KwaZulu-Natal is one of the richest places for mammals and birds in South Africa. On this ‘Birding Tour South Africa’ adventure we first sample the impressive Drakensberg, which has lots of bird endemics and a lot of other attractions, before spending most of our time in mega-diverse Zululand, a true African wildlife paradise.
This Birding Tour South Africa experience can be combined with our Kalahari Mammal and Birding Extravaganza tour. You can join either tour independently, but we strongly recommend doing both. Doing both tours means you will sample two African habitats that are absolutely poles apart. See you at Birding Tour South Africa!
Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)
Day 1. Giant’s Castle Game Reserve
We leave Durban after breakfast and drive to Giant’s Castle Game Reserve (about 3.5 hours) on the slopes of the impressive Drakensberg Escarpment, or “Barrier of Spears”, as the locals have named these imposing mountains. The vulture hide here can attract Bearded Vulture in winter, along with the more (locally) abundant Cape Vulture and Jackal Buzzard. The park is famous for San rock art. We’ll look for small mammals, and with luck we might also see some larger animals such as Common Eland. The Drakensberg is a World Heritage Site.
Day 2. Giant’s Castle Game Reserve
We spend a full day exploring Giant’s Castle Game Reserve, largely on foot.
Day 3. Transfer to St Lucia
We embark on a long but interesting drive through rolling hills to one of Africa’s most diverse areas for mammals and birds, Zululand. It takes at least half a day to do this drive. We eventually reach the town of St Lucia, where we’ll spend two nights. Thick-tailed Greater Galagos cry from the trees within the town at night, and the town is an absolute paradise for birds, with Livingstone’s Turaco, Brown Scrub Robin, Lemon Dove, Rudd’s Apalis, and a host of others quite possible within St Lucia itself.
Day 4. St Lucia
We leave early for the massive Lake St Lucia, part of the huge iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which is a mega-diverse region with lots of large animals such as Leopard, both Black and White Rhinoceros, and Hippopotamus, along with a host of smaller mammals and a huge diversity of birds, which can include such spectacular and uncommon species as Southern Banded Snake Eagle and Green Twinspot. We eventually reach Cape Vidal, which has whale lookout towers, from where we sometimes also see albatrosses. The forests here are inhabited by two monkey species, Samango Monkey and Vervet Monkey.
Day 5. Mkhuze Game Reserve
We drive to the nearby Mkhuze Game Reserve for two nights. This is one of Africa’s most bird-rich parks, with over 400 species, even though the size of the reserve is tiny. But the greatest attraction for us is the mammal species that are common here but tough in most parks such as Kruger. These include Common Nyala, both rhinoceros species (but Black Rhinoceros is more often seen in Hluhluwe), the diminutive Suni antelope, Leopard (always needs luck, though) and loads more. Birdwise we’ll be in for an amazing treat and should find extremely localized species such as Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergaard’s Sunbird, and a plethora of others. The spectacular Pel’s Fishing Owl is occasionally seen.
Day 6. Mkhuze Game Reserve
We have a full day exploring amazing Mkhuze.
Day 7. Hluhluwe Game Reserve
We drive to the nearby Hluhluwe Game Reserve for two nights. This is a Big Five reserve with a host of smaller mammals and spectacular birdlife as well.
Day 8. Hluhluwe Game Reserve
We have a full day in one of South Africa’s premier game parks, Hluhluwe.
Day 9. Departure
After some final game-viewing we’ll drive back to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport (about 4 hours) to catch our homebound flights.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.
Just a quick note today to let you know that mom (Eleanor) and I had a fantastic day with Dylan. First of all it was a great comfort to meet someone at the airport from the area who knows how to go about things. Dylan provided us with a splendid introduction day to the common bird families and antelope (plus a mongoose) at Rietvlie which was exactly what we needed after being cooped up on a plane for so long! He also capably described things about each family and then the species we were seeing. What surprised me was how knowledgeable he is about other species around the world which makes it easy for him to relate to our knowledge base. We had a splendid day talking about all sorts of things. You guys are doing everything right -Bravo! Your website came up first in a Google search and it’s very inviting which encourages an inquiry. Chris, you got back to me right away, and Dylan followed up with answers and then read perfectly what we needed. Thank you so much! I will most definitely recommend you to anyone coming to this part of Africa. Keep up the good work! Dylan, thank you! I look forward to coming back some day
Kim Hartquist, Rochester, New York, USA