Stride climate

Trip Type : Small Group Tour
South Africa: Kruger & Drakensberg tour

South Africa: Kruger & Drakensberg

Limosa Holidays
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Travel Style: For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
13 days
From: $ 4,974 $ 383 / day
Checking price



  • Abundant birds and mammals on this ‘must-do’ South Africa tour
  • Springtime in South Africa - peak season for watching birds and mammals
  • The spectacular Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa's highest
  • Birding on the pristine upland grasslands of Wakkerstroom
  • 4 nights in world famous Kruger National Park
  • Expect 300+ bird species, including many endemics and regional specialities
  • Blue Crane, Purple-crested Turaco, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Orange Ground Thrush
  • Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks
  • Superb for mammals: Meerkat, Giraffe, African Elephant, Lion, Leopard, White Rhinoceros
  • Night drives for wildlife in Kruger National Park
  • Scheduled flights London Heathrow to Johannesburg
  • Good to excellent hotels and lodges throughout - with all meals included
  • Small group tour expertly led by our Kruger specialist, Alastair Kilpin

Short Description

A dazzling array of birds and mammals to look forward to on this fabulous 13-day birdwatching tour to northern South Africa in spring. Focusing on two of the country’s top wildlife spots: world famous Kruger National Park (where our guide Alastair once worked), and the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains - at the very best time of year for watching birds and wildlife-viewing there. Blue Crane, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Gurney's Sugarbird and Meerkat are among a long list of endemics and regional specialities to be seen.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Johannesburg
End City Johannesburg

Trip Includes

  • Scheduled flights London-Johannesburg
  • All accommodation
  • Main meals
  • Minibus transport (switching to 4x4 vehicle on night drives in Kruger National Park, where appropriate)
  • All permits
  • Entrance fees and wildlife drives
  • Tips to local drivers/guides
  • Airport taxes
  • Map
  • Bird & mammal checklist
  • Services of the leaders.

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Days 1 – 2: Fly Johannesburg, Travel To Central Drakensberg

Our spring birdwatching tour to South Africa begins with a flight from London to Johannesburg, where we arrive on the morning of day two. We’ll be welcomed by Alastair and travel south on an excellent highway through the highveld grasslands, stopping to enjoy Long-tailed Widowbirds as they display, while Black-winged Kites and Blacksmith Plovers watch on.

Our total drive time today will be 3-4 hours, but we’ll pause along the way for lunch. Later, we'll detour down some minor roads through the natural grasslands, where we’ll begin our search for three species of crane. The elegant Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird and occurs in small flocks here; Grey Crowned Cranes prefer moist grasslands and, with luck, we might find the very rare Wattled Crane in it’s wetland home. We’ll also keep a look out for bustards and could chance upon the exquisite Blue Bustard here. Larks might include Spike-heeled, Eastern Long-billed and perhaps even a Botha’s or Pink-billed.

Arriving at our country hotel accommodation we'll take dinner and get an early night in eager anticipation of the following day. Night at a Harrismith country hotel.

Day 3: Central Drakensberg

This morning we take one of the highest roads in Southern Africa, up into the Drakensberg peaks and visit a particularly scenic area known as the Sentinel. Here, at 3000m above sea level and surrounded by the most sweeping views, we’ll search for an enigmatic bird believed to be amongst the most ancient of passerines: the endemic Drakensberg Rockjumper, far removed here from its more rufous seaside relative found near Cape Town.

We’ll also keep a watchful eye on the skies for another high alpine speciality, Lammergeier (here of the endemic African subspecies), as well as the near-endemic Cape Griffon, a large vulture that is much chunkier than the African White-backed Vultures we’ll see later in Kruger National Park. Southern Bald Ibis, Black Stork, Verreaux’s Eagle, Lanner and Jackal Buzzard are among other cliff-nesting species we could encounter today, with White-necked Raven, Buff-streaked Chat and Cape Rock Thrush also likely, and Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds busying themselves in flowering shrubs.

We’ll devote most of the day to exploring this fascinating area, retreating to lower altitude in the afternoon to resume our search for cranes, raptors and bustards. Night at a Harrismith country hotel.

Days 4 – 5: wakkerstroom

Leaving the Harrismith area we wind our way through the scenic foothills towards Wakkerstroom, with a chance to look for specialities such as the little-known Bush Blackcap en route. Once a sleepy hamlet in a forgotten part of the country, the presence of a range of rare birds nearby has propelled Wakkerstroom into the international birding limelight. Its grassland specialities, such as the localised Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks and the beautiful Yellow-breasted Pipit, are a major draw.

We’ll spend two nights here, exploring the excellent wetland at the edge of town and enjoying some very productive drives into the surrounding hills. In addition to those species mentioned already, we’ll be searching for Red-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Denham’s and Blue Bustards, Grey Crowned and Blue Cranes, Black-winged Lapwing, Southern Bald Ibis, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat and Drakensberg Prinia. We might even be lucky enough to spot a group of endearing Meerkats as they forage in the grasslands. Simples! Two nights in a small hotel in Wakkerstroom.

Days 6 – 9: Kruger National Park

We spend much of day six driving from Wakkersroom to our next destination: world famous Kruger National Park. As we head north and east, we’ll descend from the rolling upland grasslands into the warmer lowlands, where the whole landscape takes on a distinctly more tropical feeling.

Entering Kruger in the south, we’ll enjoy a stay of four nights in the park, divided between two restcamps located in the southern and central areas. We’ll focus our attention on a series of small side roads that have proved good in the past, as well as following up on recent reports around the Pretoriuskop, Skukuza, Lower Sabie and Satara areas of the national park.

The vast Kruger reserve is one of Africa’s best known safari parks, protecting a 20,000 km2 swathe of wilderness that boasts an impressive diversity of mammals and a bird list in excess of 500 species. In addition to a high diversity of woodland birds, Kruger is a vital refuge for a host of large birds which require extensive areas of prime habitat to ensure their survival - among them the striking Saddle-billed Stork; Hooded, African White-backed, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures; Tawny and Martial Eagles; Bateleur; African Finfoot; Kori Bustard and the lumbering Southern Ground Hornbill. Other species with limited distribution in Southern Africa to look for here include Lesser Black-winged Lapwing, Stierling’s Wren-warbler, Eastern Bearded Scrub Robin and Meve’s Long-tailed Starling.

To make the most of our stay at Kruger we’ll make early starts, heading out on wildlife drives at dawn and returning to base again for breakfast in classic safari fashion. Afterwards, we may continue with another drive or take some time to sample the bird-rich habitats found within the camps themselves. These can be extremely productive, with the likes of Brown-headed Parrot, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Purple-crested Turaco, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Greater Blue-eared Starling and Red-headed Weaver present in many of the camps. Chinspot Batis and Blue-breasted Cordon-bleu are common, while upright Groundscraper Thrushes hop about the lawns.

Our wildlife drives should produce an excellent variety of birds, including many birds of prey - from the large eagles such as Tawny and Martial, to the smaller Black-breasted Snake Eagle and Bateleur. Vultures are drawn to predator kills and here include the common African White-backed and the massive and somewhat grotesque looking Lappet-faced. Swainson’s, Natal, Coqui, Crested and Shelley’s Francolins are all possible and best seen along the edge of the road before they scuttle off into the grass. Perhaps the most ubiquitous bird in the park is the stunning Lilac-breasted Roller and there never seem to be enough photo stops for this appealing species. Groups of the social Southern Ground Hornbill can often be seen wandering along the Kruger’s roads, allowing one to admire their red facial skin and delicate eyelashes!

Burchell’s and Cape Glossy Starlings are common, and Saddle-billed Storks and White-headed Lapwings frequent sand bars in the larger rivers where we’ll carefully search the overhanging waterside vegetation for the secretive African Finfoot. The taller trees along the rivers offer good raptor perches and also host noisy groups of Retz’s Helmetshrikes; if we are lucky, we may also come across their brood parasite, the scarce Thick-billed Cuckoo. Gorgeous White-fronted Bee-eaters like to perch here, too.

While the birding is brilliant, the Kruger is perhaps even more famous for its large mammals. Impala, Common Zebra, Blue Wildebeest and Giraffe are common. African Elephant can be found in big herds, as can African Buffalo - we’ll check carefully for Red-billed Oxpeckers on the latter. The park supports a good population of Lion and we’ll be exploring some of the best drives in the park for this species, hoping for some more memorable encounters to rival those on our previous visits here.

If we are really lucky, we might spot a Leopard, but although the southern reaches of the park are one of the best areas to see this elusive animal in South Africa, it is still far from guaranteed! There are a number of packs of African Wild Dogs in the area that we will be traversing and though we’ll keep a watchful eye open for them, it will be a matter of luck if we see them on our travels.

One of the highlights of the park is the option to take a night drive on two of our days. Here we’ll go out in the large, wildlife-viewing park vehicle, equipped with powerful spotlights. One never quite knows what to expect but we usually find something really interesting - whether it is a pride of lions on the hunt, a Spotted Eagle Owl perched beside the road or a courser running along the track ahead of the vehicle.

In all, we spend a total of four nights in Kruger National Park, split between two nights at each of two rest camps located in the southern and central areas of the vast national park. Four nights Kruger NP

Days 10 – 11: Northern Drakensberg Forests

Leaving the Kruger, we head west and back into the hills to visit a very different habitat. Our first stop will be on the Drakensberg escarpment itself, where we’ll pause at a dramatically beautiful mountain pass to scan for one of the world’s rarest raptors: Taita Falcon. The birds breed on an inaccessible cliff but are often active and we’ll wait at a vantage point nearby, hoping to see this attractive, orange-coloured falcon hunting overhead or perched on the cliff face.

Continuing further inland, our drive taking us along the edge of the Blyde River Canyon, the world’s third largest canyon, where the vistas are nothing short of spectacular. Our remote and luxurious hotel, where we will spend the last two nights of our tour, borders a secluded patch of Afromontane forest. We can simply walk directly into the forest from our rooms and will spend the following day here exploring the forest on the excellent trail network and surrounding areas.

Endemic Knysna Turacos call from the forest canopy and with patient scanning we should see the bright red wing flashes as the birds move between patches of fruiting trees, competing with Blue Monkeys for the ripest fruits. In the understorey, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-chat and Barratt’s Scrub Warbler betray their presence with their calls, while the lovely Narina Trogon may be seen hawking from a liana beneath the canopy. Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Cape Batis, Olive Woodpecker and Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler are conspicuous members of feeding parties moving through the trees. Along the forest edge, we'll check for Red-necked Francolin, Black Saw wing, African Dusky Flycatcher, Swee Waxbill and Forest Canary. Bushbuck and Blue Monkey also inhabit the forest and Mountain Reedbuck may be seen on the grassy slopes. Two nights Mt. Sheba

Day 12: Return To Johannesburg, Fly London

After enjoying some final birding at Mount Sheba this morning, reluctantly we must return to Johannesburg today. We will make some stops for birds along the way, as travel time allows. Saying farewell to Alastair at Johannesburg airport, we board our evening flight to London.

Day 13: Arrival London

Morning arrival at London Heathrow, where our birdwatching tour to South Africa: Kruger & Drakensburg concludes.


Checking price
Price From $ 4,974
Price Per Day: $ 383 per day
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  • Deposit Price: $ 782
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 664

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Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 7


We stay at a handpicked selection of comfortable, good-excellent hotels and guesthouses. Accommodation in Kruger consists of fully serviced, self-contained chalet units set in attractive gardens and grounds. All rooms have private facilities.

Cancellation Policy:

You may cancel your booking at any stage. Cancellation must be advised in writing by the 'lead name' (where possible) and takes effect on the day such notice is received by us. Deposits are non-refundable and all tour and interim flight deposits you have made will be retained by us. In the event of cancellation after the full balance is due, the cancellation charges payable to Limosa are calculated as follows:

85 or more days before departure - Loss of deposit only *1

84-43 days before departure - 50% of total invoice cost

42-29 days before departure - 75% of total invoice cost

28 days or less before departure - 100% of total invoice cost

*1  Plus any additional tour or interim flight deposit payments made.

To protect yourself against cancellation please ensure that you purchase insurance (see 28 below) as early as possible. If the reason for cancellation falls within the terms of your insurance, the above charges will normally be refunded to you by the insurance company less premium cost and any excess applicable.

Additional Information:


There's a dazzling array of birds and mammals to look forward to on this fabulous 13-day birdwatching tour to northern South Africa in spring. Focusing on two of the country’s top wildlife spots: world famous Kruger National Park (where guide Alastair once worked), and the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains - at the very best time of year for watching birds and wildlife-viewing there. Blue Crane, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Gurney's Sugarbird and Meerkat among a long list of endemics and regional specialities.

Temperate to subtropical climate, according to altitude. It’s springtime in South Africa. Often warm, sunny days but with a chilly start (typically 10-28C/50-82F). Some showers are possible in spring. It’s likely to be cold at 3000m, but not below freezing. Expect quite a temperature range as we drop down from Johannesburg (around 5000ft) to the warmer lowlands of the Kruger.

Good-excellent photographic opportunities on this tour - including birds, mammals and stunning scenery.


310-360 species


30-40 species


Easy. Short walks. In the Kruger, away from our lodgings, please note that the presence of wild animals usually preclude excursions on foot. Maximum elevation on this tour: 3000m (9800ft).


Scheduled flights from London to Johannesburg with British Airways or South African Airways.

Travel will be by minibus so as to allow access to all key areas. Night drives within the Kruger are by open safari vehicle/s, organised and operated by the park staff. Roads are generally good but some travel will necessarily be on well-graded gravel roads. Some dirt tracks in the Kruger but these are generally well maintained.

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Trip Excludes

  • Insurance
  • Drinks & other items of a personal nature

Meals Included:

With Limosa, all main meals are included in the tour price. Food is good-excellent in South Africa, with most main meals taken at our lodgings and lunches either as picnics or at the lodges.

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