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Endemic Birds of Eastern South Africa 17-Day Tour

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

Scheduled Date:

02 − 19 March 2024

04 − 20 May 2024

05 − 21 November 2024

Or alternate date on request.


This guided 17-day tour targets all the endemic bird species located in the eastern sector of South Africa. Sustain will lead you through a great array of habitats in this subtropical region with the purpose of encountering as many of the country's 19 endemics and 50 near-endemics as possible. In addition, we will aim to find between 400-450 sought-after birds, between the months of September and March when migrants are present, and more than 320 bird species in the other months. 


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, near-endemics and other specials, as well as other highly sought-after mammals. 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 400 bird species. In addition, we will hope 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.

Tour Highlights

  • Travel regions include:

    • Experience the breath-taking and dramatic Drakensberg Mountains for 2 nights, and an exciting 4x4 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' Mkuze 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 for 3 nights.

    • We next rise up the escarpment to explore the majestic mistbelt forests and altitudinal grasslands of Magoebaskloof for 1 night.

    • We then finish off in the highland thornveld and floodplain regions around Rust de Winter, Zaagkuilsdrift and Kgomo-Kgomo for 2 nights.

  • 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 endemic birds: Cape Parrot, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Forest Buzzard, Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark, Black Harrier, Cape Vulture, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Cape Grassbird, African Rock Pipit, Mountain Pipit, Knysna Turaco, Bush Blackcap, Ground Woodpecker, Drakensberg Siskin, Drakensberg Prinia, Layard’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Sickle-winged Chat, White-throated Robin-Chat, Melodious Lark, Bokmakierie, Chorister Robin Chat, South African Cliff Swallow, Barratt’s Warbler, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Cape Rock Thrush, Spotted Ground Thrush, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Mountain Wheatear, Cape Longclaw, Cape Weaver, Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Crane, African Oystercatcher, Brown Scrub Robin, Pink-throated Twinspot, Rudd’s Apalis, Neergard’s Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Southern Pied Babbler, Karoo Thrush, Fiscal Flycatcher.

  • Top special birds: Blue Swallow, Cape Eagle Owl, African Grass Owl, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Red-chested Flufftail, Striped Flufftail, Wattled Crane, Grey Crowned Crane, Orange Ground Thrush, African Emerald Cuckoo, Greater Painted Snipe, Black Coucal, Palm-nut Vulture, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Swamp Nightjar, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Green Barbet, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Mangrove Kingfisher, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Green Malkoha, Livingstone’s Turaco, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Rosy-throated Longclaw, African Broadbill, Woodward’s Batis, Green Twinspot, Red-winged Francolin, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Secretarybird,  African Pygmy Goose, Common Ostrich, Lappet-faced Vulture, Purple-banded Sunbird, Southern Ground-Hornbill.

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


  • Special interests: birding, wildlife, photography.


  • Specialist guiding: 4x4 Sani Pass Tour; Mkuze Fig Forest walk, Kruger game drives.


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, floodplains, 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 this Birding and Wildlife Tour is 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 birding 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: Optional tour extensions available to also include:


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:  

    • 02 − 19 March 2024

    • 04 − 20 May 2024

    • 05 − 21 November 2024

    • Or other date on request.

  • Validity:  01 January 2024 – 31 December 2024.

  • Duration:  17 days, 16 nights.

  • Price: ZAR 63,250 per person sharing, with a ZAR 6,950 single supplement.

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

  • No. of Pax:  Maximum 7 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) = 3,000km.


Tour Includes:

  • Private wildlife and birding guide;

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

  • All ground transport – Maximum 7 participants and 1 guide per luxury touring vehicle;

  • Specialist guide fees – 1-day Sani Pass 4x4 Tour, 1 x Mkuze Fig Forest walk, 1 x Kruger night drive.

  • 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 3 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
Drakensberg Rockjumper male
Ground Woodpecker
Drakensberg Siskin
White-backed Vulture signed.jpg
Mangrove Kingfisher signed.jpg
Gurney's Sugarbird male
Black-fronted Bush-Shrike
Brown-throated Weaver
Buff-streaked Chats
African Broadbill
Knysna Turaco
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