An extravaganza of flowers, singing birds and displaying whales makes early summer in the Western Cape an exhilarating destination. Stunning proteas and orchids drip with sunbirds and sugarbirds in the shadow of Table Mountain while further along the coast Southern Right Whales congregate, sending massive blows into the sky and breaching to the delight of gathered onlookers on the shore. Elegant Black Harriers float low over coastal scrub while Blue Cranes dance in farm fields. From humble beginnings in 1982, there are now large, thriving and extraordinarily confiding colonies of African Penguins which pose for all to enjoy. On top of this, the forests, mountains, fynbos and wetlands of the region offer other ornithological riches including endemics such as Cape Rockjumper, Victorin’s Warbler, Jackal Buzzard, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird and Cape Siskin.
Our two week tour will take a circular route around the Western Cape, stopping at strategic points in hand-picked quality accommodations where we take time to enjoy the many local offerings.
London / Cape Town
Depart Heathrow on an overnight flight to Cape Town.
Arrive Cape Town am. check in and enjoy the hospitality of our perfectly placed four-star guesthouse, Sacred Mountain Lodge, Noordhoek, where we will be based for the next three nights. This will give us time to explore, at leisure, various sites in the Cape Peninsula region including the stunning botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch. Spectacular floral displays merge into a wilder forested habitat, leading up towards Table Mountain providing some of the finest opportunities to view, at close quarters, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Francolin.
Other local highlights include Spotted Eagle Owl, Cape Batis, African Olive Pigeon, Swee Waxbill and African Paradise Flycatcher. The wealth of small birds also attracts raptors such as Rufous-breasted and Black Sparrowhawks which can suddenly appear anywhere. During our time in the region we will also visit the Cape of Good Hope, an excellent site for seabirds and the endemic Cape Siskin, Rondevlei for wetland birds, forested habitats of the Constantia greenbelt, and the slopes of Black Hill and Silvermine where the flowering fynbos rings with the song of Cape Grassbirds, Neddickies and Cape Rock Thrushes. Weather permitting, we will also take the cablecar up to the top of Table Mountain.
Cape Town / Langebaan
Today we will head north to the west coastline of the Cape where our beautiful traditional hotel, Farmhouse Hotel, overlooking the lagoon at Langebaan, will be our base for the next three nights. The next two complete days will be spent exploring the West Coast National Park where the 16 km long Langebaan Lagoon attracts a plethora of waders and wildfowl plus Black and African Marsh Harriers, Black shouldered Kite, Grey-winged Francolin, White-throated Canary, Karoo Lark, Cardinal Woodpecker and Levaillant’s Cisticola to name a few. On one day we will also travel a little further north to estuary at Veldriff which is a haven for waders and terns, and we will also explore some of the farm roads in the area for a variety of larks including Cape Long-billed plus Sickle-winged Chat.
Langebaan / Swellendam
Today we depart from Langebaan to Swellendam where we spend the next three nights at the truly fabulous Gaikou Lodge, surrounded by breathtaking mountain views, just outside the attractive and peaceful traditional town of. En route we will stop off at Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve which is good for grassland species such as Cape Longclaw and the extraordinary but diminutive Cloud Cisticola. From Swellendam we visit the beautiful Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve which has some of the most mature forest of the region.
It will also will give us our best chances to find a number of species on the west of their range such as Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Knysna Warbler and the very elusive Narina Trogon. This is also one of the few places where Forest Buzzard occurs and even the massive Crowned Eagle has been reported from time to time.
Langebaan / Arniston
Our journey today takes us a short distance to Arniston where we spend the next two nights at the delightful Arniston Hotel, all rooms with a sea view. En route we will visit De Hoop Nature Reserve where 36,000 hectares of lowland fynbos supports a wide range of species including Knysna Woodpecker, Denham’s Bustard, Clapper Lark, Ostrich, Southern Black Korhaan and Black Harrier. The unmistakable song of Bokmakierie is heard everywhere and this is also a good spot for a number of hirundine species including White-throated and Greater Striped Swallows.
During the full day at Arniston we will also explore farmland surprisingly rich in birds including Black Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Agulhas Long-billed Lark. It is here we will also have our best chances to view elegant Blue Cranes feeding in the fields. The nearby De Mond Reserve also provides further opportunities for Black Harriers, a wealth of waders, Damara Tern and Southern Tchagra.
Arniston / Hermanus
Our tour now takes us across the Overberg west towards Hermanus where we spend our final two nights at the perfectly positioned and very nicely appointed Auberge Burgudy Guesthouse at Hermanus. On the way we will visit the Klein River at the tranquil town of Stanford which is one of the top birdwatching towns in the area. This is an excellent spot for enjoying the manic activities of Red Bishops and seeing both Amethyst and Malachite Sunbirds. Klaas’s Cuckoo can often be heard, giving its unmistakeable two-syllable call and Pin-tailed Whydahs – males complete with unfeasibly long tails – dance to attract the attention of females.
Hermanus strategically juts into the southern Atlantic and is not only good for a wide range of sea-birds but has the added unforgettable spectacle of colossal Southern Right Whales gathering and breaching. From here we will also visit other excellent birdwatching sites – Fernkloof and the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, both of which offer further chances for typical fynbos species such as Cape Grassbird, Neddicky, Cape Siskin, plus Swee Waxbill, Victorin’s Warbler, Jackal Buzzard and Verreaux’s Eagle. Nearby, Stoney Point is one of the best places to see African Penguins which pose perfectly.
Cape Town / London
This morning we will travel back to Cape Town where our international flight departs late pm. arriving in London Heathrow early am. the next day (11th November). We will have plenty of time to stop at certain favoured spots where we will check for other endemic species including Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Rockjumper and the rather bizarre Ground Woodpecker. This area is also good for both Short-toed and Sentinal Rock Thrushes and regularly patrolled by Jackal Buzzards and the magnificent Verreaux’s Eagle.