Wed, Nov 21, 2018
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6 Day Tour (BT3)

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KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS, RONDEVLEI NATURE RESERVE, STRANDFONTEIN SEWAGE WORKS

DAY 1

CAPE TOWN

You will be met at Cape Town International Airport and transferred to the City Lodge at the V & A Waterfront for your stay in Cape Town.
Balance of day at Leisure.

DAY 2

KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS, RONDEVLEI, STRANDFONTEIN


After an early breakfast, we set off for a walk around Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The gardens are beautiful first thing in the morning and the birding is generally best at this time. All the plants in the garden are indigenous to the Peninsula so this visit serves as an introduction to the unique flora of the Cape (Cape Floral Kingdom).

      

The walk around the gardens is easy and there are lots of paths to explore. The walk could also be extended to the Upper Contour Path or Skeleton Gorge if you are keen on some exercise or to look for some of the more elusive forest birds. Birds to be seen in the gardens include the fynbos endemics Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbird, Cape Spurfowl and possibly Lemon Dove. Knysna Warbler is sometimes heard in the gorge (when breeding) but seldom seen. Spotted Eagle-Owl breeds in the gardens each year and we may also see African Olive Pigeon, Sombre Greenbul, African Paradise and Dusky Flycatchers and Forest Canary (not found elsewhere on the Peninsula).

Raptors include Rufous-breasted and Black Sparrowhawks, Rock Kestrel, African Goshawk, Steppe, Jackal and Honey Buzzards (rare, summer), African Harrier-Hawk and Peregrine Falcon.

We will move on to Rondevlei late morning, where we will enjoy a light lunch before visiting the hides in the reserve. Rondevlei is an excellent site for bird photography and a good selection of water birds occur there. These include African Darter, Little Bittern, African (Purple) Swamphen, Greater Painted and African Snipes, Great White Pelican and many others such as African Sacred and Glossy Ibis, Purple, Grey and Black-headed Herons, Western Cattle Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron breed in the reed beds. Hippopotamus has been reintroduced and is sometimes seen, usually only when water levels are low.

Bush birds include both Southern Red and Yellow Bishops, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Acacia Pied Barbet, Cape and Southern Masked Weavers and Bokmakierie. Malachite Kingfishers and both Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warblers can be seen from the various hides.

We will then move on to the nearby Strandfontein Sewage (Water Treatment) Works. This is an excellent site for water birds and relatively relaxing because most of the viewing is done from the vehicle, which basically acts as a “hide”. There are several pans and we follow the roads through the area observing the birds and we may catch a glimpse of Small Grey Mongoose or Cape Cobra.

Greater Flamingo is usually present, often in substantial numbers, and there are Black-necked and Little Grebes, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, Cape Shoveller, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape and Red-billed Teals, African Swamphen, Purple Heron and Levaillant’s Cisticola is common in the grass surrounding the pans. Cape Longclaw is sometimes seen and White-throated, Barn and Greater Striped Swallows are common summer visitors. African Marsh Harrier can be seen hunting over the pans and several waders including Wood, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff, Sanderling and others feed here. Black-winged Stilt and sometimes Pied Avocet are plentiful when conditions are suitable.

DAY 3

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE NATURE RESERVE, BOULDERS PENGUIN COLONY, KOMMETJIE BEACH

    

Today we will make an early start and head out to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. A visit to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cape Point, which forms part of the reserve. Our visit will include an optional ride in the funicular up to the Old Lighthouse at the Point but it is well worth the walk to the top because the endemic Cape Siskin is sometimes seen from the path. Birds in the reserve are actually quite scarce- this is due to the unique fynbos (fine bush) or indigenous vegetation that occurs here. Specific species are adapted to survival in the often harsh and wind-swept environment and over 1 000 flower species occur in the reserve.

There are many delightful walks within the reserve and we can certainly do one of these walks if anyone is interested. This is possibly the best way to observe and come to grips with the fascinating geology and flora of the reserve and birds such as Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Bunting, Red-winged Starling and Grey-backed Cisticola can be seen. Several species of antelope are found in reserve- the endemic Bontebok is usually seen and there are also several herds of Eland and Cape Mountain Zebra and Chacma Baboons, part of a population that is genetically isolated from other baboons.

After a morning spent exploring this unique habitat we will enjoy a picnic lunch or light meal near the Point and then head back via the historic town of Simons Town, where we will visit the world renowned African Penguin Colony. The birds first nested here in 1985 and an impressive colony has established itself since then. The birds are easy to approach which affords ideal photographic opportunities and we may well see Dassies (Rock Hyrax) and White-backed Mousebird on the path leading to the colony. Boulders is also a safe and attractive swimming beach.

We will return to the lodge via Kommetjie Beach, where there is a chance of seeing all four cormorant species. Cape Cormorant, although endemic, is quite common, as is the larger White-breasted Cormorant. Little Egret and White-fronted Plover as well as several Tern species occur here.

DAY 4

ROOI ELS, HERMANUS AND HAROLD PORTER BOTANICAL GARDENS


After yet another early breakfast, we will take the coastal road through Muizenberg and head out towards Gordons Bay. June to November is whale watching season and Southern Right Whales can be seen from anywhere on the coastal route. Bryde’s Whales are resident and sometimes seen. The mountane fynbos is also quite impressive in this area and Klipspringer and baboons are resident. We will head towards the small village of Rooi Els, stopping en route to admire the spectacular views across False Bay towards Cape Point- the whole of the Table Mountain Chain is visible on a clear day.

We will take a short walk in Rooi Els to look for the endemic, but sometimes elusive Cape Rockjumper. This area is also frequented by the other fynbos endemic, Cape Siskin, as well as Cape Sugarbird, Brimstone and Cape Canaries and Cape Rock-Thrush. Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle breeds in the area and is sometimes seen soaring above. This is also a reliable site for Ground Woodpecker.

The next stop is Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, where we will have lunch at the restaurant. We may have time for a short visit to the Stoney Point Penguin Colony. This colony (the only other land-based colony on the SA coastline) is smaller than Boulders but we might get better views of the Bank Cormorant, which breeds there, and also of the smaller Crowned Cormorant.

Harold Porter Botanical Gardens is a beautiful area to explore. There are several mountain hikes leading from the gardens and baboons are sometimes seen and heard. Cape Leopard occurs on the mountains here but are very shy and not often encountered. The forested path is home to Bar-throated Apalis and Cape Batis and African Black Duck occurs on the stream. Paradise Flycatchers are resident during the summer months and Black Saw-wing can be seen flying over the gardens. Protea Canary, another fynbos endemic, sometimes ventures down into the gardens and Victorin’s Warbler is heard and sometimes seen. Swee Waxbill is also resident.
We will visit Hermanus during the afternoon to see the beautiful Walker Bay and the many Southern Right Whales that visit during the season (July to November). Walker Bay is one of the favoured breeding sites for these whales. Land-based whale watching is very rewarding but the whales can be scarce when the wind blows or the sea is choppy, so we will visit the area weather and time permitting. Southern Right Whales also occur all along the Cape Peninsula and we may well have seen them by this stage.

DAY 5

WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK AND SURROUNDS

       

Today we head north-west in the direction of the West Coast National Park. We will do some birding en route, visiting a wetland close to the famous Bloubergstrand, where we can take photographs of Table Mountain from across the bay. We will observe water birds and other wetland birds including White-backed Duck which is sometimes resident here.

We then continue with our journey north, birding as we go and time permitting, will follow a gravel road which takes us through the farmland areas around Darling. The best of the spring flowers will be over by now, but we might well see common farmland birds like African Stonechat and Capped Wheatear. Will also hope to find Blue Crane in this section.

Once back on the main road, it is a short drive to the West Coast National Park, where we will spend the rest of the day. We will either have a light lunch at the Geelbek Homestead, which is a national monument, and enjoy watching the many breeding Cape Weavers and Cape Spurfowl, which are generally quite confiding. We may decide to take along a picnic lunch instead, allowing more time for doing some wader-watching at the well-known Geelbek Hide or visit the fresh water lake where a host of local species are resident. Langebaan Lagoon is an internationally recognised site for migrant waders during the summer months and we can look out for Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Sanderling, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Grey Plover and many more. Wader viewing is dependent on weather and tidal conditions.

Bush birds are quite active during the spring months and we should see White-backed Mousebird, Cape Penduline Tit, Cape Bulbul, Karoo Scrub Robin, Titbabbler, Bar-throated Apalis, Bokmakierie, Malachite Sunbird and White-throated Canary. Pied and Wattled Starlings are also common throughout the park and European Bee-eater is a regular visitor from the north. We may also spot the shy Grey-winged Francolin and the noisy Southern Black Korhaan. Ostrich are common.

There are also several antelope in the park but many, like the Cape Grysbok, are only seen during the early morning. Caracal and African Wild Cat also occur here. There are many rodents and reptiles are prolific- Angulate Tortoises are active on hot days and there is also a good chance of seeing Puff Adder or Cape Cobra on the roads. Steenbok are seen during the day and are common throughout the region.

We will also visit the Seeberg Hide in the northern section of the park in the late afternoon. This hide is also favourable for wader viewing, depending on the tide. Little Tern is sometimes seen here and Great Knot has also been recorded. Kittlitz’s and White-fronted Plover are common. Lesser Flamingo also occurs on the lagoon.

DAY 6

Day of Leisure. You will be transferred to Cape Town International Airport for your Flight Home.

Price: ZAR9800-00 per person sharing (Minimum 4 People)

Price includes: All Accommodation, Breakfast, Road Transport, Fuel, Tolls and Guiding Fees.

Price excludes: All Flights, Meals, Entrance Fees into Kruger National Park, Items of a personal nature, Drink, Gratuities etc.