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.
Our western South Africa Cape extensions, combined with our eastern South Africa tours, can produce up to an incredible 500 bird and 50 mammal species, including many South African endemics and near-endemics. Commencing in Cape Town, widely considered one of the world’s most beautiful cities, we set out to explore the breathtaking Cape Peninsula, the succulent Tanqua Karoo, West Coast National Park and teeming pelagic waters. Cape targets include the comical African Penguin, Black Harrier, Ludwig’s Bustard, elusive Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, attractive Victorin’s Warbler, Karoo Lark, stunning Orange-breasted and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbird, Protea, Cape and Forest Canaries, Cape Siskin, Cape Bulbul and Cape Rockjumper, the last belonging to a family that is endemic to southern Africa. Regional endemics could include Rufous-eared Warbler, Southern Boubou, Cape Batis, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Karoo Eremomela, Cape Weaver, Fiscal Flycatcher, Namaqua Warbler, Cape Spurfowl and Olive Thrush. An unforgettable experience is definitely a pelagic trip out to sea from Cape Town, whereby finding a fishing vessel could produce literally thousands of birds in its wake. Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed, Black-browed and Shy Albatrosses, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels and Cape Gannet are regularly encountered. Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.
Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Bulbul, Cape Siskin, Protea, Forest, Cape & Black-headed Canaries, Orange-breasted, Malachite & Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, African Penguin, African Oystercatcher, Crowned, Bank & Cape Cormorants, Hartlaub’s Gull, Black Harrier, Southern Black & Karoo Korhaans, Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Spurfowl, Bokmakierie, Victorin’s, Namaqua, Rufous-eared, Cinnamon-breasted, and Layard’s Warblers, Karoo Eremomela, Cape Penduline Tit, White-backed Mousebird, Karoo and Tractrac Chats, Karoo Scrub Robin, Southern Boubou, Fiscal and Fairy Flycatchers, Cape Batis, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Lark, Grey Tit, Grey-winged Francolin, Olive Thrush, South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler, Indian & Atlantic Yellow-nosed, Black-browed & Shy Albatrosses, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Cape Gannet
Afro-Australian Fur Seal, Southern Right Whale, Common Eland, Blesbok (Bontebok), (Cape) Mountain Zebra, (Red) Hartebeest, Cape Grey Mongoose, Klipspringer, Springbok, Steenbok, Cape Grysbok, Grey Rhebok, Chacma Baboon, Rock Hyrax, Meerkat
mountains, semi-desert, fynbos, coastal and pelagic waters, wetlands
subtropical with occasional rain, can be cold in winter
moderate pace with undemanding walks, some long drives
Tanqua-Karoo, Table Mountain, Cape Peninsula, great food & wine
Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town, visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
We arrive in Cape Town in the early afternoon and begin our 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.
Day 2: Seabird outing
The cold upwelling of the Benguela current off Cape Town supports a wealth of pelagic seabirds, with vast concentrations of albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters and prions gathering in the deeper water at the edge of the continental shelf. Birding is excellent year-round and we hope to see Shy, Black-browed and both Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty, Great, Manx and Cory’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels, Sabine’s Gull, Parasitic Jaeger, Pomarine Skua and Cape Gannet. If we manage to locate one of the commercial fishing trawlers the birding can be truly spectacular, with a cloud of seabirds following in the wake of the vessel to feed on the fish offal. Once the excitement has subsided, we will carefully search through the thousands of birds present for rarities such as Wandering Albatross and Spectacled Petrel. Cetaceans are almost always encountered and we have a good chance of seeing Bryde’s Whale and Dusky Dolphin. It goes without saying that a day off the Cape is likely to be a highlight of any South Africa birding tour!
If time permits and depending on how tired we are after the pelagic trip, we will have the option of visiting the nearby nature reserve of Jonkersdam. This picturesque little nature reserve situated between Simon’s Town and Noordhoek protects a large tract of pristine fynbos habitat that harbours a number of fynbos endemics such as Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird and Cape Siskin, as well as other noteworthy species like Cape Grassbird, Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Bokmakierie and Karoo Prinia.
Please note: it is not unusual for the pelagic tour to be cancelled as a result of bad weather. Furthermore, the weather and ocean conditions off the Cape are extremely unpredictable, so our daily schedule will thus remain flexible to optimise our birding on both land and at sea.
Day 3: Cape Peninsula and surrounds
A diverse array of birding habitats is present around Cape Town and today on our South Africa birding tour, we 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.
Whilst in Betty’s Bay we will also visit the famous African Penguin colony at Stony Point. Here we will enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of penguins waddling about on the beach and rocks at extremely close range, which makes for superb photographic opportunities. We will also keep a lookout for the endemic African Oystercatcher along the adjacent rocky shoreline, and scan through the masses of nesting cormorants for all four species of South African coastal cormorant: Crowned, Bank, Cape and White-breasted.
After enjoying this spectacle, we will pay a visit to the nearby Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. A smaller version of Kirstenbosch, these beautifully appointed gardens support a wealth of fynbos specialties like Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird and Cape Siskin and is a particularly good site to see the skulking, endemic Victorin’s Warbler. We are also likely to encounter a range of other noteworthy and eye-catching species like Cape and Brimstone Canaries, Karoo Prinia, Swee Waxbill, Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Robin-Chat, African Dusky and Fiscal Flycatchers, Olive Thrush and Sombre Greenbul.
If time allows we will spend the late afternoon at the productive Strandfontein Water Works. The network of settling ponds here usually supports large numbers of waterbirds of many different varieties and we are likely to encounter good numbers of Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Southern Pochard and Red-knobbed Coot, as well as Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Common Moorhen, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gulls, Greater Crested and Whiskered Terns, Grey and Black-headed Herons, Yellow-billed Duck and Red-billed Teal. If we are fortunate and depending upon the water levels of the pans, we may also find small numbers of Maccoa Duck, Hottentot Teal and South African Shelduck. The surrounding reedbeds harbour African Reed, Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warblers as well as Levaillant’s Cisticola.
In the late afternoon we will make our way back to our now-familiar and very comfortable accommodation on the Cape Peninsula.
Day 4: Cape Town to Ceres via the 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, Cape Shoveler, and at times South African Shelduck. 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, 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 on our South Africa birding tour, 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 and depart
This morning 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 Cape Town International Airport, where the tour will conclude.
What our clients say about tours to South Africa
- E, Private (Eastern) South Africa
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
Our guide, Gareth Robbins was excellent. His knowledge of the area covered was exceptional, sometimes down to the rock the bird might land on. His repertoire of the bird calls and songs was impressive. He was adamant about getting each of us on the bird, and his delight when we saw it was transparent.AE, Eastern South Africa VIII 2015
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!RB, SA Mega
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
Greg de Klerk worked hard to get us the sightings, to ensure everyone got a “good look” and to keep us as safe and as comfortable as possible. I especially appreciated his additional information about field marks, behaviour, the habitat/area, history and culture.CG, South Africa
The trip was excellent. It exceeded my expectations. All the travel went perfectly. Thank you so much for arranging it.EL, South Africa
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 was brilliant (the best guide I’ve ever had). He found most of the birds we were trying for, and always did his utmost to get us all onto them.PW, South Africa
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
Greg was a fantastic guide, and I hope that I can take another tour/bird with him again in the future. I greatly enjoyed birding and spending time with him, he was very personable and I’m glad that we were able to become friends. Greg knew where to search for the birds and was extremely knowledgeable about birds and other wildlife and natural history. I also greatly appreciated how Greg dealt with issues that arose with other guests, and how quickly he tried to step in and prevent problems from escalating further. Guiding can be a difficult job, and Greg did a terrific job.KK, Eastern South Africa X 2016
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.VP, South Africa
Gareth was very considerate of all tour members and kept everything on schedule. He went out of his way to find bird species of particular interest to those on the tour and is a very enthusiastic about birding.NK, South Africa Comp V 2015
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
Jeremy was fabulous – great general natural history knowledge and laid-back attitude.EG, 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
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 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