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. Not only will you get to experience amazing birding and wildlife viewing but you 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 worlds, 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.
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 2023. In total, a maximum of 19 teams will take part in what will be a light-hearted, exciting competition where teams explore Kruger National Park from top to bottom recording all the species of birds and mammals they encounter over a 7-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 7 days will be crowned the Birding & Wildlife Champions of Kruger. During the challenge, most teams will be exploring the entire length of Kruger – from Berg-en-dal Camp in the south to Punda Maria in the north. There are however a few alternative routes to choose from that are less intense and focus on specific sectors of Kruger (either the south or north). We also have a few exclusive routes that spend time in some of the bush camps, routes that are more centered around photography, and others that take in some of the private concessions in the far north of Kruger, around the Pafuri region. All teams will start in Skukuza with a welcome dinner and end in Mopani 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.
Bigger 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 Bohm’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 Blue-eared Starling, Madagascan Cuckoo, Basra Reed Warbler, Sooty Falcon and Collared Palm Thrush all being recorded in the past.