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South Africa’s Rare Mammals: 25th September 2017

South African Hedgehog

South African Hedgehog

Tour leader Toby Esplin describes the highlights of our rare mammals holiday in South Africa …

As the full moon rises on the distant horizon a soft yellow haze pours across the arid landscape of the Nama-Karoo. Suddenly, a moving shadow catches everyone’s attention … and so begins the quest to find some of southern Africa’s rarer species of mammal!

While safaris into the myriad of national parks and private reserves on South Africa’s east coast may be of great appeal to the vast majority of wildlife tourists, the Northern Cape offers an experience that is unique in every respect. This is a journey through sparse vegetation and open landscapes, encountering wildlife that’s usually only heard about during campfire stories.


Elephant Shrew

Bushveld Elephant-shrew

Starting in the northern stretches of the Nama-Karoo, our ‘South Africa’s Rare Mammals’ tour begins in Mokala National Park, a region that was initially set aside by South African National Parks to breed vulnerable species of antelope for re-stocking their larger reserves. While there are regular sightings here of Roan Antelope, Red Hartebeest and Tsetsebe moving among general game, there are also good possibilities for sightings of the truly majestic Sable Antelope, and the largest of the African species, the Eland.

On the second and third evenings of the tour, we head out after dinner on the first of up to nine night-drives, to explore habitats that are ideal for some of the more
Brown Hyena

Brown Hyena

elusive nocturnal species such as South African Hedgehog, Cape and Bat-eared Foxes, Black-footed Cat and, the highlight of many people’s trip, the ever-elusive Aardvark.

On Day 4, we’ll head to the Augrabies Falls National Park: isolated and desolate this is an environment that could easily be mistaken for a Martian landscape. Yet, as the sun begins to set and the evening air cools, this stony desert slowly comes to life. Klipspringer and Rock Hyrax suddenly appear on what, during the day, looked like barren rocky outcrops. In the still waters of the Orange River, Cape Clawless Otter patrol the rock pools for freshwater crustaceans in the fading light.

Black-footed Cat

Black-footed Cat

As darkness sets in, Scrub Hares and the occasional Red-rock Rabbit are frozen in the spotlight’s trance, while the Porcupine and the secretive Zorilla dart for cover in the shadows.

As the tour progresses further north, into the dunes of the southern Kalahari Desert and the Kgalagadi National Park, larger species such as Spotted Hyena, African Lion, Leopard and Cheetah are sought. With good fortune (and keen eyesight) participants may also be rewarded with Brown Hyena, Caracal, Aardwolf or the mythical Pangolin.

This tour is a must for anybody returning to Africa; and if it’s your first visit – with an equal amount of species to be seen as the Mara – you won’t leave disappointed!

Our next South Africa's Rare Mammals tour departs on 11th September 2017. For further details, or to book, please call Alison Steel on 01962 733051 or email