Birding Tour South Africa: Subtropical South Africa October 2017

Duration: 16 days

This tour is now fully booked. Please consider our 2018 tour.

This subtropical tour provides a representative sample of the very best that African birding can offer. Huge numbers of species will be seen (the typical bird list for this adventure is in the range of 400 species), and we will also find large numbers of South African endemics. Apart from yielding hundreds of bird species, this dream African experience also provides the possibility of seeing lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, antelopes, plus many other mammal species, as well as breathtaking scenery. We also often get feedback that the accommodation on this tour is great!

We start this birding safari in Durban on the east coast of South Africa, bounded by the warm Indian Ocean. Durban must be one of the “birdiest” cities on earth, and we spend time looking for subtropical coastal species before heading inland to the “KwaZulu-Natal midlands” and the foothills of the imposing Drakensberg Escarpment, where temperate forest and high grassland birds abound. The rare Cape Parrot is one of the targets (which, interestingly, can’t be found on our Cape birding tour despite the name), as are the beautiful Green Twinspot, two super Zoothera species (Spotted and Orange Ground Thrushes), Narina Trogon, the spectacularly-marked Green Twinspot, and, last but not least, the Vulnerable Blue Swallow (what a truly spectacular-looking hirundine!). We then ascend the heights of the Drakensberg into Lesotho via the Sani Pass, an amazing road that gives access from the base of the escarpment right up to the high plateau at 10,000 feet (over 3,000 meters), with different endemics appearing as elevation increases – near the base are birds such as Bush Blackcap, then as one ascends Gurney’s Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker, Sentinel Rock Thrush, and shining, metallic Malachite Sunbird appear, followed eventually by high-plateau species including Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, and Bearded Vulture.

Zululand, probably the most bird-diverse corner of South Africa, is next on our agenda, and not only does it have a great many species, but there are several very localized ones, basically only occurring here and in southern Mozambique – e.g. Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary, and Neergaard’s Sunbird. This also is big mammal country and one of the world’s strongholds for black and white rhino, very good for leopard, and hosts a variety of mammals not likely to be seen in Kruger – including nyala, samango monkey, the absolutely tiny suni antelope, etc.

We then ascend to the legendary (among birders seeking endemics) Wakkerstroom highlands, and eventually we reach the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s greatest game parks, which also has a bird list of over 500 species.

Before flying home out of Johannesburg we sample an area which gives access to some Kalahari-type birds, meaning we usually add a large number of species to our already large bird list right at the end of the trip – these include such beauties as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Southern Pied Babbler, Violet-eared Waxbill, Kalahari Scrub Robin, and many others.

This tour can be combined with our preceding Kruger National Park and Escarpment 2017 and 8-day Western Cape October 2017 tours for an in-depth South African adventure, and, following this tour, with our Namibia, Okavango, and Victoria Falls 18-day Birding Adventure 2017, followed by our Birding Tour Zimbabwe and Mozambique 2017 for a 64-day Southern African mega tour.

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