- Depart London on an overnight flight to Johannesburg.
- 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. There will be an optional afternoon birdwatching drive for those willing and able, returning late afternoon for time to freshen up before dinner.
- Accommodation: Dullstroom, 2-nights on full board basis.
- Next day we will have a pre-breakfast excursion up into the Valoren Valei Nature Reserve in the Steenkampsberg Range. Here, at over 2,000 metres above sea level, the grassland habitat supports good numbers of birds during the summer
- Later in the morning we will head back to town for breakfast, after which there will be time to relax before the next activity. We may take a birding walk around town and after lunch take a long afternoon drive in the surrounding countryside, searching for birds such as southern bald ibis, grey crowned crane, dark-capped yellow warbler and others.
- After an early breakfast we leave Dullstroom and drive towards the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment. We will have some stops along the way to view the massive Blyde River Canyon, the third largest in the world, and to look for rock and cliff species. We’ll then head down to the Lowveld (the low-lying savannah), enter the Kruger National Park via Orpen Gate and drive on to our first camp.
- Accommodation: Kruger Rest Camp, 4-nights on full board basis (2-nights at Rest Camp 1, 2-nights at Rest Camp 2). Accommodation here is in thatched rondavel huts or cottages with a mix of facilities. We stay in two different camps, in the southern regions of the park. The camps also have excellent birdwatching within and around the grounds.
- The Kruger is renowned for its huge herds of mammals. The commonest antelope by far is impala, with smaller numbers of many others, from wildebeest to the delightful steenbok. Huge herds of buffalo and zebra roam the plains here, along with an array of herbivores that includes elephant and white rhino. The usual assemblage of predators, including lion and leopard, are here in good numbers too, although the latter can be elusive.
- We'll be taking two night drives with the Park Rangers for nocturnal mammals, hoping for civet and genets, owls and nightjars. By day the birdlife is simply amazing. More than thirty species of raptor can be found here, with the graceful bateleur often 'balancing' in the skies above us, and the spectacular secretary bird that stalks the grasslands. Colour is added by the delightful array of bee-eaters and rollers while huge ground hornbills add a touch of the grotesque. The park also includes some excellent wetlands with a range of waterbirds from saddle-billed stork to the delightful malachite kingfisher.
- Note: On some mornings we’ll have early starts to get the best of the game viewing.
- We head for Wakkerstroom in the highveld, driving through the rolling hills and grassland of the former Transvaal, in some places with an oddly English-style landscape – albeit on a huge scale! We look for small flocks of southern bald Ibis en route.
- Wakkerstroom is a pleasant-looking village with an impressive church, and has built something of a reputation as a highveld birdwatching centre. A huge wetland with reedbeds and small pools on the edge of the village holds pride of place, with noisy Hadeda Ibises on the edges, and southern crowned cranes and African marsh harriers flying over the reedbeds.
- Accommodation: Wakkerstroom, 2-nights on full board basis.
- After a last morning activity in Wakkerstroom we’ll depart for the far northern region of KwaZulu-Natal Province, where we stay at Tembe Elephant Park close to the border with Mozambique.
- The reserve is made up of large tracts of Sand Forest, and has some great specials featuring on the substantial bird list. The specific birds we’ll be looking out for here include pink-throated twinspot, crested guineafowl, Rudd’s apalis, Neergard’s sunbird, southern banded snake-eagle and broad-billed roller. Mammal viewing is also good at Tembe and as the name implies, the reserve is well known for its population of African elephant. Other mammals to be seen include lion, nyala, red duiker, thick-tailed bushbaby, Cape buffalo, bushpig and warthog.
- Our routine here will combine early morning and late afternoon game drives with good meals and time to relax in camp.
- Accommodation: Tembe Elephant Park, 2-nights on full board basis.
- We then travel east to St Lucia, a small seaside resort, with some excellent fish restaurants, which also offers the possibility of a whale-watching trip in search of humpback whales. The St Lucia wetlands are good for waterbirds but the adjacent dune forest is the outstanding habitat here, hosting several local bird species, two tiny antelope – red and blue forest duiker – that are the favourite prey of crowned eagle, and the very local Samango monkey. Recently declared a World Heritage Site, the reserve is currently undergoing a huge conservation scheme, with eucalyptus forests being removed and large mammals being re-introduced.
- Accommodation: St Lucia, 2-nights on full board basis.
- We drive to Durban to connect with our overnight flight via Johannesburg to London.
Day 15 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We stay in camps, small hotels and guesthouses. The style of accommodation in camp is usually in cottages, chalets and rondavels. In Tembe we will be staying in spacious safari tents. All accommodation is en suite.
All meals are included, food is excellent and some lunches will be buffet-style picnics.
Our tour offers a wonderful opportunity for birdwatching in superb locations. Amongst the multitude of species we look for South Africa’s rarest breeding bird, the Taita falcon.
Of all the places we visit on this tour, the Kruger National Park is renowned for its huge herds of mammals, from wildebeest to steenbok. We take two night drives to look for leopard and other nocturnal species, civet and genets amongst them.
At St Lucia, we have the possibility of a whale watching trip in search of humpback whales.
Our tour takes us through the varied north east of the country, a region of beautiful landscapes and stunning scenery. Starting in the highveld, we take in the game rich plains of the Kruger National Park and continue onto the lowland savannah and coastal wetlands of Zululand. Our tour finishes in the pleasant coastal town of St Lucia.
Easy. In the game reserves the presence of wild animals precludes excursions on foot. Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes are adequate for this tour.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Johannesburg / Durban – London.
Transport will be in open sided vehicles for the Kruger section of the tour.
In order to prevent overloading of the tour vehicles, it is essential to limit your main baggage to one item, which should be a soft holdall.
You may bring optical equipment, but if this includes telescope and tripod they should be carried in separate cases for their protection in the vehicles.