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Birding & Wildlife Kruger Park Safari, South Africa - 11 Days

Birding & Wildlife Kruger Park Safari, South Africa
34466.5

Incredible Birding & Wildlife Kruger Park Safari

This Kruger Park Safari is a new offering from Lawson’s! The Kruger National Park is a place like no other. Not only is it among the biggest of African parks at around 20 000 square kilometers, but it’s also ranked as one of the most diverse, with over 500 species of birds, 137 mammal species, 119 reptile species, 33 amphibians and nearly 50 fish species. Add to that good accommodation, roads and ease of travel and you have an outstanding birding and wildlife destination, as anyone who’s done a Kruger Park Tour will attest to!

This new offering from Lawson’s aims to give participants a riveting but relaxing Kruger Park safari experience, with most of the time devoted to two of the prime game viewing areas around Satara and Lower Sabie. To get there and see a bit more of the park we start off at Phalaborwa, gateway town to the central Kruger, with the first two nights at Letaba Rest Camp, overlooking the lazy Letaba River. From there we head south to Satara for four nights. We’ll spend time exploring the surrounding area, with just the right mix of exciting birding, game viewing and photography tempered by time spent relaxing in camp. After Satara we have another four nights at Lower Sabie, situated on the Sabie River in the south-eastern corner and offering some of the most consistent game viewing in the whole park, before we end off the safari at Skukuza Airport.

This 10-night / 11 day Kruger Park safari itinerary is designed as a slower-paced experience, with a focus on wildlife viewing and bird / animal photography. With more time spent at camps there’s less packing and moving, giving participants time to enjoy the camps themselves and what the different areas have to offer. Furthermore, on full days spent in camp the safari excursions are optional – participants are welcome to skip drives as they prefer (but that always comes with the risk of missing out!). All in all this will add up to a Kruger National Park safari experience that’s exciting but at the same time relaxing! Participants can also opt for extensions, perhaps spending more time in the park, adding on a private lodge experience or visiting another part of the country for some more birding and wildlife viewing.

Top 5 Highlights:

  • Go on open-sided safaris in the Kruger National Park.
  • Explore three different parts of the Kruger, searching for Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Wild Dog and many other species.
  • Spend 4 nights each at Satara and Lower Sabie, allowing ample time to explore the surrounding areas.
  • Spend time watching animals, observing their behaviour and taking photographs.
  • Enjoy down time in the camps, catching up on rest, downloading photographs or photographing birds in the camp grounds.

Tour in Brief:

  • Group size: maximum of 4 participants.
  • Areas Visited: Kruger National Park.
  • Expected weather conditions: Generally mild to warm and dry, but early morning drives in open vehicles can be cold, so adequate clothing such as a thick fleece and windbreaker are recommended.
  • Tour tempo: slow to medium, with down time in camp and drives being optional (on days we don’t move from camp to camp).
  • Accommodation standards: medium: national park chalets.
  • Mammal viewing: Excellent, including chances for the Big Five (Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard) as well as Wild Dog and Cheetah; chances for smaller carnivores such as Honey Badger, African Wild Cat, various Mongoose species etc, plus a range of antelope, Giraffe, Hippo, Zebra etc.
  • Birding: great birding opportunities, highlights include a range or Raptors, Bustards, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Shrikes, Starlings, Owls, Sunbirds ect.
  • Other wildlife and attractions: classic Kruger Park scenery and general natural history.
  • Add-ons: this tour can be combined with additional time in the Kruger, a private lodge add on or a visit to other parts of the country (one can include the Eastern Escarpment in a road journey to Phalaborwa or back to Johannesburg instead of flying out of Skukuza.
Alternative Tour Name: Incredible Kruger an 11-day Birding & Wildlife Safari
Day 1
Days 1 - 2: Letaba Rest Camp

To start off your Lawson's 'Incredible Kruger' safari you'll fly from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa, gateway to the central Kruger National Park. There you'll meet your guide and board the open-sided safari vehicle and begin the game viewing as we make our way through to Letaba Rest Camp. Letaba is situated on the southern bank of the Letaba River, with wonderful views of the floodplain from the camp restaurant (a great place from which to spot birds and animals with a cold drink at hand!). Letaba is situated in the middle of the park, equidistant from the northern and southern boundaries, within the vast Mopani Belt (a huge area dominated by the Mopane tree, Colophospermum mopane), and thus the more interesting routes follow the Letaba River and some of its main tributaries, where the vegetation is more diverse and the water a magnet for wildlife in the dry season. The Letaba River itself originates in the far northern Drakensberg escarpment, and joins the Olifants River east of Olifants Rest Camp before flowing into Mozambique, where it is known as the Rio Dos Elefantes. It is one of the Kruger’s few permanent rivers, though flow can become drastically reduced in the dry season. Of interest in the camp is the Elephant Museum, the main feature of which is the original tusks and life histories of a group of bulls known as the Magnificent Seven. This is well worth a look! While in the area we’ll hope for some sightings of current big tuskers, as well as a wide range of general game, and a Lion sighting or two as a bonus for effort put in! Birds to seen include Martial Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Lilac-breasted and Purple Rollers, Double-banded Sand Grouse, White-fronted Bee-eater and many more.

Day 2
Days 3 - 6: Satara Rest Camp

Today we'll leave camp as the gates open and make our way southwards to Olifants Rest Camp for breakfast (the restaurant offering some of the best views in the park!), and from there we'll meander down to our next port-of-call, which is Satara Rest Camp, one of the top-rated camps for predator viewing. The area here is characterised by open plains dotted with large trees such as Knob-thorn, Marula and Leadwood, creating some classic African savanna scenery, while stands of Lala Palms grow on the alluvial soils and ribbons of riverine thicket line the dry river beds. There are no large rivers in the area but smaller creeks such as the Nwanetsi and Mavumbye usually hold water in standing pools even through the driest of seasons, attracting all manner of game species. The underlying basalt soils encourage good grass growth which favours the bulk grazers such as Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, African Buffalo and Common Waterbuck. These in turn support a healthy predator population, with numerous Lion prides and Spotted Hyena clans forming the top of the hierarchy while Leopard and Cheetah and Wild Dog feed on the smaller prey species such as Impala, Warthog and Steenbuck. As with the other regions of the park Elephants are common here. Large herds of Buffalo can be encountered in the area as well, some of them numbering well over 500 individuals. Once again we stay in comfortable thatch chalets with en-suite bathrooms, and will spend time out in the reserve game viewing and time in camp just relaxing and enjoying life! Four nights will give us ample time to explore the area and we're bound to have some incredible sightings and experiences in the vast basalt plains surrounding the camp.

Day 3
Days 7 - 10: Lower Sabie Rest Camp

Today we'll probably pack up and depart camp as the gates open, making our way southwards through some very productive country to Tshokwane Picnic Site for breakfast. From there we'll push on to Lower Sabie Rest Camp, a wonderful camp situated on the southern bank of the Sabie River in the south-eastern corner of the park. The river is the life-blood of the area, especially during the dry season, when animals tend to congregate around water. In addition to the riverine habitat, the basalt plains extend in a long finger from Satara down to Lower Sabie, adding to the mix of habitats. The water in the river and the mix of habitats is the reason that the Lower Sabie region boasts some of the most consistent game viewing in the whole of the park. During the day time can be spent on the large wooden deck outside the restaurant overlooking a weir in the river which holds numerous pods of Hippopotamus as well as large Nile Crocodiles and water birds such as Yellow-billed Storks, Egyptian Geese, Pied and Giant Kingfishers, Water Thick-knees and many others. Just outside the camp gates is a well-known waterhole called Sunset Dam, which also provides a haven for Hippopotami, Nile Crocodiles and water-associated birds, and this is a great place to set up for an extended photography session. Four nights in the area will give us ample time to explore the area, and we’ll have our hands full with all the routes available to us to make for some incredible game viewing and photography.

Day 4
Day 11: Departure

Today we'll have a chance for a last morning drive before breakfast and departure, but the game viewing will continue all the way to the airport at Skukuza, where the trip will come to an end.

Species to see on this 11-day Kruger safari include:

Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, Honey Badger, Black-backed Jackal, Side-striped Jackal, African Wild Cat, Elephant, Buffalo, White Rhino, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Greater Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck, Common Warthog, Slender Mongoose, Banded Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose, White-tailed Mongoose, Smith’s Bush Squirrel, Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Common Duiker, Steenbok, Nile Crocodile, Common Waterbuck, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey, African Civet, Large-spotted Genet, Small-spotted Genet, Klipspringer, Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, African Fish Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Secretarybird, Lappet-faced Vulture, Cape Vuture, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Kori Bustard, Lilac-breasted Roller, Purple Roller, White-fronted Bee-eater, Little Bee-eater, Southern Ground Hornbill, Southern Red-billed Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Green Wood-hoopoe, African Hoopoe, Burchell’s Starling, Magpie Shrike, Grey Go-Away Bird, Black-headed Oriole and many others.

What is included?

  • All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
  • Single occupancy available at extra cost (single supplement)
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the trip/tour/safari
  • Lawson's insulated water bottle (clients to purchase own water or use tap water)
  • An International Wild Card that covers the entrance fees to Kruger National Park
  • Personalised bird / mammal checklists and itinerary
  • Specialist guide fees (professional English-speaking birding and wildlife guide)

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?

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 pretty evenly balanced between birds and mammals. It is not an intense birding tour, so we won't be going after big lists, or looking for small brown birds, but will rather be concentrating on the bigger, more colourful and flamboyant species. We will spend time observing and photographing birds, in between doing the same for the mammals, with predator encounters as the highlights of the safari. So if you have a general interest in nature, like to see more than just the 'Big Five', enjoy photographing anything of interest, and want a holistic safari experience, then YES, this tour is for you!

What does a tyical day on the tour involve?

On days we aren't moving location or camp, we usually meet up for a cup of tea / coffee before heading out on a long morning activity, returning for late breakfast / brunch. Then we may have a bit of down time before an afternoon activity, returning in time to freshen up before dinner. There are exceptions - on some days we may head out on longer trips, taking packed meals with us and only returning after lunch; or we may have an early breakfast before departure for the next destination. 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.

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour DatesTour AvailabilityFrom PriceSpaces Left
07/07/2021 - 17/07/2021guaranteed ZAR 34,466
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06/07/2022 - 16/07/2022guaranteed ZAR 34,466
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11 Days

Price & Availability

From
ZAR34,466 / per person
Based on twin/double room
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
This tour is operated by: Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris

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Tour Facts

  • Kruger National Park, South Africa
  • Set Departure
  • Birds
  • Set Departure Tour
  • 11 days
  • 1 - 4 pax
  • No specific age requirement but not suitable for young children.
  • English
  • Phalaborwa / Hendrick Van Eck Airport
  • Skukuza Airport