South Africa is one of the most unique and fascinating countries in Africa, being home to a marvelous diversity of birds (including quite a few endemics), wildlife, wildflowers, and landscapes. Add to that an excellent infrastructure, comfortable accommodation, and delicious food and wine, and it is no surprise that South Africa is one of the premier birding destinations in the world.
On this Venture we first explore Kruger National Park, which not only offers good chances of encountering the "Big 5" (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard), but also boasts a total bird list of over 500 species, including the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl. After Kruger, we’ll spend several nights in the unspoiled mountain wilderness of the small, independent country of Swaziland before heading back into South Africa to KwaZulu-Natal, the heartland of the Zulu nation. Here we spend several days in Tembe Elephant Park, a rich national park on the Mozambique border with abundant birdlife before moving on to Ithala Game Reserve. With a topographic profile varying from 1200 feet above sea level in the north to 4350 feet near Louwsberg in the south, Ithala`s terrain extends over lowveld and densely vegetated riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces. Specials birds for this reserve include: Goliath Heron, White-backed Night-Heron, Southern Bald Ibis, African Hawk-Eagle, White-bellied Korhaan, Freckled Nightjar, Half-collared Kingfisher, and Ground Woodpecker. We finish at Wakkerstrom, the lark capital of South Africa, where we search for many species unique to these wet grasslands.
On the optional extension to the Cape, we will explore and enjoy all that Cape Town and environs has to offer, including West Coast National Park with the endemic Black Bustard and thousands of shorebirds, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, and the spectacular coastal drive down to Betty’s Bay to look for seabirds such as Cape Gannet, Cape Cormorant, and African Penguin. The Cape is a biodiversity hotspot that supports some 9,000 species of plants plus a unique suite of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and mammals, and 70% of South Africa’s endemic birds, including such trip targets as Knysna Warbler & Cape Siskin. This is certainly a trip you won’t want to miss!
Some of the Birds We Hope to See
(endemic, seen only on extension) Common Ostrich, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Southern Pochard, South African Shelduck, Maccoa Duck, Gray-winged Francolin, Greater & Lesser Flamingos; African Penguin; Wooly-necked, Saddle-billed, and Yellow-billed Storks; Pink-backed Pelican, Great White Pelican; Goliath Heron; Southern Bald Ibis, African Spoonbill; Bateleur, Black-breasted and Brown Snake-Eagles, Bat Hawk, Martial, Tawny, Wahlberg's, Steppe and Lesser Spotted Eagles, African Hawk-Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk; Stanley’s (Denham’s) & Black Bustards; Buff-spotted & Striped Flufftails; African Finfoot; Blue Crane; Black-rumped Buttonquail; Livingstone’s & Knysna Turacos; African Wood-Owl & Pel’s Fishing Owl; Narina Trogon; Giant, Malachite, and Half-collared Kingfishers; Olive & Ground Woodpeckers; Brown-necked (Cape) Parrot; African Broadbill; Black-Throated Wattle-eye, Cape & Woodward's Batis; Olive & Black-fronted Bushshrikes; Cape Rockjumper; Eastern Long-billed, Cape, Rudd’s, Karoo Lark; Cape Bulbul; Cape Grassbird, Victorin’s Warbler; Knysna Warbler; Drakensberg Prinia; Gurney’s & Cape Sugarbirds; Cape Rock-Thrush; Brown Scrub-Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Orange Ground Thrush; Black-bellied Starling; Neergaard’s, Malachite, Southern Double-banded, and Orange-breasted Sunbirds; Cape & Forest Canaries, Cape Siskin, Cape Weaver and many more!
Mammals & Other Wildlife:
Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, White Rhino, African Elephant, Burchell’s & Cape Mountain Zebras; African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Warthog, Giraffe, Bushbuck, Nyala, Greater Kudu, Common & Red Duiker, Steinbok, Springbok, Impala, Tsessebe, Bontebok, Spotted Hyena, Side-striped & Black-backed Jackals; African Wild Dog, Vervet Monkey, Chacma Baboon and many more.