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South Africa - Reptiles, Amphibians & other Wildlife

Tour Code: ZAF12

A 10-day holiday to South Africa in search of reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife.

11 days from £3295(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2545 SRS: £295


Africa is home to a staggering variety of wildlife and while most tourists flock to the continent in search of its mammals and birds, some of its other wildlife gets overlooked. Southern Africa boasts an impressive 517 species of reptile, from the Black Mamba to the Flap-necked Chameleon. This holiday travels from the highlands of Dullstroom and past the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, to the more tropical climate beside the Blyde River to Kruger National Park where our search in each location will be focused on finding the country’s reptiles and amphibians as well as taking time to enjoy the mammals and birds South Africa is better known for. We complete our tour in the wetlands, pans and grasslands around Chrissiesmeer with an evening of ‘frogging’!

  • A general wildlife holiday focusing on reptiles & amphibians
  • Visit the spectacular Blyde River Canyon home to Southern Rock Agama
  • Look for Southern African Rock Python, Black Mamba & Leopard Tortoise
  • Visit the Khamai Reptile Park at Swadini
  • Enjoy big game such as Elephants, White Rhino & Lion in Kruger National Park
  • Superb variety of amphibians around Chrissiesmeer & enjoy an evening’s ‘frogging’!
  • Mozambique Rain Frog, Painted Reed Frog & Bubbling Kassina
  • Led by expert local naturalist guide

Food

Breakfasts and dinners are included. Lunches are excluded; allow £60.

Accommodation

Comfortable lodges, guesthouses and national park chalets, all with private facilities.

Boomslang (Leon Marais)

Boomslang (Leon Marais)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London

Day 2 Dullstroom

Day 3/4 Hoedspruit

Day 5/7 Kruger National Park

Day 8/9 Chrissiesmeer

Day 10 Depart Johannesburg

Day 11 Arrive London

From the Lions that stalk the grasslands of Kruger National Park to the rare Taita Falcon that still patrols the spectacular mountains and canyons along the Blyde River, South Africa caters to all natural history interests. However, although it is the iconic African mammals and abundant birdlife that attract the majority of wildlife enthusiasts to the southern tip of Africa, the ‘Rainbow Nation’ has a wealth of additional wildlife treasures to enjoy, not least its reptiles and amphibians. These two groups of ancient creatures are surrounded by an aura of mystery and, admittedly, a certain element of danger. Included amongst Southern Africa’s 517 species are the famed Black Mamba, Africa’s largest venomous snake, the Nile Crocodile, Africa’s largest reptilian predator, and the somewhat more placid Common Flap-necked Chameleon with its independently movable eyes and colourchanging abilities.

The diversity and abundance of South Africa’s reptiles varies from region to region, with the highest number of species occurring in the country’s north-eastern provinces. Here the interior plateau and the Drakensberg Escarpment merge into the low-lying savannah, creating a wide variety of habitats within a relatively small area. Our tour focuses on this region, in particular the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces and, while the reptiles and amphibians will be our primary focus, there will be much more to see besides, including a wonderful variety of colourful birds and the full range of African savannah mammals.

Our holiday begins with a flight to Johannesburg from where we will drive east to Dullstroom, a small town in the highlands. Here we’ll visit the Veloren Valei Nature Reserve in search of reptiles such as Drakensberg Crag Lizard, Southern Rock Agama, Distant’s Ground Agama, Dusky-bellied Water Snake and Striped Skaapstekers, plus birds including Gurney’s Sugarbird and the beautiful Blue Crane.

From Dullstroom we pass over the escarpment edge and drop down to our next base near the town of Hoedspruit. Our route will take us past the spectacular Blyde River Canyon where colourful Flat Lizards and Southern Rock Agamas are easy to observe basking in the warm morning sun. For the next two nights we will be based at a lodge next to the Blyde River, where the climate is more tropical and the diversity of reptile and amphibian species richer. We will be looking for such well-known species as Black Mamba, Southern African Python (Africa’s largest snake), Boomslang, Nile and Rock Monitors, Leopard Tortoise, Speke’s Hinged Tortoise, Southern Tree Agama and Common Flap-necked Chameleon among many other species. Our time here will also include a fascinating introduction to Southern African reptiles by Donald Strydom, one of the country’s foremost reptile experts and conservationists. Donald runs the ‘Khamai Reptile Park’ at Swadini, a park dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians, and which operates a captive breeding/release programme for some of the rarer and more threatened species. Our time at Khamai will allow us close encounters with a variety of the more secretive and uncommon herpetological species that we may struggle to see in the wild.

Next we enter Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship wildlife reserve. Kruger is home to a rich diversity of reptiles and amphibians as well as an abundance of birds and mammals. Here we will not only be looking out for the ‘Big Five’ mammals, but also searching for the ‘Big Five’ of the reptile world, namely Nile Crocodile, Black Mamba, Water Monitor, Leopard Tortoise and Southern African Python. Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake, Twig Snake and Natal Hinged Tortoise are also possible. Much of our time in the park will be vehiclebased, but there will be plenty of opportunities to explore on foot around the rest camps, in search of a variety of species including Southern Tree Agama, Common Dwarf Gecko, Common Tropical House Gecko, Wahlberg’s Velvet Gecko, Rainbow and Striped Skinks, Giant Plated Lizard, Giant Legless Skink and Variegated Bush Snake.

Our tour ends with two nights at Chrissiesmeer, a region of natural wetlands and pans in the grasslands of central Mpumalanga. Although a superb area for wetland birds, our primary reason for visiting will be to enjoy the wonderful variety of amphibians that live here. An evening ‘frogging’ session should yield a variety of interesting species including Mozambique Rain Frog, Eastern Olive Toad, Raucous Toad, Bubbling Kassina and the beautiful Painted Reed Frog. We hope that the chorus of frogs, and line after line of waterbirds flying to roost, will be a fitting finale to our herpetological exploration of South Africa before we must head back to Johannesburg Airport to catch our return flight home.

Southern Tree Agama (Leon Marais)Giant Plated Lizard (Leon Marais)Leopard Tortoise (Leon Marais)Leopard Tortoise (Leon Marais)Snouted Night Adder (Leon Marais)Rock Monitor (Leon Marais)Serrated Hinged Terrapin (Leon Marais)Southern Foam-nest Frog (Leon Marais)Southern Foam-nest Frog (Leon Marais)Southern Tree Agama (Leon Marais)Southern Tree Agama (Leon Marais)Stripe-bellied Sand Snake (Leon Marais)Terrapin sp. (Leon Marais)
S.H.
Derbyshire
A fantastic experience looking at an amazing varieties of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds. Jason, our guide, was an excellent leader who was extremely knowledgeable about all the lizards, gecko, skinks, snakes etc we saw, as well as the mammals, birds and plants. The day spent at Khamai reptile park with a chance to handle snakes, lizards and spiders with Donald Strydom was unbelievable and definitely not to be missed. Thank you Jason and Naturetrek for this fantastic opportunity to see a different side of a safari.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Wed 17th January 2018 - Sat 27th January 2018

5

£3295

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £2545 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: South Africa

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Paul Stanbury
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Reptiles

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Tour Reviews

A fantastic experience looking at an amazing varieties of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds. Jason, our guide, was an excellent leader who was extremely knowledgeable about all the lizards, gecko, skinks, snakes etc we saw, as well as the mammals, birds and plants. The day spent at Khamai reptile park with a chance to handle snakes, lizards and spiders with Donald Strydom was unbelievable and definitely not to be missed. Thank you Jason and Naturetrek for this fantastic opportunity to see a different side of a safari.
S.H., Derbyshire