Wildlife Safaris, Birding Tours and Pelagic Trips, Cape Town, South Africa & Beyond
Specialist Safari Operator
- Avian Leisure has been in operation since 1998 as a husband and wife team specializing in tailor-made private wildlife safaris & birding tours of a boutique nature in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
- Custom designed tours include wildlife, birding, seasonal wild flower, general nature and photographic safaris, catering for self-drive or fully guided tours and fly-in safaris as a particular speciality.
- Our customized birding and wildlife tours are run at our clients’ desired pace, and our hallmark tailored itineraries fine-tuned to target ‘Big Five’ wildlife and bird sightings, while providing sufficient time and relaxation to enjoy the cultural delights of the areas you are visiting whether wine estates, shopping, fine dining ….
- Flexible and highly personalized approach linked to our low overhead structure enables us to deliver tailored tours that invariably exceed clients’ requirements and ensure optimal value.
- We’re based in Simon’s Town on the scenic outskirts of Cape Town, and as such we are the tour operator of choice for visitors with limited time in Cape Town, to take a tour to see or photograph the endemic birds and nature in the surrounding area or take a pelagic trip off Cape Point, and to complete the experience with a wine tour embracing our hand-picked choice of iconic Cape wine estates!
Birder-friendly accommodation in Simons Town, Cape Town
At our home in Simon’s Town we have spacious self catering apartments on the mountain slope above the Boulders Coastal penguin colony, overlooking False Bay with magnificent, panoramic sea views, and set in an indigenous garden of pristine Cape fynbos – with regular sightings of whales, fur seals, penguins, sunbirds, sugarbirds and a host of other birds from your bedroom deck!
An added delight is the regular night-time opportunity to view porcupines coming to our floodlit pond.
All in all the perfect breakaway destination to spend time away from the madding crowds with memories to savour and enjoy!
Covid-19 Safety Commitment
The unexpected advent of the global pandemic and its negative impact on travel has necessitated a complete review as to how we structure our eco-tourism business for the future in the interests of client safety. We believe eco-tourism with its light rural footprint and remote destination offerings is well placed to offer travelers a low risk travel experience. To this end we have refined our safari options to focus on a select number of hand-picked lodges located in wildlife rich areas of Southern Africa all of which are fully Covid-19 compliant to minimise the risk of infection.
In this way we sincerely believe our personalised efforts to ensure client health and safety will translate into a hassle-free safari experience of an outstanding nature in keeping with our ongoing commitment to provide exceptional wildlife experiences under challenging circumstances such as we are facing at present.
We adhere strictly to the Covid-19 Safety Protocols laid out by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) according to guidelines of the Department of Health. For Covid-19 updates visit the official South African government website https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
OUR TOP DESTINATIONS
With a population of 58 million, spread across a broad spectrum of vibrant cultures and traditional languages, South Africa is rightfully and affectionally referred to as the ‘rainbow nation’. Likewise, with close on 200 mammals, including the dangerous ‘Big Five’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – and over 850 bird species …
Botswana, a sparsely populated country of desert and arid-savanna woodland located in the heart of Southern Africa, is home to the world acclaimed Okavango Delta, and the scenically engaging arid-savanna of the Tuli Block enclave at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers in the south east corner of the country …
For some, Namibia is a vast expanse of nothingness, a desolate moonscape holding little of interest. But for most it is a sparsely populated amalgamation of varied and pristine landscapes, richly endowed with a fascinating variety of life forms that have successfully evolved for survival within the desert dunes, gravel plains and semi-arid savanna …
OUR TOP TOURS
There is a place in the savanna woodland, in the Greater Kruger, a very special place we affectionately call our safari ‘home from home’ that exudes an air of ‘bonhomie’, like no other bush lodge we know of, supported by the most experienced rangers we have had the pleasure of guiding with, who interpret the ‘secrets’ of the African bushveld for clients as the sights and sounds unfold …
Victoria Falls – awesome is the only word that aptly describes the mile wide vista of cascading cataracts, towering plumes of spray carried heavenwards on the updraft swirling wildly above the cauldron of cross currents and foam flecked eddies far below in the malevolent shadow of the gorge as the mighty Zambezi composes itself for the final rush east to the Indian Ocean …
There is no inland delta anywhere in the world that can compare in size and biodiversity with the seasonal splendour of the Okavango as the annual inundation of the Kavango river, rising in the highlands of distant Angola, permeates its way through the meandering channels, quiet lagoons and papyrus fringed islands of this vast wetland of spectacular environmental …
It is well over a half century since I first set foot on Boulders beach in Simon’s Town when, as a young man on holiday from Johannesburg, I was exposed to the scenic wonders of the Western Cape for the very first time. It was a transformational experience beckoning a return to engage more fully with so much on offer in Simon’s Town, as and when the future …
Guided birding tour and wildlife safari – Drakensberg and the Bushveld to Victoria Falls, Chobe and Namibia
Frank & Susan Gilliland said Patrick was the best bird guide they ever had. We agree, we liked the relaxed way he got us on the bird, then showed us the image and distribution on his phone app. ML’s logistics were exceptional, she kept us informed from the get-go.
Jim & Debbie, the Moore Group, USA
Patrick’s skills and experience and good company made for a rich and successful lifetime experience. We greatly appreciated all the support with transfers, currency, tips, attending to our food & drinks needs, and other logistics, allowing us to focus on enjoying the trip
Pat & Richard Avery, the Moore Group, USA
Self-drive Birding safari through Namibia
We had a wonderful 22 days from the start in Windhoek to the last day in Vic Falls and would like to thank Marie-Louise and Patrick for the perfect itinerary and organisation of our self-drive birding safari through Namibia. With the assistance of many excellent local bird guides we have seen 260 different bird species, many animals and not a single cloud in the sky!
Jan & Ursula Ekkers, Switzerland
Safari in Kruger followed by the delights of Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg
The Nottens crew was unbelievable in finding so many leopards. This one we came back and checked on every day. His gut got bigger and the poor duiker kill smaller every time we saw him. There were always a few hyenas under the tree waiting for scraps. While in Skukuza, the first day we drove down to Sunset dam. Was a good move. What we thought were strange rounded rocks in the center of the watering hole turned out to be 20 hippos. Note the baby hippos in there!
Such a great trip. We’ve traveled a lot. But, this trip was more fantastic than we had imagined!
Karen & Robert Schrimpf
Private birding tour for Norwegian group – Western Cape
Definitive the best Birding trip I ever been on, and definitely a place I would like to come back to. Marie-Louise and Patrick had organized a great tour which took us to all the sites and habitats we wanted to visit. The planning was perfect, and the accommodations were great. Especially the Shearwater apartment .
The birding was a success with a total of 278 species. All the birds in our target list (that was accessible) and an impressive 56 out of 57 true endemics! “Dreambirds” like Wandering Albatross, Crowned Eagle, Black Harrier and Cape Rockjumper were all seen well. Patrick provided us with excellent guiding, safe driving (in the “wrong” side of the road), and great company. His enthusiasm and knowledge of nature is priceless, and he knows exactly where to search for the hard species.
Thank you for booking us on a spectacular pelagic trip, and for all the personal extra service. This birding tour in the Western Cape exceeded our expectations. In fact, this was the best birding tour we ever took part in. Your company will be highly recommended, and we will be happy to return to explore other parts of South Africa with Avian Leisure. Thank you both!
Rune Botnermyr, Norway
We stayed 6 days at Avian Leisure’s Shearwater apartment which we booked in combination with a Pelagic Birdwatching Tour and 3 full days of Birding with Patrick from Avian Leisure. We are experienced birders and this was our first trip to Africa. Patrick did everything and more to make each day an experience never to forget. In those 4 days we observed 186 bird species and 19 mammals, including many ‘most wanted’ species including stunning views of Verreaux’s Eagles, Black Korhaan, flocks of Blue Cranes, White-winged terns, Denham Bustards, Black Harriers, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Rockthrush and Ground Woodpecker. We were very happy to also observe Bryde’s whale, Klipspringer, Steenbok and many other interesting mammals. All of this within a 1 day radius of Cape Town!
Patrick is an absolute Top-guide and also a pleasure to bird with. The Pelagic Birding was a wonderful experience with wonderful photography opportunities and up-close observations of many Albatross, Shearwater, Storm-petrel and other pelagic species with a visit to a Fur-seal colony and great views of Dusky Dolphins close to the both. I can recommend Avian Leisure to anyone who wants to make the most of their birdwatching or safari trip to South Africa.
Bauke on Trip Advisor
Private Group Safari – Namibia, Botswana and Kruger
Thank you to ML, Patrick, and Derek for organizing a safari that was beyond expectations! The Fetzer group had a truly amazing time filled with adventure, sights and sounds, and the joyous ring of laughter! This safari was beautifully planned and executed! An amazing variety of scenery and experiences! Thank you for everything! The lodges were, without exception amazing. The guides and food were fantastic. Too much food, but that’s another issue. The flights went off without a hitch. Nice personnel and great planes. The staff we encountered couldn’t have been more helpful, knowledgeable and pleasant. Namibia – what a place. The highlight for most of us – certainly Rosanne and I. Botswana was also amazing – the Okavango Delta was like nothing we had ever seen.
All that being said, it was an amazing trip with lots of moving parts and people. It really went off without a hitch and we owe a great deal to you, Patrick and Derek for that. So, thanks so much for helping us do a trip of our lifetime.
Fetzer Group, USA
Patrick’s an excellent guide, and went out of his way to show me the specific species I’d asked to see. I’d highly recommend him. The accommodation at Simons Town is very comfortable with stunning views of the bay, and numerous birds and a Porcupine in the garden. Avian Leisure have organized over 6 trips to Southern Africa for me, and every experience has been brilliant
Duncan, on Trip Advisor
Private birding and wildlife safari for a family – Vic Falls, Chobe, Okavango & Madikwe
The trip was fantastic – many thanks again for arranging it all. Everything worked extremely well including the connecting flights and we cannot find fault with any of the places we stayed at. The food and service was first class at all of them! The guides we had were all very knowledgeable…….. I’m still working out the total but I saw at least 365 bird species over the three weeks, which is not bad considering it was not purely a bird trip. We also saw most of the mammals we were hoping for.
Jonathan, Dawn & Philip Bowley, UK
Private Group Safari – Cape Town and Spring Flower tour followed by Central Circuit safari in Namibia
Our 5 week trip with Patrick Cardwell, one of South Africa’s foremost naturalists, proved to be transformative and unforgettable
Audrey Benedict, Cloud Ridge Naturalists, Colorado USA
‘Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.’
Robert Service ‘The call of the wild’
OUR LATEST BLOG POST
We are sitting on an isolated outcrop of ancient rocks, well to the west of Kimberley of past diamond digging fame, on the very edge of the Kalahari Desert - a mysterious expanse filled with an enduring aura of the unknown and a sense of timelessness with much still awaiting scientific discovery. Actually, the Kalahari is not even a desert as defined by annual rainfall, but rather a vast area of arid savanna thornveld and swathes of sprawling tawny grass patches...