enjoy a few wines from this prestigious estate before returning to our lodge for a delicious final dinner in the heart of the Cape Vineyards.
Day 7, Cape Town flight to Durban to Zululand Rhino Reserve
After an early breakfast this morning on our South Africa birding tour, we shall depart for an onward flight from Cape Town International Airport to the tropical climate of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province. From here we will strike out north into the heart of Zululand. Our base for the next 5 nights will be the beautifully appointed Zebra Hills Safari Lodge situated inside the 56,000 acre Zululand Rhino Reserve.
After checking in to our private and very comfortable lodge overlooking a busy waterhole, we will take our first game and birding drive in an open safari vehicle, returning in the dark whilst spotlighting. Each evening we will relax under the stars around an open fire enjoying a refreshing beverage and listening to the sounds of the African night and watching for animals that might come down to drink at the lodge waterhole. In the past we have had Lion, Cheetah, both species of rhino, Giraffe, African Buffalo and numerous species of antelope quenching their thirst here.
Day 8: Day trip to Mkuze Game Reserve
Nearby Mkuze Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s most well-known birding hotspots. This reserve offers additional chances for almost all the bird and wildlife species that occur in the Zululand Rhino Reserve but today we will focus on waterbird and sandforest specials that are more difficult or irregular in the Zululand Rhino Reserve. Mkuze has much larger stands of Tongaland Sandforest and here we will seek out any of this microhabitat’s special birds that we may not have encountered yet such as Neergaard’s Sunbird and African Broadbill. The expansive Ensumo Pan hosts a mouth-watering selection of waterbirds and large pods of Hippopotamus and massive Nile Crocodiles. Here we will look for flocks of White-faced Whistling Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Red-billed and Hottentot Teal, Yellow-billed, Saddle-billed and Marabou Stork, African Openbill, Glossy Ibis, African Spoonbill, the enormous Goliath (largest heron in the world), Purple, Squacco and Black Heron, Great, Little and Intermediate Egret, Great White and Pink-backed Pelican, African Darter, African Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, African Jacana, the elusive Greater Painted Snipe, Collared Pratincole, White-winged and Whiskered Tern, Malachite, Giant and Pied Kingfisher and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. Other species for which we stand a better chance in Mkuze include Southern Banded Snake Eagle, African Cuckoo-Hawk, African Marsh Harrier, Pel’s Fishing Owl if we are very lucky, Green Malkoha, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Black-throated Wattle-eye. After a full day of birding we will return to Zebra Hills.
Days 9 to 11: Zululand Rhino Reserve
Over the course of the next 3 full days we will explore the wonders of this incredibly scenic African wilderness. Home to an impressive variety of big game including the much talked about ‘Big 5’, our time in this reserve is sure to be thrilling and memorable. Landscapes in the reserve range from rolling hills of open Acacia savannah, lush riverbeds lined with giant Sycamore figs and bright Fever tree forests, dense thickets favoured by the elusive Black Rhinoceros, towering cliffs and scattered waterholes often thronged with thirsty animals.
Regularly encountered mammals include the ubiquitous Impala and Common Warthog, splendid Nyala (a stunning richly coloured and boldly marked antelope that has a rather limited distribution), Greater Kudu (males with impressive spiralled horns), Common Waterbuck, both Southern and Mountain Reedbuck, the diminutive Natal Red Duiker and its more nocturnal cousin the Grey Duiker, Steenbok which favour the driest zones and Common Bushbuck which stick to the denser vegetation around the riverbeds, herds of ungainly Blue Wildebeest and Plains Zebra usually travel together, dispersed herds of enormous Giraffe and noisy troops of Chacma Baboon and Vervet Monkeys.
A few of the larger waterholes support family groups of raucous Hippopotamus and two other sought-after target species are the elegant Cheetah which occur in healthy numbers and a pack of endangered African Wild Dogs that call this reserve home. The “Big 5” is always high on every visitor’s want list and the Zululand Rhino Reserve is particularly proud of the conservation work that it does in protecting good numbers of both Black and White Rhinoceros despite the current scourge of illegal poaching. Family groups of White Rhinos are regularly encountered but the shyer and less numerous Black Rhino are more difficult to find. Herds of African Buffalo can number in their hundreds and both lone bulls and matriarchal herds of African Elephant roam the reserve. Lions occur in good numbers, especially around this southern section of the reserve and are regularly encountered around Zebra Hills lodge itself where our guests are often awakened at dawn by the reverberating roar of Lions. Finally the Leopard, which is the most elusive of the Big 5, occurs in healthy numbers but finding this stealthy spotted cat always requires a hefty dose of good luck.
During our South Africa birding tour, we will also take time out to do a few night drives and besides the mammals mentioned above, we stand chances of finding a variety of nocturnal specialists such as Spotted Hyena, Cape Porcupine, Black-backed Jackal, White-tailed Mongoose, Cape Genet, Scrub Hare and Greater Galago (Thick-tailed Bushbaby). If we are very lucky we might come across the bizarre Aardvark, Caracal, Serval, Bushpig or Brown Hyena.
The reserve bird list boasts over 400 species and we are sure to encounter a mouth-watering selection of quality species during our time here. Topping the list are the classic sand forest specialities that include the highly localized trio of Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergaard’s Sunbird and Rudd’s Apalis, eye-catching Gorgeous Bushshrike, Eastern Nicator and Bearded Scrub-Robin. Early morning drives often turn up Crested and Natal Francolins scuttling off the roads as well as flocks of the bizarre Crested Guineafowl.
We will spend quality time along the reserve’s riverine woodlands searching for numerous frugivorous species that flock here to feed on the abundance of fruiting figs. These include cryptic African Green Pigeons, the brilliant Purple-crested Turaco, White-eared and Black-collared Barbet and their smaller cousin the Red-fronted Tinkerbird, noisy Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbills, Black-headed and the migrant Eurasian Golden Oriole, and busy flocks of Black-bellied and Violet-backed Starlings.
Other species that also prefer these moister forests include Scaly-throated and Lesser Honeyguide, Burchell’s Coucal, the sought-after Narina Trogon, raucous Broad-billed Roller, Brown-hooded, Woodland and the gorgeous African Pygmy Kingfisher and the most southern breeding population of Grey-headed Kingfisher, cackling family groups of Green Wood Hoopoe, the enormous Southern Ground-Hornbill, Black-backed Puffback, Southern Boubou, Square-tailed Drongo, Blue-mantled and African Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Black Saw-wing, Red-faced Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-browed and Red-capped Robin-chats (both accomplished songsters), Collared, Grey and Purple-banded Sunbird and both Spectacled and Forest Weaver.
Waterbirds include pairs of Egyptian Goose that dominate most waterholes, noisy Hadeda Ibis and unique Hamerkop, Woolly-necked Stork, the secretive Striated Heron and more conspicuous Grey Heron, migrant Common and Wood Sandpipers, Three-banded Plover, African Wattled Lapwing, family groups of Water Thick-knee and Black Crake. Thirsty Red-eyed, Ring-necked, Laughing and Emerald-spotted Wood Dove are regular waterhole visitors and noisy Village, Lesser Masked and Southern Masked Weavers nest in vegetation hanging over the waterholes. The reserve’s more open grasslands are home to a healthy population of the world’s largest bird, the Common Ostrich, as well as a good number of Black-bellied Bustard. Other species we will seek in this habitat include Common Buttonquail, Crowned and Senegal Lapwing, Temminck’s Courser, Shelley’s Francolin, Black Coucal (in longer, moister grasslands), Little and European Bee-eater, Rufous-naped and Flappet Lark, Barn, Lesser Striped and Red-breasted Swallow, Croaking Cisticola, Neddicky, Red-billed Quelea which sometimes flock and breed in the reserve in the millions, White-winged Widowbird, Yellow-throated Longclaw and African Pipit.
The Acacia savannahs or bushveld habitat have their own subset of species which prefer this slightly drier habitat and these include Grey Go-away-bird, Red-faced and Speckled Mousebird, the multi-coloured Lilac-breasted Roller, African Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Southern Yellow-billed and Red-billed Hornbill, Acacia Pied and Crested Barbets, Greater Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird, Striped Kingfisher, Golden-tailed, Cardinal and Bearded Woodpecker, Chinspot Batis, flocks of White-crested Helmetshrike, Grey-headed and Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Brown-crowned and Black-crowned Tchagra, Brubru, Black Cuckooshrike, migrant Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrike, the miniscule Grey Penduline Tit, Sabota and the rare Dusky Lark, Long-billed Crombec, migrant Icterine and Willow Warbler, ubiquitous Rattling Cisticola, the scarce Stierling’s Wren-warbler, Yellow-bellied and Burnt-necked Eremomela, noisy flocks of Arrow-marked Babbler, abundant Cape Glossy Starling, Red-billed Oxpecker which frequent the larger mammalian fauna, Groundscraper and the near-endemic Kurrichane Thrush, the handsome White-throated Robin-chat (another near-endemic), White-browed Scrub-Robin, Pale and Grey Tit Flycatcher, Scarlet-chested and White-bellied Sunbird, Yellow-throated Petronia, the little known Bushveld Pipit, Yellow-fronted Canary and last but not least, Golden-breasted Bunting.
Raptors are prevalent in the Zululand Rhino Reserve and we will keep a look out for a variety of eagles including the massive Martial (Africa’s largest) and powerful Crowned Eagle (Africa’s monkey-eating version of Harpy which nest in good numbers in the reserve and are virtually guaranteed to be encountered), as well as breeding pairs of migrant Wahlberg’s, Tawny, the scarcer African Hawk-Eagle and non-breeding migrants which include Lesser Spotted, Booted and more rarely Steppe Eagle. Brown Snake Eagle is the most commonly encountered snake eagle but Black-chested also occurs and the aberrant Bateleur, one of Africa’s classiest raptors is regularly seen rocking over the savannas on its broad wings. Small numbers of Secretarybird stride across the more open grasslands in search of snakes and other prey and other regularly encountered raptors include Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kite, African Harrier-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar and African Goshawk, Black and Little Sparrowhawk, migrant Common (Steppe) Buzzard and Lanner Falcon. Vultures are also prevalent and play an important role in cleaning up the reserve. African White-backed is the default species but smaller numbers of massive Lappet-faced, White-headed, Hooded and rarely Palm-nut occur.
During the southern summer, numerous cuckoo species are vocal through the reserve and we will keep an eye and ear out for Great Spotted, Levaillant’s, Jacobin, Red-chested, Black, African, Klaas’s, Diederik and the stunning African Emerald. Colourful seedeaters are also a feature of the area and species we will seek include Green-winged Pytilia, Red-billed, African and Jameson’s Firefinch, Blue, Common and Grey Waxbill, African Quail Finch and the incredible Pink-throated Twinspot. Village, Purple and Dusky Indigobirds and Pin-tailed and Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs attain their breeding plumage late in the summer and are nest parasites on the aforementioned seedeaters. Nocturnal excursions may reveal the uncommon Bronze-winged Courser, Spotted Eagle, Barn, African Wood, African Scops, Southern White-faced and Verreaux’s Eagle Owls and Fiery-necked and Square-tailed Nightjars.
Day 12: Zululand Rhino Reserve to King Shaka International Airport and depart
This morning we shall embark on a final drive through this unspoilt reserve before we depart for King Shaka International Airport where the tour shall conclude.
What our clients say about tours to South Africa
- RB, SA Mega
Gareth was very considerate of all tour member and kept everything on schedule. He went out of his way to find bird species of particular interest to those on the tour and very enthusiastic about birding.South Africa 2015
I would like to add my thanks to you, Crystal, and all the other people associated with Rockjumper for making this the best birding tour in which I have participated. David’s leadership was superb as our trip bird count shows. I would be happy to go with Rockjumper on future trips. Thanks again for your assistance during the Mega South Africa trip.G, South Africa Mega
Gareth was an excellent guide. He was always on hand to give help and advice when needed and didn’t favour one guest over another. His enthusiasm could not be faulted and local and birding knowledge faultless.SM, South Africa 2016
Greg de Klerk was one of the best guides I have – EVER. Excellent with bird ID, calls and habitat. And probably just as important in a group setting, VERY good with people, fun, friendly and left no one out. I have heard good things about Rockjumper Tours for years and now I see why. Keep up the good work.JS, Best of South Africa: Cape & Kruger I 2016
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 crackerSouth Africa
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.AC, South Africa Mega
Thoroughly enjoyed Gareth – sense of humour was great and he worked tirelessly to ensure everyone could see the bird.SH, South Africa Comp V 2015
Markus gets A+++ marks from me. Not only is he an excellent birder, but he is also a wonderful traveling companion. Our conversations were varied and interesting. He not only knows a lot about nature; he also participated in talks about a wide variety of subjects. We learned a lot about South Africa. His sense of humor is wonderful. His enthusiasm kept us all on a anticipatory high. His leading a tour will be a big plus for me when I am deciding on another trip.SC, SA Mega & Kruger
Wayne Jones is one of the most incredible bird and wildlife guides I have ever encountered. Always helpful and professional.AM, Budget Eastern South Africa
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.EE & RE, South Africa
Rainer established what each of the participants expected from the tour [Cape to Wiindhoek, South Africa] and then managed to excel expectations without seeming to try to do this. We saw all our favourite birds and animals and even plants. Yes we even enjoyed the wildflowers too! His birding skills, including recognition of calls, were exceptional. His effortless ability to manage logistics and his energy for making it happen, made this tour easy and stress-free; something I’m exceptionally grateful for. His enthusiasm for new finds (not just birds!) was totally contagious and added to the enjoyment. His broad knowledge met all my needs for information about this new continent – and that made this tour particularly satisfying for me.Cape to Windhoek
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!HSA, South Africa
Since our trip left right after Easter, and the office was supposed to be closed, I REALLY appreciated Lorna responding to my questions in such a timely fashion. She was right there with answers. Accommodations were very very nice, esp Whale View Manor (within walking distance of penguins). The food was fabulous. Greg de Klerk is the best guide I’ve ever travelled with. He is very knowledgeable, kind, and has a great sense of humour. He did his best to make sure everyone saw as many birds as possible, and that we knew what we were seeing. He continually checked in with us, to make sure everyone was having a good time. He made a good trip into a great trip.KB, Best of South Africa: Cape & Kruger I 2016
Both Eliza and I really enjoyed our trip with you. Great birds, animals, landscape and people. Your dedication and sincere interest in our wishes exemplify the perfect guide. It has been such a great pleasure getting to know you and traveling with you. I hope that we can do it again.E, Private (Eastern) South Africa
Greg handled all personalities with poise, humor and attentiveness and constantly checked to see if everyone was happy. If someone had a problem, he immediately worked on a solution. It is obvious he loves his job, and he went out of his way to find birds for us, even in the most difficult weather conditions. His knowledge of the area was superior. He took excellent care of us and made us feel very welcome!CB, South Africa 2017
Gareth studiously worked to meet each participant’s individual needs without sacrificing the overall experience of the group. His audio sense and grasp of song probably even exceeded his other birding skills (which were quite formidable in the own right). His sense of humour and engagement with people was excellent.DH, South Africa Comp V 2015
Our guide, Greg de Klerk, was absolutely fabulous. Not only great birding skills and knowledge throughout our tour, but his enthusiasm and amazing knowledge of Kruger and all its wildlife made for an unforgettable experience (it was my first trip to Africa). He was especially good at helping everyone in our party see each bird or animal which I greatly appreciated. Greg handled all aspects of the tour flawlessly. I would definitely recommend Greg highly for whatever tour he is leading.PF, Best of South Africa: Cape & Kruger I 2016
My wife and I were part of a six person tour of South Africa that was led by David Hoddinott. Our trip was excellent and seamless. David was the perfect guide for our group and, as I’m sure you’re aware, is an extraordinary birder and bird finder…. Thank you to Rockjumper, and David especially, for taking the time to create such a wonderful trip for our group.
As always, I’m sure that it’s a challenge to accommodate numerous personalities within a group and David was great at it. We all liked him from day one and he was always positive and up for anything. He was an absolute joy to be with.
We’d previously been to Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Botswana and South Africa was a totally different experience. We really enjoyed the people that we got to meet and the sheer beauty of the country is breathtaking. David’s enthusiasm and pride of his homeland was inspiring and infectious. We can’t thank him enough for making it come alive for us.
And thanks to all who had a part in setting it all up. We’d happily recommend Rockjumper to anyone thinking about a trip led by you.EB, South Africa 2014