1. Day 1 Depart UK

    • After meeting up with our guide at Johannesburg airport, we head straight out to the town of Clarens and the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, where we will be staying for three nights. We will be stopping here and there to look at any roadside flowers. We will also be birding en route, looking out for the diurnal grass owl as it quarters the grassy road verges, as well as the many larks, swallows and swifts.
    • Accommodation: Clarens, Golden Gates Highlands National Park, 3-nights on full board basis.
    • Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp. This is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra – and birds, including lammergeier and the equally rare southern bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Flowers are rich and varied. Nerine, gladiolus, arum lily, watsonias, fire lilies and red-hot pokers can be identified close to our accommodation and protea species can be found higher up the hillsides.
    • A short drive will bring us to the Royal Natal National Park, which is situated below the sheer face of the 3000 metre Drakensberg escarpment. With much of the terrain being grassland, interspersed with Protea and Natal bottlebrush trees, the gardens of our lodge are a shady sanctuary for the local birdlife.
    • Accommodation: Royal Natal National Park, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • We walk into the deep gorges of the Drakensberg, looking out for what's flying or flowering! Watsonias, orchids and proteas play host to many bird and insect species. Birds that we will be looking out for include the endemic Drakensberg siskin, broad-tailed warbler and Gurney’s sugarbird.
    • The Drakensberg Mountains were once the hunting ground of the San people (Bushmen). Though the San no longer live in the area, they recorded their exploits in the form of remarkable rock paintings. We will be visiting these paintings on one of our botanical walks.
    • We spend the morning birding and botanising en route to the Champagne Castle area in the central Drakensberg. This area is home to a large sandstone cave containing Bushman rock art, one of the biggest and best preserved painted sites in southern Africa. We will visit this site on one of our botanical walks. We will also be looking out for black wildebeest, eland and Burchell's zebra, which roam the grasslands in the lower berg.
    • Accommodation: uKhahlamba National Park, Drakensberg, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • We will have an early start so as to get to Bonamanzi for the afternoon. This privately owned game reserve and safari lodge is widely recognised as one of the best birding destinations in Southern Africa, and one of its special features is that it provides a safe and interactive bush experience in which you can walk or drive, with or without the company of a trained field guide.
    • During the course of our stay at Bonamanzi we will be taking an open top 4x4 game drive and a river birdwatching boat trip, as well as birdwatching & botanical walks in the sand-forest and tall woodland areas around the main camp.
    • Accommodation: Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve, Main Camp, 3-nights on full board basis.
    • We head for Wakkerstroom in the highveld, amidst the rolling hills and grassland, in some places with an oddly English-style landscape – albeit on a huge scale!
    • We will spend the best part of our second day here walking and driving along the network of dust roads radiating out from the Wakkerstroom wetlands. We will explore the grasslands, with their rocky outcrops and gorges in search of orchids, aloes and other botanical treasures.
    • Accommodation: Wakkerstroom, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • After breakfast we will go for a morning birdwatching walk. After an early lunch we will head for the airport for our overnight flight to London.
  2. Day 15 Arrive UK

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities

Accommodation

On our tour we stay in a mixture of park camps, lodges and small hotels / guesthouses. In park camps and lodges, accommodation is usually in chalets or rondavels.

All accommodation is en suite.

Meals

All main meals are included.

Birds

The Drakensberg Mountains are home to 290 bird species – an avian treasure trove. Highlights of our tour include the diurnal grass owl and the Drakensberg siskin, and, amongst the grasslands, flocks of blue crane and blue korhaan.

  • Gurney’s sugarbird
  • Southern crowned crane
  • African marsh harrier
  • Broad-tailed warbler

Mammals

Our tour is truly mammal-rich – more than 48 mammal species have been identified in the Drakensberg Mountains – and on our game drive and bush walks we look for black wildebeest and warthog.

  • Burchell’s zebra
  • Klipspringer
  • Eland
  • Red duiker

Flora

On our tour we have a real taste of the region’s botany, as we explore the only grassland national park in South Africa and the Drakensberg Mountains, home to more than 2,000 flowering planet species, before heading to the highveld to look for orchids and aloes.

  • Arum lily
  • Red-hot poker
  • Nerines

Scenery

From mountain gorges and foothills, with colourful sandstone cliffs, to remnants of Afromontane forest, from World Heritage Sites to magnificent natural amphitheatres, spectacular lakes and magnificent rivers, and the wetlands of the highveld – our tour takes us through diverse and fascinating landscapes.

Walking

Our tour gives us the opportunity for a number and variety of walks, amongst mountains and rolling grassland, and a bush walk through a private game reserve.

Boat trips

Our tour includes a riverboat trip at Bonamanzi.

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London – Johannesburg – London.

Ground transport

Ground transportation is by coach, with driver.

  1. March 2015
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