Cost: $6500, Deposit $1,000
Single Supplement: $1,000
Final Payment Due: May 1, 2022
Guide to Participant Ratio: 1:5
Maximum participants: 10
Openings left: 4
Guides: Steve Eshbaugh & local South African Guide
Tour prices are given “per person, double occupancy” and include a donation to BOTH Montana Audubon (Steve Hoffman’s former employer) and a South African conservation organization.
What's included in your fee?
All trip materials, including detailed daily itinerary, list of what to bring, recommended field guides and pre-trip reading materials, checklist of likely birds & other wildlife.
All services of the leaders and guides
All transportation upon arrival to destination city.
All accommodations during tour dates.
All entrance fees to museums, parks, etc.
All meals (except alcoholic beverages) are included, typically from breakfast on the first full day through dinner on the last full day.
Tour prices DO NOT include round-trip airfare, passport/visa fees, arrival taxes, baggage fees, single-supplement fees, telephone calls, laundry, room service, souvenirs, tipping of your trip leader.
Tour deposit is refundable, minus a $100 processing fee up to 150 days prior to departure.
Note: Tour costs, itineraries and dates are subject to change. Prices may be affected by international currency exchange rates or itinerary changes.
We offset all trip impacts by purchasing carbon offsets to reduce our carbon footprint.
Make your deposit today!
South Africa - Birds Wildlife & Culture: October 1-17, 2022
This trip will fill quickly, as it offers unique game and bird viewing opportunities, and includes five days of safari at a bargain price.
This trip offers an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery, wildlife and culture of South Africa. Why pick South Africa for a safari? When we see game, we'll share it with few other tourists. Unique to almost any other tour, this venture starts on a 7,200-acre private game reserve. We will literally leave cars behind and go for short hikes to spot giraffes, impala and a variety of other native wildlife in the absence of potentially dangerous predatory species (at least none of the human- eating kind.) We will likely see no one else during our stay. It won't take long to leave the stresses of home behind.
We'll also visit Cape Town (one of the most scenic cities in the world), including the stunning Cape Point National Park. A visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens will provide an opportunity to view an amazing array of flowering plants as well as a great many bird species that feed on some of the flowers for nectar.
No trip to South Africa is complete without a true safari. Many tours book safari lodges for two or three nights; we have arranged for five consecutive nights; not many people return to Africa multiple times, so we want to make every effort to increase your chances of seeing a wide variety of native wildlife. All our visits are to malaria-free zones, so no anti-malarial medications are needed.
DO NOT book this trip if you require constant connectivity; lodges usually offer Wifi only at the reception area (not in your rooms). We hope you'll take this opportunity to truly step away from life's often hectic pace.
Itinerary at a Glance
October 1: Depart Home.
October 2: Arrive in Johannesburg, Overnight in Johannesburg.
October 3: Transfer to Lindani, Overnight Lindani.
October 4: Explore Lindani, Overnight Lindani.
October 5: Explore Lindani, Overnight Lindani.
October 6: Lindani to Johannesburg to Cape Town, Overnight in Cape Town.
October 7: Kirstenbosch Gardens, Robben Island, Overnight in Cape Town.
October 8: Cape Point, Seal Island, Boulder's Beach. Overnight in Cape Town.
October 9: October 10: West Coast National Park tour, overnight Cape Town.
October 10: Whales & Wines: Hermanus and wine country. Overnight in Cape Town
October 11: Cape Town to Johannesburg to Madikwe Private Reserve.
October 12: Explore Madikwe Private Reserve, Overnight Thakudu Bush or similar.
October 13: Explore Madikwe Private Reserve, Overnight Impodimu Lodge.
October 14:: Explore Madikwe Private Reserve, Overnight Impodimu Lodge.
October 15: : Explore Madikwe Private Reserve, Overnight Impodimu Lodge.
October 16:Drive from Madikwe to Johannesburg, fly home tonight.
October 17: Arrive Home.
Detailed Daily Itinerary:
October 1: Depart United States.
October 2: Arrive Johannesburg: You'll be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel near the airport. You must arrive by tonight!
October 3: Drive to Lindani: After breakfast, we'll travel north to the Waterburg Region, where we will spend the next three days acclimating to the new time zone while staying in a gorgeous private reserve, virtually unknown outside of South Africa. Very few tours offer the opportunity to view wildlife on foot without a guide carrying a rifle, but we'll do this here. We'll search for greater kudu, red hartebeest and much more. We’ll have lunch in Lindani, then go for a leisurely walk on one of the nearby trails. You’ll be introduced to one of those wonderful English traditions, a “high tea” break in the late afternoon, a chance to refresh over a cup of hot tea. Near our lodge, we're likely to see warthogs, giraffe and plentiful impala. Overnight Motseng Lodge.
October 4: Lindani: We'll do an early walk before breakfast. You might choose to stay at the lodge and enjoy the animals that visit the waterhole in the morning hours. The fabulous wetlands of Lindani provide ideal habitat for many waterbirds. We should get fantastic views of the birds who depend on this habitat. Most of the ducks you'll see will be new life birds, such as White-backed, Knob-billed, and Yellow-billed ducks. We'll search for the magnificent Long-tailed Widowbird, Long-tailed Paradise Wydah and Southern Red Bishop. And, for those who love flycatchers, there are more than a dozen species found here. The four cisticola species (Netticky, Rattling, Levaillant’s and Rufous-winged) will present identification challenges. Overnight Motseng Lodge.
After dinner we’ll go out on our first wildlife drive in the African bush. We hope to see genets and/or civets feeding; bush babies are also a frequent site along with wide variety of antelope, zebras and giraffes. Overnight Motseng Lodge.
October 5: Lindani: Today's activities will largely depend on our luck the past two days. We'll focus our efforts on finding wildlife previously missed, but will take the time to stroll among the giraffe and impala. The animals here seem to move at a slower pace so as not to expend excess calories, and we'll follow suit. One of the most endangered animals in the world, the pangolin (due to illegal trade) can be spotted in Lindani, and perhaps we'll be lucky enough to find one. By the end of today, everyone will likely be adjusted to the new time zone and ready for more ambitious explorations. On our last night at Lindani, we'll celebrate with a sunset dinner at the Makgethelo picnic area. Overnight Motseng Lodge.
October 6: Lindani to Cape Town: Before breakfast today we'll head out for one last stroll to see what new mammals and birds might be visible. After breakfast we'll board our van back to Johannesbug to catch a flight to Cape Town. Over the next five days we'll explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We'll check into our Cape Town hotel for the next five nights. Overnight Cape Town Lodge or similar.
October 7: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens & Robben Island: This morning, we'll take an early-morning taxi to Kirstenbosh Botanical Garden, especially to view many birds visiting the multitude of blooming flowers. Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Orange-breasted and Malachite sunbirds are frequent visitors, along with the Cape Sugarbird, Helmeted Guineafowl, Red-wing Starling and many others. After lunch, we'll take a ferry out to Robben Island (weather permitting). The island is most famous for serving as a detention center for political prisoners. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for 18 years in a 2- by 2-meter cell with no bathroom or bed. The island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, ensuring its protection.
October 8: Cape Point, Boulders and Seal Island: Today our full-day itinerary includes scenic cliffside mountain passes, idyllic seaside settlements and unique fynbos ecosystems as we explore the Peninsula en route to some of the Cape’s most popular attractions. We'll also do a private boat tour to Seal Island to see hundreds of fur seals, and perhaps pick up a few seabirds as well.
The little African Penguins at Boulders Beach are world-famous, although their worldwide population now is less than 40,000 individuals. Here they go about their daily affairs, blissfully undisturbed by the many human eyes observing their every move. Similarly, the Chacma Baboons will keep a close eye on you as you visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. We have an excellent chance of spotting our first ostrich, and the stunning tsessebe and bontebok antelope also reside here. After an exhilarating day of sightseeing we'll return to the city by the late afternoon.
African Penguin, by Steve Eshbaugh, Guide
October 9: Hermanus: Today's explorations will include the idyllic seaside town of Hermanus, known as the whale capital of the world. We'll go on a boat tour for an up-close look at Southern Right Whales. Seabirds, including the Cape Gannet, often follow the whales to share in the feeding frenzy. There will also be an optional afternoon trip to the spectacular wine country of Stellenbosch and Franschoek.
October 10: West Point National Park: On our last day in Cape Town, we'll get an early start to make our way to the West Coast to see what arid-land bird species we might pick up. Our targets will include Karoo Lark, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, White-backed Mousebird, and Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. As if the unusual birds aren't enough, we'll also search for the Cape eland, mountain zebra, and the surprisingly small common duiker (antelope). We'll return to Cape Town and enjoy a last dinner on the Cape.
Safari vehicle photo by Guide Steve Eshbaugh
October 11: Cape Town to Johannesburg to Madikwe: First Night on Safari: We’ll fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg in the early morning, then board a shuttle for the four-hour drive to Madikwe Private Game Reserve. This leisurely drive will give us a chance to fully appreciate the South African countryside. The next two nights we'll sleep at Thakadu River Camp in the southeastern corner of Madikwe Reserve. Each private room includes a comfortable bed, shower and toilet. Don't let the words "tent camp" concern you, as this is well beyond 'glamping'. Tonight, we'll take our first wildlife drive in the bush of a reserve where predators often lurk. Perhaps you will see your first-ever lion and elephant. One advantage of our lodging is the ability to take in the night sounds of the African bush. Once you hear a lion roar in the still of the night, you will never forget it!
Madikwe Reserve encompasses over 180,000 acres, but unlike Kruger National Park, self-driving vehicles are not permitted. All drivers here communicate with one another so there isn't a large mass of vehicles when a charismatic animal is spotted. There will never be a time where they allow more than two cars at any single wildlife sighting, no matter how spectacular the animal might be. Overnight Thakadu River Camp.
October: 12: Safari: We'll spend the next four days exploring the large, private reserve of Madikwe Private Reserve, the 5th largest in South Africa. Each day will begin with a predawn cup of coffee or tea and a rusk (biscotti) to give you some energy before we climb into our safari vehicle to head into the bush. For me, my blood pressure jumps a bit each time I take a seat in a safari vehicle to head out into the bush. What will be the morning's highlight? Will we spot a newborn animal? Might we catch one of the many predators, possibly on a hunt? How close will we come to elephants? You might make eye contact with a lion, and you'll feel like it is looking right through you.
We’ll return for breakfast, then have a chance to catch a nap or view animals at the watering hole that's visible from the lodge. After lunch, it's more break time to avoid the uncomfortable afternoon heat (when wildlife is least active). Before dinner we'll head out to see more big game.
For each drive we will have our own open-air safari vehicle, complete with driver and guide. We will search for the big five (elephant, rhino, lion, Cape buffalo and leopard) and so much more. Overnight Thakadu River Lodge.
What are the Big Five?
Anyone who reads about safaris will see mention of "The Big Five." In years past, the big five were the five most dangerous animals to hunt: elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and African Cape buffalo. When we go on safari, everyone wants to see "The Big Five" and to photograph them. Of the five, the leopard provides the biggest viewing challenge. One reason we spend five days on safari is to enhance our chances of spotting a greater variety of wildlife. In addition to the big five, we will most assuredly see giraffes, hippo, spotted hyena, zebra, and a large array of antelope and birds. Madikwe is well known for it's African Wild Dog, a rare (and spectacular) endangered species. Cheetah, another sought-after endangered species, recently bred successfully at Madikwe for the first time.
Leopard photo by guide Steve Eshbaugh
October 13: Safari: We'll be back in our safari vehicle before breakfast. Today, we'll emphasize searching for and viewing wildlife we missed the first day. This will be our last day touring the eastern areas of the reserve. With luck cheetahs will fill our camera lenses and memory cards. After we return for breakfast, we'll transfer to the western edge of the reserve, where we'll spend the next three nights.
When other wildlife isn't easily seen, birds often provide much viewing excitement. We'll be searching the bush and trees for whatever birds we might see. Kingfishers appear like giant butterflies with their colorful wings when taking flight. Birds we have an excellent chance for viewing include: Pied Babbler (an endemic referred to by locals as "flying snowball"), Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-backed Shrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, Malachite, Giant and Brown-hooded kingfishers, Lilac-breasted Roller, Speckled, White-backed and Red-faced mousebirds, 11 eagle species, Yellow-billed, Black and Black-winged kites, 10 cuckoo species, and so many more. Over 350 species of birds can be seen on the grounds of Madikwe!
This afternoon we can take turns at the "hide" (game blind) that puts you safely within two meters of elephants. Imagine the photos you'll be able to show off when you return home! Overnight Impodimu Lodge.
Photo by guide Steve Eshbaugh
October 14: Safari: An advantage of staying at Impodimu is the Shangaan tracker who will accompany our safari vehicle, a service offered by no other lodge. Leopards are not easy to see in the reserve, but these sharp-eyed trackers will certainly help!
The "big five" are always a focus, but everyone delights at seeing giant kudu, cheetahs, zebras, and a great many other mammals. And, of course, when wildlife are not in view, there are always numerous spectacular birds to delight. By now, you're likely addicted to these wildlife drives. You never know what will tantalize you today - will we get to see a pride of lions go on a hunt, a leopard in a tree feeding on a recent kill, or perhaps just laugh at the antics of a troop of baboons?
To put an exclamation mark on the day, we will have an opportunity to relax at the hands of a professional massage therapist. Overnight Impodimu Lodge.
Photo by Guide Steve Eshbaugh
October 15: Safari: You'll thank your lucky stars for the morning coffee/tea and rusks. By this point of the trip, you'll likely be shaking your head at how easy the photographs are to take with so many cooperative wild animals. Our guide and driver will continue to work hard to spot wildlife we haven't previously seen.
This will be our last full-day of driving in the bush to search for antelope, giraffe, elephants and other favorites. You might also decide that the beautiful swimming pool is beckoning to you today for one last dip while in South Africa. You'll have one final conundrum: After all the pampering, how will you ever adjust to life at home? Overnight Impodimo Lodge.
October 16: This morning, those who still have the energy can do a final pre-breakfast wildlife drive. We'll drive back to Johannesburg after breakfast. International flights to the USA will depart in the late evening.
October 17: Arrive home!