Mammal and Birding Tour South Africa: Aardvark and Other Unusual Denizens of the Kalahari September/October 2021/2022/2023
Dates and Costs
19 – 26 September 2021
Price: R48,923 / $3,354 / £2,423 / €2,812 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: R4,940 / $339 / £245 / €284.
* Please note that these currency conversions are calculated in real-time, therefore are subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base prices when making final payments.
02 – 09 October 2022
Price: R54,305 / $3,723 / £2,690 / €3,122 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: R5,434 / $373 / £269 / €312.
19 – 26 September 2023
Price: R60,278 / $4,133 / £2,986 / €3,465 per person sharing.
Single Supplement: R5,977 / $410 / £296 / €343.
Duration: 8 days
Group Size: 3 – 8 (rarely 9)
Tour Start: Upington
Tour End: Kimberley
Three night drives
Two open-top game drives
All transport while on tour
Local and international flights
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Personal expenses such as gifts
Northern Black Korhaan
African Wild Cat
South African Hedgehog
Mammal and Birding Tour South Africa: Aardvark and Other Unusual Denizens of the Kalahari
The vast Kalahari area is semi-desert, where some very tough African mammals can be found relatively easily. Moreover, it has a lot of mammals (notably smaller ones) that are only very rarely seen anywhere else and most certainly are not found on your typical Serengeti or Kruger safari. We invite you on a spectacular African experience that you will not forget in a hurry.
The bizarre Aardvark will hopefully be found on this trip.
Itinerary (8 days/7 nights)
Days 1 – 4. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Today we transfer from Upington to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (3 hours), which encompasses three countries; South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. Over the next few days, we will spend time in one of South Africa’s most popular parks, where bird and particularly mammal sightings are normally exceptional. Gemsbok, Springbok, Common Eland, and Red Hartebeest can be seen in the open areas while African Elephant roams the dry riverbeds, searching for their next water source. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is particularly well known for its big cat sightings, and here we can hope to find black-maned Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah, as well as some of the smaller, lesser-known felines such as African Wild Cat and Caracal. Other predators to keep an eye out for include Common (Small-spotted) Genet, Cape and Bat-eared Foxes, Black-backed Jackal, Brown Hyaena, and Honey Badger. Smaller mammals are also in abundance in the park and include small groups of Meerkats and South African Ground Squirrels as well as Yellow Mongoose, Cape Hare, and Chacma Baboon.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is one of the best places to find Brown Hyena.
Birding in the park is also top-notch, with raptors being particularly abundant and obvious. On our drives through the park we should encounter Lappet-faced Vulture, Pale Chanting and Gabar Goshawks, Greater Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon, Bateleur, Tawny and Martial Eagles, Brown and Black-chested Snake Eagles, Lanner Falcon, and the diminutive Pygmy Falcon, which nests exclusively in massive Sociable Weaver nests. In the more open plains, we should find Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Burchell’s and Namaqua Sandgrouse, Pink-billed and Eastern Clapper Larks, Ant-eating Chat, and Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark. The dry river beds are a magnet for birdlife, and we will search these areas for Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Marico Flycatcher, and Ashy Tit. The nocturnal life in the camps can also be impressive, with Western Barn Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, and African Scops Owl all present as well as the tiny Pearl-spotted Owlet, which is also active during the day. We will also join a night drive and two game drives in open-top safari vehicles during our time in the park, which should increase our chances of finding some of the rarer mammal species.
Overnight: Kgalagadi Lodge (just outside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park)
Raptors such as this Greater Kestrel are common throughout the Kalahari.
Day 5. Transfer to Kimberley
After an early breakfast we will take the long (6.5 hours) drive to Kimberley, more specifically Marrick Safari, a large game farm, which will be our base for the next few days. We will join two night drives during our three-night stay here. On these night drives we will look for Aardvark, which has burrows quite close to the lodge and as a result has become fairly tame toward humans, relatively speaking. Black-footed Cat is also a major target here. These small cats are extremely rare; however, Marrick must rank as one of the best places to see them. We might also encounter Bat-eared Fox, Aardwolf, Southern African Hedgehog, Cape Porcupine, and Spring Hare.
Overnight: Marrick Safaris
Day 6. Kimberley
After breakfast we head out to look for some more of our target species. Black Wildebeest, rated by some as the most stupid of all antelopes (due to their inquisitive nature), will be found with relative ease, along with Giraffe, Common Eland and Gemsbok, while Caracal will require some luck! Once again, we will spend some time on foot during the day, looking for small mammals, reptiles, and the likes. Birding can also be particularly rewarding, with Blue Crane often breeding on the farm and Double-banded Courser sometimes common. Other birds to see around the property include Secretarybird, Bradfield’s Swift, Pink-billed, Red-capped, Fawn-colored, and Spike-heeled Larks, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cape Penduline Tit, Quailfinch, Black-faced Waxbill, and many Lark-like Buntings. After dinner we may go for our other night drive.
Overnight: Marrick Safaris
Marrick Safaris offers us the chance of finding South African Hedgehog.
Day 7. Kimberley
This will be our last full day in the Kimberley area, which we’ll spend for the most part in nearby Mokala National Park. This is a recently proclaimed South African national park, a truly splendid one, which holds, among many others, not only a large herd of Roan Antelope but also Sable Antelope, Kudu, Black Wildebeest, Giraffe, Tsessebe, Steenbok, and Meerkat (Suricate). Birds to look for around the park include Short-toed Rock Thrush, Red-crested Korhaan, Yellow Canary, Red-headed Finch, Buffy and Nicholson’s Pipits, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Mountain Wheatear, Striped Kingfisher, and Shaft-tailed Whydah. We might also briefly visit the Kimberley “Big Hole” for those that might want to catch a quick glimpse of the deepest human-made hole in the world.
Overnight: Marrick Safaris
Cute Meerkats will be one of our targets at Marrick Safaris.
Day 8. Departure
After some final mammal- and bird-viewing we make a short (half-an-hour) drive to Kimberley airport, where the tour concludes.
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. Kalahari Mammal and Birding ItineraryDownload Itinerary
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
Birding Ecotours company and SA office staff
I can highly recommend booking a trip through Birding Ecotours South Africa. The Birding Ecotours staff is professional, the e-mail responses fast and all questions receive detail replies. Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours forwarded excellent advice to me on how to start world birding, which countries to visit in order to find a high number of birds over a short period and which bird book(s) to use for a country. Birding Ecotours’ newsletters provide further information on upcoming trips, details on areas (e.g. East African birding), on target birds per trip, as well as regarding birding books available for countries or areas. Trip reports (forwarded upon request) allow one to mentally prepare regarding number of possible birds, endemics per country and difficulty or travel time of a trip. The Birding Ecotours’ Facebook postings include snippets from current trips with photos as well as spaces available on future trips. The single supplement for Birding Ecotours’ trips is in most cases lower than other tour companies, which makes for safe as well as affordable travelling.
Lisl van Deventer — Pretoria, South Africa