Duration: 1 day
Tour Start: Underberg, Himeville, or in some instances Creighton, Kwa-Zulu-Natal
Tour End: Underberg, Himeville, or in some instances Creighton, Kwa-Zulu Natal
The ascent up Sani Pass, one of the most famed birding routes in South Africa, provides easy access to most of the birds endemic to the Drakensberg Escarpment and highlands, plus spectacular mountain scenery.
We leave very early in the morning (around 5:30) with a packed breakfast and lunch to ascend the Sani Pass by 4-wheel drive with a local guide. Before we ascend the pass we will keep a lookout as we drive through the grasslands below the pass for Denham’s Bustard, Ant-eating Chat, Grey Crowned Crane, and Secretarybird. At the lower elevations small patches of temperate forest and scrub will be searched for the sought-after Bush Blackcap, Drakensberg Prinia, Chorister Robin-Chat, Swee Waxbill, and Brown-backed Honeybird. This habitat is soon replaced by Protea stands a little higher up, where Gurney’s Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird occur alongside Ground Woodpecker, Red-throated Wryneck, Cape Rock Thrush, and Buff-streaked Chat. Small wetlands will be checked for Fan-tailed Grassbird, with Red-winged Francolin, Long-billed Pipit, Cape Grassbird, and Wailing Cisticola occurring in the nearby grasslands.
At little higher up the large stands of trees will be investigated for Barratt’s Warbler, Drakensberg Prinia, Greater Double-collared Sunbird and a little higher up for Karoo Prinia. Above the tree-line Drakensberg Siskin and Drakensberg Rockjumper start to appear, as well as Bearded (Lammergeier) and Cape Vultures. Once we cross into the Kingdom of Lesotho the habitat consists of vast open plains with small scrubby bushes which hold Large-billed Lark, Fairy Flycatcher, Grey Tit, Layard’s Warbler (Tit-babbler), Sickle-winged Chat, Yellow Canary, Sentinel Rock Thrush, and Southern Bald Ibis. In summer we will search the grassy areas of the plateau for the range-restricted Mountain Pipit.
We will spend a full day ascending to the top of the escarpment and into the beautiful mountain kingdom of Lesotho, with frequent stops along the way, in a quest to find all the localized specials.