KwaZulu-Natal Zululand and Maputaland 5-Day Tour

Zululand – Maputaland – North Coast

This 5-day tour is a moderately-paced safari available as a set departure (or on request) where you can expect to see around 320 species of bird, including five endemics and approximately 35 mammals. This tour explores several abundant and premier game reserves in the famed Zululand and Maputaland (Elephant Coast) region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Each reserve offers unique attributes, breath-taking beauty, and captivating experiences.

 

Introduction:

Video:

Areas covered:

Accommodation:

The birding:

The mammals:

 

Gallery

Itinerary

Tour in brief    Full itinerary

Rates

Habitat types vary greatly from savannah to woodlands, sand forests to coastal forests and riverine forests, lakes to flooded grasslands, estuaries to seashores. This variety ensures tremendous species richness and an experience of great intrigue and appeal.

The region is a birding mecca and mammal playground, with many specials and endemic species on offer − from Southern Banded Snake-Eagles and African Broadbills to Leopards and Black Rhinos − the possibilities are mouth-watering.

On the birding front, we set a sightings goal of 250+ species in the summer months and 200+ species in winter. On the mammal front, we hope to see upwards of 30 species, with an array of reptiles, amphibians and butterflies also to be found across the greatly varied habitats. iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers the ‘Big 5’ mammals, and we have a good chance of spotting these.

 

Our tour both commences and ends at Umhlanga or King Shaka International Airport. We visit a multitude of areas, beginning with the renowned estuary town of St Lucia for our first night, where we explore the ‘Miracle and Wonder’ of South Africa’s first World Heritage Site − iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We then push on to Bonamanzi Game Reserve, and stop at Muzi Pan en-route, before entering the ‘Holy Grail’ of Southern African birding hotspots – uMkhuze Game Reserve, where we spend 2 nights.

 

We depart the reserve, stopping en-route at Nibela Peninsula and/or Mpempe Pan, before proceeding to Umlalazi Nature Reserve, where we overnight in Mtunzini town. The next morning sees us connect with a local community bird guide and head up into the enchanting scarp forests of Ongoye Forest Reserve and Dlinza Forest Reserve. Our final stop is at Mbozambo Wetlands before we return for Umhlanga or the airport.

 

On the accommodation front we typically use the affordable and comfortable private guesthouses and park accommodation (public rest camps), but should you prefer, at an added cost, several superb private lodge options are also on offer in world-class private reserves.

The tempo of this tour is typically medium-paced, with optional mid-day breaks (advisable on hot days), and some walking, but nothing too serious. If you are keen on photography, 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 with occasional rain, hot most of the time. 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.

Add-ons: this tour can be combined with extensions to the Drakensberg and Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Wakkerstroom and the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.

Experiences include:

  • Visit the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa's first World Heritage Site.

  • Explore the ‘Holy Grail’ of Southern African birding hotspots, also home to the ‘Big 5’ mammals – uMkhuze Game Reserve.

  • Undertake the Fig Forest walk near Nsumo Pan, uMkhuze Game Reserve.

  • Explore the aerial boardwalk and canopy tower in Dlinza Forest, Eshowe.

  • Undertake a morning of North Coast birding with expert community site guides, or alternatively a St Lucia estuary boat cruise to view hippos, crocodiles and enjoy birding.

 

Please note:

  • Minimum of 3 participants per vehicle required to undertake the trip. If fewer, the price will be slightly more.

  • Tour starts and ends either from King Shaka International Airport or Umhlanga.

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

  • The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of those we may possibly view on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possible species appears on your checklist, although vagrants and rarities may also surprise us.

Tour Highlights

 

  • Group size: maximum of 7 participants and 1 guide per vehicle.

 

  • Birding in brief: Sightings goal of 250+. Excellent variety of birds to be seen, with a good chance of large birds of prey and many special and endemic species.

 

  • Wildlife in brief: Sightings goal of 40+ mammals. Excellent variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies to be seen across a wide variety of habitats. iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers a good chance of the Big 5.

 

  • Areas visited: Dlinza, Ongoye, St Lucia, iSimangaliso (Eastern and Western Shores), Bonamanzi, Nibela Peninsula, Muzi Pan, Mkhuze, Umlalazi, Mbozambo Wetland.

 

  • Expected weather conditions: Subtropical with occasional rain, hot most of the time. 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.

 

  • Tour tempo: medium, optional mid-day breaks (advisable on hot days), no serious walking.

 

  • Accommodation standards: medium – private guesthouses and lodges, and public rest camps.

 

  • Top birds: Southern Bald Ibis, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, African Emerald Cuckoo, Greater Painted-snipe, Pied Avocet, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, 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, African Black Oystercatcher, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Green Malkoha, Livingstone’s Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, Green Twinspot, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Lemon-breasted Canary, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Bateleur, Rosy-throated Longclaw, African Broadbill, Woodward’s Batis, Pink-throated Twinspot, Secretarybird, African Pygmy Goose, Rudd’s Apalis, African Broadbill, Lappet-faced Vulture, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Half-collared Kingfisher.

 

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

 

  • Special interests: birding, wildlife, photography.

 

  • Specialist guiding: Community guide for a morning on the North Coast. Fig Forest Walk in uMkhuze.

Tour Summary

  • Duration:  5 days, 4 nights.

  • Price:         ZAR 14,995.00 per person sharing, with a ZAR 1,950.00 single supplement.    Price may be subject to change based on factors beyond our control.

  • Distance:  Total driving distance (including around sites) = 832km.

 

Includes:

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

  • All breakfasts, lunches, dinners, tea and coffee;

  • Ground transport – max 7 participants and 1 guide per minibus vehicle;

  • Bottled water in vehicles whilst travelling – 2 per person per day;

  • Entrance fees;

  • Conservation levies;

  • Personalized checklists;

  • Specialist guide fees – 1 morning with a local site guide in the North Coast region, and fig forest walk in uMkhuze Game Reserve.

 

Excludes:

  • All airfares;

  • Travel and medical insurance;

  • All drinks;

  • Optional excursions where applicable;

  • Gratuities;

  • Items of a personal nature.

 

Note:

  • Minimum of 4 participants per vehicle required to undertake the trip. If fewer, price will be slightly more;

  • Tour starts and ends either from King Shaka International Airport or Umhlanga Rocks;

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

  • The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of those we may possibly view on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possible species appears on your checklist, although vagrants and rarities may also surprise us.

Gallery

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