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Birding in South Africa Tour: Western Cape Highlights - 10 Days

Birding in South Africa Tour: Western Cape Highlights
34400

Birding in South Africa Tour: Western Cape Highlights

The Western Cape is a truly remarkable piece of land. Hemmed in by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west and an intricate system of Fold Mountains on the inland side, it is possibly as un-African it gets without leaving the continent. Experience it for yourself on this Western Cape Birding Safari!

The winter rainfall regime, strong summer winds and unique topography have contributed to a high degree of endemism and a singularly unique floral kingdom, described originally by the Dutch settlers as Fynbos, or ‘Fine Bush’. This floral uniqueness also results in a unique bird component and the Western Cape is the place for the endemics-seeker when Birding South Africa. Throw in breathtaking scenery, warm and welcoming people, a long and interesting history and superb tourism infrastructure and the result is an unforgettable birding, wildlife and cultural experience. Our Western Cape Birding tour itinerary has been honed over the years to include the top birding spots while keeping travel and car-time to a minimum.

Two nights per stop ensures an unhurried pace and lots of time to seek out the specials and endemics. Southern Right Whales are virtually guaranteed between September and November, while the onset of spring is the beginning of the famous Cape flower season. Indeed, once you’ve experienced it, you’ll understand just why it has long been dubbed as the fairest Cape of them all.

Top 5 highlights:

  • Birding on the Cape Peninsula, one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
  • Search for the cracking Fynbos endemics such as Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird.
  • Visit the Agulhas Plain on a day trip, looking for a host of endemic species.
  • Explore the arid Tankwa Karoo on a day trip, again looking for endemics, near endemics and other specials.
  • Get to grips with waders on the West Coast.
Alternative Tour Name: Western Cape Highlights: Birding the tip of Africa
Day 1
Day 1 - The Cape Peninsula

Arrive at Cape Town International and head straight to the famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, located on the slopes of Table Mountain and commanding spectacular views over the Cape Flats and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains in the distance. Here we will search for birds such as Cape Sugarbird, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Thrush, Swee Waxbill, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Black Sparrowhawk, Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Forest Canary and others before heading on to a charming guest house in Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula, where we spend the next two nights.

Day 2
Days 2 & 3 - The Cape Peninsula

The Peninsula is ours to explore over the next day and a half. Highlights include the African Penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach, Cape Point Nature Reserve and the south-western most tip of Africa, Kommetjie and the Strandfontein Water Treatment Works. The Cape has notoriously fickle weather and we will plan each day’s activities according to the weather at the time. There’s a range of birds to be seen, including Jackal Buzzard, Cape Siskin, Ostrich, Cape Robin-Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Bulbul, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Greater Flamingo and marine species such as African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Gannett, Cape, Bank, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorants, and perhaps even White-chinned Petrel or Sooty Shearwater offshore. Mammals to be seen on the Peninsula include Chacma Baboon, Cape Mountain Zebra, Eland and Bontebok. For those wanting to do a pelagic birding trip we’ll have two days available.

Day 3
Days 4 & 5 - Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain

After an optional morning activity we’ll drive around the edge of False Bay and on to Rooi Els via one of the area’s most scenic drives to look for Cape Rockjumper near Hangklip on the eastern point. On a fine day the views are spectacular, with the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks below us on one side and the Kogelberg Range rising high above us on the other side. Then we’ll head inland and drive on to Swellendam, the third oldest town in the country. This gives us access to Bontebok National Park and De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Agulhas Plain, where we’ll look for species such as Agulhas Long-billed and Agulhas Clapper Larks, Southern Tchagra, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Korhaan, Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Black Harrier and others. Mammals to be seen include Bontebok, Eland, Grey Rhebuck and Yellow Mongoose, while Southern Right Whales are common off-shore between August and November. We’ll spend our time birding and exploring in the area, scheduling Bontebok National Park for the afternoon of arrival, De Hoop for our full day and the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve for the morning of departure, if time allows.

Day 4
Days 6 & 7 - Ceres and the Tankwa Karoo

After breakfast and a possible visit to Grootvadersbosch, we’ll head some distance north-west to Ceres, an agricultural town in the fertile Ceres Valley. On our full day here we depart early on an excursion into the desolate Tankwa Karoo, which will take up most of the day. This desolate region of sand, gravel plains and rocky outcrops holds a surprising number of endemic birds and we’ll be on the lookout for species such as Verreaux’s Eagle, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Black-headed Canary, Karoo Eremomela, Karoo Korhaan, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher and the highly sought-after Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. This trip will take up most of the day, and we’ll take packed meals and drinks with us. We’ll return in the late afternoon for some time to rest before dinner.

Day 5
Days 8 - 9: Langebaan and the West Coast

In the morning, after a quick trip up the Gydo Pass to search for Protea Seedeater, we’ll drive to Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast, where we stay at a guest house in the town. Langebaan is adjacent to the West Coast National Park, which encompasses the shallow, azure-hued Langebaan Lagoon. On our full day we will spend our time exploring the lagoon, renowned for migrating waders, and the West Coast National Park, which provides some good Strandveld birding. Birding highlights here include Ostrich, Grey-winged Francolin, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Clapper and Cape Long-billed Larks, Karoo Robin, Cape Penduline-Tit and a host of wader species. During the August and September flower season this area is particularly attractive. Mammals to be seen include Bat-eared Fox, Small Grey Mongoose, Cape Grysbok, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Cape Mountain Zebra. On our full day we'll spend time exploring the park and other birding spots in the surrounding area.

Day 6
Day 10 - Departure

After a full morning activity we depart for Cape Town and the airport, some two hours drive away, with stops to view Table Mountain on the way if time permits.

These are some of the target species for this tour: African Penguin, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Bank Cormorant, Cape Gannet, Blue Crane, Karoo Korhaan, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Eremomela, Black Harrier, Bokmakierie, Verreauxs’ Eagle, Victorin’s Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Cape Vulture, Grey-winged Francolin, Cape Long-billed Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Protea Canary, Namaqua Warbler, Black-eared Sparrowlark, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, Crowned Cormorant, Cape Gannet, Spotted Eagle Owl, Forest Canary, Swee Waxbill, Cape Bulbul, Cape Weaver, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck, Bokmakierie, Denham’s Bustard, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Spurfowl, African Oystercatcher, Double-banded Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Burchell’s Coucal, Acacia Pied Barbet, Knysna Woodpecker, Ground Woodpecker  and many others. There’s also some great wildlife to be seen, including the endemic Bontebok, Eland, Cape Grysbok, Southern Right Whale, Chacma Baboon etc.

What is included?

What is not included?

  • Travel and medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
  • All airfares unless otherwise indicated
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Visa fees (if applicable)
  • Lunches
  • All drinks
  • Optional excursions where applicable
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature (incl. laundry and telephone charges)

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Why book with Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris?

In 2020 we are celebrating our 30th year of running birding and wildlife safaris in Africa. So we have plenty of experience in the game, and pride ourselves in creating incredible wildlife holiday experiences for our clients from across the globe. We offer quality wildlife experiences through set-departure and custom safaris, guided by fun and experienced birding and wildlife guides. Like our motto says, "you'll want to return to Africa with us time and time again!" See more on our website.

How does the payment process work?

A deposit will secure your place on the tour, with full payment due 8 weeks before the tour starts. Terms and Conditions apply, we'll give you all the info during the inquiry process.

Is this tour for me?

This tour is primarily a birding tour, so it's suited to any level of birder, be you a beginner or more advanced birder. Wildlife, and mammals in particular, is a secondary focus and the Kruger Park in particular will deliver a rewarding mammal experience - mammal enthusiasts can rest assured that we won't bypass anything of interest just because it isn't a bird. If you aren't a birder then perhaps some of our other wildlife-focused tours will be a better bet, speak to one of our consultants for advice.

What does a tyical day on the tour involve?

On our Cape tours we usually have an early breakfast and then head out for a large part of the day, returning to our accommodations in the afternoon, though it does vary according to the exact tour and daily itinerary. Whatever the exact program we try to keep the pace manageable, after all it is supposed to be a holiday. *Some tours, such as our Endemics tours, are fast-paced overall.

Is the tour suitabe for children?

There generally aren't any age limits on the tours, so children are welcome. However, given the nature of the tours (long periods spent in vehicles looking for birds / animals, and not always finding our target species, despite the effort put in), our set-departures probably aren't suitable for children. For families we'd rather recommend a custom-safari, where you can dictate the pace and level of interest, and include more child-friendly accommodation venues. Speak to one of our consultants for advice.

Credit cards or cash?

In general credit cards are widely accepted in South Africa and across much of Southern Africa, though Diner's Club is the exception (Visa and Master are better options). It is a good idea to have some South African Rands (ZAR) on hand for smaller purchases or times when card machines may not be working. Note that South Africa and Namibia do not accept US Dollars cash, but US Dollars can be used in most of the rest of Africa.

Can we arrange pre-tours and extensions to our set-departures?

Most certainly! We usually recommend coming in a day early to acclimatize and reduce the risk of missing out a day or two due to flight delays or other travel problems, and we are happy to arrange this accommodation for you. And if you would like to extend your time in the country, our consultants are happy to help with suggestions and bookings.

What should I pack?

We send out more detailed packing lists as part of every safari info pack, but basically you'll need comfortable clothing, preferably in neutral colors. In general clothes dry quite quickly for self-washing, and most private places have laundry services, so it's not necessary to over pack. In order to avoid having to tow trailers etc we ask participants to keep their luggage down to one main bag and one day / carry-on bag plus photo / optics gear. We do recommend some warm gear for all safaris, just in case of cooler weather coming through, and especially for safaris entailing open-vehicle drives. Even at 20 degrees Celsius it can start getting a little chilly on a moving vehicle when you are exposed to the wind. Hats and sunglasses are essential. A torch / flashlight is also essential, and we strongly recommend socks and closed shoes after dark. Adapters - make sure you have the right adapters to be able to charge your devices. The 'universal' adapter does not work in South Africa!

What level of fitness is required?

Unless otherwise stated, our set-departures do not require any advanced degree of fitness, as most of the activities are vehicle-based. However, on tours with open-sided safari vehicles, getting into the vehicle does require a some climbing ability - if you have difficulty climbing up a step or two let us know in advance so we can make arrangements such as including steps to help you get up or making sure the passenger seat is available. Where there is any walking involved this is normally an optional activity so you are welcome to sit it out.

Can we cater for special dietary requirements?

In general yes - when using restaurants you are able to order whatever item on the menu suits you. When using lodges doing their own catering then advanced warning will usually enable them to cater for your needs. Please indicate any special needs to us well in advance. Note that the food is very good in general on our trips so you don't need to indicate that you are vegetarian just because you are worried about what meat may be served - for the most part it's beef, pork, lamb and chicken, though game meat may be available as an option. Speak to our consultants if you have any specific questions.

What are the expected weather conditions?

The Cape’s weather is notoriously variable and while November is out of the traditional winter rainy season, some rain can be expected, while fine and warm conditions are also expected.

What's the tour tempo like?

Medium to medium-plus, optional mid-day breaks on non-travelling days.

What's the birding and mammal viewing like?

Birding in brief: excellent variety, forest, marine, coastal, Karoo and mountain habitats covered. Mammal viewing: Southern Right Whales in season (August to December); antelope species such as the endemic Bontebok, Chacma Baboon, Rock Hyrax and other smaller species. No Big Five.

Can I add extra days and destinations to this tour?

This trip can be combined with an extension to the Kruger Park region. Contact us for more information.

What's the accommodation like?

Medium plus: B&B's and guest houses.

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
06/11/2020 - 15/11/2020 available ZAR 34,410
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05/11/2021 - 14/11/2021 guaranteed ZAR 37,350
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04/11/2022 - 13/11/2022 guaranteed ZAR 34,400
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10 Days

Price & Availability

From
ZAR34,400 / per person
This tour is operated by: Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris

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Operator Review Summary

4.99 Based on 19 reviews
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Tour Facts

  • Western Cape Province
  • Set Departure
  • Birds
  • Max of 8 pax; 4 pax per vehicle / guide.
  • No age restrictions but perhaps not suited to young children
  • Moderate
  • Cape Town International
  • Cape Town International
  • English