For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051

Butterflies of South Africa

Tour Code: ZAF01

An 11-day wildlife holiday to South Africa with a special emphasis on the country's spectacular butterflies.

11 days from £2995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2195 SRS: £250


We’ll get our first taste of South Africa’s superb butterfly fauna in the montane grasslands of Wakkerstroom – common species here include African Monarch and the familiar Painted Lady! Our next stop is Mkuze Game Reserve where we’ll explore a wide range of habitats in search of the tiny Dwarf Blue (wingspan 12mm), Smoky Orange-tip and African Leopard among other species. At the St Lucia wetlands we’ll look for localised species such as Gold-banded Forester, try to attract charaxes down from the canopy, and head out at night to enjoy owls and bushbabies. Our final two nights at Eshowe give us a chance to see Common Mother-of-pearl, Natal Acraea and Spotted Joker as well as to enjoy a moth-trapping session.

  • South Africa has over 800 species of butterfly!
  • Variety of species from Dwarf Blue to Emperor Swallowtail
  • Look for butterflies in coastal tropical forests & savannah of KwaZuluNatal
  • Grey-crowned Crane, Southern Bald Ibis & African Crowned Eagle
  • Black Emperor & endemic St Lucia Basker among a wealth of dragonflies
  • Enjoy game such as Elephant, Giraffe, rhinos & Impala
  • Watch butterflies from a canopy-level boardwalk in Dlinza forest
  • Chance of Lunar Moth & Heady Maiden in moth-trap
  • Led by an expert local naturalist

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels, lodges and guesthouses. All rooms have private facilities.

Mocker Swallowtail (Peter Price)

Mocker Swallowtail (Peter Price)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2/3 Arrive Johannesburg and transfer Wakkerstroom

Day 4/5 Mkuze Game Reserve

Day 6/7 St. Lucia

Day 8/9 Eshowe

Day 10 Depart Durban

Day 11 Arrive London

South Africa is richly blessed with some of the continent’s most spectacular scenery and diverse wildlife. From the albatrosses that glide around the storm-pounded Cape Peninsula, to the colourful floral displays of Namaqualand and the big game of Kruger National Park, the ‘Rainbow Nation’s is home to a wonderful array of exciting fauna and flora. With our tours to see the country’s birds, plants and mammals proving so very popular, we hope that this holiday, focusing on South Africa’s butterflies, will prove similarly successful. South Africa is, after all, home to over 800 species of butterfly, and amongst this plethora of species can be found the Emperor Swallowtail, the largest butterfly in southern Africa, and the diminutive Dwarf Blue, with a wingspan of only 12 millimetres, one of the smallest species in the world! Although butterflies will be our focus on this tour, the region’s birds, mammals, dragonflies and other wildlife will not be neglected, making this an ideal holiday for the true all-round naturalist.

Much of our time on this holiday will be spent exploring the tropical coastal forests and bushveld savannah of the Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal, visiting at a time of the year when the summer rains have greened the landscape once again, encouraging the flowers to bloom and the butterflies to emerge. We must start, however, with a flight from London to Johannesburg, where we will meet our South African tour leader and drive up into the montane grasslands of Wakkerstroom for the first two nights of our tour.

Here we will receive an introduction to some of the common butterfly species such as African Monarch, Meadow White, African Clouded Yellow, Citrus Swallowtail, Common Diadem and Painted Lady. Bird species to look out for include Grey-crowned Crane, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, South African Shelduck and many more, and this is also the only place in which we are likely to see the Grey Rhebok antelope on this tour.

We next move to the Mkuze Game Reserve in the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains for a 2-night stay. This lovely reserve contains a wide range of habitats, including thornveld savannah, broadleaved woodland and riverine forest, and is home to a wealth of butterflies that includes the tiny Dwarf Blue, Blue Pansy and Yellow Pansy and Smoky Orange-tip. We will also look out for a butterfly known as the ‘African Leopard’s and, if fortunate, may also encounter the big cat itself! Although always elusive, Leopards are not uncommon in Mkuze and share the reserve with both Black and White Rhinoceros, Southern Giraffe and both the beautiful Nyala and the diminutive Suni antelopes. Birdlife is prolific here and includes such species as Narina Trogon, Pink-throated Twinspot and African Crowned Eagle. Adding yet more wildlife interest, the park is also home to a wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies including the Black Splash, Glistening Demoiselle and perhaps the enormous Black Emperor and endemic St. Lucia Basker.

Moving on, we reach the Indian Ocean coast and spend two nights at St. Lucia in order to explore the world famous St. Lucia Estuary, Lake St. Lucia and the coastal dune forest. Covering 325 square kilometres, this is the largest estuarine system in all of Africa and is of international importance for its wildlife. Here we will look for the localised Gold-banded Forester, together with Green-banded Swallowtail, Golden Piper, Small Orange Acraea, Red-line Sapphire and Two-pip Policeman. We will also try to attract in a variety of charaxes by tempting them down from the canopy with bait and head out after dinner in search of St. Lucia's Hippos and perhaps a nightjar or two.

We move inland for our final two nights at Eshowe where a unique aerial boardwalk has been constructed high in the canopy of the Dlinza scarp forest. From the elevated level of the boardwalk we can be eye-toeye with the high fliers of the butterfly world such as the charaxes and attractive Common Mother-of-Pearl. Adjoining the forest, the moist grassland could hold species such as Dusky Acraea, Gaudy Commodore and Polka Dot, plus Natal Acraea and Spotted Joker in the gardens of our lodge. Dlinza is also well known for birds such as Spotted Ground-thrush, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Lemon Dove and Narina Trogon. Here, and at other sites on this tour, we will find time to trap and identify a small selection of the country’s numerous moth species. These may include Heady Maiden, Pleasant Hornet, Netted Slug, Florid Pearl, Victorian Emerald, Cabbage Tree Emperor, Oriental Bee Hawk and perhaps the large and impressive Lunar Moth.

Finally, after a last check of the moth-traps and walk around the lodge’s spacious grounds, we must sadly complete our butterfly and wildlife holiday by driving to Durban for our flight home.

Small Orange Acraea (Derek Brown)Purple-crested Turaco (Derek Brown)Window Acraea (Derek Brown)Window Acraea (Derek Brown)Wandering Donkey Acraea (Derek Brown)White Rhino (Derek Brown)Paradise Skipper (Derek Brown)Natal Pansy (Derek Brown)Natal Bar (Derek Brown)Nyala (Derek Brown)Natal Acraea (Derek Brown)Gaudy Commodore (Derek Brown)Cream-striped Owl (Derek Brown)Nyala (Derek Brown)Bush Beauty (Derek Brown)Zebra (Derek Brown)
C.B.
Berkshire
The service level from Lawsons was amazing. Rob McKenzie & Leon Marais were knowledgeable, far sighted (showing us things we would have missed), good company and excellent chefs. We saw and amazing amount of game in the first week at Kruger with almost too many highlights to mention but a pack of wild dogs, a procession of ostriches crossing the road and being investigated by a band of dwarf mongoose was amongst them. The second week did not disappoint either as we were able to identify many of the beautiful butterflies including 5 different Emporers. Highlights have to be the Gaudy Commodore and the Paradise Skipper – both beautiful to see. We were shown a range of differing habitats where each yielded new species. Overall, this trip had everything for the generalist – mammals, birds and butterflies and vegetation so it was impossible not to be excited.
C.M.B.
Surrey
I am most grateful that you gave the go-ahead to out recent butterfly trip, despite the small numbers. It was most enjoyable, with mostly good weather and good numbers of butterflies and birds seen. Martin is an excellent birder... Paul Huckle,... is very experienced and came well equipped. Distinguishing the butterflies is much harder than for birds!
Show all details | Hide all details

DeparturesAvailableCost

Mon 27th November 2017 - Thu 7th December 2017

3

£2995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2195 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: South Africa

Detailed tour map

View tour reports +

Can I help You?

Paul Stanbury
Operations Manager

Email Paul

01962 733051

Tour Focus

ButterfliesConservation

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

The service level from Lawsons was amazing. Rob McKenzie & Leon Marais were knowledgeable, far sighted (showing us things we would have missed), good company and excellent chefs. We saw and amazing amount of game in the first week at Kruger with almost too many highlights to mention but a pack of wild dogs, a procession of ostriches crossing the road and being investigated by a band of dwarf mongoose was amongst them. The second week did not disappoint either as we were able to identify many of the beautiful butterflies including 5 different Emporers. Highlights have to be the Gaudy Commodore and the Paradise Skipper – both beautiful to see. We were shown a range of differing habitats where each yielded new species. Overall, this trip had everything for the generalist – mammals, birds and butterflies and vegetation so it was impossible not to be excited.
C.B., Berkshire