Best birdwatching experience in Southern Africa

South Africa is renowned to have extremely diverse habitats. The provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga on South Africa’s eastern seaboard boast some of the country’s finest birdwatching and exceptional mammal viewing. An impressive 750 plus species of bird occur in the region, reflecting the wonderful natural diversity of the area; and this, coupled with a modern infrastructure well suited to the needs of the modern traveller, makes birdwatching here an absolute delight. From the classic African savanna of the world-renowned Kruger National Park and the teeming Zululand game reserves, to the endemic-rich mist-belt forests of the Natal Midlands and the lofty peaks of the magnificent Drakensberg, this tour of Eastern South Africa offers the very best of African birding and game viewing.

By the time when ElementZ is releasing this specialized birding itinerary, our ecofriendly lodge operator partner Wilderness Safaris has just exclaimed a rarely sighting of Ross’s Turaco in Southern Africa – the last sighting dated back to 2011.

 

Highlights

  • no fewer than five species of vulture in Kruger
  • at least two night drives in Kruger to explore nocturnal birds and mammals
  • search in rocky outcrops and gorges of Wakkerstroom for numerous endemics such as Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Crane, Blue Korhaan and White-bellied Bustard, the rare and localised larks will be a prime target
  • search for localised specials in Mkuze – most spectacular of which is the beautiful Narina Trogon
  • St Lucia town – the dunes here are the world’s highest vegetated dunes
  • Day trip up Sani Pass, Lesotho, for unique highland species

Full Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1-4 Johannesburg and Kruger

Explore a range of interesting habitats ranging from the stark Highveld grasslands to the scenic drop through the Northern Drakensberg into the Lowveld, looking for big game including Lion and leopard. Of special note here are species requiring vast areas of wilderness like Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard – the world’s heaviest flying bird, and the incomparable Southern Ground Hornbill.

Day 5-6 Wakkerstroom

The quaint village of Wakkerstroom is surrounded by pristine upland grasslands rich in endemic birds – South African Shelduck, African Swamphen, Cape Weaver, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Crane, Blue Korhaan, White-bellied Bustard, and the rare and localised larks will be a prime target. One of the other interesting denizens of these grasslands is the curious Suricate, or Meerkat, immortalised in Walt Disney’s ‘Lion King’.

Day 7-8 Mkuze area

The Mkuze area is one of the most productive birding hotspots in Southern Africa and, with its wide variety of savanna, forest and wetland habitats. Other highlights includes Neergaard’s Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis, Crested Guineafowl and the strange African Broadbill.

Day 9-10 St Lucia to Himeville

Explore the dune forest on the edge of St Lucia town – the dunes here are the world’s highest vegetated dunes! This rich forest supports an exciting variety of endemics and specials, including the beautiful Livingstone’s Turaco. Search for southern African endemics such as Forest Buzzard, the highly endangered and endemic Cape Parrot, and the elusive Bush Blackcap etc.

Day 11-12 Sani Pass, Lesotho

Travel up into the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho in search of a handful of highly localised, highland endemics – impressive Gurney’s Sugarbird, Drakensberg Rockjumper and smaller Drakensberg Siskin etc. On Day 12 will move from Underberg to Durban and onward flight to Johannesburg.

Included

  • All meals from lunch on day 1 to breakfast on day 12 for those on the main tour
  • All lodgings
  • Ground transportation
  • Reserve entrance fees
  • Activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All guiding services (including tips for local guides and services).

Excluded

  • Visa fees
  • ANY flights
  • Any drinks
  • Special gratuities
  • Telephone calls, laundry and other items of a personal nature.