KwaZulu-Natal is a great birding destination, with many specials and endemics, both common and rare.
Our tours are led by Aldo Berruti, originator of the very popular online birding courses Birding with Aldo.
Experience his relaxed guiding style as you enjoy this immersion into the iconic birds and birding destinations of KwaZulu-Natal. Yet this tour is well-paced, suitable for beginner to experienced birders and will bring you back for more.
At this hot and humid time of year, we begin birding early each day, and retreat into air-conditioned comfort by mid-afternoon (when birds have fallen silent) if conditions are uncomfortable.
5-Day Zululand with Aldo – 23 to 27 January 2021
Our first leg of the the journey is Zululand, where we aim for 220 species in 6 days, starting and ending in Durban.
Please click on the Itinerary Tab for a full breakdown of the tour.
3-Day Southern Drakensberg with Aldo – 29 to 31 January 2021
Our second leg of the the journey focuses on the Southern Drakensberg, where we aim for 170 species in 3 days, starting and ending in Durban.
Please go to the 3-Day Drakensberg Birding Tour page for more info on this leg of the journey.
Each tour is designed to be done either on its or own, or join us on both legs for a 15% discount.
COVID-19 TOUR SAFETY
The tour will meet standards for COVID19. Each participant (no more than 7) has a window seat in our spacious tour vehicle. We aim to protect client and welcome any queries about your safety.
The tour cost includes all accommodation, meals, refreshments, snacks, transport, entrance fees, game drive, but does not include the cost of alcohol or personal purchases.
Please note that we need a minimum of 4 persons for this tour to operate.
Day 1. Saturday, 23 January.
Durban to St Lucia. 212 km (King Shaka Airport). Overnight St Lucia.
We collect you in Durban early morning or at King Shaka Airport in mid-morning before departing for the town of St. Lucia.
We stop at the bridge over the St Lucia Estuary to search for Lesser Masked, Eastern Golden and Brown-throated Golden Weavers, and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, and our first glimpse of a Hippo or Crocodile.
After lunch and arrival at our accommodation, we head to local forest patches for Rudd’s Apalis, Brown Scrub-Robin, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Livingstone’s Turaco, Purple-banded Sunbird, Green Malkoha, Crested Guineafowl, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Dark-backed Weaver, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill, Ashy Flycatcher and Black-throated wattle-eye.
We travel on to the Estuary mouth area, to search for Pink-backed and White Pelicans, Goliath Heron, Yellow-billed Stork, Avocet, Caspian Tern and Hottentot Teal.
After dinner, we take a night drive up the Eastern Shores in an open safari vehicle using spot lights; hoping for birds such as Water Thick-knee, Square-tailed and Swamp Nightjars. Mammals are a bonus including Hippo grazing on land, Common Reedbuck, Waterbuck, African Buffalo, Grey Duiker and hopefully a rarity such as Serval.
Day 2. Sunday, 24 January.
Eastern Shores of St Lucia. 80km. Overnight St Lucia.
The days can be very hot and humid, so we may begin very early, entering the Gate to the Eastern Shores at 6am. The mosaic of wetlands, grasslands and forest patches of the Eastern Shores east of the Lake are overlooked by the high coastal dunes, covered in grasslands and dune forest. This is a magnificent day, and we travel north to Cape Vidal.
The grasslands offer species as Yellow-throated Longclaw and Croaking Cisticola, whilst the wetlands may produce Collared Pratincole, African Jacana, Senegal Plover, White-backed Duck, Rufous-winged Cisticola and Grey-rumped Swallow. This is the most likely place to find Southern Banded Snake Eagle in South Africa, and possibly an African Cuckoo Hawk.
As we near Cape Vidal, the road climbs the dunes with views of the lake and surrounds; grasslands interlaced with freshwater pans to the dune forests of Cape. At Cape Vidal, we walk through the campsite where Red Duiker, Bushbuck and Samango Monkey are common. This site is excellent for the east coast specials such as Brown Scrub-Robin, Green Twinspot, Woodward’s Batis, Rudd’s Apalis, and Green Malkoha.
We return to St Lucia, possibly venturing out at night to find Thick-tailed Bushbaby and African Wood Owl.
Day 3. Monday, 25 January.
Mkuze Game Reserve. Thursday. Total distance 220km. Overnight Umkhumbi Lodge
A very early start to reach Mkuze Game Reserve gate at 6am. This is a birding jewel which offers many bushveld species in addition to east coast specials, and localised species.
Our targets are eastern endemics such as Neergaard’s Sunbird and Pink-throated Twinspot, but there is a rich haul of species such as Crested Guineafowl, Eastern Nicator, Stierling’s Barred Warbler, Woodland Kingfisher, Bearded Woodpecker and Black-bellied Bustard. The wetlands shelter Goliath Heron, African Pygmy Goose, African Openbill, Lesser Jacana, and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. We make use of bird hides and picnic spots to stretch our legs.
Time and conditions permitting, we stop at Muzi pan, after leaving Mkuze to search for species such as Pink-Backed Pelican, White-backed Duck and African Pygmy Goose.
Mammals include Hippo, Nyala, White Rhino and Red Duiker.
We plan to reach our overnight accommodation at Umkhumbi Lodge in mid-afternoon and after dinner, we may search for African Wood Owl.
Day 4. Tuesday, 26 January.
Umkhumbi Lodge, False Bay Park to Eshowe.
An early morning walk in the sand forest at Umkhumbi Lodge gives us opportunities for species such as Bearded Scrub-Robin, Striped Kingfisher and Grey Sunbird.
We depart for False Bay Park, searching en route for the localised endemic Lemon-breasted Canary. A target at False Bay Park is the iconic African Broadbill with further chances for Pink-throated Twinspot and Neergaard’s Sunbird. And a swathe of other species such as the endemic White-throated Robin-chat, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Grey Sunbird, Eastern Nicator, Scarlet-chested Sunbird and Bearded Scrub-Robin.
From here we transfer to Ongoye Forest. The prime target here is the Green Barbet – this is the only place in South Africa where it occurs. We will search for African Emerald Cuckoo, Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Yellow-streaked Greenbul. Occasionally, Black-rumped Buttonquail flushes from the lush rolling grasslands surrounding the forest.
We then transfer to Eshowe. After settling into our accommodation, and conditions permitting, we may visit Dlinza Forest or bird on-site where our chalets abut natural forest, with species such as African Green Pigeon, Black-bellied Starling, Trumpeter Hornbill and Chorister Robin-Chat.
Day 5. Wednesday, 27 January.
We make an early start in Dlinza Forest, an incredibly exciting mid-altitude birding forest.
We’ll be looking for the Spotted Ground-thrush and other forest floor species such as Lemon Dove, Chorister Robin-Chat and White-starred Robin. The bird hide may show us species such as Red-backed Mannikin and Green Twinspot. We will walk along the boardwalk to the tower, which allows us to gaze out at the canopy from a height of 30m, hopefully to find another great special, the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon.
Other targets include Square-tailed Drongo, Red-backed Mannikin, Yellow-rumped and Red-fronted Tinkerbirds, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Trumpeter Hornbill, White-eared Barbet and Narina Trogon.
In the afternoon, we head back to King Shaka Airport or Durban to return you to the airport.