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The Flowers of South Africa's Drakensberg Mountains

Tour Code: ZAF02

A 14-day botany and wildlife journey through South Africa's spectacular Drakensberg Mountains and Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve.

14 days from £4695(inc flights) Land Only Price: £3995 SRS: £495


Every southern spring, botanists from around the globe are drawn to the carpets of flowers that light up South Africa’s Western Cape, but few realise that in January, 1,600 kilometres further east, another floral show bursts into bloom. It may be less showy than Namaqualand, but the alpine flowers that carpet the spectacular Drakensberg escarpment and high moorland of Lesotho are every bit as fascinating. It is not just the flowers that draw naturalists to this dramatic region, however, for KwaZulu-Natal’s varied landscapes and habitats – from mist-shrouded mountains to lush coastal wetlands – are home to an equally exciting array of birds, mammals and reptiles too. Although this exciting tour will focus primarily on the summer flowers of the Drakensberg escarpment, it will also introduce you to some of the other varied wildlife that lives here, before concluding amongst ‘Big 5’ mammals of the Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in the country.

  • Spectacular scenery of the Drakensberg Mountains.
  • Botanise along the world-famous Sani Pass.
  • Flowers including Agapanthus campanulatus, Heperantha coccinea & Watsonia confusa.
  • Visit the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve & Howick Falls.
  • Abundant birdlife including Drakensberg Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker & Lammergeier.
  • White Rhinoceros, Elephant, Southern Giraffe & Lion in the Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve.
  • Led by a Naturetrek botanist & local naturalist guide.

Food

All meals are included in the price, except lunches. Allow around £150.

Accommodation

Comfortable guesthouses, mountain chalets and hotels; all rooms have private facilities.

Common Sugarbush

Common Sugarbush

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2/4 Royal Natal National Parks

Day 5/6 Giant's Castle Game Reserve

Day 7/8 Underberg and Sani Pass

Day 9/10 Howick

Day 11/12 Hluhulwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve

Day 13 Depart Durban

Day 14 Arrive London

Drakensberg Mountain Scenery (Maureen Ponting)

The arrival of spring in South Africa is marked by a carpet of wild flowers which blanket the western part of the country from the Cape to the mountains and plains of Namaqualand to the north. This spectacular show attracts botanists from far and wide but few realise that, a few months later, 1,600 kilometres further to the east, another remarkable floral display erupts which, although lacking Namaqualand’s feast of colour, contains a wealth of beautiful flowering plants set amongst some of the continent’s most spectacular scenery. It is not just the flowers that draw naturalists to this dramatic region, however, for KwaZulu-Natal’s varied landscapes and habitats from mist-shrouded mountains to lush coastal wetlands are home to a varied array of birds, mammals and reptiles too. Although this exciting tour will focus primarily on the summer flowers of the Drakensberg escarpment, it will also introduce you to some of the other varied wildlife that lives here, before concluding amongst the ‘Big 5’ mammals of the Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in the country.

We begin our holiday with an overnight flight from London to Johannesburg where we will meet our local guide and drive south to the Royal Natal National Park for a 3-night stay, split between one night in Witsieshoek on the western side of the park and then two nights at Thendele Camp on the eastern side of the reserve. The Royal Natal National Park protects the Drakensberg’s most famous vista, the magnificent ‘Drakensberg Amphitheatre’. These 1,000-metre high basalt cliffs stretch for over 5 kilometres and create a wonderful backdrop as we explore the reserve’s upland grassland and forest patches in search of the blues of Agapanthus campanulatus, the whites and greens of Zantedeschia albomaculata and the striking pink flowers of Hesperanthus grandiflora. Gurney’s Sugarbird is frequently seen feeding within the Protea patches, whilst other species to look out for include Cape Vulture, Long-crested Eagle and the beautiful Malachite Sunbird.

Moving on, we will make our way down to the central Drakensberg Mountains, where we use Giant’s Castle Game Reserve as our base for the next two nights. Our camp is situated next to the Bushman’s River, backed by the dramatic central range of the Drakensberg Mountains, whose rocky peaks and high escarpments create the outline of a sleeping giant. Here we will explore the extensive grasslands and forested gullies in search of an exciting variety of flowers including Crocosmia paniculata and Crocosmia aurea, Heperantha coccinea, (Crimson Flag) and perhaps some specimens of the spectacular Brunsvigia natalensis. We must also keep our eyes up, as well as down, however, to be sure not to miss birds such as Cape Vulture, Lammergeier and Cape Rockthrush, plus mammals including Eland, the largest of Africa’s antelope, Klipspringer, Mountain Reedbuck and troops of inquisitive Chacma Baboons.

Next, we will skirt around the base of the main Drakensberg range to the small town of Underberg near the foot of the spectacular Sani Pass. Here we will be based for two nights and, during our full day, we will swap our minibus for 4-wheel drive vehicles for the ascent up the spectacular Sani Pass, one of Africa’s most exciting and dramatic botanical drives. Highlights will be many and varied, but may include pincushion plants such as Helichrysum marginatum, plus Cyrtanthus stenanthus, Kniphofia laxiflora and the pink orchid Watsonia confusa. The higher slopes of the pass are also home to Ground Woodpecker and the endemic Drakensberg Rockjumper.

We now leave the mountains behind and begin our descent to the lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal, stopping en route at the midlands town of Howick for two nights where we will focus our attention on the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve which lies in a valley created by the Umgeni River, not far from the majestic Howick Falls. We then conclude our holiday with two nights in the Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve. Here, within South Africa’s oldest game reserve established in 1895 we will focus on the country’s larger mammal species on morning and afternoon game drives. African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Southern Giraffe, Hippo and Lion are all frequently observed and, despite the recent increase in poaching, the reserve still holds one of South Africa’s most important White Rhino populations. We will also enjoy the park’s abundant birdlife which includes Grey Crowned Crane, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Crested Guineafowl and White-fronted Bee-eater.

Finally, we must drive back along KwaZulu-Natal’s beautiful coastline to the city of Durban from where we will catch our flight home.

We currently don’t have any images for this tour. If you have any suitable image you would like published then please email us.

S.D.
Cheshire
Good group camaraderie. Leaders were interested and helpful – nothing was too much trouble. Overall a fabulous cross section of South African landscapes!
G. & M.S.
Devon
A very pleasant trip, with a good combination of flowers, birds, wildlife and scenery.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Tue 16th January 2018 - Mon 29th January 2018

3

£4695

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: £3995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: South Africa

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Paul Stanbury
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

Tour Focus

Wild flowersBirdsMammalsWild flowers

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

Good group camaraderie. Leaders were interested and helpful – nothing was too much trouble. Overall a fabulous cross section of South African landscapes!
S.D., Cheshire