In assocciation with Kalahari Wildlife Tours

Tour 63: 13 Day South Africa Birding Tour

This tour covers 04 National Parks and 04 Reserves/conservation areas


13 Days
12 Nights

DAY 01 Pilanesberg Game Reserve
DAY 02 Pilanesberg Game Reserve
DAY 03 Wolmaransstad (Barbers Pan)
DAY 04 Mokala National Park
DAY 05 Mokala National Park
DAY 06 Witsand Nature Reserve
DAY 07 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
DAY 08 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
DAY 09 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
DAY 10 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
DAY 11 Augrabies Falls National Park
DAY 12 Augrabies Falls National Park
DAY 13 Departing


The tour covers excellent birding areas stretching over a variety of climatic zones and biomes in South Africa. This ensures a variety of bird species. The tour will be guided by Dantes Liebenberg based in Upington in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. To ensure Dantes is available as guide, bookings have to be made well in advance. Dantes has lived his entire life in the Kalahari and is guiding tours in the Kalahari & the rest of Southern Africa since 1994 and has identified more than 550 species of birds in Southern Africa. If it happens that Dantes is booked, Kalahari Tours and Travel have qualified and highly skilled and respected birding guides to conduct tours.

PRE-TOUR hotel reservations at the City Lodge OR Tambo in Johannesburg can be made on request.

DAY 01 Johannesburg – Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Time of departure will depend on clients’ travel schedule to Johannesburg. Flight schedule to be finalised. (Flight not included)

Meet in the morning at OR Tambo International or City Lodge OR Tambo in Johannesburg. Depart to Pretoria. Stop at Zambezi Shopping Mall in Montana, Pretoria for last minute emergency shopping of forgotten necessities and after hour drinks. A pharmacy, supermarket, liquor store and ATM are on the premises.

Continue to Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Pilanesberg Game Reserve is 03 hour’s drive from Johannesburg. A visit to the Park gives clients the opportunity to see bird and animal species not found in the other Parks which will be visited later on tour.

The crater of a long extinct volcano is the setting of Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature.

The vegetation ranges from open grasslands to densely wooded valleys. Due to the variety of vegetation and various dams a variety of bird species are found here. More than 350 bird species have been recorded.

Some of the more common species are African fish eagle, Verraux’s eagle, black shouldered kite, Cape & white backed vulture, barn owl & spotted eagle-owl, ostrich, secretary bird, white-breasted & reed cormorants, grey -, black-headed and green-backed heron, great white & cattle egret, red-billed teal, hamerkop, African spoonbill, white-faced & yellow-billed duck, crested & Natal spurfowl, helmeted guinea-fowl, three-banded plover, crowned & blacksmith lapwing, go-away-bird, Burchell’s coucal, pied –, giant – and brown-hooded kingfisher, European & southern carmine bee-eater, lilac-breasted roller, grey & yellow-billed hornbill, black-collared and crested barbet, pied babbler, stone chat, paradise & Marico flycatcher, orange-breasted bush shrike, crimson-breasted & puff-backed shrike, malachite & Marico sunbird, southern masked weaver, red bishop, red-collard, white-winged & long-tailed widow, blue & violet-eared waxbill, shaft-tailed & paradise wydah, golden-breasted bunting, Cape robin chat and white-browed scrub robin.

This is also a “Big Five” Park and is home to more than 35 large mammal species, including elephant, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra and 19 antelope species. It is sanctuary to the world’s third largest white rhino population. Predators include lion, leopard, cheetah, brown-hyena and smaller species such as large-and small spotted-genets, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal and caracal.

Check in at accommodation after lunch in the restaurant. Depart on a 03-hour afternoon drive in the park. All scheduled game drives in Pilanesberg are in the tour vehicle(s). The route goes to Mankwe Dam where there are always wildlife as well as a variety of birds, with good quality sightings.

Game drives during the day on an open vehicle can be done at own cost. Bookings have to be made in advance at Mankwe Safaris reservation office at reception.
Overnight: Chalet at Manyane Camp
Meals: B, L & D (Full Board on all days)

DAY 02 Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Morning and afternoon drives on various routes in the park.

Optional 02-hour sunset/night drive on an open game drive vehicle at own cost, departs at 06:00 p.m. from the parking area at reception. Bookings have to be made in advance at Mankwe Safaris reservation office at reception. Good sightings of spotted-eagle owl are common on the night drives.
Overnight: Chalet at Manyane Camp
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 03 Pilanesberg – Barberspan – Wolmaransstad
Depart at 08:00 a.m. to Barberspan Bird Sanctuary between Sannieshof and Delareyville. The route goes via the Magaliesberg Mountain range and the corn fields of the North-West Province.

The Barberspan Bird Sanctuary is a huge 2000 ha body of water. The Reserve is a pioneer in ornithological research. Bird Life South Africa has declared it an important national birding site.
Given then that it is also a RAMSAR Convention-accredited wetland of international importance for migratory birds and waterfowl, it is well worth a visit.

The pans, which are fed intermittently by the Harts River, are an important drought refuge for waterfowl which arrive in numbers from the surrounding pans to wait out the dry season. Barberspan and the adjacent Leeupan, connected by a shallow channel, are over 4 000 ha in extent comprising shallow alkaline waters ideally suited to the many species which favour such conditions. The area around Barberspan is undulating grassland and agricultural land, leaving the pans largely undisturbed.

The Barberspan Bird Sanctuary is probably unique in South Africa, and indeed the world, for the sheer numbers and variety of birds to be seen on the pans. 365 species have been recorded, including a number of rare migrants, making Barberspan an essential stopover for all birders.

Pelicans and flamingo, grebes, terns, herons, cranes, ibis and bitterns to mention just a few. All but one of the South African duck species have been recorded at the pans.

Spend about 04 hours on birding drives and hikes.

Depart to Wolmaransstad
Overnight: Die Geelhuis Guest House
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 04 Wolmaransstad – Mokala National Park
Depart to Kimberley, the diamond City of South Africa. Stop opposite Kampher’s Dam just outside Kimberley, where greater flamingoes and the largest population of lesser flamingoes in Southern Africa, numbering about 25 000, are residents.

A visit to Kimberley has to include a tour of the Big Hole and recently renovated Kimberley Mine Museum. The Big Hole is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world and the Mine Museum takes one back to a diamond-digging era more than a hundred years ago. Our accommodation is part of the Mine Museum.

Do a guided tour with a site guide of the Big Hole and Mine Museum. The tour includes a 15 minute film of the history of Kimberley and the Diamond Fields, The Big Hole, a replica of an underground mine tunnel as well as a visit to the largest public display of diamonds in the world. The duration of the tour is about 01 hour.

Diamonds, jewellery and various souvenirs are for sale at the Big Hole Complex. Guests are free to walk around in the streets of the mining town. All buildings are original and have been moved to the Big Hole Complex.

Continue to Mokala National Park. Mokala is South Africa’s newest park and is situated 80 km south of the diamond city Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province and covers nearly 30 000 ha. The land of the previous Vaalbos National Park near Barkly West was handed back to local people and in a huge operation more than 800 head of game were trans-located from Vaalbos to Mokala. The grassy plains studded with camelthorn trees and isolated dolerite hills give Mokala a typical African feeling.

Mokala is home to a white-backed vulture breeding colony numbering 200 birds. Raptors include martial eagle, pale chanting goshawk, Gabar goshawk, lanner falcon, greater kestrel, black-shouldered kite and pygmy falcon. Giant eagle -, Cape eagle & spotted eagle owl, barn owl and pearl-spotted owlet are seen quite often.

Some of the other more common bird species found at Mokala are, ostrich, Kori bustard, northern black & crested korhaan, secretary bird, Orange River francolin, double-banded courser, acacia pied barbet, African red-eyed bulbul, pririt batis, bokmakierie, yellow canary, ant-eating chat, Cape turtle, laughing & Namaqua dove, fork-tailed drongo, common fiscal, Marico flycatcher, helmeted guinea fowl, African hoopoe, southern yellow-billed hornbill, various larks, red-faced & white-backed mouse birds, lilac breasted roller, Namaqua sandgrouse, crimson-breasted & lesser grey shrike, white-browed sparrow-weaver, Cape glossy starling, African stonechat, golden-tailed and bearded woodpecker, capped wheatear and sociable weaver.

Mokala is also home to some endangered game species including black- and white rhino, disease-free Cape buffalo, roan antelope, sable antelope and tsessebe. Other species include black & blue wildebeest, giraffe, eland, kudu, gemsbok, red hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, waterbuck, nyala, springbok, steenbok, duiker and mountain reedbuck. The chances are good to see meerkat (suricate) families

Many lizard species can be seen in Mokala and leopard tortoises are common sightings in summer.

Enter Mokala National Park at the South Gate. Do a game drive on the entrance route to Mosu Lodge. Check in at accommodation.

Do an afternoon drive in the Mosu area. Visit Stofdam Birdhide.

Optional activities at own cost include sunset/night drive and San rock art drive with an open vehicle with a Sanparks guide. Activities have to be booked in advance at reception.
Overnight: Chalet at Mosu Lodge
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 05 Mokala National Park
Do a morning drive on various routes in the southern section of the park covering a variety of vegetation types.

Do an afternoon drive to the grassy plains of the Lillydale Section in the north of the park. Various lark, cisticola & courser species may be seen in the grasslands. The Riet River is the northern border of the park and species which could be seen are grey heron, reed cormorant, African darter, Egyptian & spur-winged geese and moorhen,

Black wildebeest and roan – & sable antelope are some of the game species to be seen in this area.
Overnight: Chalet at Mosu Lodge
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 06 Mokala – Witsand Nature Reserve
Exit the park. Depart to Witsand Nature Reserve. Few eco-destinations in the Northern Cape are as scenic as Witsand Nature Reserve. Only Witsand can offer you sensual, flowing white dunes – twenty to sixty metres high, surrounded by copper-red Kalahari sand, Acacia woodland and the Langberg Mountain Range.

Witsand is home of the famous “Brulsand” or Roaring Sands of the Kalahari. Under the right conditions, these dunes utter an eerie rumble when disturbed. Witsand Nature Reserve is a scenic reserve teeming with bird life. More than 150 species have been recorded, including the Namaqua sandgrouse, sociable weaver and Africa’s smallest raptor the pygmy falcon. Many species can be seen from a bird hide overlooking a water hole.

Gemsbok, springbok, red hartebeest, common duiker and steenbok are resident antelope species.

Do drives in the Reserve and visit the bird hide. This is followed by a short scenic late afternoon drive to a view point overlooking the dune complex.

Common duiker and small-spotted genet are regular visitors to the chalets at night and offer good photo opportunities.

Meet at guide’s chalet for a Braai for dinner. Relax around the open fire at a very special place.
Overnight: Chalet at Witsand
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 07 Witsand – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Exit Witsand Reserve and continue via Groblershoop and the Orange River Valley to Upington, the gateway to the southern Kalahari.

Continue on a 03-hour drive through the Kalahari duneveld (“veld” means natural vegetation), passing various pans (dry lakes), to the largest camp in Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park, Twee Rivieren.

The word Kalahari derives from the word Makgadigadi, meaning salt pans (salt lakes) in the language spoken by the Kgalagadi people living in the Kgalagadi Region in south-western Botswana. The word Kgalagadi means salt pans too in their language. More than 1 000 pans are scattered throughout the park. The Kalahari is the largest area of sand in the world, covering 2.5 million square kilometres from the Orange River in South Africa in the south to slightly north of the equator. The area referred to as the arid Kalahari covers some 900 000 square kilometres in the south and covers parts of South Africa and Namibia and most of Botswana. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated in the southern part of the arid Kalahari in South Africa and Botswana and is jointly managed by South Africa National Parks (Sanparks) and Botswana Wildlife.

Arrive at Twee Rivieren mid-afternoon. Depart on a short afternoon drive in the southern part of the Park. All scheduled drives in Kgalagadi are in the tour vehicle(s).

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park covers 37 000 square km, which is one of the largest conservation areas in the world and one of the last truly unspoilt ecosystems.

Kgalagadi is a bird watcher’s paradise with more than 300 species recorded including at least 20 larger raptor species. Because of an abundance of prey in the form of mice, whistling rats, birds and insects, raptors and smaller predators thrive in the park. Kgalagadi is without any doubt one of the best, if not the best, bird of prey Park in Southern Africa.

Common residents are martial -, tawny – & booted eagle, black-chested – & brown snake-eagle, bateleur (short-tailed eagle), pale chanting – & Gabar goshawk, lanner falcon, red-necked falcon, greater – and common kestrel & pygmy falcon.

Lappet-faced & white-back vultures, giant eagle – & spotted eagle owl, barn owl, white-face scops-owl and pearl-spotted owlet are common residents. The world’s heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard and the stately secretary bird patrol the riverbeds and the noisy northern black korhaan rules in the dunes.

Common residents in the wooded dry river valleys are spotted thick-knee, crowned plover, Kalahari scrub-robin, fork-tailed drongo, swallow-tailed bee-eater, lilac-breasted and purple rollers, crimson-breasted shrike, common fiscal, southern yellow-billed & grey hornbill, yellow canary, red-headed finch, Cape sparrow, capped wheatear, Marico flycatcher, African hoopoe, glossy starling, white-browed sparrow-weaver, greater scimitar, sociable weaver, violet-eared waxbill, Cape turtle -, laughing – & Namaqua dove, Namaqua and Burchell’s sandgrouse and chestnut-vented titbabbler.

Various lark, finch-lark & chat species, African pipit, black-chested prinia and scaly-feathered finch can be found in the grasslands of the duneveld

Endemic game such as gemsbok, springbok, eland, giraffe, blue wildebeest and red hartebeest roam the sparsely vegetated red sand dunes and the dry river valleys of the Nossob and Auob where a variety of acacia species thrive.

The Park is well known for good sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah and spotted – and brown hyena are common residents. The park is home to caracal, honey badger, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, cape fox, African wildcat, mongoose and the ever-popular meerkat.

Optional 03 hr sunset/night drive at own cost with an open vehicle and a Sanparks guide can be done at all Kgalagadi Camps.
Overnight: Chalet at Twee Rivieren
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 08 Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park
Depart on a circular drive along the lower Auob River Valley, Lower Dune Road and lower Nossob River Valley. Return to Twee Rivieren.

Do an afternoon drive in the southern section of the park.
Overnight Chalet at Twee Rivieren
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 09 Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park
Depart on a drive along the Auob River Valley to Mata Mata on the Namibian Border. Good raptor & vulture sightings are common on this route.

This is also cheetah territory and is one the best, if not the best, places in Southern Africa to see cheetah.

White-faced scops-owls and pearl-spotted owlets are residents in the trees in Mata Mata Camp and provide good photo opportunities.

Do an afternoon drive in the Auob River Valley. Return to camp.

Relax around the fireplace, overlooking the flood-lit waterhole. Predators are regular visitors.
Overnight Riverfront Chalet at Mata Mata
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 10 Kgalagadi – Molopo Kalahari Lodge
Depart on a drive to Twee Rivieren until 02:00 p.m. Exit the park. Continue to the Molopo Kalahari Lodge 60 km from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The Molopo Lodge is situated between camel thorn trees on the banks of the dry Molopo River and is an oasis in this semi-desert. Various bird species are resident in the lush garden. Ground-scraper thrush are common residents.

Afternoon visit to the last indigenous San tribe in South Africa, the Khomani. Today these earliest residents of the Kalahari, living here for 40 000 years, consist of only 400 people and are resident in an area between 40 and 70 km south of Twee Rivieren. Clients will have the opportunity to view and purchase their handcraft at one of the roadside stalls.
Overnight: Chalet at Molopo Lodge
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 11 Molopo – Augrabies Falls National Park
Depart to Upington. Continue to Keimoes. Visit Tierberg Nature Reserve in Keimoes, from where one has a beautiful view of the lush green Orange River Valley. Continue to Kakamas. Stop for wine tasting at the second largest cooperative wine cellar in the world, the Orange River Wine Cellar. Except for wine production, the lower Orange River Valley is the major raisin production area – and one of the major table grape production areas in South Africa.

Proceed to Augrabies Falls National Park. Check in at chalets. Visit the Augrabies Falls, which is the sixth largest waterfall in the world when South Africa’s largest river, the Orange is in flood. The word Augrabies derives from the Khoi meaning “Place of great noise”.

Depart in the afternoon on a scenic drive in this moon landscape-like land to awesome viewpoints such as Ararat, Oranjekom on the Orange River Gorge and the “Swartrante” (Black hills) from where one has a great view of this arid rocky desert landscape. Verraux’s eagles are very active in the Oranjekom/Ararat area and a nest can be seen from the viewing deck at Oranjekom.

The park covers 60 000 ha. Although Augrabies is essentially a scenic park, game such as giraffe, springbok, gemsbok, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, Hartman’s zebra and klipspringer survive in this unique riverine ecosystem.

Fish eagles, black eagles, pale chanting goshawk, greater kestrel are common residents. Common kestrels, lanner – and peregrine falcons, speckled pigeons and rock martins are active in the gorge below the fall. Pygmy falcons are found near sociable weaver nests.

Goliath – & grey heron, African spoonbill, hamerkop, African darter, reed cormorant, red-knobbed coot, black crake, common moorhen, giant – malachite – & pied kingfisher are often seen near the river and in the reed beds.

Residents of the barren rocky desert landscape include Acacia pied barbet, Cape – & cinnamon breasted bunting, Kori – & Ludwig bustard, ostrich, black-headed -, black-throated -, white-throated – & yellow canary, ant-eating -, familiar – & sickle-winged chat, desert cisticola, redheaded – & scaly-feathered finch, common fiscal, Karoo – & northern black korhaan, short-toed rock thrush, Kalahari – & Karoo scrub-robin, dusky sunbird, ashy – & Cape penduline tit, black-chested – & Karoo Prinia, sociable weaver, various chat species (Cape clapper, fawn-coloured, Karoo, Red-capped, Sabota, spike-heeled and stark’s) and African – & long-billed pipits

Common residents in the rest camp are pale-winged – & Cape glossy starlings, Cape – & southern masked weaver, southern red bishop, African red-eyed bulbul, African pied – & Cape wagtail, Cape – & house sparrow, cardinal – & golden tailed woodpecker and olive- & Karoo thrush and Orange River white-eye

The fall is illuminated until 10:00 p.m. Clients can re-visit the fall at their own time and pace after dinner
Overnight: Chalet with a View at Augrabies Falls
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 12 Augrabies Falls National Park
Do a relaxed 2km morning walk to a beautiful viewpoint on the Augrabies gorge, Arrow Point.

Do a scenic game drive in this moon landscape-like land to awesome viewpoints such as Ararat, Oranjekom on the Orange River Gorge and the “Swartrante” (Black Hills) from where one has a great view of this arid rocky desert landscape.

Continue on a circular drive to the Western Section where the chances are good to see Hartmann’s mountain zebra and eland. There are many quiver trees along this route, some of them with big sociable weaver nests. Karoo korhaan is seen quite often on this route.

Afternoon at leisure. Augrabies Falls can be explored in full along the stilted walkways and viewpoints.
A variety of bird species are residents in the rest camp.
Overnight: Chalet with a View at Augrabies
Meals: B, L & D

DAY 13 Augrabies Falls – Upington – Departure
Continue to Upington to be in time for departing flight. Flight schedule to be finalised. (Flight not included)
Meals: L

Accommodation can vary from the itinerary depending on availability.

Rates on request:
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