Trip report: South Africa, Cape to Kruger (Jan 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse.

This January set departure tour, while keeping the same itinerary as the September/October one differed in several ways. Although some of the Cape endemics were a little more difficult to find, this was more than made up for by the amazing spectacle of large numbers of late summer migrants from Europe, like Southern Carmine Bee-eaters and European Rollers. Other late breeders like the spectacular whydahs and widowbirds were in full breeding plumage at this time. The Karoo and Kruger were well into the rainy season and many places which were dry and birdless 3 months earlier were alive with activity and seemed to have a bird singing from the top of every bush. In fact there were so many birds it was difficult to make any headway.

Some highlights of our trip included: watching albatrosses and other seabirds at close range on the pelagic, coming face to face with the adorable African Penguins at Simon’s Town, finding Cape Rockjumper at Sir Lowry’s Pass, crossing the spectacular Swartberg Pass and finding many rarities on the way, looking at the awesome scenery of the Karoo from our chalet balconies, picking up mega-rare birds around the birding mecca of Wakkerstroom and getting to know Kruger with its seemingly endless supply of new birds and its impressive large mammals. It was a trip none of us would forget in a hurry.
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