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Worldwide Birding Tours - Birding Ecotours
Ross's Turaco by Masa Wang - Uganda birding tour






Birding Tour South Africa: 12-day Western Cape February 2019



We often get feedback that the accommodation on this ‘Birding Tour South Africa’ adventure is great! Indeed, South Africa is one of the best value destinations on the entire continent. The excellent infrastructure, superb accommodation, great food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in.

We begin this Birding Tour South Africa excursion in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town, looking for a host of avian endemics found nowhere else but in the Cape Floral Kingdom (the richest place on earth for plants), and also doing a pelagic trip. Cape pelagics are among the best in the world. We then head northwards from Cape Town up the west coast, and then across the beautiful and rugged Cederberg range into the Karoo, another one of Africa’s greatest endemic hotspots. We then visit the Agulhas Plains, which are the stronghold of South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane, and also are inhabited by localized endemics such as the Agulhas Long-billed Lark. We then continue to the picturesque Garden Route, where we have time to sample some of the birds more typical of Eastern South Africa, including Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, Half-collared Kingfisher, and a host of others.

All in all, our 12-day featured Cape tour in February this year is full of localized endemics, spectacular scenery, and so much more. This is where Birding Ecotours started as a company in 2002, and nowhere else do we have as much experience as in the Cape.

This Birding Tour South Africa adventure can be combined with our Subtropical South Africa 18-day Birding Adventure March 2019 tour.

Duration: 12 days

Limit (Group Size): 8, rarely 9

Date Start: February 14, 2019

Date End: February 25, 2019

Tour Start: Cape Town

Tour End: George

Important explanation about the default vehicles we use on our southern African tours: Whereas the standard birding-tour vehicle in East Africa is the popup-roof stretch Land Cruiser, in southern Africa these are extremely rare and not usually legal except within some parks. Open safari vehicles, on the other hand, are commonly seen in southern African parks but can’t be used outside the parks, and they are extremely unpleasant to be in when the weather is bad even inside the parks. The only tried-and-tested tour vehicle available in southern Africa that allows us to cover the ground we need so we can find the greatest diversity of birds (and other wildlife), and which is comfortable in all weather, is legal, has proper air conditioning, and does not make the overall tour price exorbitant, is the 13-seater Toyota Quantum when we have 6-8 (rarely 9) tour participants (or similar 7-10-seater vans when we have smaller group sizes). In areas where we are not restricted to the vehicle during the tour (such as in the Cape) we usually use unmodified standard Quantum vans – everyone gets out of the vehicle when we see a good bird or animal. In areas in which we are at times restricted to the vehicle because of the presence of dangerous megafauna including lions, elephants, and more (such as the Kruger National Park) we typically use a Quantum van with modified windows for better viewing of birds and other wildlife. In Kruger (and sometimes in Etosha) National Parks we usually do include a day or two in open safari vehicles as part of the tour price. Optional night drives (at nominal cost) in open safari vehicles are available at most southern African parks (including Kruger) for those who have less of a focused interest in birds (as these are operated by the park’s guides, who usually focus mainly on the “Big 5”). You can speak to the tour leader about joining these night drives, but in our experience some tour participants prefer not to join them, and hence we leave them as an optional extra for those willing to pay a (small/nominal) extra fee.

Even the tried-and-tested Toyota Quantum (or similar) vans we use fall far short of being ideal (small windows that are quite low, etc.), and we truly wish there were something better available without breaking the bank. But we use the best available vehicles, and we ensure that everyone has a fair turn in and near the front of the vehicle – we typically swap seating positions daily, but in the parks we can swap positions four times a day as necessary. The vehicles we use are by far the best vehicles available at a reasonable price. All the birding tour companies use the same vans unless their tours have a narrow focus just around Kruger/nearby or another park. It’s a big problem in South Africa that the East African style safari vehicles are, simply, unavailable, except for a handful of very old, shaky ones (and usually in East Africa they don’t have air conditioning anyway, are extremely slow between sites, and, in short, have a different suite of disadvantages). We use the very best vehicles we can without making our trips much more expensive than anyone else’s, but we also feel we have to be clear about what to expect before the tour, hence this note. If you are worried about the vehicle then please:

  • kindly ask further questions (before booking the tour)
  • consider a private tour which will be a lot more pricey, but since you’re not sharing with other tour participants you can always sit at a large window. If a whole group wishes to upgrade a tour and is willing to pay a large extra price, if given enough notice we are able to rent a very special vehicle – the cost is extremely high so the tour becomes a premium, rather than a standard, tour.

While we generally allow a window seat for every passenger and like to have at least a couple of free seats available for birding gear etc., it’s better to ask us about the specific tour to be sure what is the case. For photography trips the per-person price is higher because we leave more empty seats available as more tour participants have bulky camera gear!

It is our philosophy only to have one vehicle per tour as it invariably gets very frustrating when one vehicle sees a bird or animal and the other vehicle misses it! And our group sizes are small – maximum of eight (rarely nine). The tour prices would be very high and uncompetitive if we had a second vehicle and driver-guide with twice the guide’s accommodation, food, fuel and toll costs, considering the small group sizes on our tours. Again, if you request a private tour, we can take two or even three vehicles or absolutely whatever you request – a private tour is different. (It is illegal for us to have any person without a local driver’s license and professional driving permit to drive passengers who are paying to be on a tour, so we can’t even suggest that a tour participant drives a second vehicle to allow more space and window seats).

 

 


Price: R48,529 per person sharing (The prices assume a group of 8, but we typically guarantee the departure even with a smaller group.)

Single Supplement: R8,449

Price includes:
Meals
Accommodation
Entrance fees
Guiding fees
All transport while on tour
Price excludes:
International flights
Personal insurance
Alcoholic beverages
Gratuities
Laundry service
Personal expenses such as gifts

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Senior Tour Leader and Administrative Assistant Growing up on a 50 000-acre Big Five private game reserve in the heart of the African bush with an ecologist father, it is only understandable how Wian ...

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What our clients say

We went out to Marievale with Dylan to (re)connect with some South African birds after some years away from SA. It was a wonderful experience. Dylan was charming, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable about the birds. We saw over 50 species in a morning and learned a lot about the birds. We would highly recommend Birding Ecotours for an excellent birding experience.

Linda Jacobson, Toronto, Canada
03/19/2015



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