Day 1 Depart UK
- After meeting up with our guide at Johannesburg airport, we head eastwards to Dullstroom, a small town in the Mpumalanga highlands and one of the highest towns in the country. En-route there will be a chance for one or two birding stops
- In the afternoon we will take a casual stroll up to the municipal dams behind the town, where we may see town birds including speckled mousebird, red-winged starling, Drakensberg prinia, amethyst sunbird and many others. After returning in the early evening we’ll have time to freshen up before enjoying a wonderful dinner in one of the town’s restaurants.
- Accommodation: Dullstroom, 2-nights on full board basis.
- With an early start on our full day we’ll experience the highlight of the highlands: a pre-breakfast excursion up into the 2000 meter-plus Veloren Valei Nature Reserve in the Steenkampsberg Range, the highest point in the province. Here we will look for endemic species such as sentinel rock-thrush, buff-streaked chat, grey-winged francolin and large birds such as Denham’s bustard, Cape vulture and secretary bird.
- Later in the morning we’ll head back to town for breakfast and in the afternoon we’ll have another excursion into the surrounding countryside to look for species such as grey-crowned crane, southern bald iris, long-tailed widowbird and malachite sunbird.
- After a last morning activity in Dullstroom we’ll have breakfast and depart for Mount Sheba. This forest derives much of its moisture from the mists that swirl up along the escarpment edge and provides habitat for some exciting forest birds such as white-starred robin, lemon dove, Cape batis and yellow-streaked Greenbul, as well as a few troops of Samango monkeys (known as Syke’s monkey in the rest of Africa).
- Accommodation: Mount Sheba, 2-nights on full board basis
- After an early breakfast at Mount Sheba we’ll depart, taking in some of the highlights of the scenic Panorama Route such as Lisbon Falls, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. We’ll then leave the escarpment behind and enter the Kruger National Park. Here the range of birds is wide, with rollers, starlings, hornbills, shrikes, lapwings and raptors to be seen. We’ll also start recording mammals in abundance, including the general game species such as impala, Burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest, giraffe and warthog.
- We have a second night at Skukuza, the park’s headquarters, and will start the day with an early morning drive, probably heading south-east along the Sabie River. This is one of the largest rivers in the park and attracts lots of game, particularly Impala, during this water-critical time of the year.
- Accommodation: Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger NP, 2-nights on full board basis.
- After an early morning in the park, we return to camp for breakfast and then depart northwards to Satara Rest Camp, 92 kilometres away.
- The low rainfall and generally warm climate in Kruger make for sweet and mixed grasslands, and these attract herds of grazers such as Burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest and Cape buffalo. These in turn attract predators such as lion and spotted hyena, while leopard and cheetah prey on the smaller species. The area is rich in birdlife too and daily lists of well over a hundred species are possible in the summer.
- During our stay we have the option of a night-drive with the park guides, which will give us the opportunity to be out after the public are back in camp and to see nocturnal species.
- Accommodation: Satara Rest Camp, Kruger NP, 2-nights on full board basis.
- Today we travel through some rural villages before we enter the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which boasts what is arguably some of the best game-viewing in the world. The reserve is home to all six species of cat found in the eastern regions of the country, although it is most famous for its regular close-up encounters with lion and leopard.
- Each full day here entails a morning safari, followed by breakfast, an optional bush walk, lunch and a rest period followed by an afternoon safari that returns to camp after dark, giving us the chance to observe cats moving about under the cover of night.
- Accommodation: Nkorho Bush Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, 2-nights on full board basis.
- Bush walks:Walks are undertaken under the leadership of an armed guide and a tracker. The main point is not to see big game, as this is more easily done in the vehicle, but rather to get closer to the ground and learn about the smaller life forms, tracks and signs, birds and their nests and the general ecology. However, encounters with potentially dangerous game are possible, even if not actually sought out. The guides are trained to deal with such animals, but there are rare occasions when ‘evasive action’ is required, which may entail climbing trees, or running to the nearest cover. If you are not physically able to undertake such action, it might be better to not partake in the bush walk. Participation is also at the discretion of the lodge guide who will be leading the walk.
- After a final safari at Sabi Sand Game Reserve we’ll have breakfast and head back to Johannesburg, a seven hour drive away, for our overnight flight to London.
Day 13 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We stay in medium to high quality lodges, hotels and National Park rest camps. All accommodation is en suite.
All meals are included in the price. Bottled water is provided in the safari vehicle.
September is early spring in this corner of South Africa, with many species coming into breeding plumage. The highlands are an endemics hotspot and we can expect to see: Gurney’s sugarbird, Drakensberg prinia and secretarybird, to name just a few.
- Greater flamingo
- Buff-streaked chat
- Denham’s bustard
- Spotted eagle owl
Encounters with big mammals, such as lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, elephant and white rhinoceros, are likely in the Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
- Burchell’s zebra
- Blue wildebeest
- Southern giraffe
- Spotted hyena
Our tour takes in the grasslands and tropical savannah with much in the way of transitional habitats in between, as we explore highveld, Kruger National Park and a superb private reserve.
Generally easy. In the Kruger the presence of wild animals precludes excursions on foot.
Bush walks are offered in Sabi Sands, these are under the leadership of an armed guard and a tracker. Encounters with potentially dangerous animals are possible on these walks and guides are trained to deal with such encounters, however, on rare occasions, “evasive action” may be required, which may involve climbing trees or running for the nearest cover. Participants should be physically able to undertake such actions. Participation is also at the discretion of the lodge guide who will be leading the walk.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Johannesburg – London.
Ground transportation will be by open sided vehicles for the Kruger section of the tour.