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Home Tour Calendar 14 Day Birding Trip

14 Day Birding Trip



The provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal on South Africa’s eastern seaboard boast some of the country’s finest birding as well as exceptional mammal viewing. An impressive 750+ bird species occur in the region, also reflecting the wonderful natural diversity of the area, coupled with a modern infrastructure well suited to the needs of the modern traveler, makes birding here a great experience. The classic African savanna of the Kruger National Park, Zululand game reserves, the endemic-rich mist-belt forests of the Natal Midlands and the lofty peaks of the majestic Drakensberg, ensure that this tour of Eastern South Africa offers the very best of Southern African birding and game viewing!




Day 1  Arrival in Johannesburg Oliver Thambo Airport to Rust der Winter area

Day 2  Johannesburg to Kruger National Park

Day 3  Kruger National Park

Day 4  Kruger National Park

Day 5  Kruger National Park to Wakkerstroom

Day 6  Wakkerstroom

Day 7  Wakkerstroom to Mkuze Game Reserve

Day 8  Mkuze Game Reserve

Day 9  Mkuze Game Reserve to St Lucia

Day 10 St Lucia&Isimangalisowetland

Day 11 St Lucia via EshoweDlinza Forest to Hilton

Day 12 Hilton to Underberg

Day 13 Day trip to Sani Pass Lesotho

Day 14 Underberg to Durban Depart


This Tour can be linked to the 6 Day Cape extension


THE ITINERARY 6 Day Western Cape

Day 1  Arrival in Cape Town and visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Day 2  Optional pelagic and the Cape Peninsula

Day 3 The Cape Peninsula

Day 4  Cape Town to Ceres via West Coast National Park

Day 5  Ceres & Tankwa Karoo

Day 6  Ceres to Cape Town


THE TOUR IN DETAIL: 14 Day Eastern SA.


Day 1: Johannesburg to Rust-De-Winter area.

After meeting at Oliver Tambo Airport Johannesburg, we go northwards for a day trip to the Rust-De-Winter area. There we will explore the rich bushveld on the well-known Zaagkuildrift road. A host of bushveld specials and delightful species typical of the dry west, most of them we are unlikely to encounter elsewhere.

Possible highlights include the outrageous Crimson-breasted Shrike, Scaly-feathered Finch, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills and Red-headed Finch, also more widespread species including Abdim’s Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Gabar Goshawk, Purple and European Rollers, Common Whitethroat, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Marico Flycatcher, Southern Pied Babbler, Groundscraper and the recently split Karoo Thrushes, Ashy Tit, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Cut-throat Finch, Great Sparrow, Shaft-tailed Whydah and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting. At the village of Kgomo-Kgomo where the main road crosses an extensive floodplain during wet seasons, when conditions are right, this can be an excellent area for specials such as Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Allen’s Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Yellow Wagtail and African Quail-finch. The surrounding grasslands are often heavily grazed and this provides perfect habitat for Temminck’s Courser and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark. After this introduction to South African birding we return to Johannesburg, where we will relax and enjoy a delicious welcome dinner.

Day 2: Johannesburg to Kruger National Park.

We will leave Johannesburg and continue our journey towards the fascinating Kruger National Park. En route we will travel through a variety of interesting habitats, ranging from the stark Highveld grasslands to the scenic drop through the Northern Drakensberg into the Lowveld. We will make a few birding stops along the way before arriving at the Kruger National Park, where we will be based for the next three nights.

Days 3 & 4: Kruger National Park.

The Greater Kruger Trans-frontier Park includes vast areas of Mozambique and it is one of Africa’s most famous parks. We will explore the road system to locate big game, including the legendary “Big 5” - Lion, African Elephant, Leopard, African Buffalo and Rhinoceros. Kruger will be our best opportunity to watch these animals in their natural habitat at close quarters. Other animals such as Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Hippopotamus and various antelope like Blue Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Impala, Klipspringer, Bushbuck and other mammals including Giraffe, Common Zebra, Warthog, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey and Dwarf Mongoose.

The Kruger National Park’s rich bushveld will provide us with some of the most rewarding and exciting birding of the trip. In this vast area of wilderness we can find, Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard (the world’s heaviest flying bird), Southern Ground Hornbill,Marabou and Saddle-billed Storks, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, and five species of vulture.

The park is well known for it’s large variety of raptors, including those migrating from the Palaearctic and Intra-Africa: Lesser Spotted, Tawny and Wahlberg’s Eagles, Dark Chanting and Gabar Goshawks, Shikra and Lizard Buzzard. In this bushveld biome a diversity of birdlife includes birds like Crested Francolin, Swainson’s and Natal Spurfowls, Southern Yellow-billed, Southern Red-billed and African Grey Hornbills, Brown-headed Parrot, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrikes, Southern White-crowned and Magpie Shrikes, Red-billed Oxpecker, Violet-backed Starling, African Finfoot, Red-crested Korhaan and White-crowned Lapwing.

We will do a night drive in the park to explore for nocturnal birds and mammals the possibilities may include Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls, Pearl-spotted and African Barred Owlets, Barn, Marsh and Southern White-faced Owls, Square-tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjars, Bronze-winged Courser, both Large and Small Spotted Genets,African Civet, Serval,African Wild Cat, Lesser and Greater Galagos, Cape Porcupine and Spotted Hyena – besides the Big 5!

Day 5: Kruger National Park to Wakkerstroom.

We will bird around our camp before bidding farewell to the Kruger. We then leave for the Highveld country village of Wakkerstroom for a two-night stay. It is surrounded by pristine upland grasslands rich in endemic birds, many of which are currently threatened by the loss of and destruction of their grassland habitat.

After arrival we will spend the afternoon birding the highly productive Wakkerstroom marsh at the edge of town. It is a haven for water birds and offers the chance of uncommon or localized species.

South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler, Purple Heron, African Swamphen, South African Cliff Swallow, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Levaillant’s Cisticola and Cape Weaver are all regular and, with luck, we may find African Snipe, African Rail,Red-chested Flufftail and the elusive Baillon’s Crake.

Day 6: Wakkerstroom area.

Along the network of dirt roads around Wakkerstroom, we will explore the grasslands, rocky outcrops and gorges in search of numerous endemics such as Blue Korhaan and White-bellied Bustard, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Crane, Ground Woodpecker, the rare and localised Botha’s and Rudd’s Larks (one of the world’s most endangered larks), Pink-billed, Eastern Long-billed and Eastern Clapper Larks, African Rock and Yellow-breasted Pipits,Mountain Wheatear, Sentinel Rock Thrush, African Pied Starling, African Quail-finch, Yellow-crowned Bishop, and Cape Canary. Both Red-winged and Grey-winged Francolins are fairly common.

Some of the farms in the area around Wakkerstroom support populations of the peculiar Black Wildebeest (White-tailed Gnu) and Blesbok, whilst smaller mammals occurring in the grasslands include Yellow Mongoose, the rare Cape Fox and Suricate (Meerkat).

Day 7: Wakkerstroom to Mkuze.

After our final early morning birding in Wakkerstroom we will drive south to Mkuze, an area in northern Kwazulu-Natal that is home to a host of exciting specials and a handful of endemics for a two-night stay.

The Mkuze area is a productive birding hotspot in Southern Africa and, with its wide variety of savanna, forest and wetland habitats, with an excellent diversity of bird and mammal species. We will concentrate particularly on finding the localized specials and appreciate the overwhelming number of birds including Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, Narina Trogon,Eastern Nicator, Bearded Scrub Robin, Gorgeous Bushshrike and Pink-throated Twinspot.

Day 8: Mkuze area.

We will explore and search the Sand Forest, a rare and localized dry forest severely threatened by development. It is the habitat for Neergaard’s Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis, Crested Guineafowl and African Broadbill.

Then the ephemeral wetlands and ‘pans’, where we will search for Black Heron, Lesser Jacana, White-backed Duck and African Pygmy Goose.

The bushveld areas are excellent habitat for raptors: Crowned and Martial Eagles, Little Sparrowhawk, Grey Penduline Tit, Bushveld Pipit, White-fronted and Little Bee-eaters, White-crested Helmetshrike, Purple-banded and Marico Sunbirds and Grey-headed and Orange-breasted Bushshrikes.

On a night walk we look for owls, nightjars and small mammals, Greater Galago and White-tailed Mongoose.

Day 9: Mkuze to St Lucia.

After a final early morning’s birding in the Mkuze area, we will make our way back to the village of St. Lucia part of a world heritage site. Here we will take a look at the nearby river mouth for Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodile lazing on the exposed sandbanks.

Day 10: St Lucia and Isimangaliso Wetland Park.

We will make our way into the dune forest on the edge of St Lucia town – the dunes here are the world’s highest vegetated dunes! This forest supports an exciting variety of endemics and specials, including Livingstone’s Turaco, Brown Scrub Robin, Green Twinspot, Woodward’s Batis, Red-backed Mannikin and Lemon Dove. Red Duiker, Samango Monkey, Banded Mongoose and Red Forest Squirrel are possible mammal species.

Also the Eastern Shores section of Isimangaliso Wetland Park to Cape Vidal. The habitats we traverse include moist coastal grassland, wetlands and coastal forest, and this translates to a large number of potential new species! In this grassland and forest mosaic the scarce Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Crowned Eagle, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Collared Pratincole, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Pale-crowned and Croaking Cisticolas.In the tall coastal forest at Cape Vidal itself we will look for Blue-mantled White-eared Barbet, Crested Flycatcher, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Grey Waxbill and Green Twinspot. The grasslands support populations of African Buffalo, White Rhinoceros, Common Reedbuck, Greater Kudu,Warthog and Common Zebra, while forested areas hold Red Duiker and Samango Monkey. After our day exploring back to St Lucia.

Day 11 St Lucia to Hilton via Dlinza Forest and Mtunzini.

We will depart early for Dlinza Forest near Eshowe. This beautiful forest reserve supports both coastal and mistbelt species and we will search for African Goshawk, Purple-crested Turaco, Narina Trogon, Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Cape Batis, Chorister Robin-Chat, Grey Cuckooshrike and Spotted Ground Thrush.

We may even be fortunate enough to find Blue Duiker in search of fallen fruit and leaves on the forest floor.

Then inland to the small town of Hilton.

Day 12: Hilton to Underberg.

We bird this morning in the Karkloof, a range of forested hills near Howick and home to a number of uncommon and local birds restricted to Afro-montane forests. The southern African endemics such as Forest Buzzard, Knysna Turaco, the endangered and endemic Cape Parrot, Bush Blackcap, Barratt’s Warbler, Olive Bush-shrike, Swee Waxbill, Forest Canary, African Olive Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Orange Ground Thrush, White-starred Robin and Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler.

The upland grassland Grey Crowned and Blue Cranes and, if we are lucky, Wattled Crane, Buff-streaked Chat, Black-winged Lapwing and Cape Longclaw also occur here. Mammal possibilities include Mountain Reedbuck and Oribi antelope.

Then we will head for the Richmond area where we will attempt to track down the stunning Blue Swallow. They regularly breed here in the summer months. Continuing on we will pass through the Umkomaas River valley before arriving at the Mistbelt forest. Here we will listen for the high pitched screech of the similarly rare Cape Parrot and attempt to locate flocks. The small town of Underberg at the base of the majestic Drakensberg Mountains we will overnight.

Day 13: Day trip up Sani Pass, Lesotho.

We travel into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho in search of a handful of highly localised, highland endemics. We will transfer to 4 x 4 vehicles and make our way up the rugged and spectacular Sani Pass, birding en route. The grassy slopes and rocky outcrops are home to Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock Thrush and Yellow Bishop, whilst stands of Protea bushes support the Gurney’s Sugarbird and Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds. On the crest of the Escarpment we will be scanning the rocky scree for the stunning Drakensberg Rockjumper, African Rock Pipit, Sentinel Rock Thrush and Drakensberg Siskin.

Atop the plateau with endless vistas of distant, blue mountains, we search for Black Stork, African Black Duck and Southern Bald Ibis, Grey-winged Francolin, Red-capped Lark, Sickle-winged Chat, African and Mountain Pipits, Yellow Canary and Cape Bunting. A number of birds more typical of the Karoo, such as Grey Tit, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Large-billed Lark and Karoo Prinia reach the eastern limits of their range here in the Lesotho highlands. A careful watch skywards for the endangered Cape Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Lanner Falcon and White-necked Raven. Other animals of particular interest atop the “Roof of Africa” are the approachable Ice Rat, endemic Drakensberg Crag Lizard and the colourful Southern Rock Agama.

Day 14: Underberg to Durban and onward flight.

Today we depart early for Durban to connect with our onward flights to Johannesburg, or else to Cape Town if you choose to do the Western Cape Extension







Day 1:             Cape Town  & Kirstenboch

After arriving in Cape Town we start our exploration of the Cape Peninsula’s picturesque beauty at local birding hotspots.

Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain. It is home of endemics restricted to the Macchia-like Fynbos vegetation here on the southern tip of Africa.

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-Breasted Sunbird in Protea garden. Cape Spurfowl on lawns, in denser cover areas we find Cape Grassbird, Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Southern Boubou and Bokmakierie.

The indigenous forest area on the upper slopes we search for Forest Canary, Cape Batis, African Olive Pigeon  and Lemon Dove. Overhead we search for displaying Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk and African Goshawk.

Day 2:             Optional Pelagic & Cape Peninsula

The Benguela current off Cape Town supports a wealth of pelagic seabirds. Vast numbers of albatrosses, prions, petrels and shearwaters around edge of continental shelf. It is excellent birding year-round on the optional pelagic trip.

Both Yellow-nosed, Black-browed and Shy Albatrosses we hope to see with Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Sooty Shearwater and Cape Gannet. When commercial fishing trawlers are encounter birding can be truly spectacular, seabirds in feeding frenzy on offal in the wake of  the vessel. Careful scanning might present us with rarities such as Northern Royal and Wandering Albatrosses. Cetaceans like Bryde’s and Southern Right Whales always likely to be encountered. This pelagic trip surely is a highlight of South Africa  birding trip. On our way back we visit the African Penguin colony and on rocky shorelines African Oystercatcher, Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants.

For those who opt not to go on pelagic excursion, we will spend a productive morning at Strandfontein Water Works. Here species like Cape, Hottentot Teal, Southern Pochard Maccoa Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Great White Pelican and Greater Flamingo  can be seen. All so in the reedbeds Little Rush, Lesser Swamp Warblers and African Marsh Harrier.

We visit False Bay for the African Penguin colony and on rocky shorelines African Oystercatcher, Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants.

Then we travel to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. This Park showcases the south-western point of the continent. Here we find Cape Sugarbird, Orange-Breasted Sunbird and maybe Black Harrier, Cape Siskin and Grey-winged Francolin. Chacma Baboon, Bontebok, Cape Mountain Zebra and Eland can be found here.

Please note that due to extremely unpredictable weather and ocean condition the pelagic tour can be cancelled, also our daily schedule will thus be flexible to optimise on both land and sea.

Day 3:             Betty’s Bay & Rooi Els

An early morning departure for the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in search of the Cape Rockjumper and Sentinel Rock Thrush on rock outcrops. In thick fynbos the Victorin’s Warbler. We may see Klipspringer and Chacma Baboon here as well.

We will stop at Herhold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay it is an excellent site to find Cape endemics. Another change for Victorin’s Warbler Cape Siskin. Brimstone Canary, Black Saw-wing and Malachite Sunbird are more common here.

Day 4:             Cape Town to Ceres

Our greatest challence today Knysna Warbler a secretive skulker. Forest Buzzard possible overhead. Forest Canary common Buff-spotted Flufftail a secretive challenge.

Leaving Cape Town for town of Paarl, dominated with the huge granite inselberg. Here we will visit the Wildflower Reserve Cape Sugarbird, Orange-Breasted Sunbird in Protea stands all so Fiscal Flycatcher and Protea Canary a possibility.

The afternoon we head for Ceres gateway to Tanqua Karoo another change for Protea Canary in mountain passes. Karoo Thrush, White-backed Mousebird, Layard’s , Chestnut-vented Tit-babblers, Acacia Pied Barbet and Fairy Flycatcher.

Day 5:             Ceres to Calvinia

A Short drive to semi-arid central plateau of the Karoo renowned for its endemic larks chats and canaries. At  Karoopoort a narrow canyon the gate way to Succulent Karoo on these rocky slopes  Cinnamon-Breasted Warbler, Layard’s and Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Grey Tit, Acacia Pied Barbet, White-backed Mousebird, Pirrit Batis, Mountain Wheatear and Fairy Flycatcher. Northwards onto open flats of Karoo, Karoo Longbilled Lark, Karoo, spike-heeled, Large-Billed Lark , Grey Tit, Karoo, Sickle-Winged, Tractrac Chats, White-throated, Yellow, Black-Headed Canary. Pale Chanting Goshawk on perches Al so Verreaux’s and Booted Eagle over head In Karoo proper Namaqua Warbler, Karoo Prinia, Grey-Backed Cisticola can be found.

Day 6:             Calvinia & Brandvlei

A search for the scarce inhabitants of  unique botanical region Pale-winged Starling Karoo Longbilled Lark, Slater’s Karoo-,  Red-, Large-Billed Lark , Karoo-, Sickle-Winged-, Tractrac Chat, Fairy Flycatcher and the nomadic Black-eared Sparrow-Lark. Burchell’s Courser can be a challenge while White-backed Mousebird, Pirrit Batis, Ashy Tit, Rufous-eared Warbler should be easier to find.

Namaqua Sandgrouse, White-throated, Black-Headed Canary. Karoo Eremomela, Grey-Backed Cisticola & Dusky Sunbird.

None endemic species like Double-banded Courser, Kori Bustard, Martial Eagle and lanner Falcon can be seen as well.

Day 7:             Calvinia to Springbok

Birding for species as per Day 6, following a gravel road. We will stop at Goegap Nature reserve Acacia water courses and rocky slopes  Black-Headed Canary, Karoo Eremomela, Cinnamon-Breasted Warbler, Layard’s and Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler.

Day 8:             Springbok & Port Nolloth

Early start to Port Nolloth on Namibian border. Here main focus Barlow’s Lark. Then Cape Long-bill Lark and Cape Penduline Tit. Late afternoon revisit to Goegap Nature Reserve to pick up on missed ones.

Day 9:             Springbok  to Lambert’s Bay

We cross the coastal plain to Atlantic Ocean at Lambert’s Bay for the immence colony of Cape Gannet. Here we find all so the three species of cormorants Bank, Cape & Crowned as well as Hartlaub’s & Kelp Gull and African Oystercatcher.

Day 10:           Lambert’s Bay to Langebaan

Early morning revisit to the Gannet colony. There after to the Berg River estuary to pick up on shore-birds  Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kittlitz’s and Chestnut-banded Plover. There is all so great numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck and various other waterfowl. The Strandveld  coastal vegetation holds Cape Penduline Tit Karoo and Large-billed Larks, Fiscal Flycatcher and Pearl-breasted Swallow.

The highly elusive Protea Canary we will try and locate in rocky valley near Clanwilliam if missed earlier.

Day 11:           Langebaan to Cape Town via West Coast National Park

On the final day of our tour of South Africa’s Western and Northern Cape areas, we will end in the West Coast National Park. High density of Black Harrier as well as Southern Black Korhaan, Grey-winged Francolin and Cape Penduline Tit. Mamals like Eland, Red Hartebeest and Grysbok can be seen here.

Day 12:           Depart

After breakfast the tour will conclude at Cape Town Airport.


The ITINERARY  is subject to change .

Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 March 2017 05:55 )  


Maans Booysen photographed a European Blackcap at Bishop Bird Park in Centurion back in 2008. Here’s a portion of his original email from SA Birdnet and one of the photos he took:

On the 27th December 2008 I had seen and photographed a pair of European Blackcaps at Bishop Bird Park in Rooihuiskraal Centurion. I was looking to photograph Common Whitethroat & Garden Warbler, which I managed to do . In this process I managed to take 8 pics. of the European Blackcaps the quality not the best . A week ago I sorted some photographs when I came across them again, and realizing that I was ignorant about what I had seen and photographed and did not pay attention in what I was doing then. These birds where very relaxed and they were in a bird partyfeeding on berries and insects. I did not expect to see them there, and mistaken for Whitethroat or Garden Warbler