Best of East Birding

13-Day East South Africa Birding Tour
South Africa is known for its incredible diversity and that also applies to birding.  A remarkable 840 bird species are found in South Africa, about eight percent of the world’s total bird species.Our expert-guided Birding tours in South Africa offer extraordinary birding experiences in one of the most exciting birding destinations in the world.

This tour can be booked as a private guided birding tour

Next group tour departure dates: 7 March 2022 / March 2023

Full Itinerary: Best of Eastern South Africa Birding

Day 1:
Start of tour in Johannesburg, birding in Polokwane and Magoebaskloof

Our exciting Best of the East birding tour starts in Johannesburg (or nearby Pretoria) at your guesthouse or hotel, or even at the O.R. Tambo International Airport if you flew in from somewhere.

After a quick meet-and-greet, we’ll get all the luggage in our comfortable airconditioned vehicle and head straight to our first destination, the town of Polokwane, to the north. We will start chatting about the upcoming trip and specific targets that you might have, ensuring everyone has a good time and a great trip list. We are going to see some spectacular scenery, wonderful birds, top African big game, and enjoy excellent accommodation and great local cuisine, along with friendly people and interesting culture. A great trip awaits!

You will quickly see that the road network in South Africa is better than in most African countries and this 4-hour leg is on the main N1 highway, from which you will get a feel for the Highveld grassland biome of the country.

We will make our first stop at the Polokwane Game Reserve just outside the town of Polokwane (previously called Pietersburg). This 3,200-hectare gem of a reserve is characterized by open savannah with scattered Acacia and broadleaved trees. Granite outcrops and riverine thickets add to the habitat diversity, and there are also open areas of grassland that are critical to a number of lark, pipit and cisticola species. Our main targets here are Short-clawed Lark and Northern Black Korhaan, along with the small possibility of seeing Double-banded Courser, Barred Wren-warbler and Tinkling Cisticola.

A short drive in the reserve and a walk at one of the picnic sites should yield some nice birds to begin our trip list with. This could include Burnt-necked Eremomela, Black-faced, Violet-eared and Blue Waxbill, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Southern Black and Marico Flycatcher, Magpie Shrike, Black-throated Canary, Black-chested Prinia, Sabota Lark, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Cape Starling, Brubru, Black-collared, Acacia Pied and Crested Barbet, Marico Sunbird, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Crowned Lapwing, Ring-necked Dove, Groundscraper Thrush, African Hoopoe, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Boubou and Golden-tailed Woodpecker to new a few. From a mammal point of view, the reserve is well stocked, and we should see Plains Zebra, Greater Kudu, Common Wildebeest, Hartebeest (Red subspecies), Tsessebe and Giraffe.

After this exciting start to the trip, we turn east towards the mountains and their forests. We continue to our destination in beautiful Magoebaskloof, and depending on our arrival time at our overnight accommodation we might have our first taste of forest birding. Our lodge is perfectly situated in the middle of the stunning forest, allowing us to start birding as soon as we step out of the door!

We will do a short walk in the lodge’s gardens and surrounding forests if time permits and look for Green Twinspot, Swee Waxbill, Red-backed Mannikin, Chorister Robin-chat, African Firefinch, Forest Canary, Sombre Greenbul, Lemon Dove and Cape White-eye.

We will then have our first dinner together and get to know each other a bit. Before returning to our rooms for a good night’s rest remember to listen for the distinctive who-who, who-who-who are-you call of the African Wood Owl.

Day 2:

We will enjoy an early cup of coffee and head out directly afterwards. We have a full day in Magoebaskloof and surrounds and we want to make the most of it! This is undoubtedly the best forest birding spot in the entire Limpopo/Mpumalanga area, if not the country.

We will probably have a packed breakfast but will enjoy lunch at a nice roadside café. Depending on the current bird movements and weather conditions, we will make a call as to our exact route for the day, but rest assured that we will see some pretty impressive species today!

If we missed it the previous day, we will be on the lookout for Short-clawed Lark, and we might pop in at a nearby stakeout where we have a good chance of finding the elusive Shelley’s Francolin.

During our drives and walks in the beautiful indigenous montane forests we will look for some very special species. These include Cape Parrot, Bat Hawk, Square-tailed Drongo, Black-fronted and Olive Bushshrike, Narina Trogon, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Knysna Turaco, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-starred Robin, Brown Scrub Robin, Orange Ground Thrush, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Cape Batis, Barratt’s Warbler, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Olive Woodpecker, African Emerald Cuckoo, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, African Cuckoo-hawk, Crowned Eagle and many more.

We will also try to fit in a short stop at the very photogenic Debengeni Falls, where we could see Mountain Wagtail. If time permits, we could also search for the elusive Buff-spotted Flufftail at a secret spot where we sometimes find them.

After our superb day in the beautiful forests we will return to our lodge to freshen up, after which we will update our growing lists, enjoy dinner and a good night’s rest.

Day 3:
Magoebaskloof to Kruger National Park (Satara)

Our morning will start with an early breakfast and some more birding in the forests, looking for species we may have missed the previous day or looking for other special ones.

We will slowly head southeast, dropping down from the highveld via some beautiful mountain passes, going through the tropical garden town of Tzaneen and the eco-tourism hotspot town of Hoedspruit. We will make some short birding stops along the way and enjoy lunch en route.

We will then turn east, entering the world famous Kruger National Park at the Orpen Gate. Once we enter the park our focus, while still on birds, will also divert a bit to the possibility of sightings of any of Africa’s famed Big 5 (Lion, African Elephant, Leopard, African Buffalo and rhinoceros), along with Cheetah, African Wild Dog and any of the almost 150 species of mammal that have been recorded in this fantastic park. We will make our way to our first overnight stop, Satara rest camp, exploring some of the smaller dirt roads and thereby keeping off the main tar roads, for the best birding experience.

The 20,000 km2 Kruger National Park is, without doubt, the best birding destination in southern Africa. It is a mosaic of lowland savannas and woodlands, bisected by wooded, seasonally flowing rivers, with dams and pans dotted throughout. The park varies in altitude between 200 metres (660 ft) in the east and 840 metres (2,760 ft) in the southwest. This wide range of habitats leads to an incredible wealth of birds, with almost 520 species having been recorded in the park over the years.

Of special interest here is some of the larger terrestrial birds as well as birds of prey that are difficult or near impossible to find reliably outside protected areas such as Kruger. These include Kori Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, Martial and Tawny Eagle, Bateleur, Lappet-faced Vulture, Secretarybird and Saddle-billed Stork.

Other typical bushveld birds that we will encounter are Southern Yellow-billed and Southern Red-billed Hornbill, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Brown-headed Parrot, Purple-crested Turaco, Crested and Swainson’s Francolin, White-crowned Lapwing, Grey-headed Bushshrike and African Mourning Dove, to name just a few.

We will reach our rest camp, Satara in the late afternoon and freshen up. Satara, although fairly large, has a rustic charm, with the bulk of the accommodation set out in a series of circles. The nightly barbeque fires burning in front of the bungalows are a special sight. The ambience of the camp, Kruger’s third-biggest, recalls the mood of colonial Africa with red-roofed public buildings, thatched chalets and neatly raked paths. Satara, like most of Kruger’s camps, has been artificially well wooded, and it is always worth exploring on foot. A walk inside the fence perimeter might produce Honey Badger, African Scops Owl and Red-billed Buffalo Weaver.

After freshening up we will get together for dinner on the big verandah of the camp’s restaurant and chat about the wonderful “Kruger”, as the locals call it. After dinner we will retire to our bungalows and rest up for the exciting days ahead. Remember to look up at the Milky Way on your way to the room, it really is spectacular out here in the bush!

Day 4:
Kruger National Park (Satara to Skukuza)

Today we have our first full day of birding and game viewing in Kruger. We will enjoy a packed breakfast and stop at one of the picnic spots or rest camps for lunch.

While in the area around Satara in the morning we will look for species like Common Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, Secretarybird, Sabota Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark, Lesser Grey Shrike, Montagu’s and Pallid Harrier, Red-billed Quelea, Burchell’s Starling, Bennett’s Woodpecker and many more.

Travelling to the southern part of the park we will concentrate on slightly different habitats. We will focus on areas of open grassland, waterholes and broad-leaved woodland hosting species such as African Cuckoo-hawk, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Green-capped Eremomela, Bennett’s Woodpecker and even Bushveld Pipit. The damp depressions around streams sometimes yield Black Coucal and in season after good rainfall, the odd Corn Crake. This area is particularly good for the elusive Black Rhinoceros and Lichtenstein’s subspecies of Hartebeest, along with all the usual fantastic and numerous Kruger mammals.
We will reach our camp for the nest two nights, Skukuza, in the late afternoon and if time permits, it is always a good idea to walk around the camp grounds in search of some special fauna and flora species.

Skukuza is the park’s headquarters and its largest camp, and the camp grounds are well foliaged, with some lofty trees along the river’s edge. Facilities are diverse, as are the animals and plants found both within the camp and in the surrounding areas. The camp is a great place to spot the dove-sized Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit Bat and the very cute South African Thick-tailed Galago. Birds like Crowned Hornbill, Grey-headed Bushshrike and African Green Pigeon are regularly seen in the camp.

We will do our lists and enjoy dinner at the restaurant overlooking the Sabie river and enjoy a good night’s rest, falling asleep to the sounds of the African bush.

Day 5:
Kruger National Park (Skukuza)

We will have a full day to explore the southern part of Kruger. Depending on what we have seen so far and which species we need, we will make our way either south towards Lower Sabie rest camp, or head west on the Doispane road towards Pretoriuskop rest camp. There are many tar and dirt roads to explore in the area, so we will certainly not be bored! We will enjoy breakfast and lunch in one of the many camps in the area, or at a lovely picnic site.

The habitat around Skukuza comprises riparian zones, with large trees lining the river banks, and thickets away from the river courses. The permanent water sources here attract large numbers of Impala, one of the main prey items of Leopard, so be on the lookout for these and other predators such as Lion, African Wild Dog and Spotted Hyaena. The riverbanks also play host to huge numbers of bird species, and some uncommon ones like Crowned Eagle, African Finfoot and Pel’s Fishing Owl have been seen here.

Other birds we will look for in this area of the park include Terrestrial Brownbul, Bearded Scrub Robin, Green-backed Camaroptera, Kurrichane Thrush, Grey Tit-flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Brubru, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Marico, Collared and White-bellied Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Southern Black Tit, Pied and Giant Kingfisher, Red-billed and African Firefinch, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Cardinal and Bearded Woodpecker, Coqui Francolin, Brown-crowned and Black-crowned Tchagra, Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied Eremomela and many others.

We will return to Skukuza late in the afternoon to have dinner together and another good night’s sleep in wonderful Kruger.

Tonight might be a good opportunity to partake in probably one of the best optional activities one can do here in the park, namely a night drive with one of Kruger’s knowledgeable rangers. One this drive you may encounter some of the rarer nocturnal mammals such as African Civet, genets, Side-striped Jackal, the beautiful Serval, White-tailed Mongoose and even African Wildcat, along with several species of owl and nightjar. These include Spotted and Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, African Scops Owl, Southern White-faced Owl, and Square-tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjar. Please inform us well in advance of the trip if you plan to do a night drive, as this is a very popular activity that is normally filled up as soon as bookings open.

Day 6:
Kruger National Park (Skukuza to Berg-en-Dal)

Today after breakfast we make our way further south to another camp of Kruger that we love, namely Berg-en-Dal. We will decide on the best route to take, maybe enjoying the famous Biyamiti road or the equally legendary Voortrekker road.

Some of the species we will search for during our drive today include Grey Penduline Tit, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Groundscraper Thrush, Red-headed Weaver, Mocking Cliff Chat, Croaking and Lazy Cisticola, Lizard Buzzard, Bushveld Pipit, Flappet Lark, Pallid Flycatcher, Striped Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow and many more.

We will have lunch at a picnic site, or maybe at Berg-en-Dal’s restaurant if we arrive in time.
The scenery in the area closer to Berg-en-Dal is characterised by beautiful rocky outcrops and small hills, so it’s a hotspot for Leopard! It also makes for some fantastic photographic opportunities. The area hosts high numbers of White Rhinoceros, Greater Kudu, Impala, Giraffe, some African Elephant, Southern Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Grey Rhebok and Common Warthog. Large packs of African Wild Dog are also regularly seen in the region.

Today we hope to pick up some of the species we may have missed so far, but we will naturally also search for new ones, as well as for mammals and other smaller creatures that make up Kruger’s huge numbers of diverse fauna and flora.

Upon arrival at Berg-en-Dal, we will have some time to explore the camp itself. Berg-en-Dal, meaning ‘mountain and dale’, is aptly named for its superb location on the bank of the Matjulu spruit in the far southwest of the park. It is one of the new generation of camps and was opened in 1984. There is a very popular Rhino Perimeter Trail walk that skirts the camp fence all the way around. Not only is it a beautiful, relaxing and informative exercise, you might get to see something interesting! Recently on this walk there have been sightings of the rare White-backed Night Heron, the ferocious Honey Badger and the sought-after Thick-billed Cuckoo, to name just a few. Birds seen almost always on the walk include Scarlet-chested Sunbird and White-browed Robin-chat.

The camp has a beautiful swimming pool to cool off in, as well as good restaurant facilities and a nightly video show with some interesting local nature programmes. The main restaurant area overlooks a beautiful water feature that is the perfect setting for just sitting down and relaxing with an ice cream and a pair of binoculars.

We will gather for sundowner drinks, update our lists and then enjoy dinner, and afterwards retire to our bungalows for our last night in magical Kruger.

Day 7:
Kruger National Park to Wakkerstroom

We will do a last bit of birding in camp before breakfast, and then head to the Malelane Gate to exit the park.
We will then travel to the small hamlet of Wakkerstroom, a drive of about 5 hours to the south. We will travel through some beautiful areas of the country, passing through the towns of Barberton (which has its origin in the 1880s gold rush in the region), Carolina and Amersfoort before reaching our destination. We will have lunch en route in one of the towns on the way.

The quaint village of Wakkerstroom is situated on the Highveld plateau, dominated by rolling hills and upland grassland, in stark contrast to the habitats we’ve visited thus far. A total of 13 bird species are endemic (or nearly so) to South Africa’s grassland biome and another 33 southern African endemics or near-endemics occur here, making it easy to see why the area is a magnet for foreign as well as South African birders.

We should arrive in time for some afternoon birding. Our first port of call usually is the wetland marsh on the outskirts of town. Here we have a good chance of finding skulkers like Little Rush Warbler, African Rail and who knows, maybe even a Red-chested Flufftail if we are very lucky. African Swamphen, Purple Heron, Cape Shoveler and Cape Weaver are some of the commoner species roosting here in the late afternoons.

We will also look for Pale-crowned Cisticola, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, African Snipe, Little Grebe, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, Purple Heron and Yellow-billed Egret. If we are very quiet we could even see an African Clawless Otter, a special mammal indeed. Remember to also look up if you want to see South African Cliff, White-throated and Greater Striped Swallow, and Little and White-rumped Swift.

We will check in to our comfortable accommodation in town or just outside it, and have dinner at one of the many excellent establishments in town. Be sure to sample some of the local craft beer if that’s your sort of thing. We’ll return to our accommodation for a good night’s rest.

Day 8:

After an early morning coffee we head out in search of Wakkerstroom’s two very special and endemic larks, namely Rudd’s and Botha’s, the former critically endangered. In our search for these two denizens of the grasslands, we’ll also be on the lookout for their more common cousins, Eastern Clapper, Eastern Long-billed, Pink-billed and Red-capped Larks.

The area surrounding the town is mountainous with kloofs, mountain springs, vlei areas, dams, conservation and heritage sites. Due to the occurrence of high priority wetlands and the proximity to the sources of three rivers, the Vaal, Tugela and Pongola, it was declared a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area. It is also a protected area under the Protected Areas Act, which means that mining is generally not allowed.

Wakkerstroom isn’t just about larks though; endemics like Yellow-breasted Pipit, Blue Korhaan and Cape Canary will add a subtle touch of colour. In the village, the striking Bokmakierie is usually an easy find alongside the peculiar Red-throated Wryneck.

After lunch in town we’ll also visit a local site in search of White-bellied and Denham’s Bustard. At another spot, we’ll look for the enigmatic African Rock Pipit and Buff-streaked Chat.

Some of the other birds that we might encounter include Southern Bald Ibis, Jackal Buzzard, Pied Starling, Cape Crow, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Mountain Wheatear, Bush Blackcap, Drakensberg Prinia, Amur Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Ground Woodpecker, Denham’s Bustard, Grey Crowned and Blue Crane, Grey-winged and Red-winged Francolin and the ‘often-heard-but-rarely-seen’ Quailfinch. Also, all 5 of the South African species of harrier visit Wakkerstroom at certain times of the year, so we’ll keep an eye out for those too. Research on the critically endangered White-winged Flufftail also takes place around the Wakkerstroom area, although we would have to be extremely lucky to hear or see one.

We will return to our accommodation to freshen up, before returning to town for another dinner at one of the excellent restaurants where we will update our trip lists and boast about all the lifers thus far. After dinner we will have a good night’s sleep; tomorrow we head into the last province on our birding trip.

Day 9:
Wakkerstroom to Mkuze

Our day will start with an early coffee and a quick spot of birding in the morning for birds we might have dipped on the previous day.

Our journey will then continue southeast, to one of the KwaZulu-Natal province’s premier birding spots, Mkuze Game Reserve. Our drive of about 3 hours will see us pass through Piet Retief (a town in the timber-growing region close to the Eswatini border) and Pongola (a town in a fertile and subtropical valley full of sugarcane and subtropical fruit) before reaching our destination.

We should arrive in the Mkuze area mid to late afternoon and we will waste no time finding some of the spectacular birds that call this remarkable area home. Mkuze is a 40,000 hectare (150 sq mi) game reserve that was proclaimed a protected area in 1912. The reserve has a wide diversity of natural habitats which include acacia savannah, mixed woodland, sand forest, riverine forest, rivers and pans, grassland, cliffs and rocky ridges.

We will definitely drive to the sand forest; this dry and localized type of forest is home to several spectacular species, included Pink-throated Twinspot, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Neergaard’s Sunbird, African Barred Owlet, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Crested Guineafowl and Rudd’s Apalis.
In terms of other wildlife, Mkuze is also home to several fantastic mammal species, including African Elephant, African Buffalo, Black and White Rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Hippopotamus and several special antelope species.

Once we have seen some nice birds and a few big game species, we will head to our accommodation just outside the park. We will enjoy a good meal and chat about our awesome trip so far, and maybe start planning our next birding trip somewhere on the planet… Then it’s off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

Day 10:

We will enjoy an early breakfast at our lodge before returning to Mkuze.

We have a full day ahead to explore the incredible diversity of Mkuze, not just birds but also a whole host of fascinating mammals, from one of Africa’s smallest antelope, the Suni, to the largest land mammal on the planet, the African Elephant.

Birding wise Mkuze is undoubtedly one of the top birding spots in South Africa, with a list of way over 450 species, and an unpredictability that makes birders return here time after time. It boasts several special and range-restricted species and we’ll keep an eye out for Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Sooty Falcon, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Green Malkoha, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Broad-billed Roller, African Broadbill, Eastern Nicator, Olive-tree Warbler, Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, several vulture species, Martial Eagle, White-crested Helmetshrike and Grey Penduline Tit.

We will have a packed lunch today and enjoy it somewhere in the park where there is a nice view of one of the dams or surrounding hills.

At one of the large wetlands, we will look for species such as Pink-backed and Great White Pelican, African Openbill, Yellow-billed and Woolly-necked Stork, African Pygmy Goose, Lesser Jacana, Dwarf Bittern, Goliath Heron, Water Thick-knee, Lesser Masked and Thick-billed Weaver, African Wattled Lapwing and Whiskered Tern. Several good hides are situated in the park, mostly overlooking waterholes and these can be worth a visit, sometimes producing memorable moments. Just don’t wander too close to the water’s edge, as there are some monstrously huge Nile Crocodiles here!

We will return to our lodge outside the reserve for doing our lists, having dinner and enjoying a good night’s rest before we tackle the final exciting leg of our trip for tomorrow onwards.

Day 11:
Mkuze to Mtunzini (Amatikulu)

Birding in the gardens of our lodge outside Mkuze can be top-notch and we will spend the early morning here. We often find birds such as Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Bearded Scrub Robin, Green Twinspot, Eastern Nicator and Purple-crested Turaco in the gardens.

We’ll head out and make our way south to the town of Mtunzini after breakfast. This drive of about 2 to 3 hours will see us pass close to many of Kwazulu-Natal’s private game reserves and national parks. En route we will stop at several wetlands near Mtubatuba where we might add the likes of Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Red-headed Quelea and many more.

We’ll arrive in beautiful Mtunzini around lunch and check into our comfortable accommodation. The name Mtunzini is a word in the local Zulu language meaning place in the shade. The town boasts pristine beaches and a 9-hole golf course, along with some fantastic birdwatching spots in town itself and nearby. We normally see White-eared Barbet outside our accommodation or just while driving around town!

After lunch we will head out in the hope of finding one of South Africa’s rarest and most fascinating birds of prey, the Palm-nut Vulture. These birds feed on the fruit of the Kosi Palm (Raphia australis) which produces its fruit once every twenty years before dying. We will look for the vultures at the Rafia Palm Monument, which features a raised boardwalk that meanders through to the magnificent palms.

After this exciting excursion we will head to Amatikulu Nature Reserve about 30 kilometres (18 miles) down the Indian Ocean coastline. Despite its small size (2,100 hectares), the reserve contains many different habitats, including coastal, riparian and dune forest, grassland, lala palm bushveld, an estuary and a freshwater pan. This variety has resulted in a checklist of over 300 birds, and some of the special species we’ll look for here on a walk and drive include Swamp Nightjar, Black Coucal, White-fronted Bee-eater, Broad-tailed Warbler, Olive Woodpecker, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Grey Waxbill, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Croaking Cisticola and Brown-backed Honeybird.

We will return to our accommodation in the early evening and have dinner while updating our trip lists, after which we will enjoy a good night’s rest.

Day 12:
Mtunzini (Ongoye and Dlinza)

Today we have a big day! We will visit two very famous forests in search of some very special species.

After an early breakfast, our first stop today will be at Ongoye forest, a remnant patch of coastal scarp forest which straddles the hills for about 20km between the towns of Eshowe and Empangeni. It is a short drive of about 30 minutes to reach the forest from Mtunzini.

Ongoye is home to some rare and endemic species of fauna and flora, including the Ongoye Dwarf Cycad (Encephalartos ngoyanus), Ongoye centipede, an endemic subspecies of the Red Bush Squirrel and two undescribed endemic dwarf chameleons. The forest is picture-perfect beautiful, occurring in patches between granite outcrops and rolling grasslands.

Ongoye is an important breeding area for the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon and home to the endangered Spotted Ground Thrush. At least 165 species of birds have been identified in the forest, and this is the only spot in southern Africa where the Green Barbet can be found, and usually in good numbers! The forest here is also good for Green Twinspot, Narina Trogon, Brown Scrub Robin, Chorister Robin-chat, Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Crowned Eagle, Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbill, African Emerald Cuckoo and Striped Pipit.

After leaving Ongoye we will be travelling through rural Zululand, giving us an exciting and eye-opening perspective on the everyday life of the Zulu people. We’ll enjoy lunch in the town of Eshowe before heading out of town to a good stakeout for Southern Tchagra, another endemic for our trip!

We’ll also enjoy more forest birding this afternoon at nearby Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve. This beautiful piece of forest covers an area of 250ha and is one of southern Africa’s prime forest birding spots, and consists almost entirely of climax coastal scarp forest. There are several walking trails we will follow, as well as a 125 metre (410 ft) long and 25 metre (82 ft) high, sturdy canopy walkway that provides an entirely different viewpoint on the forest and its inhabitants.

Here at Dlinza we will look for Spotted Ground Thrush, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Green Malkoha, Olive Woodpecker, Green Twinspot, Red-backed Mannikin, African Firefinch, Crowned Eagle, Narina Trogon, Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbill, Olive and Collared Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Chorister Robin-chat, Terrestrial Brownbul and Lemon Dove.

The forest is also home to several duiker species, Bushbuck, Vervet, Bushpig, beautiful butterflies (Citrus Swallowtail, Dusky-veined Acraea and more), as well as some very impressive trees.

We will make the drive back to Mtunzini to have our final dinner together on this amazing trip. We will have some drinks and a good last chat before retiring to bed.

Day 13:
Mtunzini to King Shaka Airport and Departure

We will have a quick coffee before a last bit of birding at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve in town. It is a 10 km2 (4 sq mi) coastal area of dune forests, lakes and a lagoon, and is a good spot to look for African Finfoot and Mangrove Kingfisher. On a previous trip, a client managed to get a photo of both these elusive species in one shot!

After breakfast, we will pack our bags and make our way south to King Shaka International airport, about an hour away, situated just north of the coastal city of Durban. Here we will say our goodbyes and you will leave on your onward flight after an amazing birding trip.

*Please note: Extensions to the Drakensberg, Cape Town or further afield can easily be arranged.

Do you have a quick question about this birding tour? Speak to a specialist at