RARE & ELUSIVE MAMMALS OF SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg
16

RARE & ELUSIVE MAMMALS OF SOUTH AFRICA

Duration :   12 Days 11 Nights
Start Location:   Tambo International Airport
Total Seats :  0/0

19 AUGUST – 30 AUGUST 2024

Discover Elusive Mammals and rare nocturnal species like Aardvarks, Aardwolves, Black-Footed Cats & more on a South African wildlife expedition. Spot iconic species like Black-Maned Lions, Meerkats, and Bat-Eared Foxes alongside antelopes such as Gemsbok, Springbok & Red Hartebeest. Our guides are also birding experts. Note that weather may affect the itinerary and sightings can’t be guaranteed due to the elusive nature of many species which demand multiple night drives

Schedule Details

DAY 1: Arrival - O.R. Tambo International Airport – The Safari Club, Johannesburg

Upon your arrival at O.R.Tambo International Airport, you will be transferred to your comfortable lodge, The Safari Club Johannesburg. The Safari Club offers guests a true safari feel, they created the ultimate overnight accommodation only 5 minutes from O.R. Tambo airport. The rooms are 100% privately owned and managed. The Safari Club is one of the best loved airport stays in Johannesburg. Accommodation: Safari Club Johannesburg Meals: Dinner Included activities: Pre-tour briefing Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 2: The Safari Club, Johannesburg – Bram Fischer International Airport, Bloemfontein – New Holme Nature Lodge, Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve

After a hearty breakfast you’ll make your way back to the airport for a short flight to the city of Bloemfontein where you will meet up with your guide for the tour. After transferring to our van for the tour we’ll waste no time in getting out of the city for a roughly 3-hour journey to the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve. Time permitting we’ll do an afternoon game drive where we hope to see some of the larger mammals that are present here such as Cape Buffalo and Hippopotamus. We’ll return to the lodge for dinner before heading out on our first of 7 scheduled night drives. Karoo Gariep has proven to be a great location for some of the rarer nocturnal mammals and we hope to encounter the likes of Aardvark, Springhare, African Wild Cat, Aardwolf, Zorilla, Cape Porcupine, Bate-eared Fox and maybe even a Cape Fox. Overnight at New Holme Nature Lodge with its warm homely atmosphere, nestling in the splendour of the surrounding nature. A collection of activities and accommodation options stretching across two of The Karoo's most exciting Nature Reserves. KhoiSan Karoo Conservancy includes the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve and the Hanover Aardvark Nature Reserve. New Holme Nature Lodge is the main lodge at Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve. Accommodation: New Holme Nature Lodge Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Afternoon game drive; Night drive Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 3 & 4: New Holme Nature Lodge – Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve

Two full days in the Karoo Gariep lay ahead of us and we shall thoroughly utilise this time. During the day we’ll do several exploratory game drives, in search of mammals and birds. There are over 200 bird species in this reserve, including birds such as the Blue Crane, South Africa’s National bird, alongside coveted species such as Burchell’s Courser, Blue (Bustard) Korhaan and Rufous-eared Warbler. There will also be time to explore the reserve on foot where we’ll be on the lookout for smaller mammals such as the Sengi or Elephant Shrew species. Lunches will be enjoyed at our lodge and there will be time during the midday heat to relax around the lodge. Our focus here is without a doubt the nocturnal specialties and Karoo Gariep has become a very reliable spot for Aardvark and we hope to tick this one off the list before we get to Kimberley. Sightings of African Striped Weasel have been reported in this area, however, we shall have to be extremely lucky to find what is most certainly one of the most elusive mammals in South Africa. We have one more scheduled night drive and then there’s also an optional night drive for the last night. During our night drives we shall keep an eye out for nocturnal birds, the Spotted Eagle-Owl almost a given, but we’re also hoping for a few Nightjars. Accommodation: New Holme Nature Lodge Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Night drive; Exploring the reserve on foot; game drives Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 5: New Holme Nature Lodge – Marrick Game Farm

After breakfast we’ll bid our hosts farewell and start the 4-hour drive north to the town of Kimberley. There will be time along the way to stop for some birding and to stretch our legs. Once we reach Kimberley we’ll check in at our lodge and take a short break before doing some birding in the area, either at Kamfer’s Dam, famous for its Lesser Flamingo breeding colony (although it seems at present the artificial breeding island has been inundated due to excess water flow into the dam), nevertheless both species of flamingo (Lesser and Greater Flamingo) should still be present alongside the likes of Black-winged Stilt and several species of duck. We return to our guest house for an early dinner before heading out on a night drive at Marrick Game Farm, arguably the best place in the country to see the rare and elusive Black-footed Cat. We’ll also encounter many similar species to Karoo Gariep giving us a chance to catch up on any species we might have missed there. Marrick Safari is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, approximately 12km out of Kimberley. Nestled in 3000 hectares of unspoilt savannah thorn veld, this family-run business offers a vast expanse of space and silence providing endless opportunities for returning to nature. The property itself sustains a range of ecosystems, from African savannah land to rocky hillscapes to thicker thorny bushveld and there is also an ephemeral wet landscape. At Marrick Safari, there is "something for everybody", with a variety of activities specifically designed to enable guests to get as close as possible to this large, unique ecosystem that is almost free from human interference. Sunsets at Marrick are extraordinary and there is nothing more relaxing after a hot day in the bush than sipping an ice cold drink next to the Pan. Enjoy dinnertime around an open fire while chatting to friends and other guests before retiring to your luxurious cottage for a good night's rest. The Guesthouse is the original residence on Marrick farmstead, which has been restored to reflect the elegant ambience of its earlier years. The homestead also includes a lounge and dining room with welcoming open fireplace. Accommodation: Marrick Game Farm Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Birding en route to Marrick Game Farm / Birding at Kamfer’s Dam / Night drive Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 6: Marrick Game Farm – Mokala National Park

After breakfast we’ll head out to Mokala National Park, a short distance to the south of Kimberley. This 19,000 ha park is home to several rare antelope species such as Sable, Roan and Tsessebe. Both Black and White Rhino were successfully reintroduced and we’ll be on the lookout for the endemic Black Wildebeest which occurs here alongside Blue Wildebeest. Other common species include Eland, Warthog, Giraffe and Greater Kudu. The park is situated in a transition zone between the Karoo and Kalahari biomes which produces an interesting bird assemblage. We should be able to find the likes of Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Violet-eared Waxbill, Fawn-coloured Lark, Crimson-breasted Shrike and we might even be lucky enough to find the diminutive Pygmy Falcon here. We return to our lodge in time for an early dinner and a night drive at Marrick should we have missed Black-footed Cat the night before, as always, a healthy dose of luck will be needed to find Africa’s smallest cat. A more recent arrival at Marrick is Brown Hyena and we hope to maybe get a glimpse of one of them. Accommodation: Marrick Game Farm Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Mokala National Park Excursion / Night drive Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 7: Marrick Game Farm – Augrabies Falls Rest Camp, Augrabies Falls National Park

After a leisurely breakfast we’ll get the van loaded and head out of Kimberley on the rather long drive to Upington, the drive will be between 5 and 6 hours depending on stops we make along the way. We should arrive at Augrabies National Park, named after the 56m high Augrabies Falls, in the late afternoon. Upon arrival there will be time to take a walk down to the falls where the Orange River squeezes through a narrow rock gap, Rock Hyrax are extremely common here and you’ll be hard pressed not to see at least a dozen or more on the walk down to the falls. Keep an eye out for the colourful Augrabies Flat Lizard (Platysaurus broadleyi). After dinner we’ll all retire to our chalets for a night of well-deserved rest. All chalets are fully equipped with self-catering facilities and are air-conditioned. Accommodation: Augrabies Falls Rest Camp Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Visit the falls Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 8: Augrabies Falls National Park

We have a full day to explore this rather small (820 sq km), but rather diverse park dotted with Quiver Trees. We’ll head west along the Orange River, stopping at various viewpoints along the 18km gorge. Echo corner often produces the sought after Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and we should find the endemic Namaqua Warbler anywhere where there are reeds and water. Gemsbok and Eland are common here and we’ll keep an eye on the rocky outcrops for Klipspringer. Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra is present here and we hope to get a glimpse of this uncommon sub-species. Raptors are common along the gorge, the likes of Verreaux’s Eagle, Lanner and Peregrine Falcon are often spotted. We’ll return to the camp for lunch and afford everyone some downtime after to relax or explore the area around the camp. Should night drives be available at the time of this tour (currently suspended) we’ll embark on one of those and could find Zorilla, Springhare, Porcupine and maybe even Leopard. Accommodation: Augrabies Falls Rest Camp Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Explore the Augrabies National Park Optional activities: N.A

DAY 9: Augrabies Falls Rest Camp, Augrabies Falls National Park – Twee Rivieren Rest Camp, Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park

After breakfast and some early morning birding we’ll head out of Augrabies and back towards Upington before setting off in the direction of the vast, 3.6-million-hectare, Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park. We’ll start encountering massive Sociable Weaver nests along the way and might have another chance to see Pygmy Falcon. Time permitting we’ll head into the park for a late afternoon game drive. The Twee Rivieren Rest Camp offers a range of accommodation. It is the Park’s largest rest camp and administrative headquarters. It is situated on the banks of the Dry Nossob Riverbed. Activities and facilities are diverse, as are the animals and plants found both within the camp and in the surrounding areas. Twee Rivieren has a reception, shop, fuel, restaurant, information centre and swimming pool. This is the only camp with 24 hrs electricity and cell phone reception. Accommodation: Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Explore Kgalakgadi National Park Optional activities: N.A.

DAY 10 & 11:

We have two full days to explore the park after breakfast each day returning for lunch and some rest before heading out again on a night drive on both nights. The park is absolutely spectacular, and a lot of the action is focused along the two dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob Rivers where there are several waterholes dotted all along. We’ll focus most of our time exploring these areas with its rich and abundant wildlife, large herds of Springbok and Gemsbok can be seen throughout alongside less numerous Blue Wildebeest, Steenbok and Red Hartebeest. This abundance of prey attracts the famous Black-maned Kalahari Lions as well as Leopard and Cheetah. Kgalakgadi is arguably one of the best places in Southern Africa to spot Cheetah. Other predators that are less regularly encountered include Spotted Hyena, Honey Badger, Brown Hyena, African Wild Cat, Caracal, Bat-eared and Cape Fox as well as Aardwolf. We’ll be sure not to neglect the smaller mammals and hope to find the likes of Meerkat, African Ground Squirrel, Brant’s Whistling Rat and Woosnam’s Desert Rat. Birdlife around the waterholes can be prolific and we’ll watch hundreds of Sandgrouse, both Namaqua and Burchell’s, coming in to drink around mid-morning. As with the mammals, these congregations of birds drinking will bring in many raptor species such as Lanner Falcon, Gabar Goshawk, Pale Chanting Goshawk and many more. Other good birds include Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Cut-throat Finch, Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Kori Bustard and Black-faced Waxbill. Accommodation: Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Night drives; Explore Kgalakgadi National Park’s rich and abundant wild- and birdlife Optional activities: N.A.

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