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Holidays to Cape Town Tours Safaris in South Africa Stellenbosch Hermanus

Birding Holiday, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: St Lucia + Mkuze + Zimanga Hides

South Africa Birding: KwaZulu Natal + Cape Town
SPW14D
14 NIGHTS
FROM £4,995
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Birding Holiday KwaZulu Natal South Africa St Lucia Mkuze Zimanga Hides

This birding holiday combines lush KwaZulu Natal, South Africa with the beautiful city of Cape Town. Travelling with your own birding driver/guide, visit the iSimangaliso St Lucia Wetlands, Mkuze, Cape Vidal & Hluhluwe - with option to upgrade to Zimanga photo hides. Then enjoy birding around Cape Town, all tailored to your requirements. Birding guide, transfers & game drives included.

Birding Holiday KwaZulu Natal South Africa St Lucia Mkuze Zimanga Hides
• 
Birding Holiday
• 
KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
• 
St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetlands
• 
Cape Vidal
• 
Mkuze Bird Sanctuary
• 
Hluhluwe Game Reserve
• 
Zimanga Hides option
• 
Cape Town
• 
Cape of Good Hope
• 
Pelagic Birds
• 
Birding Holiday
• 
KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
• 
St Lucia iSimangaliso Wetlands
• 
Cape Vidal
• 
Mkuze Bird Sanctuary
• 
Hluhluwe Game Reserve
• 
Zimanga Hides option
• 
Cape Town
• 
Cape of Good Hope
• 
Pelagic Birds
Day 1
You will be met at Durban Airport by your birding guide and transferred to the warm North Coast, renowned for its wonderful beaches and warm holiday weather.
  
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the warm Indian Ocean.
Day 2
Today we drive 3-hours from the Durban North Coast to the small town of St Lucia situated on the Zululand coast.
 
Along the way we stop at Dlinza Forest, a beautiful coastal scarp forest that covers over 250 hectares. It has an excellent aerial boardwalk and is one of southern Africa's prime forest birding spots, best known for providing the opportunity to see the elusive Spotted ground thrush, scratching for earthworms on the forest floor. The viewing tower gives a unique glimpse into the leafy canopy and the orchids and other plants growing high above the forest floor.
 
Dlinza Forest is home to the Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Green malkoha, Olive woodpecker and Green twinspot, for which a hide has been erected. Other species include the African crowned eagle, Narina trogon, Trumpeter hornbill, Crowned hornbill, Chorister robin-chat, Terrestrial brownbul and Lemon dove. The Olive sunbird, Collared sunbird, Yellow-bellied greenbul, Cape batis, Square-tailed drongo, Dark-backed weaver and Purple-crested turaco are also common here. In the forest canopy, throughout the summer months the Delegorgue's pigeon can be heard, making its loud ascending and then descending call.
 
Afterwards we continue to St Lucia. Situated inside the Isimangaliso Wetlands, this whole area has been declared a RAMSAR Wetland of international significance because of its great biodiversity and importance as a breeding site for waterbirds. Over 520 different species have been recorded in this vast wetland that is surrounded by mangrove swamps and dense reed beds, with birds ranging from permanent residents to tropical and altitudinal migrants, regional nomads and long-distance migrants. These include a variety of storks, pelicans, flamingos, kingfishers, spoonbills, fish eagles, gulls, herons, terns, ducks and geese.
  
On arrival enjoy a boat ride on the Lake St Lucia estuary, where you may see hippo, buffalo and crocodiles as well as abundant bird life.
Day 3
Today enjoy exploring the iSimangaliso Wetlands with your birding guide, where you can see many species including the African jacana, Goliath heron, African openbill, Woolly-necked stork, Whiskered tern, Grey-headed gull, Kittlitz’s plover, African wattled lapwing and numerous kingfishers, ducks and geese.
 
Along the western shores of Lake St Lucia there is dense vegetation with frequent patches of forest that hold populations of breeding Bateleurs, African goshawks, Long-crested eagles, Lizard buzzards as well as many smaller birds such as Gorgeous bushshrikes, African paradise flycatchers, Pale flycatchers, Yellow-bellied greenbuls, Narina trogons, Red-capped robin-chats and Eastern nicators. There are usually good sightings of African pygmy kingfisher, Pied kingfisher, Malachite kingfisher, Bearded robin, Brown scrub robin, Green twinspot, Green malkoha, Grey waxbill and Red-backed mannikin. Colourful butterflies, spiders and insects are also prolific.
 
The open grasslands are dotted with raffia and wild date palms, which offer excellent opportunities to spot White fronted bee-eaters, Little bee-eaters, Yellow-fronted canaries, African stone chats, Rattling cisticolas, Crowned hornbills, African pied wagtails and Brown-crowned tchagras amongst many others.
 
Particularly sought-after species include the Pel’s fishing owl, Palm nut vulture, Southern-banded snake eagle, Pink-backed pelican, African broadbill, Neergaards sunbird, Broad-billed roller, Rosy-throated longclaw, Swamp nightjar, Rosy-throated longclaw, Black coucal and Rudd’s apalis.
 
Note: The wet summer months (November to March) are generally the best months for birding, as this is when the migrants arrive.
Day 4
Today we venture further into the Isimangaliso Wetlands and travel to the remote beaches of Cape Vidal Nature Reserve, where you will see thousands of ghost crabs scurrying around for food.
 
Birdlife is prolific with habitats ranging from grassland to swamp, sand and coastal lowland forest. There are also a variety of aquatic habitats including rivers, marshes, lagoons, estuaries and the beach. Here you can hope to see Great white pelicans, Marabou storks, Yellow-billed storks, African spoonbills and African fish eagles, whose calls can be heard along the shoreline. Sometimes after a storm, seabirds such as the Yellow-nosed albatross, Giant petrel, Tropicbird, Frigatebird, Sooty tern and Noddy tern are blown closer to shore, allowing for some wonderful close-up sightings.
 
With over a hundred miles of pristine coastline and the tallest forested dunes in Africa, these titanium-rich beaches are an important breeding ground for giant loggerhead and leatherback turtles, who nest and lay their eggs under cover of darkness from November to January, with the hatchlings emerging and running the gauntlet of ghost crabs from February to March. If you climb up one of these steep dunes, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of both the lake and the ocean.
 
Pods of dolphins are often seen in these waters and from June to November, you may be fortunate enough to see humpback whales, who migrate from Antarctica to mate and calve in these warm waters. In Cape Vidal Nature Reserve you can also hope to see rhino, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, reedbuck, porcupine and many other smaller animals.
Day 5
Today we leave St Lucia and travel 1-hour to Mkuze in northern Zululand.
 
Check into your lodge and enjoy the warm weather and vast landscapes of plains and mountains in this beautiful region that is renowned for its birdlife. In the afternoon enjoy more birding with your guide in the area around your lodge.
Day 6
Today is devoted to birding in Mkuze Game Reserve with your guide.
  
With diverse habitats ranging from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains, to broad stretches of acacia savanna, wetland, woodland, riverine forest and grassland, this bird sanctuary is home to over 420 different species, making it one of the best birding "hot spots" in Southern Africa. Fish eagles swoop over the pans to snatch prey spotted from their perches in the fever trees and the reserve is home to pinkbacked and white pelicans, and a diversity of ducks and geese which gather in the spring (September to October).
 
Patches of sand forest are the habitat of many rare species including the Neergaards sunbird, Crested guineafowl, African broadbill and Pink-throated twinspot. You may also see the Purple-crested turaco,  Grey-hooded kingfisher, Brown-hooded kingfisher, African black-headed oriole, Greater honeyguide, Blue waxbill, Emerald-spotted wood dove and Crested barbet.
 
The network of waterholes with hides can also reward patient viewers with sightings of mammals such as giraffe, kudu, nyala, blue wildebeest and impala. Other animals found in the reserve include hippo, crocodile, black and white rhino, elephant, leopard, buffalo and warthog. Rare species include cheetah, hyena and suni.
Day 7
Enjoy a full morning of birding in and around Mkuze with your guide.
 
In the afternoon transfer 1-hour to Hluhluwe Game Reserve, renowned for its outstanding wildlife. After checking into your lodge, enjoy a thrilling open top game drive with a lodge ranger. Game viewing opportunities should present themselves almost immediately and hopefully you will see several species of antelope, zebra, wildebeest and maybe even giraffe - as well as several of the Big Five before dinner.
Day 8
Today enjoy game viewing by open-top vehicle in Hluhluwe National Park.
 
One of South Africa’s most beautiful game parks, Hluhluwe is home to all the Big 5 - lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino - as well as the subcontinent’s largest population of endangered rhino, which this park saved from extinction. Hope to see many other interesting species too including giraffe, hippo, kudu, crocodile, waterbuck, warthog and baboon. With over 300 different bird species, outstanding bird watching is also guaranteed.
  
After a beautiful African sunset, enjoy the balmy evening and pristine stars of the southern hemisphere.
  
Note: children < 6 are not allowed on open top game drives.
Day 9
Transfer 4-hours to Durban Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: An extra hour of transfer time is allowed, in case wildlife slows down your progress through the park.

You will be met at Cape Town Airport and transferred to your hotel in this beautiful city, within sight of Table Mountain.
 
Check in and relax in your magnificent surroundings.
Day 10
Today is free for independent sightseeing in Cape Town.
 
To orientate yourself, we suggest you purchase a pass onboard the convenient Red Route Hop-Off Bus, which stops at all Cape Town’s key sights and attractions, including the Table Mountain cable car (discounted tickets are sold on the bus). Here you can ascend and enjoy one of the world's most famous views.
 
Continue to trendy Camps Bay beach and the many attractions of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (pay all entrance fees locally).
 
Note: Don't let the colour of the bus confuse you. All buses are red, but they run two different routes - the Red City Route and the Blue Kirstenbosch Route.
Day 11
Today you will be collected by your guide for a full day of birding along the beautiful Cape Peninsula, including a visit to the penguin colony at Boulders Beach.
 
You can hope to see the African penguin, Bank cormorant, African oystercatcher, Knysna warbler, Cape siskin, Orange-breasted sunbird, Southern double-collared sunbird, Cape sugarbird and many more colourful coastal and fynbos species (lunch for own account).
Day 12
Today there is the option (supplement payable) to rise early and transfer to a local harbour for a full day of Pelagic Birding, with 7-hours at sea.
 
At 07.00 we leave shore and head for the trawling grounds in the nutrient rich waters off Cape Town. Here you can view thousands of pelagic birds - including several species of albatross, petrel, shearwater and skua. You can also hope to see various gannets, prions, terns, fulmars & gulls.
 
Weather conditions can vary hugely, so come well prepared. Bring a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, sweater, spare clothing, beanie or hat which won't be blown off, motion tablets (if required), sunglasses & sunscreen. Also splash covers for binoculars & cameras. A light lunch is provided, but bring extra snacks and drinks if you think you will need them.
 
Note: This trip only runs on a Saturday - with Sunday as back-up in case of inclement weather, so be sure to be available on both days. Minimum of 6 pax on the day to guarantee departure.
Day 13
At leisure to relax and explore more of the beautiful city of Cape Town independently.
 
Many optional activities are available in this beautiful city. You can visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned (advance booking essential in season) and explore the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
 
You can also take the Hop Off bus (Blue Route) to visit world famous Kirstenbosch Gardens or simply relax on golden Camps Bay Beach.
Day 14
Today you will be collected by your guide for a full day of birding in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, nestled on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and regarded as one the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world.
 
Here you can hope to see many fynbos endemics such as the Cape sugarbird, Southern double-collared sunbird, Orange-breasted sunbird and Cape francolin. The sheltered forested gorges host many forest species such as the Cape batis, Forest canary, Knysna warbler and many more (lunch for own account).
Day 15
Transfer to Cape Town Airport for your flight home.