Inala Western South Africa - Birds, Mammals and Wildflowers Tour 8th - 25th Sept 2021 ( Kruger Extension 25th-30th Sept 2021 )

Tour date: 
Wednesday, 8 September 2021 to Saturday, 25 September 2021
Duration: 
18 days
Price: 
AUD $14,955 per person twin share. Single supplement AU $1,100. ( Kruger Extension AUD$4,730 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$485. )
Overview: 

We are pleased to offer this tour again in 2021 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.

Start Location: 
Cape Town
South Africa
Finish location: 
Johannesburg
South Africa

Inala’s Western South Africa Birds, Mammals and Wildflowers Tour  8-25 September 2021

We are pleased to offer this tour again in 2021 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 )

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

Day 1. Wed 8 Sept 21. Arrive Cape Town & transfer to hotel
Day 2. Thu 9 Sept 21.  Cape Town to Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
Day 3, Fri 10 Sept 21. Rooi-Els, Betty’s Bay and Harold Porter Botanical Gardens
Day 4. Sat 11 Sept 21. Cape Town environs, including Kirstenbosch, to Langebaan
Day 5. Sun 12 Sept 21. West Coast National Park
Day 6. Mon 13 Sept 21. Langebaan to Nieuwoudtville
Day 7. Tue 14 Sept 21. Nieuwoudtville area
Day 8. Wed 15 Sept 21. Nieuwoudtville to Springbok
Day 9. Thu 16 Sept 21. Springbok to Augrabies Falls National Park
Day 10. Fri 17 Sept 21. Augrabies Falls NP
Day 11. Sat 18 Sept 21. Augrabies Falls NP to Van Zylsrus
Day 12. Sun 19 Sept 21. Morning with the Meerkats and on to Twee Rivieren
Days 13 & 14. Mon 20 & Tue 21 Sept 21. Kgalagadi NP
Day 15. Wed 22 Sept 21. Twee Rivieren to Marrick
Day 16. Thu 23 Sept 21. Explore Marrick
Day 17. Fri 24 Sept 21. Mokala NP
Day 18. Sat 25 Sept 21. Kimberley to Johannesburg & depart

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1. Wednesday 8 September 2021. 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 9 September 2021: 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 10 September 2021. 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 11 September 2021. 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 12 September 2021. 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 13 September 2021. 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 14 September 2021. 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 15 September 2021. 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 16 September 2021. 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 17 September 2021. 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 18 September 2021. 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 19 September 2021. 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 20 & Tuesday 21 September 2021. 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 22 September 2021. Twee Rivieren to Marrick. 
After breakfast this morning, we will leave Twee Rivieren and drive east and south to the fabled mining town of Kimberley, where we will arrive in the early evening at a private wildlife property.
Accommodation: Kimberley (cottages on property grounds-accommodation is restricted here so we will endeavour to provide en suite rooms wherever possible). Meals included: B, L, D.

Days 16 & 17. Thursday 23 and Friday 24 September 2021. Mokala NP.
This area is located in a zone where various biomes converge from the east, west and north, thus resulting in an interesting mix of avifauna. Mokala National Park, South Africa’s most recently proclaimed national park, is best park to explore in this area. 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 Fox, Cape Porcupine, Southern African Hedgehog and the unusual Springhare. On previous night-drives in this region over 20 mammal species have been recorded in a single evening! Night birds include Spotted Eagle-owl and Western Barn Owl and the migratory Rufous-cheeked Nightjar.
Accommodation: Kimberley as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D both days.

Day 18. Saturday 25 September 2021. Kimberley to Johannesburg.
This morning we will fly back to Johannesburg (additional cost outlined below). Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.

Based on a group size of 6-12 participants + Inala leader + local guide.

Tour Price: AUD$14,955 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$1,100.

Kimberley to Johannesburg flight on day 18 is an additional estimated cost of AUD$200 per person. 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).

Please note: 

·        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 25-30 September 2021

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!

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

Day 1. Sat 25 Sept 21. Arrive Johannesburg
Day 2. Sun 26 Sept 21. Travel Johannesburg to Kruger National Park
Days 3 - 5. Mon 27- Wed 29 Sept 21.  Kruger NP
Day 6. Thu 30 Sept 21. Kruger NP to Johannesburg and depart.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

Day 1. Saturday 25 September 2021.
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 26 September 2021: 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 27 to Wednesday 29 September 2021: 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 for prices) 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 30 September 2021: 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: AUD$4,730 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$485.

**Sunset and night drives within the Kruger can be arranged for an additional $40 per person 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.

Please note: 

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.

Trip Report - Western South Africa - 21 August - 7 September 2019 

by Gareth Robbins with plant notes by Tonia Cochran

Day 1. Wednesday 21 August 2019. Arrive Cape Town
Our first day of the tour was an arrival day and we spent a jovial evening getting to know each other at the Sushi restaurant at our lodge in the picturesque suburb of Cape Town called Noordhoek (North Corner). 

Day 2. Thursday 22 August 2019. Cape Town to Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
Our first full day of the tour started in the Naval Town of Simon’s Town and here we visited the world-famous Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. After being dropped off by our driver Elias we took a short walk to the entrance of the colony getting great views of a male Southern Double-collared Sunbird feeding on a Cape Honeysuckle as well as a Peregrine Falcon trying to catch a Red-winged Starling. We then entered the Boulders Penguin Colony and as we made our way past some Coast Thicket, we spotted Cape Bulbul and Karoo Prinias. It did not take us long to see our first African Penguin and this followed by plenty more sightings of these endangered birds! As we walked along the well-made boardwalks we got to see across into the False Bay where we saw Cape Cormorants, Greater-crested Terns, Kelp Gulls the stunning African Oystercatcher and the Rock hyrax. As we reached the end of the boardwalk, we were welcomed to a small beach where were able to enjoy views of African Penguins swimming and walking along the beach. We walked around to another viewpoint through the Coastal Thicket and this time we got to see Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Batis, Speckled Mousebirds, Cape Bulbuls and a very young African Penguin chick! We then left the Penguin Colony and made our way to a viewpoint and from here we saw Cape Canary, Cape White-eye and better views of Cape Robin-Chats. We had lunch at a beautiful seafood restaurant next to the ocean while watching Southern Fiscal and some Helmeted Guineafowl. Our next visit was the coastal fynbos habitat of the Cape of Good Hope where we saw several species of plants from the family Proteaceae including Leucadendron laureolum and L. salignum, Leucospermum conocarpodendron 
and Mimetes cucullatus. Boneseed (Osteospermum monilifera), Berzelia abrotanoides and B. lanuginosa, Brunia nodiflora and Metalasia muricata were also common in this habitat as were the large white Arum lily Zantedeschia aethiopica. The edible ‘pigface’ Carpobrotus edulis locally known as Hottentot Fig was also seen here. We stopped at a large group of Mimetes cucullatus where we saw male and female Cape Sugarbirds and Stunning Orange-breasted Sunbirds. We also saw the vocal Cape Grassbird and a male Common Ostrich. We then continued along the road and were extremely lucky to see Bontebok, Grey Rhebok, Cape Mountain Zebra and Grey Rhebok within a couple of kilometres. As we neared the end of the road, we saw Pied Crow and White-necked Ravens, Fiscal Flycatcher and Rock Martins. At the end of the road we saw the small Kittlitz’s Plovers, Hartlaub’s Gulls, Cape Buntings and plenty of Sacred Ibis. From this point our time had run out and we took a scenic drive past the small villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs before arriving back at our hotel. 

Day 3. Friday 23 August 2019. Rooi-Els, Betty’s Bay and Botanical Gardens. 
After another scrumptious breakfast we made our way through the coastal suburbs of Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg along the False Bay round to Rooi Els. On the opposite side of the bay we passed the seaside town of Gordon’s Bay. After a scenic drive along the coast we finally arrived to excellent calm and sunny conditions at Rooi-Els and started our search for the much sought after endemic the Cape Rockjumper. As we walked along the gravel path, we got some more close views of the stunning Orange-breasted Sunbird as well as Cape Siskins, the pretty and vocal Cape Rock-Thrush, Neddicky, Cape Bunting and Familiar Chat. Interesting plants in the area included Berzelia lanuginosa, Lobelia pinifolia, Erica plukenetii, the unusual Spatalla parallis from the family Proteaceae, Struthiola ciliata and a species of parasitic dodder (Cassytha ciliolata) that looked almost identical to our Australian members of the same genus. 

We continued our walk, in search of the Cape Rockjumper and finally we heard the bird calling near a sunny section of the slope. We walked eagerly in the hope to see the bird and finally we got it! It was a nice close look and we were able to watch this special bird jump from rock to rock living up to its name, the Cape Rockjumper! We then walked back to the vehicle spotting Grey-backed Cisticola en route. Our next stop was a Penguin Colony. We had another great look at these endangered birds and we also saw four species of Cormorants namely the Bank, White-breasted, Cape and Crowned Cormorants. We also saw Cape Crag Lizard and Southern Rock Agama. Rock Hyrax were again seen sunning themselves on the rocks. After lunch we ventured to the Botanical Gardens which had narrowly escaped a recent wildfire. Although the surrounding hillsides were severely burnt, we still managed to see a good variety of local flora within the gardens including the Real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), as well as several beautifully coloured Cape River Frog in the water features and a large male Boomslang (Tree-Snake) that was being mobbed by some rather angry Cape Robin-Chats. A few more new bird species that we came across were Sombre Greenbul, Swee Waxbills, African Dusky Flycatcher and a few Olive Thrushes. After another brilliant day we made the journey back to our hotel and had another entertaining meal. 

Day 4. Saturday 24 August 2019. Cape Town environs, including Kirstenbosch, to Langebaan.
We drove to the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We entered at the top side gate and commenced our walk. The weather was perfect, and the birds started to become active and within a couple of steps we had seen male and female Olive Woodpeckers and Forest Canaries. We had some great looks at the beautiful Silver Tree (Leucadendron argenteum), before spotting Cape Spurfowl and a Southern Boubou. There were some flowering King Proteas (Protea cynaroides) which is the national flower of South Africa and a couple more Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds visiting the flowering Pincushions (Leucospermum spp). Olive Thrushes were plenty and we also watched a Helmeted Guineafowl call from a sunny rock. We continued through the gardens, having some great looks at all the fauna and flora such as the Outeniqua Yellowwoods (Afrocarpus falcatus) and the prehistoric huge ancient Cycads in the Cycad Garden, before an entertaining walk along the Boomslang (Tree-Snake), lunch in the botanical garden cafe and spending some time in the bookshop. We then drove past the centre of Cape Town sneaking in some great looks at Table Mountain before it disappeared behind the low-lying fog. Our next stop was at a Nature Reserve where there was a small variety of flowers but an unexpected abundance of birdlife! We saw the pretty Cape Longclaw, Three-banded Plover, White-throated Swallow, the tiny vocal Cloud Cisticola high up in the sky, a beautiful Black Harrier, Large-billed Lark and the handsome Capped Wheatear. Interesting plants we saw there included Tulbaghia capensis (a red flowered member of the onion family Alliaceae), Arctopus echinatus (the flat spiny member of the family Apiaceae to which carrots and parsley belongs), Wachendorfia paniculata (Haemodoraceae: same family as Australian Kangaroo Paws) the daisy Dimorphotheca pluvialis, bright blue Heliophila coronopifolia, Babiana ambigua and Romulea tabularis. We then drove a short distance where we got decent scope views of the Blue Crane, the National Bird of South Africa and then made our way to our lodge where we would be staying for the next two nights. One of the highlights at the lodge that we were staying at was the colony of Cape Weavers occupying a Fever Tree (Vachellia xanthophloea) outside our rooms. 

Day 5. Sunday 25 August 2019. West Coast National Park.
After breakfast we drove to the West Coast National Park where we spent the day. As soon as we arrived at the entrance gate, we were welcomed by a male Common Duiker who seemed to not be too bothered by our presence. We then entered the National Park and took the direct drive to the Postberg Wild-Flower Section of the national park getting good views of Grey-winged Francolin along the way. We had some more great views of Black Harrier, Common Eland and our first view of a male Steenbok before entering the Postberg section.  In the Postberg section we saw a good variety of plant species although the vast displays of daisies were not apparent due to drought conditions in the area. We also managed to see the national animal of South Africa the Springbok! We also saw a few more Bontebok and had much closer views of the dazzling Cape Mountain Zebra. A duetting pair of Bokmakieries sang on the top of a bush nearby. We also saw Black-winged Kites, Spotted Thick-knee, Crowned Lapwing Black-headed Heron and Cape Sparrows before making our way back the entrance to the Postberg section where we then decided to take a short walk amongst the flowers. On the walk after some great spotting we saw our first Angulated Tortoise followed by views of the bright Yellow Canary and Karoo Scrub-Robins. Plants here included the succulent Ruschia tecta as well as Microloma sagittatum, Trachyandra muricata and Babiana cf scabrifolia. We stopped for lunch at the nearby beach lookout where we saw some more interesting plants such as Euphorbia mauritanicum, Salvia africana-lutea, Roepera (Zygophyllum) morgsana and another purple flowered species of pigface (Carpobrotus quadrifidus), as well as a pair of smart-looking African Oystercatchers. Our next stop was at an inland bird hide and just before we arrived at the hide, we got to watch a male Southern Black Korhaan moving and calling right next to the side of the road. From the hide we saw Cape Shoveler, Common Moorhen, African Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coots with chicks, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Yellow Bishop and Little Grebes. We then drove to the Seeberg Hide and here we got good looks at White-fronted Plover, Whimbrel, Lesser Flamingos as well as Caspian and Sandwich Terns. We then exited the National Park and drove back to our lodge and a tapas dinner nearby. 

Day 6. Monday 26 August 2019. Langebaan to Nieuwoudtville.
We had some rain overnight and this morning turned out to be much clearer than the day before. We drove North-East in the direction of Nieuwoudtville but there were a few important stops to make before we would arrive in the Bulb Capital of the World! Our first stop took us to a small town situated along the Berg River and from here we did some birding along the side of the estuary. We had great close views Lesser Flamingos this time and we also saw a few new species such as South African Shelduck, Common Greenshank, Reed Cormorant, Pied Avocet, African Darter, Yellow-billed Ducks, Levaillant’s Cisticola, a very vocal Little Rush Warbler, a shy Purple Heron and a African Spoonbill that was not bothered by our presence. We then continued as close to the coast as possible. We were to see the large Cape Gannet Colony on the Nature Reserve and we were in for a treat. There were thousands of birds and we were able to get some great close views of these pretty birds as they went about with their lives totally oblivious to us. We also saw one immature African Penguin here too which was not very common to see. We also saw large number of Afro-Australian Fur Seals and a couple of Common Terns too! After having our picnic lunch, we drove inland passed the Rooibos Tea area of Clanwilliam, situated below the Cederberg Mountains and continued to the Northern Cape where we would be spending the next two nights. A quick look in the garden revealed birds such as Malachite Sunbird, White-backed Mousebirds and Laughing Doves. After a traditional lamb buffet dinner, we all collapsed in our beds anticipating another great day ahead. 

Day 7. Tuesday 27 August 2019. Nieuwoudtville area
This was the coldest day of the tour by far and after breakfast we ventured out into the surrounding areas of Nieuwoudtville in the search of some special flowers and birds. We drove in the direction of the Botanical Gardens and just before we entered the gardens, we had some excellent views of Cape Clapper Larks displaying on the fence next to the side of the road, showing us why they were named Clapper Larks. We walked along a couple of trails within the gardens where we saw some interesting flowers including Gorteria diffusa, a daisy whose petal patterns have evolved to mimic insects which are attracted to the petals and then pollinate the flowers. Nemesia chieranthus, Ixia rapunculoides, Moraea miniata, Bulbinella elegans, Diascia veronicoides and the purple flag iris Moraea tripetala were also in full flower here. We were also extremely lucky to see some Romulea sabulosa which is a specialty of the area. We also had some good scope views of Ludwig’s Bustard, Ant-Eating Chat, Blue Cranes, and Booted Eagle. We then took a short drive and managed to see large numbers of orange Gazania and Dimorphotheca spp and yellow Bulbinella, before stopping for a traditional roosterkoek (grilled cake) for lunch! We returned to our cosy lodge and had some free time to walk around the garden and a couple of members of our group saw the beautiful male Malachite Sunbird as well as Southern Masked Weavers, White-backed Mousebirds and a African Reed Warbler. Our afternoon adventure took us to the Kokerboom (Quiver Tree) Forest (Aloidendron dichotomum) where we saw giant examples of this succulent growing with a sparse understory of other succulents such as Mesembryanthemum guerichianum and Monsonia spinosa. We then travelled to a Reserve, where there was not much water but some good bird life with species such as Southern Red-bishops, Common Waxbills, Cape Canaries, Pale-winged Starlings and Karoo Scrub Robins that were seen close to the entrance gate between all the flowering Milkweeds. Interesting plants here included Lapeirousia jacquinii, Hesperantha bachmannii, our first views of ‘acacia’ (Vachellia karoo), Massonia depressa, as well as the large succulent Tylecodon paniculatus and the spiny T. wallichii. We then drove back to our lodge where we had another excellent farm cooked dinner! 

Day 8. Wednesday 28 August 2019. Nieuwoudtville to Springbok.
Today we made the journey through the Namaqualand. We started off the morning on a viewpoint looking across the Knersvlakte on the Vanrhyns Pass, followed by visiting a Quiver Tree Nursery.  In a flowering Coral tree (Erythrina caffra) we saw the stunning Malachite Sunbird as well as our first Red-eyed Bulbul. We then continued through to Springbok making a short stop after outside the town and here we saw interesting Stone Plants belonging to the genera Conophytum and Argyroderma. We finally arrived in Springbok and with time on our side we visited a Nature Reserve, which was donated by the Copper Mine next door to the reserve. We got to see plenty more Quiver Trees, Grielum humifusum, Ornithoglossum vulgare and Peliostomum virgatum as well as the succulent Chieridopsis denticata and Kewa salsoloides. We also saw two species of lizard: Southern Rock Agama and a Western Rock Skink and a new rodent called a Dassie Rat! Some new birds also made an appearance, with one highlight being of a Cardinal Woodpecker frequently visiting what looked like a nesting hole in a Quiver Tree. we also saw Pririt Batis and an Acacia Pied Barbet. We then drove got good look as a group of Spike-heeled Larks and a Karoo Chat. 

Day 9. Thursday 29 August 2019. Springbok to Augrabies Falls National Park. 
We left Springbok after a delicious breakfast drove in the direction of Augrabies Falls National Park. Our first stop we stopped for a nice scope view of a Greater Kestrel. We stopped at two large Sociable Weaver nest, the first one showed no signs of activity while the second one was very active, and we also got to see Karoo and Tractrac Chats as well as a Larklike Bunting. Interesting plants include Lessertia frutescens with its red pea flowers and large inflated seed pods and Sisyndite spartea with its almost leafless stems, yellow flowers and fuzzy seed pods. We then took a short drive through the town yielding views of the very well-loved African Hoopoe, a pair of Spotted Thick-knees and the beautiful Swallow-tailed Bee-eater. Our next stop was in a small town where we saw some cryptic stone plants from the genus Lithops growing in patches of quartz covered soil in an open patch of land. By early afternoon we finally arrived in the ‘place of great noise’ known as Augrabies Falls and after a short break we walked to the viewpoint overlooking the falls. We were entertained by the beautiful male Augrabies Flat Lizard and we also so saw a couple of birds such as the Orange River White-eye, African Pied Wagtail, Little and Alpine Swifts and the pretty Acacia Pied Barbet. Plants in the area included Black Ebony (Euclea pseudebenus), Camel Thorn (Vachellia erioloba), Tamarix usneoides and Castor oil bean (Ricinus communis). 

Day 10. Friday 30 August2019. Augrabies Falls NP.
We had a full day to explore the Augrabies Falls National Park and after breakfast we went for a morning drive through the National Park. The light and temperature were perfect, and everybody had their eyes peeled to spot anything that moved! Some great spotting enabled us to see Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebeest, Giraffe, Greater Kudu, Steenbok, Vervet Monkeys, Chacma Baboons and we saw plenty of Klipspringers sitting unperturbed by our presence. We visited the Moon Rock which gave us a great vantage point to look across the vastness of the park and from this point we were also able to see the large Verreaux’s Eagle perched on top of a rocky ridge. A couple of Namaqua Sandgrouse flew overhead, and we eventually managed to get a distant view of these pretty birds and the same time we also got a good look at a Karoo Long-billed Lark. Our next stop was at the Oranjekom Lookout and from here we had fantastic close views of an adult Verreaux’s Eagle flying right past us at eye level. A South African Ground Squirrel also made an appearance as it was not very happy with the presence of this large predator flying overhead. On our way back to the lodge we spotted a Pale Chanting Goshawk in the sky and a Mountain Wheat. Once we arrived back at the lodge, we had some lunch and then after a nice relaxing break we took a walk around the camp in the hope to see a few more interesting creatures. We did get some good looks at an African Hoopoe and better views of Pririt Batis pair, but we also saw a few new birds such as the vocal Phragmite loving Namaqua Warbler, the pretty Cape Starling and Common Scimitarbills. Acacia species Vachellia erioloba and the fragrant V. mellifera were some of the main plant species. The fleshy Portulacaria namaquensis was also common. After an early dinner we went on our first night drive and we were once again very lucky to see Scrub Hare, two Cape Porcupines and a couple of Spotted Eagle Owls.
 
Day 11. Saturday 31 August 2019. Augrabies Falls NP to Van Zylsrus.
We spent today focusing on travelling to the remote Kalahari town of Van Zylsrus. We left Augrabies Falls National Park and stopped for lunch in Upington and then continued along a very bumpy dirt road to the quaint town of Van Zylsrus. Along the way we saw a couple of White-backed Vultures and one Lappet-faced Vulture. We also had some brief views of a few Pale Chanting Goshawks too! Our hotel in Van Zylsrus was very quirky and with some free time, the clients were able to bird in the garden and relax at the hotel.
 
Day 12. Sunday 1 September 2019. Morning with the Meerkats and on to Twee Rivieren.
We had a very early start this morning as we had to be at the entrance gate to the Meerkat research farm by 7am before the Meerkats emerged from their burrows. We met the researchers and then split up into smaller groups and were taken to different locations to observe these fascinating animals. We waited patiently for the Meerkats to surface from their burrows and then they sunned themselves before eventually going on their way to look for some tasty insects to eat. The area was also bird rich and we had some great looks at the beautiful Crimson-breasted Shrike as well as the pretty Violet-eared Waxbills, Yellow Canaries and Lark-like Buntings. We then drove back along the dirt to our lodge and from here we would be spending two full days in the National Park. the lodge had large grounds and we spent a few hours of the day birding on the property spotting some birds such as Groundscraper Thrush, Marico Sunbird, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Long-billed Crombec, plenty of White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Namaqua Doves, more Violet-eared Waxbills and Crimson-breasted Shrikes, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Black-chested Prinias and a Gabar Goshawk. 

Day 13. Monday 2 September 2019. Kgalagadi NP.
Today was our first day to visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. After checking into the park at the we finally were on the dirt roads ready to look for all the wonderful creatures that live in the park. There were large numbers of Springbok (the national animal of South Africa) as well as the beautiful Gemsbok and Common Wildebeest. One of the highlights was of a Caracal (normally a very rare cat to see in South Africa) was seen trying to hunt Burchell’s Sandgrouse coming to the waterhole to drink. Birds such as Pale Chanting and Gabar Goshawks as well as Lanner Falcons and an Immature Bateleur. We returned for lunch before heading back out for a short drive. We had great close views of a vocal Northern Black Korhaan, and Namaqua Sandgrouse and we spotted two large Verreaux’s Eagle Owls roosting in a Camel Thorn Tree (Vachellia erioloba). The January bush (Gnidia polycephala) and Blue bush (Lebeckia linaerifolia) was in full flower, spraying the otherwise barren dry dirt bright yellow. Shepherd’s Tree (Boscia albitrunca var albitrunca) also dotted the landscape. We then returned and joined the Sunset Drive. Our guide was an excellent spotter and he managed to find us Southern White-faced Owls, Caracal, Western Barn Owls, Meerkats, Eland and Black-backed Jackal. In total we saw four Caracal today! 

Day 14. Tuesday 3 September 2019. Kgalagadi NP.
This was our second full day in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We started our drive in the same direction as the following day but this time we got to see the huge Kori Bustard as it was having a dust bath. We also saw Caracal again and then we came across a Honey Badger that was on the hunt for food. We came across another Honey Badger a few minutes later and this one was pushing and carrying a live Leopard Tortoise. The Honey Badger eventually dragged and pushed the Tortoise to a sandy spot up on the dune and started to dig a hole and eventually it placed the Tortoise into the hole, presumably to smother it before eating it. 

For the rest of the morning we continued through the park and finally arrived back at Twee Rivieren and had lunch before heading out for the afternoon. Today was very hot and the activity was quite low. Only until we were close to the camp did we see African Hoopoe, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Ashy Tit, Dusky Sunbird and a Long-billed Crombec. We then set out for our second sunset drive and this time we saw Spotted Eagle Owls, Bat-eared Foxes, Black-backed Jackals and the rare Cape Fox. We then drove back to the hotel for a late dinner. 

Day 15. Wednesday 4 September 2019. Kgalagadi NP to Marrick.
Today was a long travel day from the Kgalagadi National Park to Marrick Game Lodge situated just outside of Kimberley. We drove back through the town of Upington and through the small towns of Griekwastad and Campbell before arriving in Kimberley in the late afternoon. 

Day 16. Thursday 5 September 2019. Mokala National Park.
Today was a full day in the Mokala National Park. This is one of the newest National Parks established in South Africa and is named after the Umbrella Tree (Vachellia tortilis) which is commonly found here. As soon as we arrived in the park, we saw Black Wildebeest and Plains Zebra; this was followed by sightings of Eastern Clapper Lark and the pretty Roan Antelope and Tsessebe. We then checked in to our camp, had a short breakfast and continued to drive around the park. We stopped at a lookout area where there was a waterhole and from here, we saw Blacksmith Lapwings and Grey-backed Sparrow-larks. On the way back through the grassy plains we got to see Yellow Mongoose and a few Meerkats, and one Meerkat stood upright on top of a termite mount for us. As we drove through the wooded Camel Thorn (Vachellia erioloba) and Umbrella Tree (V. tortilis) sections of the park, we saw Red-crested Korhaan and Slender Mongoose. We finally arrived at a bird hide overlooking a rather muddy waterhole, but this did not perturb the large herd of African Buffalo and Common Warthogs at all. Gemsbok (Oryx) and Chacma Baboon also visited the area while we were there. We also saw a good number of smaller birds such as Red-billed Firefinch, Blue and Violet-eared Waxbills as well as Green-winged Pytilia. We decided that this was a good place to stop for our packed lunch and then we continued around the park where we finally got to see a beautiful Sable Antelope! We arrived back at our lodge in the late afternoon, just in time to have short break before our early dinner because tonight was our first night drive.  After dinner we loaded up into the vehicle and set out into the night. We saw plenty of Scrub Hares and Springhare, followed by views of two beautiful Aardwolf, Double-banded Coursers, Bat-eared Foxes and one amazing sighting of an Aardvark! We got lengthy looks at this special creature before heading back to the lodge for a well-deserved good night’s rest. 

Day 17. Friday 6 September 2019. Marrick area.
Today we enjoyed the day birding and mammal-watching at our lodge. After a leisurely breakfast we took a relaxed walk spotting some new species of birds such as Brown-crowned Tchagra, the telephone ringing call of the Brubru and the pretty Black-faced Waxbill. We took advantage of the lovely weather and had lunch outside, and we were entertained by the resident Crimson-breasted Shrike. After a break in the heat of the day we went out on a game drive which took us to another section of the reserve and here we saw two Giraffe, Sable Antelope and a Short-toed Rock Thrush. Plants we saw today included Hermannia johanssenii, Jamesbrittenia tysonii and the delicate Moraea pallida which was unexpected in such a harsh landscape. After dinner we went back out for one last night drive and again, we were exceptionally lucky to see Aardvark and Aardwolf once again. 

Day 18. Saturday 7 September 2019. Kimberley to Johannesburg & depart
Our last day of the tour involved a drive to the Kimberley Airport to deliver some guests before driving to Johannesburg through the Free State province, finally arriving in the Gauteng Province and concluding the tour at our lodge in Kempton Park, just outside the city of Johannesburg. Here the rest of the group went our different ways as we said farewell to our guide and our driver.

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