Spring Flowers from the Cape to the Kalahari    *alt*

17 days, from £5245
Wildlife Worldwide
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Description

On this safari we travel through many different vegetation habitats which in turn pay host to a multitude of birds, mammals, flowers, reptiles & insects.

Starting our adventure in the spectacular Cape, we journey to the spring flowers of Namaqualand before driving north to Augrabies Falls National Park and culminating our adventure in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Dramatic mountain scenery, lunar landscapes, fynbos, waterfalls, quiver tree forests, botanical gardens and the rugged coastline of the Cape peninsula all play host to an equally diverse array of wildlife and flora. With fabulous mammal sightings, Namaqualand in full bloom, magnificent birdlife, spectacular views of southern-right whales, penguins, and ancient San rock paintings, this has to be one of the most diverse African tours on offer.

Itinerary


 Day 1: Depart UK

Depart the UK on an overnight flight via Cape Town.


 Day 2: Arrive Cape Town, transfer to Cape Peninsula

On arrival in Cape Town, we meet our guide at the airport and transfer to our hotel.

After lunch we make our way to Kirstenbosch National Botanical gardens, surely one of the finest botanical gardens in the world. Situated on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, the gardens cover 560 hectares of land, with several walks offering birdwatchers a variety of habitats.

Accommodation: Cape Peninsula, 3-nights


 Day 3: Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve

Today we spend a full day in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Our day here will be spent observing the rich diversity of flora and fauna in the Cape Floral Kingdom and exploring the birding and botanical walks on offer within the reserve. We will also have the opportunity to visit the penguin colony at Boulder Beach.


 Day 4: Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens & Hermanus

This morning we follow the spectacular coastline from the Cape Peninsula via False Bay and on to Betty's Bay to visit the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens. Here we take a short walk through the gardens looking out for some of the 96 recorded bird species.

Once in Hermanus, we have lunch and then walk along the coast watching the whales and sea birds from the cliff tops. (Whale watching is the most rewarding during the months of August & September).

After visiting the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with its wealth of indigenous flora, we then return to Cape Town via Sir Lowry's Pass and the scenic Hottentots Holland Mountains where we look out for Cape rockjumpers and Verraux's eagles.


 Day 5: Rondevlei Bird Reserve; drive to Clanwilliam via flower reserves at Darling

After breakfast we visit Rondevlei Bird Reserve, a naturally occurring wetland, rich in bird diversity. Birdwatching is from five hides, two observation towers and a series of paths. Water birds are well represented here with a few specials including the purple swamphen, black crake and the little bittern.

We then leave the Cape Peninsula as we continue our adventure to the Kalahari. Today we drive to Clanwilliam, stopping at Darling to view the spring flower reserves. These flowers grow on granite derived soils, which makes most of them endemic to the area.

Accommodation: Clanwilliam Lodge, 2-nights on full board basis.


 Day 6: Cederberg Mountains

Today we explore the Cederberg Mountains which were once the hunting ground of the San people (Bushmen). Although the San no longer live in the area, they recorded their exploits in the form of remarkable rock paintings. We can visit these paintings whilst on a walk through the dramatic red sandstone rock formations that characterise the Cederberg Mountains.


 Days 7-8 : Namaqua National Park

Today we leave Clanwilliam with its backdrop of the Cederberg Mountains and continue our journey to Namaqua National Park. During our drive we will stop to observe the beauty of the spring flowers whilst on the lookout for birdlife including cinnamon-breasted warbler, Cape long-billed lark, Karoo lark and Cape bulbul. The Namaqua National Park has a number of mammal species, including bat-eared fox, klipspringer, Cape fox and African wild cat, which can be seen in amongst the spring flowers.

Our time in the park the following day is very much dictated by where the best of the Namaqualand spring flowers are in bloom when we visit.

Accommodation: Namaqua National Park, 2-nights


 Day 9: Drive to Springbok & Goegap Nature Reserve

We leave Namaqua National Park this morning to begin our drive to Springbok with the opportunity for more stops en route to view the spring flowers and birding.

In the afternoon we visit Goegap Nature Reserve, which features many of Namaqualand's natural riches in 15,000 hectares of granitic, rocky hills and sandy flats that support close on 600 indigenous flower species, 45 mammal species including springbok, gemsbok, and the Hartmann's mountain zebra. A total of 94 bird species have been recorded in the reserve, which include the black-headed canary, red lark and sickle-winged chat.

Accommodation: Springbok, 1-night


 Days 10-11 : Augrabies Falls National Park

We return this morning to Goegap Nature Reserve before continuing to Augrabies Falls National Park, where the mighty Orange River drops into a deep and spectacular 56 metre gorge, and will be our base for the next two nights.

During our time in the national park we will explore various spots to see what is flying or flowering as we drive through the arid vegetation. Augrabies Falls National Park has many species of bird that range from the pygmy falcon, rosy-faced lovebird, cinnamon-breasted warbler and many chats and larks to the magnificent Verreaux's eagle, martial eagle and Ludwig's bustard. There are also many mammal species that can be seen on the numerous walks and trails within the park.

The following day we explore a few of the trails looking out for plants, mammals and birds within the strikingly beautiful lunar landscape of the park. Accommodation: Augrabies Falls chalet, 2-nights


 Day 12: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Today we head to our final area on our safari from the Cape to the Kalahari by driving north to Mata Mata Camp in the south-west of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The park is one of the last true wilderness reserves in the world and many mammal species can be seen in the park: Kalahari lion, African wild cat, leopard, cheetah, caracal, meerkat, jackal, hyena and many antelope species. The first birds to be noticed will most probably be the sociable weavers and their huge nests.

Time permitting, this evening we will enjoy a walk through the dunes or relax with a 'sundowner' in front of the waterhole.

Accommodation: Mata Mata Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1-night


 Day 13: Drive north to Nossop Camp

We continue our exploration of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park by driving north to our second camp in the park. We will take the long dune road through the rolling dunes which separate the Nossob River from the Auob River. Stopping at the various waterholes en route, we will be on the lookout for any birds, mammals and reptiles we have not yet seen during our time in South Africa.

This furthest reaches of the park is seldom visited and has a reputation for excellent lion, leopard and cheetah sightings. The Nossop camp has a lovely bird hide overlooking a waterhole as well as a few resident owls.

This evening we will enjoy a night drive to see if we can spot some of the nocturnal mammals of the park such as aardvark, brown hyena, porcupine, pangolin, African wild cat, aardwolf and of course lion and leopard.

Accommodation: Nossop Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1-night


 Days 14-15 : Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

From Nossop Camp we travel back south again through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on a full day vehicle safari through the park. Once at our camp, we hope to see bird species including pygmy falcon, crimson-breasted shrike, red-headed finch, fork-tailed drongo and the marico flycatcher. On our full day at the southern end of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, we will start our day at sunrise with a two hour birdwatching safari before having breakfast and continuing with another longer drive. We escape the midday sun with some relaxation at our camp before heading back out mid-afternoon for a wildlife vehicle safari.

Accommodation: Twee Rivieren Rest Camp, 2-nights


 Day 16: Transfer to Upington; fly to the UK

Before we transfer to Upington for the start of our journey back home, we have a final opportunity for an early morning birding excursion in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. We then drive to Upington for a domestic flight to Cape Town connecting on to our overnight flight back to the UK.


 Day 17: Arrive UK