LIMPOPO BUSHVELD TO THE FLORAL KINGDOM OF NAMAQUALAND
Route chosen for the start of our tour follows the general direction of the Great North Road as the wagon trail from the gold diggings of the Old Transvaal to Southern Rhodesia was known. Originally pioneered by the early Afrikaner trekkers the wagon route wended its way across the sprawling Bushveld beyond the impressive Magaliesberg mountain range. Ivory hunters and prospectors followed in the wake of the early pioneers drawn by tales of African Elephant in abundance and veins of pure gold running through the exposed quartzite of the Waterberg. It is a sprawling landscape of endless fascination that has given rise to legends and mysteries aplenty that collectively add to the allure so warmly associated with the Limpopo Province as the area is known today.
15 days starting in Johannesburg and ending in Cape Town:
Best months: July to October
A Diverse Tapestry of Scenic and Environmental Delights!
In terms of biodiversity the Bushveld is unsurpassed in Southern Africa. This in itself is geologically unsurprising given the fact that the Bushveld Igneous Complex is one of the richest mineral deposits in the world. Forces long ago led to an upwelling beneath the earth's crust and with it accessibility in recent times to vast deposits of Platinum and Iron Ore along with Gold and other valuable minerals.
Over time soil types were affected which today range from alkaline to acidic each supporting its own characteristic mix of plants and trees. This in turn has given rise to an incredible variety of mammals and birds not to mention a diverse mix of reptiles and insects.
As such the area is a jewel box of environmental delights best experienced on foot as one traverses from one habitat type to another. It is a tapestry of rocky outcrops and ever changing woodland bisected by drainage lines and patches of fertile grassland.
Of the many attractions the bird life is by far the most engaging. Well over 400 species are known to occur in the area including most of SA's most colourful species ranging from the strikingly beautiful Waxbills and Finches to iridescent Starlings and charismatic Hornbills.
Each day represents a search of discovery for sightings anew as we work our way through a variety of habitats each holding its unique suite of species. Days will be warm and the nights cool. Rain is unlikely for most of the year. Sunsets and night skies represent added attractions along with a variety of interesting mammals to add a further dimension of interest ranging from the nocturnal and highly agile Galago to the endangered and highly localized Roan Antelope.
After our sojourn of 9 nights in the Bushveld we head back to Johannesburg and fly to Cape Town around midday to spend 5 nights in Namaqualand. Our route north of the City takes us along the West Coast with its classic view of Table Mountain and Robben Island. Low profile Dune and Fynbos habitats dominate in stark contrast to the diversity of broadleaved woodland habitat encountered in Limpopo Province.
Equally striking are the contrasting colours of emerald green and splashes of white and orange as the floral kingdom comes into full bloom in response to the winter rains.
Birding is at its very best as spring gets underway in the Western Cape. Bird song is continuous as competing males in full nuptial dress engage in territorial dispute and courting activity. Of all the West Coast birds the Sunbirds are the most striking along with flocks of brightly coloured Canaries. Aloes add to the colourful mix with their coral red candelabras and Sunbirds and Weavers in constant attendance.
Our journey takes us inland through the verdant wheat lands of the Swartland to the flanks of the rugged Cedarberg mountains and Olifants river valley. All around sandstone outcrops sculptured over time by wind and rain peer gargoyle-like from the heights above as we traverse across the mountain range to the rain shadow beyond.
Over the millennia sand deposits have collected in vast swathes in shallow river valleys criss-crossed by Acacia drainage lines. In fact for most of the year Namaqualand represents a barren scrub studded moonscape of monotonous beige and wheaten hues shimmering in the summer heat. Yet, soon after the first winter rains the landscape transforms into a wonderland of green followed by an unsurpassed palette of colour as thousands of spring flowers come into bloom. Shows vary between patches of colour here and there to vast horizon-wide shows of Namaqualand daisies and gazanias tapering off in all directions.
No matter what the rainfall pattern there are always flowers to enjoy and we will spend our time seeking out the best shows and birding sites along roads less traveled in the area. This normally arid landscape is home to a wide variety of Larks and Bustards as well as an assortment of highly localized bird and mammal species that have adapted to the semi-desert conditions of Namaqualand.
Like the Bushveld sector of the tour field activities will be tailored to the weather pattern on the day, sighting needs as agreed. Pace throughout will be leisurely throughout with plenty of time for photography and opportunities to absorb observations in detail.
All in all the combination of natural attractions on offer should add up to a lasting and holistic experience as an accompaniment to the comfort and traditional cuisine provided by the diverse mix of safari lodges and guesthouses selected for the tour. All have been specially hand-picked as overnight accommodation points based on the mix of wildlife on offer and the malaria free location of each.
We return to Cape Town International in good time for the evening flight out via the West Coast National Park for sightings of shorebirds in the Langebaan Lagoon and midday displays of colourful succulents and daisies in the surrounding Sandveld.
Our final approach to Cape Town will follow the Atlantic coastline providing postcard views of Table Mountain as a lasting and fitting finale to the tour ...
Key Species: Great Egret, Squacco Heron, White-faced Duck, Fulvous Duck, Cape Shoveller, Cape Teal,Southern Pochard, South African Shelduck, Cape Vulture, Verreaux's Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Booted Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, African Fish Eagle,African Marsh Harrier,Black Harrier, Crested Francolin, Swainson's Francolin, Black Crake, African Purple Swamp Hen, African Jacana, Chestnut-banded Sand Plover, White-fronted Sand Plover, Three-banded Sand Plover, Crowned Lapwing, African Snipe, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Spotted Thick-knee, Namaqua Sandgrouse, African Scops Owl, Pearl-spotted Owl, Marsh Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Hoopoe, Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Acacia Pied Barbet, Crested Barbet, Ground Woodpecker, Rufous-naped Lark, Large-billed Lark, Karoo Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark, Pearl-breasted Swallow,Brown-throated Martin, Banded Sand Martin, Southern Grey Tit, Ashy Tit, Arrow-marked Babbler, Kurrichane Thrush, Karoo Thrush, Mountain Wheatear, Capped Wheatear, Familiar Chat, Ant-eating Chat, Karoo Chat, Sickle-winged Chat, Cape robin Chat, White-browed Scrub Robin, Karoo Scrub Robin, Long-billed Crombec, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Karoo Eremomela, Grey-backed Cisticola, Le Vaillants Cisticola, Marico Flycatcher, Chin-spot Batis, Orange-throated Longclaw, Magpie Shrike, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Southern Boubou, Wattled Starling, Pied Starling, Northern and Southern Black Korhaan, Ludwig's Bustard, Burchell's Starling, Malachite Sunbird, Dusky Sunbird, Lesser Double-collared Sunbird, Marico Sunbird, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Scaly-feathered Finch, Cape Weaver, Southern Masked Weaver, Southern Red Bishop Bird, Yellow Bishop, Blue Waxbill, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-billed Firefinch, Jameson's Firefinch, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow Canary,Golden-breasted Bunting, Lark-like Bunting and Cape Bunting.
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