Birding Tour South Africa: Flock to Marion and IOCongress – Cape Pre-tours
Dates and Costs
12-23 January 2022
R1050 / $68 / £51 / €61
R13,200 / $857 / £643 / €759 per person sharing
Single Supplement: 3-day trips R2,200 / $143 / £107 / €127
* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to base price when making final payments.
22 August – 02 September 2022
Provisionally closed for new bookings –
do e-mail us ([email protected]) if you want to be waitlisted, added to a similar 2022 tour we still have openings for, or if you have a group of 4-8 and want a bespoke version of this birding tour
(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)
Duration: 1 or 3 days
Group Size: 1-day trips (4-10 pax), 3-day trips (6-8 pax)
Tour Start: Cape Town
Tour End: George
Personal expenses such as gifts
Featured Guide:Dominic Rollinson
Flock to Marion and IOCongress – Cape Pre-tours
Flock to Marion 2022
Flock to Marion is an incredible opportunity. Please book this amazing value trip to a remote sub-Antarctic Island directly with BirdLife South Africa here. Please also see our blog about Flock to Marion here. This cruise starts in Cape Town on 24 January 2022 and ends in Durban on 31 January 2022. Birding Ecotours is offering a series of pre-trips to this cruise in the Western Cape, detailed below, and two post-tours to this cruise in KwaZulu-Natal, detailed here and our Highveld/Johannesburg post-tours, here.
International Ornithological Congress 2022
The IOCongress from 14-20 August 2022 is coming to South Africa, specifically Durban, and we’re offering the same pre-tours and extensions in the Western Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal as we’re offering for Flock to Marion. The KwaZulu-Natal tours are shown here, the Highveld/Johannesburg here and the Cape tours are shown below.
Birding Ecotours is offering a series of 1-day and 3-day pre-Flock terrestrial birding trips targeting Cape endemics and specials. If you join all the trips you’ll basically have birded the whole of the Western Cape Province comprehensively, but you can also join them as stand-alone day trips or 3-day trips. We donate five percent of the tour prices quoted to BirdLife South Africa for their conservation work.
Once any trip in question is guaranteed we’ll advise you at what time we’ll fetch you from wherever you’re staying. We plan to drop you back a bit before dark/in time for dinner at the end of the day, or at the end of three days in the case of the longer tours.
The 1-day trips cost R950 per person including transport, fuel, tolls, guiding fees, and entrance fees. We advise arranging breakfast wherever you’re staying. This is based on a group size of four to ten people, and there will be a surcharge in the unlikely case that three or fewer people book. We’ll e-mail you the plan once the trip is fully subscribed and we know all the participants’ details. In general we encourage you to bring a packed lunch to maximize birding time, but we plan to advise you by e-mail about the exact plan for each trip a few weeks before the trip.
The tour price for the 3 days/2 nights trips is basically all-inclusive (except for drinks, laundry, gifts, and other items of a personal nature) and is R13,200 per person sharing plus R2,200 single supplement (if you want a single room or if we can’t find a room-sharer for you). This price is based on a group size of six to eight, and there will be a surcharge for smaller groups if we don’t get the full quota.
Details of each Cape pre-Flock trip are shown below:
21 January 2022 and 23 August 2022: West Coast day trip
(7 places left on 21 January 2022 trip)
Today we’ll visit the West Coast National Park and perhaps Velddrif and other nearby sites if there are rarities such as Red-necked or Wilson’s Phalaropes, Common Redshank, etc. around, which we’ll be sure to try and find. Some of the main targets apart from these rarities will be Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Penduline Tit, Cape Clapper Lark, Karoo Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark, Sickle-winged Chat, Chestnut-banded Plover and a lot of other waders.
Red-necked Phalarope can be seen at the salt works at Velddrif.
22 January 2022 and 22 August 2022: Cape Peninsula and False Bay day trip
(6 places left on 22 January 2022 trip)
On this trip we’ll be targeting Cape Rockjumper, Cape Siskin, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, and many others around Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay. While birding in the Cape Fold Mountains we may also come across Verreaux’s Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Ground Woodpecker, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrushes, Cape Grassbird and Grey-backed Cisticola while nearby patches of forest hold Swee Waxbill, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Olive Woodpecker and many other delights. We will also visit the nearby African Penguin colony at Stony Point where we normally find Bank, Crowned and Cape Cormorants too.
Orange-breasted Sunbird is one of the more colorful fynbos endemics.
23 January 2022 and 24 August 2022: Fynbos (Hottentot) Buttonquail and other tough species
(The 1st trip on 23 January filled fast, but we have opened a 2nd trip on the same date which has a few places left)
Today, we’ll try and clean up on any birds not seen during the 21-22 January trips. These are likely to include Fynbos (Hottentot) Buttonquail (the most elusive fynbos endemic), and we may also try for Striped Flufftail (late August/IOCongress trips only). It’s a roughly 2.5 hour drive each way from Cape Town to the small private nature reserve where we target Fynbos Buttonquail. While in the Agulhas Plains we will keep a lookout for Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cape Clapper Lark, Cloud Cisticola and Southern Tchagra. Do send us your wish lists and we’ll bear them in mind.
Striped Flufftail is always tricky to find.
18-20 January 2022 and 21-23 January (two departures) and 25-27 August 2022: Tanqua Karoo and tough fynbos birds tour
(3 places left on 18-20 January 2022 trip)
The Karoo must be Africa’s greatest birding hotspot! In addition, on this trip we also hope to see Protea Canary and other desirables. We leave Cape Town after breakfast, look for Protea Canary and other scarcer fynbos species en route, and also stop for raptors and waterbirds such as South African Shelduck and others before eventually reaching Karoopoort, the gateway to the endemic-rich Karoo. Our first target in this area will be Namaqua Warbler, which favors a mixture of Phragmites reeds and Acacia karoo (Sweet Thorn), to use the previous but more familiar generic name of this tree. The trilling song of this quite elusive, rather uncommon, strange warbler is a joy to behold, as will be visuals of the bird. A little farther we’ll try a couple of our stakeouts for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, but we stay two nights at a comfortable guest farm where this species occurs, maximizing the chances of seeing one of the Karoo’s more enigmatic endemics.
Entering the vast plains of the Karoo we’ll look for Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Karoo Chat, Tractrac Chat, Sickle-winged Chat, various localized lark species such as Karoo Lark, Karoo Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, with lots of luck perhaps Burchell’s Courser (they occur quite regularly in the southern reaches of the Tanqua Karoo National Park, where we’re likely to go on the second day of the tour), with some luck Ludwig’s Bustard, and many other great birds. Booted Eagle is very often seen in these parts, and we might encounter Namaqua Sandgrouse in the more northern areas. Hilly areas are usually good for Black-headed Canary, but this is a nomadic, unpredictable species. Other canary species such as White-throated Canary usually abound. We’ll also be practically sure to find Fairy Flycatcher and Layard’s Warbler.
Karoo Korhaan can be seen in the Tankwa Karoo.
We’ll enjoy two nights far away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town in a remote but comfortable guest farm right in the middle of where a lot of the Karoo’s endemics lurk, just where the vast plains meet the hills.
15-17 January 2022 and 28-30 August 2022: Agulhas Plains endemics and specials tour
(7 places left on 15-17 January 2022 trip)
We drive three hours eastward from Cape Town to an amazing area near Africa’s southernmost tip, where two oceans meet at Cape Agulhas. Here Secretarybird and Denham’s Bustard are quite common, and we can also enjoy a Cape Vulture colony along with lots of migrant White Storks. But the real targets are all the Blue Cranes (nowhere is this South African near-endemic more abundant), Agulhas Long-billed Lark, and Cape Clapper Lark. Southern Tchagra, Knysna Woodpecker, and other desirables will also be sought. Grey-wing Francolin is usually easy to find, along with its extremely common cousin, Cape Spurfowl. We should also see great mammals at de Hoop Nature Reserve, including Cape Mountain Zebra and the beautiful Bontebok, together with some exciting small mammal species. We sometimes go to a site where getting visuals of Red-chested Flufftail is relatively easy.
We also plan to take a look at some of the amazing plants of the highly threatened lowland fynbos, far less of which is protected than mountain fynbos. We should find some of the more common fynbos endemics here, such as Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird. This is one of the best areas for the most enigmatic fynbos endemic, Fynbos (Hottentot) Buttonquail, and we plan to spend quite a fair chunk of time trying to get visuals of this species.
Southern Tchagra can be seen in De Hoop Nature Reserve.
12-14 January 2022 and 31 August – 2 September 2022: The Garden Route
(7 places left on 12-14 January 2022 trip)
For those who joined the Agulhas Plains trip we have a further three hours to drive eastward before spending two night in one of South Africa’s most beautiful towns, Wilderness. You also have the option of flying into George, and we’ll fetch you from the airport. Or we can transfer you by road from Cape Town to George to start this trip (it’s a six-hour drive). At the end of this tour you can either fly back to Cape Town or home from George, or you can travel back to Cape Town with our guide (about six hours).
Targets of this tour are Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Forest Buzzard, Red-chested Flufftail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Forest Canary, Grey Cuckooshrike, Narina Trogon, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Emerald Cuckoo, African Finfoot, and fynbos endemics. We should also see a lot of water- and reed- associated birds which should hopefully include some less common or obvious species like Blue-billed (Hottentot) Teal, African Rail, etc.
The brightly colored and noisy Knysna Turaco.
If there is enough demand, we can also continue one of our Tanqua Karoo trips to Springbok and Pofadder (needs 4 extra days/3 extra nights) in search of Red Lark, Barlow’s Lark, Sclater’s Lark, Stark’s Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark and other desirables. Aardvark and other great mammals are also possible.
In addition, if you send us your target bird (and mammal, etc.) list, we can also run custom or clean-up trips for you anywhere in the Cape region and beyond. We will be happy to run private trips for you, but at a higher cost than shown for the above.Download Itinerary