Natural History Travel
November 20th - December 5th 2014
A botanical safari to the Drakensberg Mountains, Wakkerstroom highlands, Kruger National Park and the private Mount Sheba Nature Reserve, South Africa.
Price: £ 3495 inc. flights, £2595 ex. flights
Leaders: Bob Gibbons, Geoff Crane and Mike Raymakers
A fabulous spring trip to some of the most exciting parts of South Africa, from the botanically-rich dramatic high peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains to the extraordinary wildlife of Kruger National Park.
We leave the Heathrow to arrive in Johannesburg the following morning, and by early afternoon we should be below the scarp of the Drakensberg Mountains. We spend 5 nights here, in and around the Golden Gate Highlands and Royal Natal National Parks, walking or driving into the high Drakensberg from our comfortable bases.
Then we drive north-east to the attractive highlands around Wakkerstroom for a couple of days botanising and birding in the wetlands, grasslands and gorges of this area. After two nights here, we head off for Kruger, about 4 hours to the north-east and spend the next 4 nights in some of the best places that the Kruger has to offer. Finally, we leave the park for quite a short drive south-westwards to the fabulous forest private reserve at Mount Sheba for the last 2 nights. On the 4th December, after a local walk, we head back to Jo’burg airport for the flight home.
The spectacular Drakensberg mountains are a World Heritage site, the highest mountains in southern Africa, and a botanical hot-spot, with about 400 endemics amongst a total flora of almost 2500 species. Our timing should be right for a good selection of the mid and high altitude species, which will include lovely orchids such as Eulophia spp, Disa spp, Satyrium, Corycium and many others; some fine bulbs such as the pink Haemanthus humilis, numerous irises, several alpine Helichrysum spp, the gorgeous Gladiolus papilio often in masses, the striking Giant Wild Anemone, the blue Barleria monticola, and garden plants such as Dierama, Red hot pokers and Rhodohypoxis.There is also some lovely afromontane forest, with fine trees like the Glossy Berg Bottlebrush and great bird and mammal-watching, including Lammergeier, Burchell’s Zebra, and the rare Bald Ibis amongst many others. We’ll also visit some bushmen rock art, and see some superb mountain scenery.
At Wakkerstroom, we’ll explore the montane grasslands and marshes that have been managed as a reserve by Birdlife International for many years, seeing a fine range of birds and flowers. The Kruger Park is huge and extraordinarily diverse, covering 2 million hectares and home to an exceptional diversity of flora and fauna - almost 150 species of mammals, and over 500 birds. There is also a rich flora, including 336 species of tree, with some of the most southerly Baobabs. Apart from seeing some wonderful mammals such as Black Rhino, Wild dog, lions, Leopard, Elephant and many more, we should see an enormous range of birdlife and even a few flowers. For the last few days, we go up into the mountains for some relaxing time in natural subtropical montane forest, enormously rich in birds and with good flowers such as the orchids and bulbs Clivia caulescens, Disa extinctoria and Gladiolus varius, as well as a variety of Ericas, Protaeas and open grassland flowers.
The tour price includes return flights, all accommodation in good quality en suite throughout, all local transport, all entry fees and tips, services of leaders and guides, and post tour report.
Tour code: NHT/14/08
Price: £3495 incl. flights, £ 2595 ex. flights
Single room supplement: £200
Deposit: £950 plus insurance