Inala’s Western South Africa Birds, Mammals and Wildflowers Tour
11th - 28th September 2024
We are pleased to offer this tour again in 2024 as one of our regular and favourite destinations.
On this tour, we journey from South Africa’s mother city, Cape Town, through the planet’s smallest and richest floral kingdom to the sands of the Kalahari Desert. In our quest for endemic birds and wildflower displays we will encounter some of the continent’s most exciting mammals from the endearing meerkat to the mighty African Lion. We also have a good chance to see some of the more unusual and seldom-seen species such as Aardvark, Aardwolf, Cape Porcupine, the rare Black-footed Cat and Cape Hedgehog.
This time we have also added an extension to the famous Kruger National Park which provides the opportunity to see the ‘Big 5” and several other specialties. ( extension itinerary below the main tour details )
Day 1. Wed 11 Sept 24. Arrive Cape Town & transfer to hotel
Day 2. Thu 12 Sept 24. Cape Town to Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
Day 3, Fri 13 Sept 24. Rooi-Els, Betty’s Bay and Harold Porter Botanical Gardens
Day 4. Sat 14 Sept 24. Cape Town environs, including Kirstenbosch, to Langebaan
Day 5. Sun 15 Sept 24. West Coast National Park
Day 6. Mon 16 Sept 24. Langebaan to Nieuwoudtville
Day 7. Tue 17 Sept 24. Nieuwoudtville area
Day 8. Wed 18 Sept 24. Nieuwoudtville to Springbok
Day 9. Thu 19 Sept 24. Springbok to Augrabies Falls National Park
Day 10. Fri 20 Sept 24. Augrabies Falls NP
Day 11. Sat 21 Sept 24. Augrabies Falls NP to Van Zylsrus
Day 12. Sun 22 Sept 24. Morning with the Meerkats and on to Twee Rivieren
Days 13 & 14. Mon 23 & Tue 24 Sept 24. Kgalagadi NP
Day 15. Wed 5 Sept 24. Twee Rivieren to Marrick
Day 16. Thu 26 Sept 24. Explore Marrick
Day 17. Fri 27 Sept 24. Mokala NP
Day 18. Sat 28 Sept 24. Kimberley to Johannesburg & depart
Day 1. Wednesday 11 September 2024. Arrive Cape Town & transfer to hotel.
We request that all participants arrive today which allows us to maximise our touring on the first day of our itinerary. We will organise a private transfer for each group as they arrive at the airport and the group will meet for a welcome dinner at 18:30.
Accommodation: Hotel in a seaside village at the foot of mountains near Cape Town (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Thursday 12 September 2024: Cape Town to Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
We will start our tour with a visit to the famous African Penguin colony at nearby Boulders Beach. Here, as many as five hundred penguins grace the beach and we will enjoy superb viewing and photographic opportunities. Here we will also look out for the endemic African Oystercatcher along the adjacent rocky shorelines and scan an offshore islet for breeding populations of endemic Crowned, Bank and Cape Cormorants. In the afternoon, we continue south along the scenic Atlantic coastline to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The scenery, at the south-westerly tip of the African continent, is wild, rugged and spectacular. Here we will get our first insight into the uniqueness and beauty of the Cape Floral Kingdom. The thick stands of Protea support the magnificent Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbird. Several interesting mammals occur here and we have a good chance of seeing Rock Hyrax, Bontebok, Chacma Baboon and if we are lucky the rare Cape Mountain Zebra. We conclude the day with a breath-taking coastal drive through the quaint villages of Scarborough and Kommetjie.
Accommodation: Hotel near Cape Town (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Friday 13 September 2024. Rooi-Els, Betty’s Bay and Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
A diverse array of birding habitats are present around Cape Town and today we will visit a variety of sites, ranging from wetlands to fynbos and marine shoreline. We will make our way early to the rugged Hottentots-Holland Mountains in search of one of South Africa’s finest endemics: the handsome Cape Rockjumper. Though strikingly plumaged and conspicuous by their vocalisations, these charismatic birds possess an incredible ability to disappear amongst the boulders and we will need a dash of luck to get good sightings of these elusive creatures. Rocky outcrops here also support the odd Ground Woodpecker as well as Chacma Baboon and the agile Klipspringer, a unique and highly specialised antelope. The sandy and highly acidic substrate here supports rich mountain flora littered with an interesting variety of bulbs and annuals. A staggering 1600 plant species have been recorded in the area, with over 150 of these endemic to the region. After lunch we will explore the nearby Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, famous among bird and plant enthusiasts. We will amble through the cultivated and wild areas on the lookout for Gladioli, Watsonia and Erica species in flower as well as rare Gondwanan species such as the Mountain Cypress Widdringtonia nodiflora and Real Yellowwood Podocarpus latifolius. Bird highlights may include Black Saw-wing, Bar-throated Apalis and Swee Waxbill. For those with diverse interests this Botanical Garden is also a local hotspot for dragonflies. In the late afternoon we will make our way back to Cape Town with a stop at the Harmony Flats Nature Reserve if time permits; this tiny reserve is the only protected area which conserves Lourensford Alluvial Fynbos – often considered the most threatened vegetation type in South Africa!
Accommodation: Hotel near Cape Town (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Saturday 14 September 2024. Cape Town environs (Kirstenbosch) to Langebaan.
We begin the day with a visit to the immaculately landscaped Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens nestled on the slopes of Table Mountain. Here we will spend a few hours strolling around the many fascinating displays of this world-famous botanical garden. The gardens are also home to a plethora of endemic birds restricted to the Macchia-like vegetation of the southern tip of Africa and we should find the endemic Cape Grassbird and attractive Southern Double-collared Sunbird as well as the spectacular Malachite Sunbird. The natural vegetation surrounding the gardens is one of the few places where species such as the Silver Tree (Leucadendron argenteum) grows in the wild. In the mid-morning we will make our way up the West coast, stopping at Tienie Versveld Wildflower Reserve. The granitic soils of the reserve can hold some very impressive spring flower displays and we hope for a variety of Babiana, Ixia, Lachenalia and Drosera species in flower. Two birds of note include the distinctive, localised sub-species of both Cape Clapper Lark and Cloud Cisticola.
Accommodation: B&B in Langebaan. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Sunday 15 September 2024. West Coast National Park (WCNP).
We have the whole day to explore the avian, mammal and floral wonders of the West Coast National Park, including the globally important wetland site of Langebaan Lagoon. Here large numbers of waders spend the northern winter here and we will scan for shorebirds including Kittlitz’s Plover, the localised Chestnut-banded Plover and Terek Sandpiper. In addition, these areas also support large numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingo, South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler and other waterfowl. This also happens to be one of the best places on earth to search for the very striking Black Harrier, a regional endemic and a highly sought-after species! If all is well and we have had a good wet year, we can also expect one of the world’s most remarkable wildflower displays. Here, in the Postberg section of the reserve (which is only open to the public in August-September during the wildflower season), the typically green and rather drab hills transform into an extravagance of colour and beauty that is sure to take your breath away. Unique mammals that we will keep a lookout for include Cape Grysbok, Cape Mountain Zebra and if we are very fortunate, Caracal, a spectacular medium sized wild cat resembling a lynx.
Accommodation: B&B in Langebaan as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Monday 16 September 2024. Langebaan to Nieuwoudtville.
After breakfast we will make our way to the nearby Berg River estuary where the rich, slow-flowing waters support a great selection of shorebirds. This site is especially good for Chestnut-banded Plover and often houses South African rarities like Red-necked Phalarope. Continuing north we will make a stop at Paleisheuwel, just south of Clanwilliam, arguably the best and most accessible site in the world for Protea Canary. In the late afternoon, we will make our way up the dramatic Van Rhyns Pass to the small town of Nieuwoudtville, gateway to the spring flower displays of Namaqualand.
Accommodation: B&B in Niewoudtville. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Tuesday 17 September 2024. Nieuwoudtville area.
This lonely but beautiful corner of South Africa is a visual joy in spring, and the day will be spent exploring farms and reserves in the area for the best spring flower displays and enjoying the wildlife of the area. Of particular interest to us here is the diversity of bulbs (nowhere else in the world are bulbs as diverse as they are here!) in addition to the numerous plants endemic to the area. In this relatively small region we find as many as four different plant biomes converging, creating one of the richest areas for plants in the world. Today is bound to be a very memorable day for us all as we uncover the area’s fascinating plant life. Whilst in the area we may visit the Nieuwoudtville Falls, where we will look for Pale-winged Starling and the highly sought-after Ground Woodpecker, and the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve, where we are sure to find numerous flowering geophytes, including representatives of well-known genera like Gladiolus, Bulbinella, Romulea, Ixia and the amazingly decorative Geissorhiza.
Accommodation: B&B in Niewoudtville as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 8. Wednesday 18 September 2024. Nieuwoudtville to Springbok.
After a spell of birding around our accommodations we will commence the drive north. Not long after departing we enter the Knersvlakte, a desolate and barren looking land with a gently undulating topography. The barren appearance belies the treasure-chest of stone plants (Vygies and Lithops of the family Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthemaceae) that litter these quartz plains. We are now in the heart of the succulent capital of the world and will leave the confines of the car to amble this wild garden of miniature, fleshy-leaved plants. By way of birds these plains are home to the wondrous Secretarybird, the endemic Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Ant-eating Chat and Cape Crow, among many others. Further north the landscape turns more rugged as we pass through tiny remote farming settlements. In the flat areas we will look for Karoo Lark and Karoo Chat. If time permits, we will make for Skilpad Wildflower Reserve that showcases a wonderful selection of spring flowers, including a variety of daisies, bulbs and geraniums. The ghostly but spectacular tree aloe (Aloe dichotoma) will become evident as we approach the town of Springbok. In the late afternoon we will explore gravel roads in the area for some of the more difficult species like Black-headed Canary, Black-eared Sparrow-Lark and Ludwig's Bustard.
Accommodation: Springbok B & B. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 9. Thursday 19 September 2024. Springbok to Augrabies Falls National Park.
This morning we will visit the famed Goegap Nature Reserve, notable for its superb birding, great displays of wildflowers, and interesting selection of mammals, including Klipspringer, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra and Chacma Baboon. Birds of interest to us in this parched wilderness include Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Eremomela and Layard’s Warbler. Leaving Namaqualand and the wildflower heartland behind us, we now enter the stark beauty of Bushmanland. The massive nests of the Sociable Weaver will become apparent and we will keep our eyes open for the endearing Pygmy Falcon that often uses these big nests to roost. In the early afternoon we arrive at the impressive Augrabies Falls where we will have time to enjoy a walk around the chalets and view the marvellous falls as it thunders through a tiny gap in the rocks and pours into the gorge below. In wet years this makes for a very impressive spectacle indeed! In the Camelthorn Acacia trees in the camp we will enjoy the rich birdlife and mammals of the area including Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer. In the early evening, we will take a night drive into the park in an attempt to find Cape Eagle-Owl, Cape Porcupine, Small Spotted Genet, Cape Hare, the rather bizarre-looking Springhare and Bat-eared Fox.
Accommodation: Augrabies Falls NP (en suite chalet). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 10. Friday 20 September 2024. Augrabies Falls National Park.
Today we have a full day to explore the variety of dramatic landscapes within Augrabies Falls National Park. The lunar-like, rocky outcrops and steep cliff faces not far from camp are home to Black Stork, Pale-winged Starling, Peregrine Falcon, Short-toed Rock Thrush and Verreaux’s Eagle. Beautiful, multi-coloured Broadley’s Flat Lizards are conspicuous as they sun themselves on the granite rocks. As we explore these breath-taking but barren landscapes we will also enjoy mammal viewing with the chance to see Slender Mongoose, the striking Gemsbok (Southern Oryx) and Springbok.
Accommodation: Augrabies Falls NP chalet as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 11. Saturday 22 September 2024. Augrabies Falls to Van Zylsrus.
After breakfast and some final birding in Augrabies Falls National Park we will make our way to Van Zylsrus. While today is a travel day, we will enjoy wonderful scenery and enjoy plenty of comfort stops on the way. In the late afternoon we will arrive in the small town of Van Zylsrus surrounded by typical Kalahari scenery of crooked Acacia trees and rust-red sand dunes cloaked in golden grass.
Accommodation: Hotel in Van Zylsrus (en suite room). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 12. Sunday 23 September 2024. Morning with Meerkats and onto Twee Rivieren.
This morning we will join a local researcher from the Kalahari Meerkat Research Project (a Cambridge University initiative) spending a few hours observing a group of wild but habituated meerkats. This is the very place where Meerkat Manor was filmed and we will enjoy this fantastic opportunity to observe these endearing and fascinating creatures up close in the company of a scientist-in-training. After our time with the meerkats we will make the journey north in order to arrive at the spectacular Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park by mid-afternoon. Our camp, Twee Rivieren or ‘Two Rivers’, is so named as it lies at the confluence of two broad, sandy riverbeds that, in most years, remain completely dry. For the afternoon we will embark on a short drive up one of the riverbeds to search for the wonderful diversity of mammals and birds of the Kalahari. Accommodation: Kgalagadi NP (en suite chalets/rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 13 & 14. Monday 24 & Tuesday 25 September 2024. Kalagadi Transfrontier Park.
We have two full days to explore the parched riverbeds, waterholes and dune-scapes of the Kalahari and can expect some exciting birding and mammal viewing. The regal Gemsbok is common here as are Springbok and Blue Wildebeest and we have an excellent chance of seeing the huge, black-maned Kalahari Lions that the park is famous for. These river beds are also excellent for Cheetah and we stand a good chance of seeing Black-backed Jackal, Yellow Mongoose, South African Ground Squirrel, Honey Badger, both Cape and Bat-eared Foxes. Large birds are a conspicuous feature of the landscape and include Lappet-faced Vulture and the stately Secretarybird. The park is well known for its diversity of raptors and an impressive forty species have been recorded here. We will be on the lookout for Tawny Eagle, Bateleur, Brown Snake Eagle and Gabar Goshawk. It is also along the dry riverbeds that we will be looking for some of the scarcer residents such as Red-necked Falcon, African Harrier-Hawk, Green Wood Hoopoe and Green-winged Pytilia. A night-drive will give us a chance for finding a wide selection of mammals including African Wild Cat, Porcupine, Leopard, Springhare and the rare Brown Hyena.
Accommodation: Kgalagadi NP as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 15. Wednesday 25 September 2024. Twee Rivieren to Khoisan Karoo Conservancy.
After breakfast this morning, we will leave Twee Rivieren and drive to the Khoisan Karoo Conservancy, where we will spend the next three nights.
Accommodation: Khoisan Karoo Conservancy (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 16 & 17. Thursday 26 and Friday 27 September 2024. Khoisan Karoo Conservancy.
We will spend two full days in this area and take some time to bird the mosaic of grassland and acacia thornveld; species that can be found in these habitats include the strikingly marked Northern Black and Red-crested Korhaans, stunning Crimson-breasted Shrike, Marico Flycatcher, Kori Bustard, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Long-billed Crombec, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Temminck’s and Double-banded Coursers, Cape Longclaw, Common Scimitarbill, Eastern Clapper and Fawn-coloured Larks and Shaft-tailed Whydah. There are good numbers of game in the park too and we should encounter a wide range of antelope and have a chance for Giraffe, White Rhinoceros, Roan and Sable Antelopes and African Buffalo. We will have two night-drives whilst here and our focus will be to locate and observe the sought-after, nocturnal specials. The inexplicable Aardvark tops the list of amazing possible beasts in the area, while other highlights include the endearing Aardwolf, the rare Black-footed Cat, Bat-eared and Cape Fox, Cape Porcupine, African Striped Weasel, African Wildcat, Striped Polecat and Small-spotted Genet. Night birds include Spotted Eagle-owl and Western Barn Owl and the migratory Rufous-cheeked Nightjar.
Accommodation: Khoisan Karoo Conservancy as for previous day. Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 18. Saturday 28 September 2024. Khoisan Karoo Conservancy to Johannesburg.
This morning we will fly back to Johannesburg (additional cost to be arranged).
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Based on a group size of 6-12 participants + Inala leader + local guide.
Tour Price: TBA but estimated to be around AUD$16,500 per person twin share. Single supplement AUD$1,500.
Kimberley to Johannesburg flight on day 18 is an additional per person (TBA). We can arrange that for you, or you can book this yourself (we will advise which flight to book so the group are together).
Additional accommodation can be booked for you in Cape Town (pre-tour) and Johannesburg (post-tour) if required. Please enquire about additional costs.
Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours as outlined in the itinerary, all meals (B, L, D) and activities outlined in the itinerary and National Park entry fees.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips etc).
The bulk of the tour costs have been converted from South African Rand, a currency that, like most, is subject to fluctuating exchange rates. While we will do all possible to honour the above prices we may have little choice but to adjust these prices if there is a notable strengthening of the South African Rand. Furthermore, rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged. We would always discuss this with you beforehand.
Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee. Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations. Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink. Dinner usually consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.
The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
The intensity and quality of Wildflower displays is influenced dramatically by rain and heat and their impressiveness can vary from one year to the next. This tour is designed to visit the region’s best locations at the best possible times under normal circumstances. The tour will run regardless as conditions can change very quickly and even in poor years there is still a great deal to experience botanically.
We do spend a considerable amount of time in vehicles as we have to cover long distances in order to get to the best areas for birds and animals. In all areas that contain potentially dangerous animals you are confined to the vehicle and are, quite understandably, not allowed to exit. In these places there are toilet stops at specified locations.
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK EXTENSION TOUR
28 September – 3 October 2024
Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s most famous and fabulous reserves. On this birding and wildlife safari we will explore the area’s superb road system in our quest to locate some of the most iconic birds and big game in Africa, including the legendary “Big 5” - Lion, African Elephant, Leopard, African Buffalo and Rhinoceros. Kruger provides an excellent opportunity to witness these spectacular beasts in their natural habitat, with some of them in large numbers and at very close quarters. In addition, the park’s rich bushveld habitat will provide us with amongst the most exciting and rewarding birding to be had anywhere in Africa. Of special note here are species requiring vast areas of wilderness, such as Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard, the incomparable Southern Ground Hornbill, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, up to five species of vulture and an incredible diversity of other raptors!
Day 1. Sat 28 Sept 24. Arrive Johannesburg
Day 2. Sun 29 Sept 24. Travel Johannesburg to Kruger National Park
Days 3 - 5. Mon 30 Sept - Wed 2 Oct 24. Kruger NP
Day 6. Thu 3 Oct 24. Kruger NP to Johannesburg and depart.
Day 1. Saturday 28 September 2024. Arrive Johannesburg
(those travelling on from the main tour will be returning from Kimberley today). We will have dinner together this evening to discuss the plans for the tour. Accommodation: Johannesburg (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Sunday 29 September 2024: Arrive Kruger National Park.
We will depart Johannesburg this morning after breakfast and travel to Kruger National Park. On arrival in the heart of the National Park, we have a fantastic opportunity to encounter some of Kruger’s great mammals and special birds this afternoon, which could include any of the ‘Big Five’. We will almost certainly be entertained by regular herds of Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest and Impala, while smaller groups of Warthog, Greater Kudu and Giraffe will also be a constant feature. In the mid to late afternoon we will arrive at our perfectly situated camp and base for the next four nights. There will be an option after dinner this evening to do a night walk around camp and this will offer us an excellent chance of seeing African Scops Owl and Western Barn Owl, while possibilities of finding Spotted Hyena patrolling the surrounding fence are good. Falling asleep to the calls of African Scops Owl, Spotted Hyena and roaring Lion is a very special experience indeed. Accommodation: Skukuza Rest Camp (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 3 to 5. Monday 30 September to Wednesday 2 October 2024: Kruger National Park.
The Greater Kruger conservation area incorporates vast areas of adjacent Mozambique and Zimbabwe and forms one of the largest reserves on earth! It is also one of Africa’s most diverse parks, protecting a huge variety of wildlife. Here, in the central part of the park, the area is dominated by open grassy plains and sparsely vegetated woodlands. The birding and game viewing in this region is excellent with many bird species attending mixed flocks, particularly in acacia dominated woodland. In fact, the acacia savanna that dominates most of the Kruger National Park contains one of the highest densities of birds of any habitat type in the world! This, coupled with the immense variety of game that we will endeavour to see, ensures a truly unforgettable African experience. Over the course of the next four days we will bird around our camp and take day trips to various other habitats within a few hours’ drive.
The denser bushveld, woodlands and gallery forest of the southern section of the park are host to one of the most mouth-watering species that we hope to find, the majestic Southern Ground Hornbill that is often seen striding around in small groups. We will certainly be treated to many encounters with the gaudy Lilac-breasted Roller. Raptors are numerous throughout the reserve and we will no doubt enjoy sightings of the striking Bateleur as well as Tawny and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Hooded, White-headed, White-backed and huge Lappet-faced Vultures, and the handsome African Fish Eagle, while other possibilities include Shikra, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar and Dark Chanting Goshawks, the scarce but extremely attractive African Cuckoo-Hawk, Black-chested and Brown Snake Eagles, Lesser Spotted, Steppe, Crowned and Booted Eagles, African Hawk-Eagle, African Harrier Hawk and Amur Falcon.
This area is also famous for regular sightings of the rare African Wild Dog, while we stand an excellent chance of finding the endangered White Rhinoceros and with exceptional luck, its rarer cousin, the Black Rhinoceros. It is also arguably the best area in the park to see the crepuscular Leopard, certainly one of the world’s best-looking cats! In addition, we should encounter Lion, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal, large herds of African Elephant lounging in the Sabi River, herds of African Buffalo, Waterbuck, the beautiful Bushbuck and pods of Hippopotami. The persistent troops of playful Chacma Baboon and Vervet will keep us entertained during the heat of the day. Scouring the riverine woodland and thickets along the Sabi River, we hope to encounter Bennett’s, Golden-tailed, Bearded and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Ashy Flycatcher, gorgeous White-browed and Red-capped Robin-Chats, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbuls, African, Jameson’s and Red-billed Firefinches, superb Green-winged Pytilia, Red-faced Cisticola and Southern Boubou. The large riparian trees lining the rivers provide perfect nesting sites for weavers, which are extremely well represented in the park and include Southern and Lesser Masked, Village, Spectacled and Thick-billed. Furthermore, we will endeavour to see various species of brightly coloured bee-eaters, kingfishers, rollers and hornbills, along with the occasional Pearl-spotted Owlet, a diurnal owl with a lovely, characteristic call.
The park’s numerous large rivers and wetlands harbour a number of exciting water-associated birds and we will be on the lookout for the massive Goliath Heron, stately and severely threatened Saddle-billed Stork as well as the more common Woolly-necked and Yellow-billed Storks, African Spoonbill, the unique and monotypic Hamerkop, Wire-tailed and Grey-rumped Swallows, White-crowed Lapwing and if we are lucky, the rare African Finfoot or unpredictable Greater Painted-snipe.
Our base here in the southern part of the park is situated on the banks of the Sabi River, where the huge Sycamore Fig and Sausage Trees that tower over the camp attract some brilliant birds. Included in this suite of species are African Green Pigeon with its lovely, mournful, liquid call, the tiny Little Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, gaudy Purple-crested Turaco, Red-headed Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, the showy African Paradise Flycatcher, Arrow-marked Babbler, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, iridescent Collared, Marico, White-bellied, Amethyst and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, and the vocal Black-collared and Crested Barbets.
While in the south of the park there are also opportunities for optional sunset drives (**these would be offered at an additional charge for those who are interested-see prices below). Success on these sunset drives here varies greatly, but the list of possibilities is rather impressive and includes a good number of owls and nightjars, as well as Bronze-winged Courser, both Common and Central African Large-spotted Genets, Southern Lesser and Thick-tailed Greater Galagos, White-tailed Mongoose, African Savannah Hare, the incomparable Cape Porcupine, African Wild Cat, African Civet, Serval and Spotted Hyena – besides the Big 5!
We will certainly spend a day visiting the rich bushveld and grasslands of the park, which are particularly productive for a number of special species. These include Kori Bustard – the world’s heaviest flying bird, the magnificent Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Marabou Stork and the impressive Secretarybird, one of the world’s great avian gems. Further specialties that we will search for in the woodland areas include the lovely Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes, African Grey Hornbill, Southern White-crowned and Magpie Shrikes, Red-billed Oxpecker riding on the backs of big game, Bennett’s Woodpecker, African Hoopoe, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Burchell’s Starling, Mourning Collared Dove, Brown-headed Parrot, Red-crested Korhaan, Southern Black Tit, miniscule Grey Penduline Tit, noisy Green Wood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Greater and Lesser Honeyguides, Acacia Pied Barbet, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Sabota Lark, Mosque Swallow, Black Cuckooshrike, Kurrichane and Groundscraper Thrushes, eye-catching White-throated Robin-Chat, melodic White-browed Scrub Robin, Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied Eremomelas, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Black-crowned and Brown-crowned Tchagras, Brubru, dazzling Violet-backed Starling and Golden-breasted Bunting.
Noisy flocks of White-crested Helmetshrike are regularly encountered and we will also be on the lookout for the much rarer Retz’s Helmetshrike along with its seldom-seen host, the rare and much sought-after Thick-billed Cuckoo. In addition, we will keep a lookout for the amazing selection of migrant cuckoos that visit the park in summer and these include African, Common, Red-chested, Diederik, Klaas’s, Levaillant’s and Jacobin Cuckoos, as well as the scarce Great Spotted Cuckoo.
In the expansive grasslands we will seek out the bold Black-bellied Bustard, Crested and the rare Shelley’s and Coqui Francolins, Swainson’s and Natal Spurfowls, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, European and Purple Rollers, Yellow-throated Longclaw and with luck, the erratic and nomadic Temminck’s Courser and Senegal Lapwing. Summer visitors to these grasslands also include the scarce Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, while rocky outcrops might yield Mocking Cliff Chat, Red-winged Starling and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting. In the late afternoon pairs of boldly-patterned and crepuscular Double-banded Sandgrouse come to the edges of the road to feed, before making their way down to watering holes at dusk to drink.
The sweet grasses in the Satara area are, of course, also excellent for large herds of grazing mammals such as Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra and Impala. These huge herds in turn support a healthy population of predators and Satara is particularly well known for this. In fact, we have an excellent chance of finding Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena and the very scarce and highly threatened African Wild (Painted) Dog in this area. High densities of other game include Southern Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Bushbuck, Warthog, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey and Dwarf Mongoose, to name just a few.
An optional night drive (**additional expense for those who are interested-see below) through the park may encounter some of the rarer nocturnal mammals such as African Civet, Common and Central African Large-spotted Genets, Side-striped Jackal, the beautiful Serval, White-tailed Mongoose and Wild Cat, along with several species of owl and nightjar. These include Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, and Square-tailed, European and Fiery-necked Nightjars. Accommodation: Skukuza Rest Camp (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 6. Thursday 3 October 2024: Kruger National Park to Johannesburg and Departure.
After some early morning’s birding and wildlife viewing, we will leave the splendours of Kruger behind us and make our way to Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport where this exciting adventure will end. Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Based on a group size of 4-8 participants + Inala leader + local guide.
Tour Price: TBA (expected to be around AUD$5,000 per person twin share. Single supplement AUD$500.
**Sunset and night drives within the Kruger can be arranged for an additional per person cost per drive. Please let us know if you would be interested in joining one or both of these activities.
Additional accommodation can be booked for you in Johannesburg post tour if required. Please enquire about additional costs.
Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day excursions as outlined in the itinerary (bus for Johannesburg -Kruger transfers and open safari vehicles within the park), all meals (B, L, D) and activities outlined in the itinerary plus National Park entry and conservation fees. Also includes tips for local guides/drivers.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry etc) and night excursions in the park.
Please DO NOT book any flights until you have consulted us for confirmation on the status of the tour.
Exiting the vehicle is prohibited in all parks that contain dangerous animals. There are dedicated, fenced stops within the park where one can walk and use rest rooms.
The Kruger National Park is classified as a Malaria risk area. We suggest you contact your local health authorities for the best advice in this regard.