Northern South Africa Highlights: Limpopo Valley & Kruger

Our Northern South Africa Birding Tour covers the best of Limpopo Province. Indeed, it’s another tried-and-tested itinerary. And this area has a lot to offer for birders and wildlife enthusiasts. Not only is it a very diverse province, but it’s well-developed and easy to visit. Consequently, this makes for a superb 13-day birding and wildlife safari. It’s an itinerary that will leave you hankering for more of South Africa’s wonders. We’ll aim for 280 – 300 bird species along with a host of mammals.

Areas covered:

Our Northern South Africa Birding Safari starts in Johannesburg. From there we’ll drive north to Polokwane for a night. Next up we spend two nights in the Soutpansberg Mountains. Moving north-west we then explore Mapungubwe National Park. Up next is the highlight of the tour – Pafuri Camp in the far northern Kruger National Park. The northern Kruger offers the best birding in the whole park. Meandering southwards through the Kruger we visit Shingwedzi and Letaba Rest Camps. Finally, we visit the forests of Magoebaskloof. And we end off the birding safari back in Johannesburg.

Accommodation:

The accommodation is of a medium-plus standard. It includes B&B’s, two lodges, two National Park Rest Camps and a small hotel. Importantly, all accommodations have en-suite facilities, and are clean and comfortable.

The birding:

Northern South Africa birding is extremely rewarding. The diversity is simply astounding. Therefore this birding safari covers a wide range of habitats within a relatively small area. These habitats range from the Acacia thornveld of Polokwane to the sandstone and Baobab wonderland of Mapungubwe. And from the woodland savanna of Kruger to the mist-shrouded forests of Magoebaskloof. As a result, the range of birds to be seen is correspondingly diverse. Our target birds include: Short-clawed Lark, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Knysna Turaco, Black-fronted Bush Shrike, Bat Hawk, African Crowned Eagle, Three-banded Courser, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Arnot’s Chat, Racket-tailed Roller, Cape Parrot, Retz’s Helmet Shrike and many more.

The mammals:

Mammals also feature highly on this Northern South African Birding Safari. Polokwane Nature Reserve, Mapungubwe and Kruger together have an incredible range of species. Between these parks we’ll be able to see species such as: Oryx, Klipspringer, Impala, Red Hartebeest, Tsessebe, Common Waterbuck, Steenbuck, Common Eland, Roan Antelope, Greater Kudu, Bushbuck, Nyala, African Buffalo, South African Giraffe and other Bovids. On the predator side we may see: Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Honey Badger, African Wild Cat and others. On the big game side Elephants and Hippo’s will be plentiful. Primates include Chacma Baboon, Vervet and Samango Monkeys, and perhaps Galagos / Bushbabies after dark.

All in all this Northern South Africa Birding Safari has a lot to offer. The itinerary includes the best of the province in a concise 13-day tour. In conclusion, it’s a superb complementary tour for those who may already have done the southern Kruger. And likewise, first time visitors to South Africa won’t be disappointed with this itinerary either. You can also consider adding on some time in the country – have a look at some sample itineraries here.

Gallery

Itinerary

Tour in brief

Group size: maximum of 8 participants; 4 participants per guide / vehicle. 

Areas visited: Polokwane, Mapungubwe National Park, Lake Albasini, Kruger National Park, Magoebaskloof.

Expected weather conditions: warm to hot most of the time. Rain is possible, usually in the form of summer convection thunderstorms, and cool wet weather is possible in the event of a cold front moving up from the south.

Tour tempo: medium to medium-plus, optional mid-day breaks (advisable considering on hot days), no serious walking.

Accommodation standards: medium to medium plus; hotels and private lodges.

Birding in brief: excellent variety of birds to be seen; Pafuri rated as the top birding region of the Kruger National Park. Good chances for large birds of prey.

Top birds: Collared Palm Thrush, African Broadbill, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Short-clawed Lark, Arnot’s Chat, Martial Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill, African Scops-Owl, African Finfoot, Orange Ground Thrush, Cape Parrot, Brown-necked Parrot, Crested Guineafowl, Half-collared Kingfisher, Knysna Turaco, Kori Bustard, Bat Hawk.

Mammal viewing: very good game viewing throughout, especially the Kruger National Park; Big Five as well as Cheetah, Spotted Hyena and typical savannah general game, and good chances for uncommon smaller species.

Add-ons: this tour can be combined with extensions to Victoria Falls or Cape Town.

Rates

2021: ZAR 64 200 per person sharing, ZAR 9 475 single supplement

Price may be subject to change based on factors beyond our control. 

Includes

  • Accommodation
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Ground transport
  • Bottled water in vehicles whilst travelling
  • Entrance fees
  • Personalised checklists
  • Specialist guide fees

Excludes

  • All airfares
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Lunches
  • All drinks
  • Optional excursions where applicable
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

Note:

  • This itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions at the time and other factors beyond our control.
  • The species mentioned in the itinerary represent only some of the possible ones we may see on the tour, however, none of these can be guaranteed even though every effort will be made where possible to locate them. A full list of possibles appears on your checklist.

Participants should ideally overnight in Johannesburg on the night before the tour starts. We are happy to arrange this accommodation. Alternatively, participants need to arrive on early morning flights on the day the tour starts. Tour ends in Johannesburg on the late afternoon of the last day of the tour in time for evening transcontinental flights. Please check with us before booking any flights.