Following on from the Western Endemics tour we’ll tackle the endemics and near-endemics of the wetter eastern side of the country, where habitats are extremely varied, due to massive variations in altitude, and South Africa’s overall biodiversity peaks. This Eastern Endemics leg will start off in Durban on the eastern coast, with participants gathering on the day before the tour starts (or the day the Western leg ends). From Durban we’ll head inland to the Southern Drakensberg, where the highlight involves a day trip up Sani Pass and into Lesotho, with Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin and other endemics as major attractions. From there we move on to Eshowe and Dlinza Forest, and then down to St Lucia and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park for some superb coastal forest and grassland birding. Our next port of call is far northern Maputaland, where Tembe Elephant Park combines great Sand Forest birding with some big game viewing. From Tembe we move on to the endemics hot-spot of Wakkerstroom, where two rare Lark species are near the top of our target list, while big birds such as Cranes and Bustards should provide the awe-factor. From there we visit the famed Kruger National Park, extremely rich in bird species as well as a wonderful range of mammals, including the Big Five. After the Kruger we visit the montane forests of the Eastern Escarpment in the Magoebaskloof area, before a last stop in Polokwane before ending off in Johannesburg.
20 November – 5 December 2020 (15 nights / 16 days)
19 November – 4 December 2021
Starts in Umhlanga near Durban on the morning of the 20th November 2020 / 19 November 2021. Participants should ideally overnight in Umhlanga on the night before the tour starts (this cost is not included). We are happy to arrange this accommodation. Tour ends in Johannesburg on the late afternoon of the 5th December 2020 / 4th December 2021 in time for evening transcontinental flights. Please check with us before booking any flights.
2020: ZAR 65 500 per person sharing, ZAR 7 100 single supplement
2021: ZAR 71 125 per person sharing, ZAR 7 325 single supplement
Price may be subject to change based on factors beyond our control.
• All meals
• Ground transport
• Bottled water in Lawson’s vehicle whilst travelling
• Entrance fees
• Personalised checklists
• Specialist guide fees
• All airfares
• Travel and medical insurance
• All drinks
• Optional excursions where applicable
• Items of a personal nature
• This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control.
• The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of the possible ones we may see on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possibles appears on your checklist.
*Go on an exciting day trip up Sani Pass into Lesotho, looking for endemics such as Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker and many others.
*Go birding on the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk in Eshowe.
*Visit the iSimangaliso (‘Place of Wonder’) Wetland Park.
*Go on open-sided vehicle safaris in Tembe Elephant Park.
*See the range-restricted Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks in Wakkerstroom.
*Go on open-sided vehicle birding drives in the Kruger National Park.
*Go birding in the mist-shrouded forests of Magoebaskloof.
Group size: maximum of 12 participants, 1 guide per 6 participants.
Areas visited: Karkloof, Sani Pass, Eshowe, St Lucia, Mkhuze, Wakkerstroom, Kruger National Park, Magoebaskloof and Polokwane.
Expected weather conditions: the interior will by hot and mildly humid this time of year. The Kwazulu-Natal region will be hot along the coast, and also with a chance of rain.
Tour tempo: medium-plus to fast paced.
Accommodation standards: medium; guest houses and National Parks accommodation.
Birding in brief: excellent variety of habitats and bird species, strong focus on birding.
Top birds: Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Rudd’s Apalis, Bearded Vulture, Pink-throated Twinspot, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Rudd’s Lark, Botha’s Lark, Blue Korhaan and Short-clawed Lark.
Mammal viewing: although not strongly focussed on mammals, a good selection of game is possible with African Buffalo, African Elephant, Southern Giraffe, Eland, Sloggett’s Ice Rat, Lion and Leopard.
Other wildlife and attractions: scenic Drakensberg Mountains, Kruger National Park and iSimangaliso Wetlands Park.
Add-ons: this tour can be combined with the Western South African Endemics set-departure, 5th – 15th November 2016 / 10th – 20th November 2017.
(At the end of the feedback form): “As you can tell from the above, one very happy client!”
Alex Randall, UK, after Eastern SA Endemics 2016.