The Western Cape is a truly remarkable piece of land. Hemmed in by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west and an intricate system of Fold Mountains on the inland side, it is possibly as un-African it gets without leaving the continent. The winter rainfall regime, strong summer winds and unique topography have contributed to a high degree of endemism and a singularly unique floral kingdom, described originally by the Dutch settlers as Fynbos, or ‘Fine Bush’. This floral uniqueness also results in a unique bird component and the Western Cape is the place for the endemics-seeker. Throw in breathtaking scenery, warm and welcoming people, a long and interesting history and superb tourism infrastructure and the result is an unforgettable birding, wildlife and cultural experience. Our itinerary has been honed over the years to include the top birding spots while keeping travel and car-time to a minimum. Two nights per stop ensures an unhurried pace and lots of time to seek out the specials and endemics. Southern Right Whales are virtually guaranteed between September and November, while the onset of spring is the beginning of the famous Cape flower season. Indeed, once you’ve experienced it, you’ll understand just why it has long been dubbed as the fairest Cape of them all.
7 – 15 November 2019 (8 nights / 9 days)
5 – 13 November 2020
Starts in Cape Town on the morning of the 7th November 2019 / 5th November 2020. Ideally participants need to overnight in Cape Town the night before the tour starts. We are happy to arrange this accommodation. Alternatively participants need to arrive on early morning flights on the day the tour starts. Tour ends in Cape Town on the 15th November 2019 / 13th November 2020 in time for evening departure flights. Please check with us before booking any flights.
2019: ZAR 29 225 per person sharing, ZAR 2 900 single supplement
Price subject to change based on external factors. Price is based on a minimum of 4 participants. Small group surcharge will be levied for groups smaller than 4 participants. Please contact us for more detail.
• All breakfasts and dinners
• Ground transport
• Bottled water in vehicles 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.
Group size: maximum of 12 participants, 1 guide per 6 participants.
Areas visited: Cape peninsula, Swellendam, Ceres and Langebaan.
Expected weather conditions: the Cape’s weather is notoriously variable and while November is out of the traditional winter rainy season, some rain can be expected, while fine and warm conditions are also expected.
Tour tempo: medium to medium-plus, optional mid-day breaks on non-travelling days.
Accommodation standards: medium plus: lodges and guest houses.
Birding in brief: excellent variety, forest, marine, coastal, Karoo and mountain habitats covered.
Top birds: Cape Rockjumper, African Penguin, Cape Sugarbird, Black Harrier, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Knysna Woodpecker, Bank Cormorant, Cape Gannet, Karoo Korhaan, Karoo Eremomela, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler.
Mammal viewing: Southern Right Whales in season (August to December); antelope species such as the endemic Bontebok, Chacma Baboon, Rock Hyrax and other smaller species. No Big Five.
Other wildlife and attractions: Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, the scenic drive between Gordon’s Bay and Pringle Bay, the Fold Mountains of the interior, the desolate scenery of the Karoo.
Add-ons: This trip can be combined with an extension to the Kruger Park region. Contact us for more information.
Day 1: The Cape Peninsula
Arrive at Cape Town International and head straight to the famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, located on the slopes of Table Mountain and commanding spectacular views over the Cape Flats and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in the distance. Here we will search for birds such as Cape Sugarbird, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Thrush, Swee Waxbill, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Black Sparrowhawk, Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Forest Canary and others before heading on to a charming guest house in Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula, where we spend the next two nights.
Days 2 – 3: The Cape Peninsula
The Peninsula is ours to explore over the next day and a half. Highlights include the African Penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach, Cape Point Nature Reserve and the south-western most tip of Africa, Kommetjie and the Strandfontein Water Treatment Works. The Cape has notoriously fickle weather and we will plan each day’s activities according to the weather at the time. There’s a range of birds to be seen, including Jackal Buzzard, Cape Siskin, Ostrich, Cape Robin-Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Bulbul, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Greater Flamingo and marine species such as African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Gannett, Cape, Bank, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorants, and perhaps even White-chinned Petrel or Sooty Shearwater offshore. Mammals to be seen on the Peninsula include Chacma Baboon, Cape Mountain Zebra, Eland and Bontebok. For those wanting to do a pelagic birding trip we’ll have two days available.
Days 4 – 5: Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain
After an optional morning activity we’ll drive around the edge of False Bay and on to Rooi Els via one of the area’s most scenic drives to look for Cape Rockjumper near Hangklip on the eastern point. On a fine day the views are spectacular, with the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks below us on one side and the Kogelberg Range rising high above us on the other side. Then we’ll head inland and drive on to Swellendam, the third oldest town in the country. This gives us access to Bontebok National Park and De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Agulhas Plain, where we’ll look for species such as Agulhas Long-billed and Agulhas Clapper Larks, Southern Tchagra, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Korhaan, Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Black Harrier and others. Mammals to be seen include Bontebok, Eland, Grey Rhebuck and Yellow Mongoose, while Southern Right Whales are common off-shore between August and November. We’ll spend our time birding and exploring in the area, scheduling Bontebok National Park for the afternoon of arrival, De Hoop for our full day and the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve for the morning of departure, if time allows.
Days 6 – 7: Ceres and the Tankwa Karoo
After breakfast and a possible visit to Grootvadersbosch, we’ll head some distance north-west to Ceres, an agricultural town in the fertile Ceres Valley. On our full day here we depart early on an excursion into the desolate Tankwa Karoo, which will take up most of the day. This desolate region of sand, gravel plains and rocky outcrops holds a surprising number of endemic birds and we’ll be on the lookout for species such as Verreaux’s Eagle, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Black-headed Canary, Karoo Eremomela, Karoo Korhaan, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher and the highly sought-after Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. This trip will take up most of the day, and we’ll take packed meals and drinks with us. We’ll return in the late afternoon for some time to rest before dinner.
Day 8: Langebaan and the West Coast
In the morning, after a quick trip up the Gydo Pass to search for Protea Seedeater, we’ll drive to Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast, where we stay at a guest house in the town. Langebaan is adjacent to the West Coast National Park, which encompasses the shallow, azure-hued Langebaan Lagoon. On our full day we will spend our time exploring the lagoon, renowned for migrating waders, and the West Coast National Park, which provides some good Strandveld birding. Birding highlights here include Ostrich, Grey-winged Francolin, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Clapper and Cape Long-billed Larks, Karoo Robin, Cape Penduline-Tit and a host of wader species. During the August and September flower season this area is particularly attractive. Mammals to be seen include Bat-eared Fox, Small Grey Mongoose, Cape Grysbok, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Cape Mountain Zebra.
Day 9: Departure
After a full morning activity we depart for Cape Town and the airport, some two hours drive away, with stops to view Table Mountain on the way if time permits.
“Thank you for organizing a great trip to the Western Cape region with a very good bird guide… All in all we have seen 197 species of birds (seen only!) including 143 (!) lifers”.
Rob and Alice Frijns, Netherlands, after Western Cape Highlights 2018