This tour explores the wildlife of two contrasting areas of South Africa: the well-watered habitats of the Western Cape, and the arid Kalahari Desert. We will spend a week in both locations, enjoying the flora and fauna of the Cape of Good Hope Reserve, Table Mountain National Park, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and Boulders Beach in the area around Cape Town as well as the West Coast National park further north along the coast. Next we fly to Upington, 650 kilometres to the north-east where we transfer to the Augrabies Falls National park for two nights where we’ll be based overlooking the spectacular Orange River Canyon and the Augrabies Falls. Next we head into the Kalahari Desert and from our lodge in the heart of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the Botswana border, we’ll have three full days to go in search of the very different bird, mammal and other species that live in this arid environment. Finally it will be time to leave the sweeping vistas of the Kalahari and fly home.
• Spectacular scenery of South Africa’s Western Cape
• Cape Town, Table Mountain & Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
• Southern Right Whales & African Penguins
• Spring flowers in the West Coast National Park
• Dramatic scenery of Augrabies Falls National Park
• Explore the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in search of Cheetah, Lion, Meerkat & Bat-eared Fox
• Desert birds including Crimson-breasted Shrike, Violet-eared Waxbill & Namaqua Sandgrouse
• Expertly guided by one of our South African naturalists
All included in the price, except for lunch and dinner on day 13 (allow £25).
A mix of comfortable lodges, guesthouses and national park chalets. All rooms have private facilities.
South Africa is a country blessed with a wonderful variety of spectacular landscapes and fascinating wildlife. Where else is it possible to enjoy a morning watching African Penguins bobbing on the surf-line and Southern Right Whales breaching offshore and then, in the afternoon, photograph Lion, Southern Giraffe and Springbok to a backdrop of brick-red sand dunes and breathtaking sunsets? South Africa is indeed a land of contrasts and no two areas of this beautiful country are more different than the coastal mountains and plains of the Western Cape and the parched inland deserts of the Kalahari. This is especially true in September, at the start of the austral spring, when the well-watered habitats of the Cape erupt into a kaleidoscope of floral colour. To the north — away from the tempering influence of the ocean — life in the Kalahari could not be more different. Here, the animals and birds that call this harsh but beautiful, landscape home are in the midst of the long dry season and crowded around the few remaining waterholes awaiting the first of the summer rains. This new and exciting wildlife holiday offers the chance to explore these two contrasting regions of South Africa, at a prime time of year for both. We begin with a week to enjoy the spring explosion of life around the Western Cape, and end with a second week amongst the mammals and birds of the striking desert landscapes of Augrabies Falls National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Our tour starts with a flight to Cape Town, a truly stunning city perched at the southern tip of the African continent. Here we meet our tour leaders and transfer the short distance to Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula, our base for the first three nights of this holiday. Our time here will include a day exploring the Cape of Good Hope Reserve which is part of the larger Table Mountain National Park. The reserve was established to protect the fragile and beautiful ‘fynbos’ flora which should be in full bloom during the tour. Flowering proteas attract Cape Sugarbirds and the beautiful Orange-breasted Sunbird, whilst mammals to look out for include Bontebok, Eland and Cape Mountain Zebra. We will visit Cape Point and the aforementioned African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach, and we will spend time watching the Southern Right Whales that come close inshore along this wave-pounded coastline between July and October. On our second full day we will visit Table Mountain and then descend to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden which nestles amongst the mountain’s eastern slopes and not only protects an unrivalled collection of the region’s flora, but is one of the best birding sites in the Western Cape.
Heading north, we will spend the next two nights in Langebaan from where we will explore the West Coast National Park, a 27,000-hectare coastal reserve that is usually awash with flowers in the spring. Birdlife is equally prolific and should include Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Ostrich and the beautiful Bokmakierie shrike. Although rare, Caracal have also been seen here by past Naturetrek groups!
Next, we return to Cape Town and fly to Upington, which lies around 650 kilometres to the north-east. On arrival, we will transfer to Augrabies Falls National Park for a 2-night stay at a comfortable rest camp overlooking the Falls and the spectacular Orange River Canyon. Then we will head further north to spend three nights in a small and remote lodge in the heart of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Straddling the border between South Africa and Botswana, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park protects over 3.3 million hectares of the vast Kalahari Desert. This is a land of distant horizons and sweeping vistas, home to the majestic black-maned Lions of the Kalahari, plus Cheetah, Springbok, Gemsbok, Suricate (Meerkat) and Southern Giraffe … all backed by majestic brick-red sand dunes and some of the most beautiful sunsets in all of Africa. The birdlife here will be very different from that seen around the Cape and may include Namaqua Sandgrouse, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills, Pale-chanting Goshawk, Kori Bustard and Crimson-breasted Shrike. Night-drives will open up a new world of nocturnal wildlife to enjoy, including Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Bat-eared Fox, Springhare, Aardwolf and perhaps, if fortunate, the secretive Brown Hyena.
Lastly, a final night in a lodge at the edge of the park is required before we must leave the contrasting wildlife of South Africa’s Cape and Kalahari and return to Upington airport for our short flight to Johannesburg which connects with an overnight flight home.