120 posts in this topic

@kittykat23uk - I think that with a few hours you should hopefully be successful - although the park is light on game so I'll let you judge your options. 

 

Other than the lighthouse there are two areas that I would highlight: 

 

1. The Cape of Good Hope Car Park - i.e. the turning circle where the Cape of Good Hope (COGH) sign is -  this area is right on the shoreline, is excellent for seabirds (terns, cormorants, gulls, sanderling), Cape Fur Seal and on the way down from the Cape Point car park you should check the rocky outcrops for Ground Woodpecker  

 

2. Olifantbos - you will pass the turning for Olifantbos on the way to COGH. The route from the turning takes you into the interior of the park and then tacks along the shoreline to a car park. On the route we saw Mountain Zebra and then at the car park we twice saw a large herd of Eland. The birding around the car park is also quite good with Bokmakerie, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Grassbird, Ostrich and the usuals (Familar Chat, Swallows, Seabirds and Cape Bunting). For Bontebok you probably need to approach the Olifontbos Cottage which is at the end of a tarred road, past the car park. If walking it's probably about 20mins one way on the tarred road. Once you get close to the cottage, look on the hills surrounding it as the Bontebok were often there. If not, you are permitted to walk on the beach in front of the cottage (it's part an overnight hiking trail) and you will notice a small sand dune blocking your view of the valley.  If you walk about 100m along the beach you will see a game trail in the sand leading between two small sand dunes - this game trail leads directly to the small waterhole (I don't know if it drys up in summer!) where the game (Bontebok, Ostrich, Baboons and Eland) would occasionally congregate.

 

Finally, it's also worth checking along the fence line of the park if you coming from the Kommetjie direction as I've sent Bontebok and Grey Rhebok along that section. 

 

Please note it's probably about a 30min drive (given speed restrictions) from the Cape of Good Hope Car Park to the Olifantbos car park. 

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Lamberts Bay

 

At this point our route may seem a bit confusing but I wanted to lead with Marrick, rather than going chronologically and this is the consequence. 

 

Following Cape Point we headed North, along the Western Coast to Clanwilliam and the Cederberg. For anyone heading up the West Coast I would recommend a stop in at Lamberts Bay for a Crayfish lunch (:D yum yum!) and a quick peek at the Gannet Colony.

 

large.Untitled.png.4aa2afdfb2b6ecd157844c8cd4c8ed56.png

 

Lamberts Bay is small fishing town on SA's west coast and is one of the hubs of South Africa's sadly rapidly declining Crayfish industry.

 

large.59750c692b85d_v209.jpg.f575ecb9688f24a3ce10328caf59953a.jpg 

Just outside of it's small harbour is a large Gannet colony, interspersed with seal haul outs and other seabirds.

 

Cape Fur Seals

 

large.59750d3f11da0_v265.jpg.f5e3bf85026e7ab57e053713f4da2658.jpg

 

Sandwich Terns, Swift Terns and Hartlaub's Gull

 

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The Gannet Colony can be approached on foot and has a large hide affording excellent views of the constant comings and goings 

 

large.59750c6e126b5_v211.jpg.7445048a07c3cccfcfd7e1d37ae1e9be.jpg

 

large.59750c720c50c_v261.jpg.42ea2a61b39e401fc05322c1e5a035d3.jpg

 

 

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Once your done with the Gannet's there's restaurant Isabella's just inside the small harbour where you can enjoy the local speciality. 

 

large.File_001(8).jpg.158c4adac407e6f9fc2b6c62e5d3b02d.jpg

 

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On 4/23/2017 at 4:36 AM, optig said:

@ImSA84 thanks for your advise I'll have to hire a vehicle and driver from a South African travel agent. On my first safari I tried driving in South Africa and ended up hitting a parked vehicle.

I paid for the damage and of course apologized profusely,this incident taught me that it's simply not worth trying to drive anywhere in Africa because I can't take the stress. I have Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.If I drove in South Africa, I'd give all of the South Africans that disorder.  They don't want me behind the wheel on their roads. Anyways, I prefer not driving. I'm sure that you'll inspire me with more places.

 

 

These are some great places that I did not know about.  Thanks @]lmSA84!

 

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Posted (edited)

It's been over a month since I've had a chance to complete this TR and even though the end is more birds then mammals I wanted to give it a bit of the attention in case it's of use to others.

 

Northern KZN and the Drakensberg

 

Having spent nearly 7 weeks in the Capes we flew to Durban for the final three weeks. In that time we would visit my family in Durban, then head up the North Coast spending two nights in Mtunzini, seven n Rocktail Bay, one t the battlelands in Dundee, three nights in Thendele before finally heading onto J'burg. 

 

large.59ab043e7a67d_TRMap.jpg.581a41ce256e8af37626a606ac278551.jpg

 

Mtunzini 

 

About 1hr 30 North of Durban is the sleepy town on Mtunzini. It's a laid back beach town set amongst dense coastal vegetation. Other than relaxing it's main draw is birdwatching, with a plethora of rarities in the town (Palm-not Vulture, Finfoots etc.) and nearby birding hot spots - oNgoye, Dlinza, Ntumeni and Amatikulu.

 

My wife kindly agreed to let me disappear for one day's birding and inspired by @Panthera Pardus I booked a local guide - Sakhamuzi Mhlongo. With Sakhamuzi's expert guidance we visited the oNgoye and Dlinza Forest to hunt for two of South Africa's rarest birds.

 

The first is the Green Barbet, a highly range restricted bird, which in Southern Africa is only found in the 3200 ha Ongoye Forest.

 

oNgoye Forest

 

large.59aaa5a0d1c35_v982.jpg.9942efad397d50f6e34fea40077a4fb5.jpg

 

It didn't take us long to find a pair of Green Barbets 

 

large.59aaa5956c81b_v128.jpg.f051f788ee0fb0ea5d983b8b339c7d03.jpg

 

large.59aaa59314285_v127.jpg.03327f60b4798f9d912e6e2be9605e52.jpg

 

Sharing the tree with these rare birds, officially listed as Vulnerable, was a troop of Samango Monkeys and their close cousin the White-eared Barbet.

 

large.59aaa599403e3_v980.jpg.b7927d74a5f9366cfefbd91751d70f14.jpg

 

large.59aaa56e075f7_v107.jpg.73d7ef610cb22e6a551770c6c5bf8a10.jpg

Edited by lmSA84
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Posted (edited)

Our next stop was the Dlinza Forest of Eshowe. This forest is a treasure trove of birding specialties, the highlight of which is a chance to see the Endangered Spotted Ground Thrush. 

 

The Dlinza Forest broadwalk 

 

large.59aaa5bfd0985_v989.jpg.f149abc30ba0df3198d65c106e15e2d5.jpg

 

large.59aaa5bbc337b_v984.jpg.ce83c1eeba181e44e63b196981394031.jpg

 

Spotted Ground Thrush

 

large.59aaa58ece749_v125.jpg.001214c7627f18bb3eacfdbeb18e8067.jpglarge.59aaa5891bd2c_v124.jpg.b7147ed82a9fd26e52eaec8c7876840a.jpg

 

Other good finds included Lemon Dove...

 

large.59aaa57ee9574_v123.jpg.43aafedde70bb05ac2b33ea253d7c250.jpg

 

Tambourine Dove

 

large.59aaa577e8ede_v117.jpg.0f6d75d4191e80520717ced5239b115b.jpg

 

Forest Weaver

 

large.59aaa57999c9b_v119.jpg.35e274f4eab2ca5e8cdbaaabfc3c42f4.jpg

 

Grey Cuckooshrike 

 

large.59aaa57c6eaf7_v120.jpg.20cb251dd7c139c9fc4e89decb80e37e.jpg

 

Green Pigeon 

 

large.59aaa56bb3557_v104.jpg.35bee0ef5df7c1fd5056fcb09744f7f9.jpg

 

...and Trumpeter Hornbill

 

large.59aaa5730e6ee_v112.jpg.c562d6656fd490b696623e879bec199f.jpg

Edited by lmSA84
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Posted (edited)

Maputaland Coast

 

After Mtunzini we drove further up the coast to Maputaland and the Rocktail Bay Beach Camp.

 

large.59aaa607407a9_v1037.jpg.5cccad20bbe1069a7587ff6dcb83ce6f.jpg

 

Rocktail is a remote luxury beach camp set in it's own private portion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It has it's own stretch of effectively private beach with not a sole in sight for miles and if you visit in the right months 100s of nesting Leatherback Turtles. We unfortunately were out of season for the turtles but that didn't stop us enjoying the beach.

 

large.IMG_2660_91761.jpg.55878b2ff4bfe2d650fe8bd40bb32a8f.jpg 

When you get tired of the beach, a spot of birdwatching in the thick sand forest that surrounds the camp will always be fruitful for both birds and a few mammals. 

 

View from our balcony

 

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Thick forest that surrounds the lodge

 

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Vervet Monkey

 

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Red Duiker are ubiquitous

 

large.59aaa5dc9bc44_v1034.jpg.79d9e89fd7dc58cd3914dff60c93e975.jpg

 

Southern Black Flycatcher

large.59aaa55f48fc3_v83.jpg.f4b2cab68ebf26953b80f1f8bfbf892b.jpg

 

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird

 

large.59aaa55a46cc4_v75.jpg.19c1459f5422c35e2c76dd3b5037d0fd.jpg

 

Day trips are possible from Rocktail to Tembe Elephant Park (we didn't go) and Lake Sibaya which is South Africa's largest lake. There isn't too much to see at the lake, if you're lucky Hippos, but again the birding's great (you can see a theme emerging :D) with the potential to see the Rosy Longclaw.

 

The road to Lake Sibaya

 

large.59aaa6e8e957d_v1049.jpg.76253c42c86c9a2bf103de11c4577749.jpg

 

 The lake

 

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Rosy Longclaw

 

large.59aaa5616072f_v89.jpg.83e931a3fbb9bfdef0982d137f091ed5.jpg

Edited by lmSA84
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Posted (edited)

Drakensberg - Thendele

 

Growing up in Durban our family holidays would typically be one of three types - safari, visiting family in Zimbabwe or walking in the Drakensberg. The "berg" has subsequently always had a special place in my heart and I knew that a trip to SA wouldn't be complete without taking my wife and daughter to the berg.

 

For this trip we chose Thendele's Upper Camp. Thendele doesn't necessarily offer the best walking in the berg (I would say Injisuthi or Giant's Castle have the best trails) or the best wildlife viewing (the Giant's Castle Vulture Hide takes that prize) but I think it does have the most spectacular scenery.

 

This is the dawn view from the patio of our cottage.

 

large.DSC_0237_71992.jpg.8286a25376ed63f05b415e74b71d9ce4.jpg

 

large.IMG_2795_78655.jpg.325d11b2b6484f5118a855837373b2fe.jpg

  

Being in the berg is all about walking and enjoying the scenery. Most walks in Thendele will take you to a series of vistas and valley sections with thick montane forest.

 

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Mammal wise there is not too much to see - Bushbuck Slender Mongoose, Common Duiker and to a lessor extent Eland are quite common. The most exciting find is the Mountain Reedbuck but they're a shy antelope. 

 

The birding is excellent though and the camp is reliable place for the Buck Blackcap which is an otherwise challenging bird to find.

 

large.59aaa54506d98_v25.jpg.d02757906fae5a4c9d41de024107f75c.jpg

 

If you can't locate him though, they're many others to see..

 

Wailing Cisticola

 

large.59aaa547bb82e_v37.jpg.29e5a6002e44f6f4f5da42dc9e0d6eda.jpg

 

Greater Double Collared Sunbird

 

large.DSC_9545_71862.jpg.ae27a179d187c9c9a9702a86c7fcd8f9.jpg

 

African Stonechat

 

large.59aaa558564a4_v54.jpg.e9fac7cd328c37ee7e560d6b7ce7e303.jpg

 

Cape Rock Thrush

 

large.59aaa554ca1c6_v52.jpg.89c0eb4b4a175b537f83a2ad3f82eed4.jpg

 

Familiar Chat

 

large.59aaa54e6050a_v43.jpg.f9781bbf6e0f3112be27ca4b22c4dda1.jpg

 

White Breasted Cormorant

 

large.59aaa5534f89a_v45.jpg.8c1df890d181bb08a56466ebe2af036f.jpg

 

The End

 

All in all we travelled a little over 8,500KM by car in our road trip. We stayed in over 22 different places and visited 6 of South Africa's 9 provinces all with a 6 month old baby. It was the trip of a life time and a tremendous experience for our young family. To anyone thinking of doing a self-driving trip to South Africa my advice would be to just do it - there is so much to see and it's soo easy even a baby could do it - literally! ;)

  

Edited by lmSA84
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With a 6 month old baby?  You ARE to be commended! 

 

Lambert's Bay was exceptional!  You went at the right time of year, or is the Gannet Colony always so chock full of birds?

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@lmSA84 I have really enjoyed your RSA TR, mostly because you went to some out of the way places that we don't hear much about. Fabulous phots too, and I am impressd that you did all this with a 6 month old baby!

 

I have a question for you - next year I am hoping to visit the Giants Castle Vulture Hide, I will be travelling by myself and flying up from Cape Town. I will need a guide, transport and accommodation - is this something that Sakhamuzi Mhlongo  would be able to guide. Sorry, I am a bit unsure of the geography and travel distances. I wonder if @Panthera Pardus is following along and has any ideas?

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11 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

With a 6 month old baby?  You ARE to be commended! 

 

Lambert's Bay was exceptional!  You went at the right time of year, or is the Gannet Colony always so chock full of birds?

 

@Atravelynn - Thanks! The Gannets and other seabirds are resident at Bird Island so no need to time a trip. That said if you visit in August and get lucky you might be able to combine a trip to Bird Island with the Namaqua flower season. 

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@Treepol - thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. SA has so much more to offer then just KTP and Kruger. 

 

I'm envious to hear that you're visiting the vulture hide. If we hadn't have gone to Maputaland and Mtunzini our alternative plan was to visit the Rockwood Forest Lodge at Karkloof then head to Giants Castle for walking and the vulture hide.

 

Unfortunately, I doubt that Sakhamuzi could help. Giants Castle is about 4-5hrs from Mtunzini and Sakhamuzi doesn't have a suitable private vehicle.

 

I'm sure that you're already aware but my understanding is that Ezemvelo have stopped doing transfers to the hide so you need your own 4x4.

 

If you wanted you could independently make the journey. The hide and accommodation at Giants Castle NP have to be booked through Ezemvelo. Accommodation can be done online and I think the hide has to be booked over the phone. For car hire I would recommend Britz - they have an excellent range of 4x4 vehicles at highly competitive prices. Driving in SA is very easy due to the low volume of traffic. 

 

I'm afraid that I don't know of a local guide covering that area but Birds and Beyond do tours to the berg and it might be worth reaching out to Birdlife. They run the community guide programme for the Zululand Birding route and they may have a suggestion. 

 

http://www.birdlifezululand.co.za/community-bird-guides/

 

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Splendid trip report @lmSA84 and you are so right South Africa is a wonderful place to visit.We have used a guide from the Birding route program near Polkwane and can greatly recommend the scheme

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2 hours ago, lmSA84 said:

 

@Atravelynn - Thanks! The Gannets and other seabirds are resident at Bird Island so no need to time a trip. That said if you visit in August and get lucky you might be able to combine a trip to Bird Island with the Namaqua flower season. You could charge for that piece of travel advice!

 

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Thank you. You have spoilt us with some really excellent info, not to mention many photos of fabulously rare birds (and other stuff)!

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Thank you for an excellent report - practical details, lots of birds, mammals and beautiful scenery. All illustrated by your wonderful photos.

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Really enjoyed reading your TR, @lmSA84, and learning about many excellent places thjat we will be able to visit in future trips to this part of Africa. 8500 km ... you really covered a lot of territory!

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@lmSA84 thanks for the lead to Birds and beyond, I have contacted Stuart and will book with him once my RSA safari dates are confirmed. Good hint about the community bird guides too.

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@lmSA84

 

What an epic trip report and a real reference source for relatively unknown places (at least to me) in South Africa. I really appreciated your practical details, not to mention your obvious enthusiasm for the country. With two previous trips totaling 4 weeks in South Africa, it's obvious that we have only scratched the surface. 

 

Thanks again!

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Really enjoyed your Drakensberg photos, and glad you found your barbets!

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Love all the bathing, whether Secretary bird in the water or ostrich in the dust!  The African Wildcat caught something!

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