13-Day Namaqualand & Kalahari

Birding Ecotours 13-Day Cape, Namaqualand & Kalahari Birding Adventure

      

Price on Request

Itinerary

Background

This is a birding adventure in which a large number of localised southern African endemics will be encountered, and big mammals such as black-maned Kalahari Lion will be an exciting distraction to birding. We start with a couple of days around Cape Town, where a plethora of fynbos habitat endemics can be found amid some of Africa’s most splendid scenery. We then drive to Springbok in northern Namaqualand. From here, we can bird the endemic-rich, beautiful desert mountains of one of the most famous flower areas on earth – Namaqualand has a huge plant diversity and its spring flower shows are an impressive sight. In addition, we can also access the desert coast just south of the Namibian border.

Then we head inland for some extremely localized birds inhabiting the region called “Bushmanland”. Further inland, we bird the surroundings of the impressive “waterfall in the desert” (Augrabies Falls) and associated gorge before heading for one of Africa’s great game parks – the vast Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park extending into neighbouring Botswana. This conservation area is on a par with Kruger and Etosha National Parks, and is set in one of South Africa’s most remote wilderness areas wedged between Namibia and Botswana. Not only is this park inhabited by Africa’s charismatic megafauna such as lion and gemsbok (oryx), but it also hosts many vibrant southern African endemic birds (Crimson-breasted Shrike, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Southern Pied Babbler, Kori Bustard and Black-faced Waxbill). This Park is a truly phenomenal place for raptors and owls – many of which can be found at their day-time roosts. We sometimes add on a trip to Kimberley, especially in winter when recently described pipits can be seen. We also have an excellent chance of seeing Aardvark there. Please note that the itinerary below is still flexible and we may opt to spend more time in Cape Town if any participants request this. Also, the itinerary may change slightly according to recent information, accommodation availability and other factors.

Tour

Day 1: Arrival in Cape Town – Agulhas Plains

After international flights arrive in Cape Town in the morning (any time before noon is acceptable), we immediately head to the Agulhas Plains adjacent to the southern-most tip of the African continent – about 2.5 hours’ drive east of Cape Town.

Here, we find many exciting birds including some incredibly localized birds (such as Agulhas Clapper Lark, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, etc.) as well as impressive species such asSecretarybird, Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Black Harrier and many others.

Overnight: Potteberg Guest Farm or similar

Day 2: Agulhas Plains – Cape Town

After spending the morning exploring the bird-rich Agulhas Plains, we head back to the Cape Town area, where we can see more endemic birds (for example, three spectacular sunbird species and Cape Sugarbird) and also get a feel for the real Cape Town.

Overnight: Cape Town B&B

Day 3: Springbok, Namaqualand

After further fine birding around Springbok, we will head inland for other highly localized endemics – Red Lark, Stark’s Lark, Sclater’s Lark, Black-eared Sparrow-lark, Burchell’s Courser (with luck), Double-banded Courser and others. Before dusk, we will also take a drive due north from Pofadder (where we will spend the night) to the Namibian border for Rosy-faced Lovebird, a really tough bird in South Africa with its stronghold in Namibia. At this site we should also find a lot of other species, including the stunning Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.

Overnight: Springbok Guest House

Day 4: Namib Desert

We will bird the beautiful escarpment and West Coast just south of the Namibian border before returning to Springbok. One of the star birds at the edge of the Namib Desert along the coast is Barlow’s Lark – easy to find once we are within its tiny range.Cape Long-billed Lark is also relatively common. We will, as usual, see a lot of other birds as well – Lanner Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Southern Black Korhaan and many others.

Overnight: Springbok Guest House

Day 5: Northern Cape

Today we look for more South African “super-endemics” (i.e. found ONLY in the remote Northern Cape). We traverse a wide range of scenery in our search for the elusive Sclater’s Lark, Stark’s Lark, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Rosy-faced Lovebird and other highly sought-after species

Overnight: Pofadder Hotel

Day 6: Augrabies Falls National Park

After further searching for any of the “Bushmanland” endemics we may have so far missed around Pofadder, we head to the spectacular Augrabies Falls National Park, where South Africa’s biggest river plunges into a deep gorge in the middle of the desert. As always, this area is full of endemics – and we may also start seeing our first large mammals (interesting small mammals can be seen almost anywhere in South Africa of course). Klipspringer is a favourite animal amongst most visitors – and is fairly common here.

Overnight: Augrabies Falls National Park

Day 7: Kgalagadi

We head into one of Africa’s greatest game parks – Kgalagadi is TWICE the size of Kruger and is one of the best places for big and small cats – cheetah are relatively common here but we always need luck to see them. Black-maned Kalahari Lions are reasonably common, and Leopard may put in an appearance, along with the small cats. In addition to a rich assemblage of big mammals – including some that can’t be found in the less remote game parks such as Kruger, e.g.Oryx/GemsbokSpringbok (South Africa’s national animal) and Meerkat – we of course find a host of exciting birds. The Kgalagadi is arguably the best place in South Africa to observe owls – many of which roost during the day within the lodge grounds. From the minute African Scops Owlet to the giant Milky Eagle Owl, these birds will entertain us day and night. The rolling red sand dunes of the Kalahari are also inhabited by many other birds, such as the magnificent Crimson-breasted Shrike, Northern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard(common; the world’s heaviest flying bird), a plethora of raptors, colourful seedeaters, Sociable Weaver with its massive nests, and many, many others.

Overnight: Twee Rivieren Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Day 8: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

We will drive northwards into the very heart of this national park and will spend the next two nights at the South Africa/Botswana border.

Overnight: Nossob Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Day 9: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Fly from Upington to Cape Town (we can also potentially make the long drive back to Cape Town or to Johannesburg, both of which take a full day, if birders want to save on costs).

Overnight: Nossob Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Day 10: Green Kalahari

We leave the national park and look for more endemic birds just north of Upington back in the “Green Kalahari” – the oasis formed by the Orange River as it flows through the desert.Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, sandgrouse species and all the others await us.

Overnight: Kalahari Guest House

Day 11: Kimberley

We will drive to Kimberley, searching for Orange River Francolin and other specials en route to Kimberley, famed as the world’s greatest diamond city. The Kimberley area will give us the opportunity of seeing recently described pipits and some other species not found earlier on this tour. Kimberley is where three biomes meet – Grassland, Karoo and Kalahari – so it has elements from all three. We also have an excellent chance of seeing AARDVARK and other elusive mammals here.

Overnight: Marrick Guest Farm

Day 12: Kimberley

A full day of birding Kimberley. A visit to the “Big Hole” and diamond museum can also be arranged.

Overnight: Marrick Guest Farm

Day 13: Departure

Fy to Cape Town or Johannesburg after final birding in the Kimberley area – then fly home.

 

Prices

Price includes: daily full breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, cool-drinks, bottled water, accommodation, entrance fees, guiding fees, and all transport while on tour in South Africa.

Not included: Air ticket to South Africa, personal insurance, alcoholic beverages, tips, laundry and personal expenses such as gifts.

NB All Anytime Tour itineraries are essentially drafts – the final itinerary will be arrived at during discussions with the clients and tailored to the client’s individual needs and is, of course, subject to the availability of accommodation etc. and any changes in local conditions. Our aim is to arrive at an itinerary which gives you the maximum chance to see the birds [& etc.] you want to see.

 

October 2013

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