From the flora, fauna and stunning scenery of the Cape, to flower rich Namaqualand, visit this astoundingly beautiful and varied land when flowers, birds and mammals are spectacular and whales dramatically display close inshore.
This two week Kalahari to the Cape safari travels through a swathe of different habitats. Dramatic mountain scenery, lunar landscapes, fynbos, waterfalls, Quiver tree forests, botanical gardens and the rugged coastline of the Cape peninsula all playing 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.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight via Cape Town.
Arrive Cape Town, transfer to Cape Peninsula.
On arrival in Cape Town, we meet our guide at the airport and transfer to our hotel.
In the early afternoon we head out to Cape Peninsula, part of Table Mountain National Park, with our first stop the African penguin colony at Simon’s Town. We then spend a leisurely afternoon experiencing the rugged beauty of the Peninsula with its spectacular coastline and diverse fauna and flora. We then drive back to Cape Town in the late afternoon.
Accommodation: Cape Peninsula, 1-night
Fly to Upington, transfer to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
This morning we have an early start and transfer to the airport to catch a domestic flight to Upington, from where we transfer by road to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, one of the last true wilderness reserves in the world. Many mammal species can be seen in the park – Kalahari lion, African wild cat, leopard, cheetah, caracal, meerkat, jackal, hyena and many antalope species. The first birds to be noticed will most probably be the sociable weavers and their huge nests. Pygmy falcon, crimson-breasted shrike, red-headed finch, fork-tailed drongo and the marico flycatcher are a few of the more noticeable birds within the camp.
Accommodation: Twee Rivieren Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 2-nights
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Whilst in the park, we usually start the day with the birds at sunrise, for a two hour local drive, followed by breakfast and then another longer drive before retiring to the camp to escape the midday sun! At about 3 in the afternoon we will go out on an afternoon game drive.
Drive north to Nossop Camp
We will drive further north today exploring the furthest reaches of the Park. This area is seldom visited and has a reputation for excellent lion, leopard and cheetah sightings.The Nossop camp has a lovely bird hide overlooking a water hole as well as a few resident owls.
We will go on an evening night drive to see if we can spot some of the nocturnal mammals of the Park – like the aardvark, brown hyena, porcupine, pangolin, African wild cat, aardwolf and of course lion and leopard.
Accommodation: Nossop Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1-night
Drive south to Mata Mata Camp
Today we will be heading south to Mata Mata Camp. We will take the long dune road through the rolling dunes, which separate the Nossob River from the Auob River. We will be stopping at the various water holes en route, looking out for any birds, mammals and reptiles that we may have missed. An evening walk in the dunes or a ‘sundowner’ in front of the waterhole....
Accommodation: Mata Mata Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, 1-night
Augrabies Falls National Park
We explore various spots to see what is flying or flowering as we drive through the arid vegetation to Augrabies Falls National Park, where the mighty Orange River drops into a deep and spectacular 56 metre gorge. The 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 follownig day we explore a few of the trails looking out for plants, mammals and birds within the strikingly beautiful lunar landscape of the Park. Birdwatching can be very rewarding from the restaurant deck as the birds are attracted by the possibility of a few restaurant titbits. Beer in one hand binoculars in the other... this could be many birdwatchers idea of paradise!
Accommodation: Augrabies Falls chalet, 2-nights
Drive to Springbok
After lunch we visit the 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. 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
Namaqua National Park
Today we drive to Namaqua National Park via the mountains above Kamieskroon. In between the flower stops, we will be looking out for 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.
Accommodation: Namaqua National Park, 3-nights
Namaqua National Park
The route that we take over the next couple of days is very much dictated by where the best Namaqualand spring flowers are at the time.
Drive to Clanwilliam via Cederberg Mountains
If the dirt road is in a good condition, we will take the back roads to Clanwilliam, stopping en route for a walk. The Cederberg Mountains 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.
Accommodation: Clanwilliam Lodge
Darling Reserve & Cape Peninsula
Our first stop this morning be the spring flower reserves at Darling. These flowers grow on granite derived soils, which makes most of them endemic to the area. We enjoy lunch at Rondevlei Bird Reserve, one of Cape Town’s premier bird reserves.
Accommodation: Cape Peninsula, 2-nights
Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens & Hermanus
We follow the spectacular coastline out of False Bay to the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, where 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 August & September).
After visiting the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with it's wealth of indigenous flora, we then return to Cape Town via Sir Lowry's Pass and the scenic Hottentots Holland Mountains where we lookout for Cape rockjumpers and Verraux’s eagles.
Rondevlei Bird Reserve, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, then depart Cape Town
After breakfast we return to 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 African purple swamphen, black crake and the little bittern.
After an early picnic lunch in the reserve, 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.
In the afternoon we leave Kirstenbosch for the airport and our flight back to the UK.
You should note: Tour leader Bruce Terlien will accompany the group at the start of the tour in Cape Town only, and Geoff Crane will join us from Upington