This unique and fun birding and wildlife challenge provides the opportunity to explore the world-famous Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa, from its remote north to its vast south. Participants will not only get to experience amazing birding and wildlife viewing, but will also be assisting in saving a special bird from imminent extinction. All proceeds raised will go directly to BirdLife South Africa for vital research and conservation work to protect one of Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most endangered and little-known species – the White-winged Flufftail. Rockjumper Birding Tours has volunteered its resources and expertise to arrange and coordinate this event and will not be benefitting financially from it.
Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s most famous, oldest, largest and magnificent reserves, and will play host to this birding and wildlife challenge during February 2019. In total, a maximum of 21 teams will take part in what will be a lighthearted, exciting competition where teams explore Kruger National Park from top to bottom, recording all the species of birds and mammals they encounter over a 9-day period. Each team of up to 9 participants will have its own open safari vehicle, professional safari driver-guide and experienced volunteer birding leader. Each species of bird and mammal has been allocated points based on the difficulty of locating the species, and the team with the highest score at the end of the 9 days will be crowned the Birding & Wildlife Champions of Kruger. During the challenge, each team will be exploring the entire length of Kruger – from Berg-en-Dal Camp in the south to Punda Maria in the north. In total, 6 camps will be used, the others being Skukuza, Olifants, Shingwedzi and Mopani – the last mentioned where all the teams will gather for an epic final night of festivities and prize-giving.
The Kruger list stands at over 500 species of birds, and the park is also renowned for its big game and other mammalian fauna (over 150 species recorded to date). This is one of the few places on the planet where iconic African mammals such as Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, African Elephant, African Buffalo and White Rhinoceros can still be found in healthy numbers. There is also a huge variety of other mammals, including Roan Antelope, Hippopotamus, Black Rhinoceros, African Civet, Honey Badger, Serval and Cape Porcupine.
Participants will either meet in Johannesburg at 8am on the 6th of February or at one of Kruger’s entry gates, if preferred. The challenge count will officially kick-off at 3pm on the 6th of February, and will end at 5pm on the 14th of February. Each team can tally species recorded from the time the camps officially open until they close (sunrise to sunset) and 2 night drives will also be allowed per team (cost included in the challenge fee).
All teams will be doing a combination of the following camps: On the final night all teams will be based at Mopani for a night of festivities and prize-giving.
|PUNDA MARIA||2 Nights|
Larger than several European countries and US States, this vast, pristine park, declared in 1898 by President Kruger of the Transvaal Republic, is home to a variety of different habitat types. These range from acacia-dominated bushveld to gallery forest along the rivers and mopane woodland in the north. Associated with these habitats is an extraordinary volume of birds, and our time in the park is likely to produce a huge variety that could include Arnott’s Chat, Brown-necked and Brown-headed Parrots, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Green-capped Eremomela, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Mosque Swallow, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Racket-tailed Roller, Bronze-winged Courser, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Olive-tree, Icterine and River Warblers, Thrush Nightingale, Retz’s Helmetshrike, African Barred Owlet, Narina Trogon, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Lemon-breasted Canary, Mottled and Böhm’s Spinetails, Senegal and White-crowned Lapwings, Monotonous
and Dusky Larks, Bearded Scrub Robin, African Finfoot, Meves’s Starling, Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Steppe and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Amur Falcon, Eurasian Hobby, Bushveld Pipit, Coqui Francolin, Harlequin Quail, Corn Crake, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Eastern Nicator, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Tropical Boubou. Kruger is also famous for producing national and regional rarities, with species such as Egyptian Vulture, African Skimmer, Orange-winged Pytilia, Northern Wheatear, Southern Hyliota, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Miombo Blueeared Starling, Madagascan Cuckoo, Basra Reed Warbler, Sooty Falcon and Collared Palm Thrush all being recorded in the past.
BERG-EN-DAL 2 NIGHTS
This is one of Kruger’s southernmost camps, and it offers up a good variety of habitat to explore. To the east, the Crocodile River and its associated thickets and riverine vegetation can be accessed from Berg-en-Dal; while the camp is surrounded by numerous rocky outcrops, which in turn host a few unique species that can be tricky to locate elsewhere in the park. The camp also offers access to the hills around Pretoriuskop – another option for additional species that are unlikely to be seen elsewhere.
Berg-en-Dal is a large camp and offers up some excellent general bushveld birding, and typical species such as Magpie Shrike, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Chinspot Batis, Goldenbreasted Bunting, Blue Waxbill, Green-winged Pytilia, Yellowfronted Canary, Black-crowned Tchagra, Black-backed Puffback, Long-billed Crombec, ubiquitous Rattling Cisticola and Southern Black Tit are common and easy to find. The diminutive Pearl-spotted Owlet – a diurnal owl with a lovely, characteristic call – is also a regular in this area, and wherever present or calling it never fails to attract the attention of numerous birds. Inside the camp is a small dam, which occasionally produces some interesting species: even Whitebacked Night Heron and African Finfoot have been recorded before. The thick woodlands surrounding Berg-en-Dal can be one of the best places in the park to search for the uncommon Stierling’s Wren-Warbler; while raptors are also regularly recorded, with Dark Chanting Goshawk often occurring here at a higher density than elsewhere in the park. It is also a very good area for Brown Snake, African Hawk-, Wahlberg’s and Martial Eagles; while Gabar Goshawk and Lizard Buzzard are also frequently seen. The riverine zones and thickets associated with the Crocodile River can often be a good place to try for the uncommon African Barred Owlet; while many other common species, including Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Jacobin, Levaillant’s, Klaas’ and Diederik Cuckoos, Burchell’s Coucal, Little Bee-eater, Brown-hooded and Woodland Kingfishers, Red-breasted Swallow, Willow Warbler, Southern Black, Ashy, Spotted and Pale Flycatchers, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-faced Cisticola, Black-headed Oriole, Black-collared Barbet, Red-faced Mousebird and Green Wood Hoopoe, can also be found.
Over towards Pretoriuskop, the woodland and habitat change a little, and it is well worth spending some time birding this area if time allows. There are two loops, in particular, that take you very close to some rocky outcrops that are good for finding Mocking Cliff Chat, Striped Pipit, Croaking and Lazy Cisticolas, Red-winged Starling, the nearendemic White-throated Robin-Chat, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and even Gorgeous Bushshrike in the dense thickets that are associated with the outcrops. Pretoriuskop Camp is situated in a zone of broadleaved woodland, which can produce some interesting species such as Green-capped and Yellow-bellied Eremomelas, the tiny Grey Penduline Tit, Bushveld Pipit, Flappet Lark, Groundscraper Thrush, Yellowthroated Petronia, Striped Kingfisher and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird. The area is also very good for a variety of sunbirds, and common species include White-bellied, Marico and Scarlet-chested; while this is one of the few areas of the park where Amethyst Sunbird can also sometimes be found.
SKUKUZA 1 NIGHT
This camp is one of the most popular in all of Kruger, and is also the largest. The vast campgrounds themselves provide great birding and easy access to excellent riverine thicket and woodland dominated by large Sycamore Figs and Sausage Trees, which is often a magnet for birds.
Skukuza is located on the Sabi River, and there is an excellent network of roads that allow for plenty of quality access to the river and its associated woodland, both east and west of the camp. Much of the surrounding woodland is fairly dense in nature, even away from the river itself.
Skukuza offers excellent chances at finding the majestic Southern Ground Hornbill, which is often seen striding around in small groups, and we will certainly be treated to many encounters with the gaudy Lilac-breasted Roller. Raptors are also numerous in this area, and we will no doubt enjoy sightings of the striking Bateleur, as well as Tawny and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Hooded, White-headed, Whitebacked and huge Lappet-faced Vultures, and the handsome African Fish Eagle; while other possibilities include Shikra, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawks, the scarce but extremely attractive African Cuckoo-Hawk, Black-chested and Brown Snake Eagles, Lesser Spotted, Steppe, African Crowned and Booted Eagles, African Hawk- Eagle and African Harrier-Hawk.
This area is also famous for regular sightings of the elusive African Wild Dog; while we also stand an excellent chance of finding the endangered White Rhinoceros and, with exceptional luck, its rarer cousin, the Black Rhinoceros. This is also one of the best areas in the park to see the crepuscular Leopard – certainly one of the world’s best-looking cats! In addition, we should encounter Lion, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal, large herds of African Elephant lounging in the Sabi River, herds of African Buffalo, Waterbuck, the beautiful Bushbuck and pods of Hippopotamus. The persistent troops of playful Chacma Baboons and Vervets will keep us entertained during the heat of the day. The nocturnal Greater Galago is common in the fig trees inside the camp itself.
Scouring the riverine woodland and thickets along the Sabi River, we hope to encounter White-fronted Bee-eater, Crowned Hornbill, Golden-tailed, Bearded and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Ashy Flycatcher, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, gorgeous White-browed and Red-capped Robin-Chats, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbuls, African, Jameson’s and Red-billed Firefinches, superb Green-winged Pytilia, Bronze Mannikin, Common Waxbill, Pin-tailed Whydah, Red-faced Cisticola and Southern Boubou. The large riparian trees lining the rivers provide perfect nesting sites for weavers, which are extremely well represented in the park, and include Southern and Lesser Masked, Village, Spectacled and Thick-billed. Furthermore, we will endeavour to see various species of brightly coloured bee-eaters, kingfishers, rollers and hornbills, along with the occasional Pearl-spotted Owlet.
The Sabi River and nearby wetlands also harbour a number of exciting water-associated birds, and we will be on the lookout for the massive Goliath Heron, stately and threatened Saddle-billed Stork, as well as the more common Woollynecked and Yellow-billed Storks, African Spoonbill, Striated Heron, the unique and monotypic Hamerkop, African Black Duck, Wire-tailed and Grey-rumped Swallows, African Pied Wagtail, White-crowned Lapwing, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Giant, the delightful Malachite and occasionally Half-collared Kingfishers and, if we are lucky, the rare African Finfoot or unpredictable Greater Painted-snipe.
Time spent birding in Skukuza Camp will almost certainly produce African Green Pigeon, with its lovely, mournful, liquid call; while the thickets in camp are excellent for Bearded Scrub Robin and Whitebrowed and Red-capped Robin-Chats. Other species that are regularly seen in or from the camp include the tiny Little Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, Water Thick-knee, gaudy Purple-crested Turaco, Trumpeter Hornbill, Black-headed Oriole, the showy African Paradise Flycatcher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, iridescent Collared, Marico, White-bellied and Scarletchested Sunbirds and the vocal Black-collared and Crested Barbets.
Noisy flocks of White-crested Helmetshrike are regularly encountered, and we will also be on the lookout for the much rarer Retz’s Helmetshrike, along with its seldom-seen host, the rare and much sought-after Thick-billed Cuckoo. In addition, we will keep a lookout for the amazing selection of migrant cuckoos that visit the park in summer, including African, Common, Redchested, Diederik, Klaas’s, Levaillant’s and Jacobin Cuckoos, as well as the scarce Great Spotted Cuckoo. At Skukuza, there will also be an opportunity to do a night drive. Success on these night drives varies greatly, but the list of possibilities is rather impressive and includes a good number of owls and nightjars, such as Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl and Square-tailed, European and Fiery-necked Nightjars and Bronze-winged Courser. On the mammal front, African Civet, both Common and Central African Large-spotted Genets, Sidestriped Jackal, the beautiful Serval, Southern Lesser Galago, Whitetailed Mongoose, African Savannah Hare, the incomparable Cape Porcupine and Spotted Hyena – besides the Big 5 – are all possible!
At Skukuza, there will also be an opportunity to do a night drive. Success on these night drives varies greatly, but the list of possibilities is rather impressive and includes a good number of owls and nightjars, such as Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl and Square-tailed, European and Fiery-necked Nightjars and Bronze-winged Courser. On the mammal front, African Civet, both Common and Central African Large-spotted Genets, Sidestriped Jackal, the beautiful Serval, Southern Lesser Galago, Whitetailed Mongoose, African Savannah Hare, the incomparable Cape Porcupine and Spotted Hyena – besides the Big 5 – are all possible!
OLIFANTS 2 NIGHTS
This beautiful camp is situated in the central part of Kruger, and is set on top of a hill with splendid views of the Olifants River below. Being centrally located has numerous benefits, as a wide variety of habitats can be accessed, and all teams will have two nights at this camp. Olifants is situated on the southern edge of the widely distributed mopane woodland. While mopane as a vegetation type doesn’t hold a huge variety of species, it does have a few specials. The Olifants area offers excellent opportunities to venture south onto the open grassy plains and sparsely-vegetated woodlands in the Satara area; while time can also be spent exploring the denser bush country associated with the Olifants River and the mopane woodlands to the north of the camp. Further north of Olifants is the Letaba River, which is another area well worth exploring. The area has some lovely thickets and tall riverine habitat, including Letaba Camp, which can be especially productive.
Olifants Camp itself is conveniently located and is an excellent place to see Southern Yellow-billed and Southern Red-billed Hornbills, Bennett’s Woodpecker, African Hoopoe, Grey-headed and Orange-breasted Bushshrikes, Red-headed Weaver, Redbilled Buffalo Weaver, Burchell’s Starling, Mourning Collared Dove and Brown-headed Parrot, amongst many others.
To the south of Olifants, the rich bushveld and grasslands are particularly productive for a number of special species. These include Kori Bustard – the world’s heaviest flying bird, the magnificent Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Common Ostrich, Marabou Stork and the impressive Secretarybird – belonging to a monotypic family, and one of the world’s great avian gems. Further specialities we will search for in the woodland areas include the lovely Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes, African Grey Hornbill, Lesser Grey, Red-backed, Southern White-crowned and Magpie Shrikes, Red-billed Oxpecker riding on the backs of big game, Red-crested Korhaan, Southern Black Tit, noisy Green Wood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Greater and Lesser Honeyguides, Acacia Pied Barbet, Yellowfronted Tinkerbird, Sabota Lark, Mosque Swallow, Black Cuckooshrike, Kurrichane and Groundscraper Thrushes, eye-catching White-throated Robin-Chat, melodious White-browed Scrub Robin, Burnt-necked and Yellowbellied Eremomelas, Black-crowned and Brown-crowned Tchagras, Brubru, dazzling Violet-backed Starling, Whitewinged Widowbird and Golden-breasted Bunting.
In the expansive grasslands, we will seek out the bold Black-bellied Bustard, Crested and the rare Shelley’s and Coqui Francolins, Swainson’s and Natal Spurfowls, Rufous-naped Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, European and Purple Rollers, Yellow-throated Longclaw and, with luck, the erratic and nomadic Temminck’s Courser, as well as Crowned and the scarce Senegal Lapwings. This time of the year can also be good for Harlequin Quail and Kurrichane (Small) Buttonquail; while, sometimes, species such as African and Corn Crakes can also be found in the moist grasslands. It is also during mid to late summer when huge flocks of Red-billed Quelea breed in this area. Seeing flocks of these avian locusts filling the sky or descending on a waterhole is an incredible sight, and their irruptions usually also bring about additional interest in the form of Steppe and Lesser Spotted Eagles. It is also during this time of the year when termite alate irruptions take place, sparking the interest of the afore-mentioned raptors, as well as Amur and occasionally Red-footed Falcons, Lesser Kestrel and Eurasian Hobby. Additional summer visitors to these grasslands include the scarce Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers. In the late afternoon, pairs of boldly-patterned and crepuscular Double-banded Sandgrouse come to the edges of the road to feed, before making their way down to watering holes at dusk to drink.
The sweet grasses in the Satara area are, of course, also excellent for large herds of grazing mammals, such as Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra and Impala. These huge herds, in turn, support a healthy population of predators, for which Satara is particularly well-known. In fact, we have an excellent chance of finding Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena and the very scarce and highly threatened African Wild Dog in this area. High densities of other game include Southern Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Bushbuck, Warthog, Chacma Baboon, Vervet and Dwarf and Banded Mongooses, to name just a few. To the north of Olifants Camp are the Letaba River and its associated camp (Letaba), which also offer some excellent birding opportunities. Like many other Kruger camps, Letaba is also situated right on the river, which ensures fabulous access to quality habitat. This camp can be a good place to look for African Barred Owlet, African Scops Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet; while the river itself is one of the best locations in the park for Grey-rumped Swallow. Other good species include White-crowned Lapwing, Redcapped Robin-Chat and Green-capped Eremomela.
SHINGWEDZI 1 NIGHT
Every team will have one night at this lovely camp, which offers excellent birding. Like many of the camps we stay at during the challenge, it is also situated on a river – the beautiful Shingwedzi, which is often one of the first rivers in the park to stop flowing during drought years. During wet seasons, however, the river can flow strongly and can be quite a sight. The Shingwedzi area also offers good access to excellent riverine woodland and thickets, with an extensive road network comprising many loops and a hide (blind) with wonderful views over the river. Mopane woodland dominates the drier areas away from the river to the north and south. The river road north of Shingwedzi follows the Mphongolo River, and can offer some good birding opportunities. Further north, towards Babalala, the woodlands give way to more open habitat, with dotted low bushes and grassland, and this area can be extremely productive as well, particularly during the mid to late summer months.
Shingwedzi Camp is certainly worth exploring, especially during the summer months when migrant warblers are often about, as this is often a good place to look for Thrush Nightingale. The camp has also famously produced Collared Palm Thrush in the past – a mega record for the park and South Africa. Other regular species include Red-headed Weaver, Bennett’s Woodpecker and African Mourning Dove. Near to Shingwedzi is the Kanniedood Dam, which provides further opportunities to boost the waterbird list. As with most Kruger dams, the volume of species is water level dependent; however, Kanniedood can often hold a fair variety of waders, including Marsh Sandpiper and occasionally even the inland race White-fronted Plover. To the south of Shingwedzi is some excellent grassland and scattered bush habitat, which is generally very good for species such as Red-crested Korhaan, Blackbellied Bustard, Southern Carmine and European Bee-eaters, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Zitting and Desert Cisticolas and even species such as Dusky and Monotonous Larks, when conditions are right.
To the north of Shingwedzi is another fabulous area of open grassland and scattered bush, which again can produce a variety of excellent species. During the summer months, species such as European Roller and Red-backed Shrike are commonly found; while during times of good rainfall, species that appear include Harlequin Quail and African and Corn Crakes. Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Monotonous and Dusky Larks, Amur and Red-footed Falcons and Lesser Kestrel should all be carefully sought. Further north towards the junction of the H1-8 and the H13-1, there have even been records of Black Coucal and Rufous-winged Cisticola – both rare birds in Kruger.
PUNDA MARIA 2 NIGHTS
The far northern Punda Maria and Pafuri areas, bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique, offer arguably the best birding in all of Kruger, and many species that are typically only found further north are recorded from this section of the park. Punda is situated around a small hill/kopje and even the camp offers some fabulous birding.
The surrounding woodland, which includes the Mahonie Loop, offers up wonderful mixed woodland; while some excellent tall mopane, that holds a variety of specials, can be found between Punda Maria and Klopperfontein and also on the main tar road that leads east along the H13-1 to the junction of the main north-south route from Pafuri to Shingwedzi.
The area around Klopperfontein can be extremely productive, as the taller woodlands give way to more open country, with a number of small wetlands that usually fill up during the rainy seasons. One of the major target zones will also be the stunning riverine woodland that flanks the Luvhuvhu River.
There is a superb road network in this area, which allows for extensive exploration of this incredible habitat that teams with birds.
The area around the Mahonie Loop and Punda Maria Camp offers a feast of specials in addition to many of Kruger’s more widespread species, and good birds to keep an eye out for include Brown-necked (Grey-headed) Parrot, Eastern Nicator, Narina Trogon, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Mosque Swallow, Common House Martin, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Broad-billed Roller, Eurasian Golden Oriole, River Warbler, White Stork, Steppe and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Eurasian Hobby, African Barred Owlet, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-collared Widowbird, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Bronzewinged Courser, Double-banded Sandgrouse and Kurrichane (Small) Buttonquail.
Numerous rarities have been reported from this loop before, such as Southern Hyliota, African Golden Oriole, Orange-winged Pytilia and Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah.
The area also hosts an incredible variety of cuckoos; these do, however, become more difficult to find post-breeding, once they have stopped calling. Species to look out for include African, Common, Red-chested, Black, Levaillant’s, Jacobin, Great Spotted, Diederik, Klaas’s and Thick-billed.
To the east of Punda Maria and north towards Klopperfontein are some of the park’s finest mopane woodlands, and it is here where one stands the best chance of finding specials such as Arnott’s Chat and White-breasted Cuckooshrike. Racket-tailed Roller has also been seen here but is rare and seldom-recorded. The area around Klopperfonetin always seems to produce something good, and this is also the best area of the park to look out for Dickinson’s Kestrel; while Senegal Coucal has also been found here recently. The small wetlands occasionally hold Greater Painted-snipe, Lesser Moorhen and Intermediate Egret when conditions are favourable; while Three-banded Plover, Little Grebe, White-faced Whistling and Knob-billed Ducks, Black Crake and African Jacana are usually present.
Further north, the area around Pafuri arguably holds the most exciting birding in all of Kruger. The beautiful Luvhuvhu River holds an exceptional density of birds, and we will be on the lookout for an incredible variety of common and special species.
The main bridge crossing over the river is a good place to scan for African Finfoot, which can occasionally be seen here; while Tropical Boubou and Eastern Nicator are regularly seen in the undergrowth. Overhead, there are often swifts and swallows about; and whilst Little Swift is commonly seen, the two special spinetails – Böhm’s and Mottled – which are now rare, should be watched for carefully in this area. Horus Swift is another good bird to keep an eye out for.
To the north of the river crossing are some large acacias that often hold Olivetree and Icterine Warblers during the mid to late summer months; while the rare and often overlooked River Warbler has also been seen here. Common Whitethroat and Garden Warbler are two other migratory warblers that are regularly found in the Pafuri area.
There have also been records of Basra Reed Warbler from the Luvhuvhu; however, this is a rare vagrant.
To the south of the bridge is an area of palm-dominated savanna, where careful observation and patience could be rewarded with a sighting of the scarce Lemon-breasted Canary, a species that has a definite association and liking for palm groves. This area is also good for a variety of other species, such as Meves’s Starling, Crested Guineafowl and Grey-headed Kingfisher. There is access to roughly 20km of riverine habitat along the Luvhuvhu River, either side of Pafuri Picnic Site, where the birding is simply top-notch. African Openbill, Woolly-necked, Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed Storks, White-crowned Lapwing, African Crowned and Long-crested Eagles, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Little Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, Tambourine Dove, Purple-crested Turaco, Trumpeter Hornbill, Narina Trogon, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, African Dusky and Ashy Flycatchers, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Green-capped Eremomela, Bearded Scrub Robin, White-browed Robin-Chat, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Black-throated Wattle-eye and Jameson’s, African and Red-billed Firefinches, along with their hosts – Purple, Dusky and Village Indigobirds, are all possible. The Luvhuvhu River also supports decent numbers of White-backed Night Heron and Pel’s Fishing Owl, although they are naturally shy and retiring, and can be tricky to locate.
MOPANI 1 NIGHT
As the name suggests, this area is dominated by mopane woodland and, in general, doesn’t hold a great variety of species. The nearby areas of open habitat around Nshawu, for example, give access to some different habitat, which in turn often delivers some interesting birds for the park.
Mopani overlooks the Pioneer Dam, and this water feature often attracts a good variety of waterbirds, including Collared Pratincole, which is a scarce species in Kruger. Recently, the dam has also played host to African Skimmer, a significant record for Kruger and indeed South Africa. The dam also occasionally turns up an interesting duck or two (most duck species are generally scarce in Kruger) or African Sacred Ibis (very uncommon in Kruger). Otherwise, many of the region’s more widespread egrets, herons, storks and waders can be seen at the dam.
The Nshawu area, including the Nshawu Dam, offers some interesting birding, and the area regularly holds Temminck’s Courser, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Kittlitz’s Plover, Collared Pratincole, Caspian Plover, and even Rufous-winged Cisticola has been seen here. During times when conditions are wet, species such as Harlequin Quail move into the area; while severe droughts have produced rarities for the park, such as Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark and Lark-like Bunting.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BIRDLIFE SOUTH AFRICA’S CEO AND CONSERVATION MANAGER
We are extremely excited to be working closely with BirdLife South Africa regarding the Kruger Challenge. Below are some comments and thoughts on the event and the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail from BirdLife South Africa’s CEO – Mark D. Anderson and Manager of BirdLife South Africa’s Terrestrial Bird Conservation Programme – Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson.
What makes the White-winged Flufftail such a rare bird?
The White-winged Flufftail is a small, elusive bird, only known to occur, with any regularity, in the high-altitude wetlands of South Africa and Ethiopia. It is one of South Africa’s rarest birds, and it is estimated there are perhaps as few as 250 birds remaining throughout its global range.
Why is it imperative that we try and save this species?
White-winged Flufftails are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and considered to be on the brink of extinction. The imminent degradation and destruction of White-winged Flufftail habitat, coupled with the species’ low numbers in both countries, makes its survival in the wild uncertain. Moreover, until recently, only one breeding site for the species was known, at Berga in Ethiopia, and its continued existence here depends on the ongoing efforts of the Site Support Group to limit grazing by cattle, sheep and horses, as well as ongoing support for the local community and school. Now, it has been confirmed that the species is also breeding in South Africa.
No bird species has ever become extinct in Africa during historical times, and we do not want to lose this flufftail!
How can the birding community get involved in saving this iconic species?
Middelpunt Wetland Trust, BirdLife South Africa and the BirdLife partner in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, are working with the national governments in South Africa and Ethiopia to raise the profile of the species. A conservation plan has been mapped for the White-winged Flufftail and the implementation thereof is catalysed through the AEWA (African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement) White-winged Flufftail International Working Group, currently coordinated by BirdLife South Africa. The birding community can provide support to the important research and conservation projects which are being undertaken.
Why is the Kruger Challenge going to be such a fun event?
The Kruger National Park is home to more than 500 bird species – more than half South Africa’s birds and including some of South Africa’s most threatened. The teams will see many bird species when travelling through the diverse, species-rich habitats that run through the length of the park. In the summer, the park is visited by almost 200 migratory species; both palearctic and intra-African migrants. The Kruger National Park also offers some of South Africa’s most spectacular game viewing opportunities.
What are BirdLife South Africa and Rockjumper trying to achieve through the Kruger Challenge?
BirdLife South Africa and Rockjumper Birding Tours initiated the Kruger Challenge to raise funds for the conservation of the Critically Endangered White-winged Flufftail. One of the listed activities included in the action plan which details what is needed to conserve this species is to establish a captive breeding facility for the species at the National Zoological Gardens (NZG) in Pretoria. It is critically important to master the breeding of the species in captivity in case it becomes necessary to consider a reintroduction programme in the future.
How are the funds generated from the event going to be used to help save the White-winged Flufftail?
The contributions will help to ensure that the species will never be homeless in the wild. A better understanding of the species through the study of its biology and behaviour is essential if we are to design and implement effective conservation programmes in the wild.
THE CHALLENGE COST:
The cost for participating in this fundraising Kruger Birding & Wildlife Challenge is as follows:
- R22 950 per person sharing *US$1,950
- Single Supplement: R5 250 *US$450
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
- All accommodations for 9 nights at the following camps:
- 2 nights at Berg-en-Dal
- 1 night at Skukuza
- 2 nights at Olifants
- 1 night at Shingwedzi
- 2 nights at Punda Maria
- 1 night at Mopani
- Open-air safari vehicles with driver and fuel
- 2 night drives
- Dedicated expert bird and wildlife tour leader per vehicle of 9 team members
- Final night presentation, dinner and drinks at Mopani Camp
- Exciting prizes to be awarded to the top teams, as well as randomly to participants and teams
- Transfers from Johannesburg to your first camp within Kruger and from Mopani back to Johannesburg
WHAT IS EXCLUDED:
- Visa fees
- Any flights
- Daily Conservation and Park Entry fees (a Wild Card can be arranged for those that need one)
- Any meals except for final night dinner in Mopani
- Any drinks except for final night at Mopani
- Insurance – cancellation or medical and related expenses
- Voluntary gratuity for drivers, staff and tour leaders; and
- Telephone calls, laundry and other items of a personal nature
Please note that there will be limited single accommodations available at certain camps like Punda Maria, and you may have to share even if you have selected to have single accommodation during these nights of the challenge. The single supplement cost for this challenge will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation. If we cannot provide you with a rooming partner for these nights although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share.
PLEASE ALSO NOTE:
- Due to constantly fluctuating exchange rates the challenge price is fixed in ZAR, and the actual cost in other major currencies such as US$, Euro and GBP will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing (usually 4 months before the challenge). The same applies to single supplement rates, which are also quoted in the respective fixed currency.
- These costs are subject to unforeseen increases in challenge related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result.
- Lastly, we may be forced to change or alter the itinerary and/or the leader(s) at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as closely to the original programme as possible.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE DETAILS:
This challenge does not include any airfares. The challenge will depart from Johannesburg on day 1 at around 8am and conclude on day 10 with a transfer from Mopani Camp to Johannesburg after breakfast at around 9am. The above information in respect of arrivals and departures is a guide only. Precise arrival and departure information will be sent to you in your Confirmation package once the challenge has been officially confirmed. If you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance in this regard, kindly contact the Rockjumper office.
OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (IATA: JNB) is the main port of entry for international flights into South Africa and is well serviced by all of the world’s major airlines. IMPORTANT: please DO NOT book your international flights until you have consulted the Rockjumper office for confirmation on the status of the challenge.
This document contains a number of key points that you should be aware of when signing up for the tour. While all of the points below contain important information, some of the more critical sections to take into account and read through include the following:
- Reservations (point “1” below);
- Purchasing of International Air Tickets (point “3” below);
- Cancellation and Refund Policies (point “4” below); and
- Travel Insurance (point “4” below).
The terms and conditions set out below form the basis of the contract between Kruger Challenge Birding and the participant and those on whose behalf the participant has signed for on the booking form. Electronically submitted booking forms are deemed to have been signed by the persons submitting the booking form. Please read our booking conditions before completing the booking form below.
Confirming your place:
In order to confirm your place on the tour, the following is required:
- A completed Kruger Challenge Birding Booking Form
- R6 000 per person deposit for the tour
- Full payment is required if your booking is made within 3 months of the tour departure date.
The booking form should be filled in electronically, or a hardcopy printed and e-mailed to the Kruger Challenge Birding office. A booking is accepted and becomes definite only from the date when Kruger Challenge Birding have confirmed acceptance in writing. At this point a contract between Kruger Challenge Birding and the participant comes into existence.
Booking requests with deposits will be considered in order of their receipt. Telephonic or e-mail requests will not be treated as bookings until the appropriate booking form and deposit is paid. Kruger Challenge Birding reserves the right to decline any booking at its discretion.
Payment of the booking should be made as follows
Direct Deposit (Only for US$ Deposits):
|Beneficiary Bank:||THE MAURITIUS COMMERCIAL BANK LIMITED|
|Beneficiary Bank Address:||Global Business Unit, 9th Floor
Sir William Newton Street
|Beneficiary Bank Account:||Rockjumper Birding Ltd|
|Beneficiary Bank Account No:||000442416555|
|Correspondent Bank Details:||Citibank N.A.|
|Address of bank:||111 WALL STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10043
|USA SWIFT Code:||CITIUS33|
|Bank Account Number:||10932733|
Credit card payment through Paypal:
If you wish to pay for your tour by credit card in US$, please ask us to send you a Paypal payment request. Once you receive this, click the “Pay Now” button and this will take you straight to the Paypal website. Once you login to or register for your Paypal account, all the payment details will already have been entered automatically and you will just be required to authorize the transaction.
Please note that there is a 4% surcharge for credit card payments through Paypal and this will be added to your deposit or invoice total (i.e. a deposit of $800.00 would equal a total of U$832.00).
Should you wish to make payment in Euros or GBP Sterling please request the relevant banking details when confirming your booking.
Direct transfer (ZAR):
|Bank:||Investec Bank Limited|
|Account:||Adam Stewart Riley|
Direct wire (US$):
|Bank:||US Bank, 60 Livingstone Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota, 55107|
|ABA Routing #||123000220|
|Account:||Rockjumper Bird Tours|
|Address of account holder:||14785 SW Bell Road, Sherwood, OR 97140-9052|
Mailed checks in US$ only (made out to Rockjumper Birding Tours):
|Attention:||Eric V. Pozzo
Rockjumper Bird Tours
14785 SW Bell Road, Sherwood, OR 97140-9052. USA
2. TOUR FEES AND PAYMENT
Payment of the balance of the tour fee is due 3 months before departure and is to be made as per the above details. An invoice will be issued to you before full payment is due. Details such as the tour price and what services are included and excluded are outlined on the tour itinerary.
The tour cost is subject to major currency fluctuations and other significant events beyond the control of Kruger Challenge Birding (e.g. major increases in park fees, government charges, fuel costs and hotel charges) and we reserve the right to modify the tour cost, within reason, at any time until full payment has been received. If we have to increase the cost by more than 10% of the tour fee, you have the right to cancel your booking without incurring cancellation charges as long as you notify the Kruger Challenge Birding team within 7 days of the tour fee surcharge announcement.
The single supplement as outlined in the tour itinerary will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation. This single supplement is based on the estimated actual cost of a single room for the duration of the tour. In some cases, single rooms might be of inferior quality to double rooms and this would have been taken into consideration in the calculation of the single supplement.
If Kruger Challenge Birding cannot provide you with a rooming partner although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. Kruger Challenge Birding will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share. Rooming partners will be allocated in order of booking unless a participant requests a specific rooming partner who has not been matched. If your allocated rooming partner cancels before the start of the tour, the single room supplement will become applicable to you unless we can find another rooming partner for you. If you choose to share a room and during the course of the tour, you or your rooming partner decide to no longer share a room, any additional costs as a result of this decision will not be incurred by Kruger Challenge Birding.
In some circumstances, single rooms might not be available and you might be expected to share a room. This is relevant at some camps such as Punda Maria where the single supplement has been calculated accordingly.
3. AIR TICKETING
Kruger Challenge Birding does not operate as an airline ticketing agency; therefore we generally do not book international flights for our tour participants. We are happy; however, to advise you on flights, routes and airlines, and we can refer you to registered travel agents who do specialize in international flight ticketing services. If you do not join the tour, or join the tour late as a result of problems relating to international flights, Kruger Challenge Birding will not be liable for any losses or extra expenses incurred and our standard refund clauses will apply.
Kruger Challenge Birding will do their utmost to assist you by making airport transfers, hotel and other requested bookings for you before or after the official tour dates. Please advise us of your requirements well in advance of the tour date.
IMPORTANT: Please DO NOT book your international flights until you have consulted the Kruger Challenge Birding office for confirmation on the status of the tour.
4. CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS
If the reservation is cancelled, cancellation fees will be due and payable, according to the following:
- 6 months or more prior to departure date:
- R3 000 will be retained from the main tour deposit.
- 3 – 6 months prior to departure date:
- Full deposit for the tour is non-refundable;
- 0 – 3 months prior to departure date:
- Full tour fee is due and payable even if you have not yet paid in full.
It is strongly recommended that participants take out comprehensive travel insurance upon booking, to cover any financial losses due to cancellation for whatever reason.
*Please be aware that most travel insurance policies will refuse to pay out on a travel insurance claim if your travel insurance has been purchased after a particular period of time since booking for the tour. This period may be one week to one month. Please check with your travel insurance provider to ensure you are fully covered at the time of purchasing travel insurance. It is highly recommended that if you do purchase travel insurance, that you do not delay this purchase much beyond the tour booking date.
If you cannot make the tour, we will accept a substitution as long as any direct additional costs are covered by you. No cancellation charges will then become applicable.
No refunds will be considered for any unutilized services on the tour (this includes accommodations, meals, flights and tour excursions). Kruger Challenge Birding reserves the right to cancel the tour if there are insufficient reservations 2 months before departure date. In case of cancellation of the entire tour as a result of insufficient reservations, all deposits and other payments will be refunded in full.
An alternative to cancelling a tour will be charging a small group supplement. If a small group supplement is levied, you may cancel your booking without incurring any cancellation penalties as long as you notify us in writing within 7 days of our notice of a small group supplement charge.
The tour might also be cancelled or modified due to significant circumstances beyond our control (e.g. major natural or man-made disasters, political upheaval, war or threat of war or incapacitation of the tour leader). We undertake not to cancel a tour less than 2 months before the date of departure, except under these circumstances. If cancellation of the entire tour happens as a result of such a significant event beyond our control, Kruger Challenge Birding undertakes to refund payments to the full extent that we are able to recover them from our suppliers.
Kruger Challenge Birding will not be liable for any airline cancellation charges incurred by you if we cancel a tour. We therefore recommend that you confirm with us that the tour is viable before purchasing your international flight tickets.
5. TOUR ALTERATIONS
Tour itineraries and dates are determined many months in advance of departure and alterations to the itinerary and dates may become necessary. Alterations due to circumstances beyond our control, made either before or after departure date, are not grounds for cancellation without incurring cancellation fees as outlined above. Kruger Challenge Birding undertakes to make every reasonable effort to ensure the tour adheres as closely as possible to the published itinerary. If any downgrading of hotels or other services is necessary, we will refund participants the difference in cost between the hotel or service as per the itinerary and the hotel or service that was used.
The tour leader or leaders may be substituted for other experienced leaders at the discretion of Kruger Challenge Birding, but we will make every attempt to ensure the leaders, as advertised, will be the tour leaders.
Kruger Challenge Birding reserves the right to alter any of the prices, services or other particulars contained in our itinerary or website at any time before full payment has been received from the participant.
6. TRAVEL CONDITIONS
All travel arrangements such as hotel accommodation, catering and ground transport made by Kruger Challenge Biding are subject to booking and service conditions of the supplier of the services. We undertake to make every reasonable effort to ensure the tour operates as smoothly and seamlessly as possible and are not liable for any damage, losses and expenses suffered by any client as a result of any circumstance beyond our control, please refer to further liability clauses below.
The participant is responsible for obtaining necessary visas and health certificates required during the course of the tour, as well as ensuring their passports are in order. Kruger Challenge Birding will supply the relevant information in the predeparture information pack and will assist or advise in any way possible in obtaining visas should they be required. Kruger Challenge Birding will not be liable for losses or extra costs incurred if you do not have the valid documentation. Although we strive to keep the information in our predeparture information pack up-to-date and accurate, we will not be held responsible for any innocent errors or inaccuracies, or if regulations change and we are not aware of such changes. Please note that Kruger Challenge Birding guides carry a limited supply of First Aid equipment and are not permitted to dispense medication. Please bring any medication that you feel you may need for the trip.
Kruger Challenge Birding reserves the right to remove any participant from a tour during the course of the tour, if the participant is deemed by the tour leader to be unfit to continue with the tour, or if the participant causes serious disruption to the tour or the enjoyment thereof for the other participants. In such an unlikely event, Kruger Challenge Birding will not make any refund or be liable for any losses or additional costs incurred by the affected person.
7. LIABILITY INSURANCE
Kruger Challenge Birding carries liability insurance with SATIB whose policy details are available on request. Any information contained in the Kruger Challenge Birding itinerary is, to the best of Kruger Challenge Birding’s belief, true and correct and Kruger Challenge Birding accepts no liability for any innocent inaccuracies contained therein.
8. REPRESENTATION, TERM, WARRANTY AND CONDITIONS
The entire contract between Kruger Challenge Birding and the participant is contained within these conditions. No representation, term, warranty or condition expressed or applied shall be considered to be, or have been made or agreed or applied by reference to any other writing, advertisement or conversation. These conditions may only be varied with the written consent of Kruger Challenge Birding signed by a director of Kruger Challenge Birding. The contract is subject to South African law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the South African courts.
The transport, meals, entrance fees, accommodation or other facilities or services, which are to be supplied in respect of any tour, are those specifically stated in the itinerary, in which the tour contracted for, by any person, is described and no other. Each tour requires the organisation of transport, meals, entrance fees, accommodation or other facilities or services. Kruger Challenge Birding makes arrangements with suppliers of such services and facilities and those suppliers contract with Kruger Challenge Birding as independent contractors. Save for Kruger Challenge Birding’s contractual rights against the suppliers to any tour, Kruger Challenge Birding has no direct day to day control over its suppliers and, accordingly, Kruger Challenge Birding accepts no responsibility for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, irregularity or inconvenience, which may be occasioned by any defect in any object (including a vehicle) utilized by any supplier for the supply of any contracted service or by an act of omission of any supplier or its servants. Kruger Challenge Birding undertakes to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the services supplied during the tour are of the highest standard, as per the itinerary.
Should you be dissatisfied with any aspect of your tour, please inform the tour leader or someone in a decision making role during the Kruger Challenge immediately.
11. TOUR MATERIALS
Pre-trip information for your tour will be sent to you at least 2 months before your departure. This contains all necessary information concerning passport, visa and health requirements, emergency contact details, as well as details of climate, what to bring, recommended reading etc. A potential bird and mammal checklist will be sent before the tour, if requested. A bound daily checklist will be given to you on the first day of the tour. Should you wish to receive any of these documents prior to booking, please contact the Kruger Challenge Birding office.
Final tour information, meeting instructions and any additional material will be sent to you approximately a month prior to your departure, if necessary.