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Eastern South Africa Endemics 18-Day Tour

Midlands & Drakensberg – North Coast – Zululand & Elephant Coast – Grasslands & Wetlands – Escarpment & Kruger – Magoebaskloof – Rust de Winter

Scheduled Date:  02 − 11 November 2023.

Or alternate date on request.


This guided Eastern South Africa 14-day birding and wildlife safari package with Sustain will lead you to the very best regions this bountiful part of South Africa has to offer. The trip is packed with extraordinary destinations, including 3 World Heritage Sites, the grand Kruger National Park, as well as numerous other Important Birding Areas and RAMSAR wetlands. The tour will focus on optimizing your chances of encountering many endemics and specials, as well as other highly sought-after animals and other biodiversity. The scenery on offer is simply breathtaking, making it a landscape photographer's dream.

The route caters to a huge bird list in excess of 600 species, and we can expect to find over 350 bird species (including many raptors, owls and endemics). In addition, we can expect to encounter over 60 mammal species along our route, including the 'Big 5' and many other large and nocturnal predators. The tour is sure to be filled with an abundance of birds and wildlife and will venture to many truly special and varied nature-based destinations.

Due to the length of this special trip, to provide a breakdown of the daily itinerary that identifies the destinations visited and their respective target species and activities will be 

Tour Highlights

  • Travel regions include:

    • Experience the breath-taking and dramatic Drakensberg Mountains for 2 nights, and drive up to the glorious Sani Pass summit.

    • Bird watch the lush grasslands, misty wetlands, leafy forests and bubbling streams of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands for 1 night.

    • Explore the towering Ongoye and Dlinza forests, and the intriguing mangroves of Umlalazi in search of several ground and treetop endemic birds and other interests for 1 night.

    • Search the verdant and varied habitats of Zululand and Maputaland for large and predatory mammals and extraordinary bird diversity around St Lucia, the Eastern Shores, the Western Shores and the 'Big 5' Mkhuze Game Reserve sections of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, for 4 nights.

    • Savour the beauty and great diversity of the Wakkerstroom wetlands and high altitude grasslands for 2 nights.

    • Hunt through the wilds of the renowned Kruger National Park for 'Big 5' and other large small game and tremendous bird diversity.

    • We finish off summiting the mighty Blyde River Canyon and exploring the beauty of the Verloren Vallei and Dullstroom mistbelt altitudinal grasslands.

  • Start and End Destinations: This safari commences at King Shaka International Airport in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and ends at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

  • Top birds: Cape Parrot, Blue Swallow, Black Harrier, Striped Flufftail, Bearded Vulture, Cape Vulture, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Yellow-breasted Pipit, South African Cliff Swallow, Cape Eagle-Owl, African Grass-Owl, Malachite Sunbird, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Drakensberg Prinia, Mountain Pipit, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Sickle-winged Chat, Grey-winged Francolin, Red-winged Francolin, Shelley’s Francolin, Bokmakierie, Barratt’s Warbler, Red-breasted Sparrowhawk, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Black-winged Lapwing, Mountain Wheatear, Denham’s Bustard, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Knysna Turaco, Bush Blackcap, Ground Woodpecker, Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Southern Bald Ibis, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Red-chested Flufftail, Wattled Crane, Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Orange Ground-Thrush, Forest Buzzard, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, African Emerald Cuckoo, Mountain Wagtail, Greater Painted-snipe, Western Yellow Wagtail, Pied Avocet, Black Coucal, Palm-nut Vulture, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Swamp Nightjar, Narina Trogon, Crested Guineafowl, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Cape Longclaw, African Finfoot, Goliath Heron, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Green Barbet, Striped Pipit, Plain-backed Pipit, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Mangrove Kingfisher, Sooty Tern, African Oystercatcher, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Green Malkoha, Green Twinspot, Livingstone’s Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Cape Eagle-Owl, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Bateleur, Rosy-throated Longclaw, African Broadbill, Woodward’s Batis, Pink-throated Twinspot, Secretarybird, Rudd’s Apalis, African Pygmy Goose, Common Ostrich, Lappet-faced Vulture, Neergard’s Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Half-collared Kingfisher.


  • Mammal viewing: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Black Rhino, White Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, Pangolin, Hippo, Giraffe, Sloggett's Ice Rat, Serval, Caracal, Eland, Red Hartebeest, Grey Rhebok, Oribi, Mountain Reedbuck, Samango Monkey, Thick-tailed Bushbaby, Suni, Red Duiker, Blue Duiker, Cape Clawless Otter, Honey Badger, Side-striped Jackal, Bushpig, other general game and good chances for uncommon smaller species.


  • Special interests: birding, wildlife, photography.


  • Specialist guiding: 4x4 Sani Pass Tour; uMkhuze Fig Forest walk.


Each destination we visit en-route offers unique habitats, extraordinary scenery, and breath-taking beauty, providing you with fantastic photographic opportunities. Habitats we explore include numerous forest types, woodlands, savanna, wetlands, grassland, mountains and cliffs, shorelines and estuaries, which host numerous regional endemics, threatened and endangered mammal and bird species, as well as great floral diversity.

Accommodation: On the accommodation front we typically use very comfortable private lodges and national park resorts, but should you prefer, at an added cost, luxury lodging options can also be arranged.


Tour tempo: The tempo of our Birding and Wildlife Tours are typically medium-paced, with optional mid-day breaks (advisable on hot days). If you are a keen photographer, well so are we, and we can offer many opportunities to capture the moments that will make you the envy of your wildlife-watching friends.

Expected weather conditions: Subtropical and mostly hot during the day in the summer, and cooler in the evenings, with a chance of mist. Rain is possible, usually in the form of summer convection thunderstorms, and cool wet weather is possible in the event of a cold front moving up from the south in the winter months. On a climate level, the region falls in the summer rainfall region, with an average rainfall of between 700mm and 1,100mm per year. Temperatures range from -5˚C in winter to 32˚C in summer, with an average maximum of 28˚C and an average minimum of 10˚C. The driest month is July, the most rainfall falls in January, and the warmest is in February.

Optional extension: An optional tour extension is available to also include:

  • Magoebaskloof and Rust de Winter regions – add 3 days by exploring these the glorious forest birds of Magoebaskloof and the highland wetlands and savannas of the abundant Rust de Winter, Zaagkuilsdrift and Nylsvley areas.

  • Northern Kruger National Park and Soutpanesberg – these northern regions play host to several special bird species at the southern extents of their ranges.


Please note: this set-departure tour is also available as a private or custom tour on request. Please submit an enquiry with your preferred dates and group size.

Tour Summary

  • Dates:  

    • 10 − 23 May 2023

    • 17 − 30 October 2023

    • Or other date on request

  • Validity:  01 January 2023 – 31 December 2023.

  • Duration:  18 days, 17 nights.

  • Price: ZAR 49,990 per person sharing, with a ZAR 6,990 single supplement. 

  • Price may be subject to change based on factors beyond our control. 

  • No. of Pax:  Maximum 6 guests per vehicle and per guide.

  • Tour Starts:  At King Shaka International Airport in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

  • Tour Ends:  At OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

  • Distance:  Total driving distance (including around sites) = 1,750km.


Tour Includes:

  • Private wildlife and birding guide;

  • Accommodation (may change subject to availability, in which case similar will be found);

  • All breakfasts, dinners, tea and coffee;

  • All ground transport – Maximum 6 participants and 1 guide per luxury touring vehicle;

  • Specialist guide fees – 1 day Sani Pass 4x4 Tour, uMkhuze Fig Forest walk.

  • All road tolls and parking fees;

  • Meals – Dinners and breakfasts;

  • Bottled water in vehicles;

  • All entrance fees, conservation and community levies to parks and reserves;

  • Trip guide;

  • Personalized species checklists.


Tour Excludes:

  • Airport departure taxes or visa fees;

  • Travel and medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation);

  • All lunches, snacks and drinks (except bottled waters);

  • Optional excursions;

  • Specialist guide fees and activities not specified;

  • Items of a personal nature.

  • Laundry and telephone charges;

  • Tips and gratuities;

  • Anything else not mentioned in “Includes”.



  • Terms and Conditions apply;

  • Minimum of 4 participants per vehicle required to undertake the trip;

  • The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of those we may possibly view on the tour, however, none can be guaranteed;

  • This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control;

  • Tour group is responsible for paying for all guide meals;

  • All images taken on tour with Sustain Safaris.

Elephant Walk signed.jpg
Cape Parrot hanging signed.jpg
African Broadbill1 signed.jpg
African Cuckoo Hawk2b signed.jpg
White-backed Vulture signed.jpg
Greater Painted-Snipe
Lion chow bw signed.jpg
European Nightjar1 signed.jpg
Redfronted Tinkerbird5.jpg
Elephant bull appearing
White-starred Robin
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