The focus of our South Africa Mega Birding tour is to see as many of South Africa’s endemic and near-endemic bird species as possible. South Africa has the highest number of endemic and near-endemic birds of any country on the African continent and almost all 143 species falling into this category are targeted. Furthermore, we will seek out many other sought-after African species and we expect to rack up a very impressive bird list in terms of numbers, rarities and great sightings in general, including mammals, reptiles and other wildlife as well.
Our adventure commences shortly after leaving the bustling city of Johannesburg when we should find our first near-endemic, Cape Sparrow, followed by the localised Melodious and Short-clawed Lark. Continuing to the wonderful forests of Magoebaskloof, we will look for the seldom-sighted Bat Hawk, Forest Buzzard, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Grey Cuckooshrike, Green Twinspot, Swee Waxbill, Barratt’s Warbler and Forest Canary. Our next destination is the highly productive Wakkerstroom marsh area, a haven for waterbirds and several uncommon and range-restricted species. These include South African Shelduck, South African Cliff Swallow, African Rail, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, Botha’s and Rudd’s Larks (the latter one of the world’s most endangered larks), Ground Woodpecker, Buff-streaked Chat, Sentinel Rock Thrush, and African Rock and Yellow-breasted Pipits. We should also encounter family groups of the curious Suricate, or Meerkat, immortalised in Disney’s ‘Lion King’. Thereafter we drive to the Mkuze area in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the most productive birding hotspots in southern Africa. Here we will concentrate on finding the region’s more localised specials, including Eastern Nicator, African Broadbill, Bearded Scrub Robin, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, beautiful Gorgeous Bushshrike, stunning Narina Trogon and the following endemics: Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis and if we are very lucky we might catch a glimpse of the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl. We then make our way to the coastal village of St. Lucia on the shores of Lake St. Lucia. Here our focus will be Livingstone’s Turaco, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Woodward’s Batis, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Waxbill, Red-fronted Tinkerbird and the endemic Brown Scrub Robin. Next on the agenda is Ngoye forest, one of only two places in the world to find the woodwardi subspecies of Green Barbet. From here we journey back to the coast, stopping in at the small town of Mtunzini for Palm-nut Vulture, the shy and rarely seen African Finfoot and Black-throated Wattle-eye. Thereafter we explore the verdant Dlinza Forest where targets include Spotted Ground Thrush, Lemon Dove, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. Continuing towards the fabled Drakensberg Mountains, we stop en route to search for the rare Blue Swallow. In the Drakensberg itself, we travel up into the tiny mountain Kingdom of Lesotho to look for a handful of highly localised, highland endemics. These include Cape Vulture, Gurney’s Sugarbird (belonging to a family endemic to southern Africa), stunning Drakensberg Rockjumper (also belonging to a family endemic to southern Africa), Drakensberg Siskin, Grey-winged Francolin, Mountain Pipit, Large-billed Lark and delightful Fairy Flycatcher. Next, we head to the Karkloof, a range of forested hills home to a number of uncommon Afro-montane species. Here we search for Knysna Turaco, the highly endangered Cape Parrot, Bush Blackcap, Orange Ground Thrush, Chorister Robin-Chat, Southern Boubou, and Southern Tchagra. We also visit an area of pristine upland grassland to look for Grey Crowned Crane and, if we are lucky, the vulnerable Wattled Crane. The next leg of our journey takes us to Cape Town and the endemic-rich Cape Floristic Region. Star birds we will look for include South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Spurfowl, Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Clapper Lark, Victorin’s and Knysna Warbler, Cape Siskin, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Rockjumper and Cape Sugarbird. We also embark on a boat excursion in search of the region’s fantastic seabirds, including Shy and Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Sooty, Great, Manx and Cory’s Shearwaters, Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels, Cape Gannet and Parasitic Jaeger. We also visit an African Penguin colony where we will be treated to exceptionally close views of these endearing creatures, while African Oystercatcher, Cape, Crowned and Bank Cormorant and Hartlaub’s Gull are found nearby. Heading to the West Coast National Park, we look for Cape Bulbul, Karoo Lark, Grey Tit, Cape Penduline Tit, Fiscal Flycatcher and the magnificent Black Harrier, to name but a few. We then spend several days in the stark yet fabulous Karoo searching for a whole host of dry country specials. These include Pale Chanting Goshawk, Ludwig’s Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse, White-backed Mousebird, Bokmakierie, Acacia Pied Barbet, Pririt Batis, Red and Sclater’s Larks, Black-eared Sparrow-Lark, Tractrac and Karoo Chats, Namaqua, Rufous-eared, Cinnamon-breasted, Layard’s and Chestnut-vented Warblers, Karoo Eremomela, Dusky Sunbird and Yellow, White-throated and Black-headed Canaries. The awesome Augrabies Falls National Park is also visited. Here we will scan the huge communal Sociable Weavers’ nests for their host “tenants” such as Pygmy Falcon and Red-headed Finch, while other targets include Double-banded Sandgrouse, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Orange River White-eye, Bradfield’s Swift and Short-toed Rock Thrush. The final leg of this awesome avian adventure takes us to the mining town of Kimberley, where we explore the surrounding mosaic of grassland and thornveld for Northern Black Korhaan, stunning Crimson-breasted Shrike and Marico Flycatcher, amongst many others. We will also undertake a night drive looking for nocturnal denizens that may include the amazing Aardvark, Black-footed Cat, Southern African Hedgehog, Aardwolf and the unusual Springhare. On previous Rockjumper night drives in this region, we have recorded over 25 mammal species in a single evening! Possible night birds include Marsh Owl and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar. Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.
African Penguin, Blue and Wattled Cranes, Ludwig’s and Denham’s Bustards, Blue, Southern Black and Karoo Korhaans, African Oystercatcher, Crowned, Cape and Bank Cormorants, Cape and Natal Spurfowls, Southern Bald Ibis, Cape Vulture, Black Harrier, Cape & Drakensberg Rockjumpers, Cape & Gurney’s Sugarbirds, Bush Blackcap, Ground Woodpecker, Rudd’s, Botha’s, Short-clawed, Red, Sclater’s, Cape Long-billed & Barlow’s Larks, African Rock & Yellow-breasted Pipits, Cape Longclaw, Knysna, Purple-crested & Livingstone’s Turacos, Cape Parrot, Gorgeous, Black-fronted & Olive Bushshrikes, Bokmakierie, Victorin’s, Namaqua, Cinnamon-breasted, and Layard’s Warblers, Fairy Flycatcher, Karoo Eremomela, Cape and Grey Penduline Tits, White-backed Mousebird, Spotted & Orange Ground Thrushes, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrushes, Rudd’s Apalis, Woodward’s Batis, Karoo & Brown Scrub Robins, Karoo & Buff-streaked Chats, Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergaard’s, Orange-breasted & Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape & Drakensberg Siskins, Protea, Cape, Forest & Black-headed Canaries, Indian and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Cape and Great-winged Petrels.
Black & White Rhinoceroses, Southern African Hedgehog, Meerkat, Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Cape Grysbok, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Springhare, Common Eland, Bat-eared Fox, Blesbok (Bontebok), Grey Rhebok, Klipspringer, Springbok, African Wild Dog, Cheetah
dune and mist-belt forest, acacia savanna, high elevation and coastal grasslands, mountains, semi-desert, fynbos, coastal and pelagic waters, wetlands
subtropical conditions with occasional rain, cooler in the highlands and the Cape
moderate to brisk, undemanding walking, some long drives
Cape Peninsula, Sani Pass, Lake St. Lucia, Zululand game reserves, good food & wine, remote and seldom visited areas, spectacular scenery