Trip report: South Africa Fairest Cape to Kruger (Sept-Oct 2015) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse.This was a set departure tour.

There many different ways to birdwatch in South Africa, and with a small group of serious birdwatchers, we had a fast pace tour and accumulated a very large number of species. With a trip list of 494 species of birds, 67 species of mammals, plus many reptiles, amphibians and butterflies, it was one of our most successful tours to date. It was especially impressive considering that this didn’t even include a pelagic (which was sadly cancelled due to weather conditions). In addition to the huge species haul, our list included most of the available endemics (including both rockjumpers and sugarbirds) plus many other seldom seen birds. As well as the obvious star birds like African Penguin and Blue Crane, we did particularly well with certain groups, with 9 species of bustard, 14 species of larks (including the very rare Rudd’s), 32 species of hawks and eagles (including Crowned Hawk-Eagle & Fasciated Snake-Eagle) and 9 species of owls (including African Grass-Owl, Cape Eagle-Owl and the Holy Grail of African birding, Pel’s Fishing Owl). Mammals feature heavily on this tour and highlights from our list included Cheetah, White & Black Rhinos, Porcupine, Meercat & Southern Rights Whales. Of course the world class reserves, stunning scenery, high-quality lodging and food plus very friendly people didn’t go unnoticed either. All in all, it was an unforgettable trip.

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