Jump to content

Recommended Posts

@kittykat23uk - I think that with a few hours you should hopefully be successful - although the park is light on game so I'll let you judge your options. 


Other than the lighthouse there are two areas that I would highlight: 


1. The Cape of Good Hope Car Park - i.e. the turning circle where the Cape of Good Hope (COGH) sign is -  this area is right on the shoreline, is excellent for seabirds (terns, cormorants, gulls, sanderling), Cape Fur Seal and on the way down from the Cape Point car park you should check the rocky outcrops for Ground Woodpecker  


2. Olifantbos - you will pass the turning for Olifantbos on the way to COGH. The route from the turning takes you into the interior of the park and then tacks along the shoreline to a car park. On the route we saw Mountain Zebra and then at the car park we twice saw a large herd of Eland. The birding around the car park is also quite good with Bokmakerie, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Grassbird, Ostrich and the usuals (Familar Chat, Swallows, Seabirds and Cape Bunting). For Bontebok you probably need to approach the Olifontbos Cottage which is at the end of a tarred road, past the car park. If walking it's probably about 20mins one way on the tarred road. Once you get close to the cottage, look on the hills surrounding it as the Bontebok were often there. If not, you are permitted to walk on the beach in front of the cottage (it's part an overnight hiking trail) and you will notice a small sand dune blocking your view of the valley.  If you walk about 100m along the beach you will see a game trail in the sand leading between two small sand dunes - this game trail leads directly to the small waterhole (I don't know if it drys up in summer!) where the game (Bontebok, Ostrich, Baboons and Eland) would occasionally congregate.


Finally, it's also worth checking along the fence line of the park if you coming from the Kommetjie direction as I've sent Bontebok and Grey Rhebok along that section. 


Please note it's probably about a 30min drive (given speed restrictions) from the Cape of Good Hope Car Park to the Olifantbos car park. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lamberts Bay


At this point our route may seem a bit confusing but I wanted to lead with Marrick, rather than going chronologically and this is the consequence. 


Following Cape Point we headed North, along the Western Coast to Clanwilliam and the Cederberg. For anyone heading up the West Coast I would recommend a stop in at Lamberts Bay for a Crayfish lunch (:D yum yum!) and a quick peek at the Gannet Colony.




Lamberts Bay is small fishing town on SA's west coast and is one of the hubs of South Africa's sadly rapidly declining Crayfish industry.



Just outside of it's small harbour is a large Gannet colony, interspersed with seal haul outs and other seabirds.


Cape Fur Seals




Sandwich Terns, Swift Terns and Hartlaub's Gull




The Gannet Colony can be approached on foot and has a large hide affording excellent views of the constant comings and goings 


















Once your done with the Gannet's there's restaurant Isabella's just inside the small harbour where you can enjoy the local speciality. 




Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/23/2017 at 4:36 AM, optig said:

@ImSA84 thanks for your advise I'll have to hire a vehicle and driver from a South African travel agent. On my first safari I tried driving in South Africa and ended up hitting a parked vehicle.

I paid for the damage and of course apologized profusely,this incident taught me that it's simply not worth trying to drive anywhere in Africa because I can't take the stress. I have Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.If I drove in South Africa, I'd give all of the South Africans that disorder.  They don't want me behind the wheel on their roads. Anyways, I prefer not driving. I'm sure that you'll inspire me with more places.



These are some great places that I did not know about.  Thanks @]lmSA84!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

It's been over a month since I've had a chance to complete this TR and even though the end is more birds then mammals I wanted to give it a bit of the attention in case it's of use to others.


Northern KZN and the Drakensberg


Having spent nearly 7 weeks in the Capes we flew to Durban for the final three weeks. In that time we would visit my family in Durban, then head up the North Coast spending two nights in Mtunzini, seven n Rocktail Bay, one t the battlelands in Dundee, three nights in Thendele before finally heading onto J'burg. 






About 1hr 30 North of Durban is the sleepy town on Mtunzini. It's a laid back beach town set amongst dense coastal vegetation. Other than relaxing it's main draw is birdwatching, with a plethora of rarities in the town (Palm-not Vulture, Finfoots etc.) and nearby birding hot spots - oNgoye, Dlinza, Ntumeni and Amatikulu.


My wife kindly agreed to let me disappear for one day's birding and inspired by @Panthera Pardus I booked a local guide - Sakhamuzi Mhlongo. With Sakhamuzi's expert guidance we visited the oNgoye and Dlinza Forest to hunt for two of South Africa's rarest birds.


The first is the Green Barbet, a highly range restricted bird, which in Southern Africa is only found in the 3200 ha Ongoye Forest.


oNgoye Forest




It didn't take us long to find a pair of Green Barbets 






Sharing the tree with these rare birds, officially listed as Vulnerable, was a troop of Samango Monkeys and their close cousin the White-eared Barbet.





Edited by lmSA84
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our next stop was the Dlinza Forest of Eshowe. This forest is a treasure trove of birding specialties, the highlight of which is a chance to see the Endangered Spotted Ground Thrush. 


The Dlinza Forest broadwalk 






Spotted Ground Thrush




Other good finds included Lemon Dove...




Tambourine Dove




Forest Weaver




Grey Cuckooshrike 




Green Pigeon 




...and Trumpeter Hornbill



Edited by lmSA84
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maputaland Coast


After Mtunzini we drove further up the coast to Maputaland and the Rocktail Bay Beach Camp.




Rocktail is a remote luxury beach camp set in it's own private portion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It has it's own stretch of effectively private beach with not a sole in sight for miles and if you visit in the right months 100s of nesting Leatherback Turtles. We unfortunately were out of season for the turtles but that didn't stop us enjoying the beach.



When you get tired of the beach, a spot of birdwatching in the thick sand forest that surrounds the camp will always be fruitful for both birds and a few mammals. 


View from our balcony




Thick forest that surrounds the lodge






Vervet Monkey




Red Duiker are ubiquitous




Southern Black Flycatcher



Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird




Day trips are possible from Rocktail to Tembe Elephant Park (we didn't go) and Lake Sibaya which is South Africa's largest lake. There isn't too much to see at the lake, if you're lucky Hippos, but again the birding's great (you can see a theme emerging :D) with the potential to see the Rosy Longclaw.


The road to Lake Sibaya




 The lake




Rosy Longclaw



Edited by lmSA84
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Drakensberg - Thendele


Growing up in Durban our family holidays would typically be one of three types - safari, visiting family in Zimbabwe or walking in the Drakensberg. The "berg" has subsequently always had a special place in my heart and I knew that a trip to SA wouldn't be complete without taking my wife and daughter to the berg.


For this trip we chose Thendele's Upper Camp. Thendele doesn't necessarily offer the best walking in the berg (I would say Injisuthi or Giant's Castle have the best trails) or the best wildlife viewing (the Giant's Castle Vulture Hide takes that prize) but I think it does have the most spectacular scenery.


This is the dawn view from the patio of our cottage.






Being in the berg is all about walking and enjoying the scenery. Most walks in Thendele will take you to a series of vistas and valley sections with thick montane forest.




Mammal wise there is not too much to see - Bushbuck Slender Mongoose, Common Duiker and to a lessor extent Eland are quite common. The most exciting find is the Mountain Reedbuck but they're a shy antelope. 


The birding is excellent though and the camp is reliable place for the Buck Blackcap which is an otherwise challenging bird to find.




If you can't locate him though, they're many others to see..


Wailing Cisticola




Greater Double Collared Sunbird




African Stonechat




Cape Rock Thrush




Familiar Chat




White Breasted Cormorant




The End


All in all we travelled a little over 8,500KM by car in our road trip. We stayed in over 22 different places and visited 6 of South Africa's 9 provinces all with a 6 month old baby. It was the trip of a life time and a tremendous experience for our young family. To anyone thinking of doing a self-driving trip to South Africa my advice would be to just do it - there is so much to see and it's soo easy even a baby could do it - literally! ;)


Edited by lmSA84
Link to comment
Share on other sites

With a 6 month old baby?  You ARE to be commended! 


Lambert's Bay was exceptional!  You went at the right time of year, or is the Gannet Colony always so chock full of birds?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@lmSA84 I have really enjoyed your RSA TR, mostly because you went to some out of the way places that we don't hear much about. Fabulous phots too, and I am impressd that you did all this with a 6 month old baby!


I have a question for you - next year I am hoping to visit the Giants Castle Vulture Hide, I will be travelling by myself and flying up from Cape Town. I will need a guide, transport and accommodation - is this something that Sakhamuzi Mhlongo  would be able to guide. Sorry, I am a bit unsure of the geography and travel distances. I wonder if @Panthera Pardus is following along and has any ideas?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

With a 6 month old baby?  You ARE to be commended! 


Lambert's Bay was exceptional!  You went at the right time of year, or is the Gannet Colony always so chock full of birds?


@Atravelynn - Thanks! The Gannets and other seabirds are resident at Bird Island so no need to time a trip. That said if you visit in August and get lucky you might be able to combine a trip to Bird Island with the Namaqua flower season. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Treepol - thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. SA has so much more to offer then just KTP and Kruger. 


I'm envious to hear that you're visiting the vulture hide. If we hadn't have gone to Maputaland and Mtunzini our alternative plan was to visit the Rockwood Forest Lodge at Karkloof then head to Giants Castle for walking and the vulture hide.


Unfortunately, I doubt that Sakhamuzi could help. Giants Castle is about 4-5hrs from Mtunzini and Sakhamuzi doesn't have a suitable private vehicle.


I'm sure that you're already aware but my understanding is that Ezemvelo have stopped doing transfers to the hide so you need your own 4x4.


If you wanted you could independently make the journey. The hide and accommodation at Giants Castle NP have to be booked through Ezemvelo. Accommodation can be done online and I think the hide has to be booked over the phone. For car hire I would recommend Britz - they have an excellent range of 4x4 vehicles at highly competitive prices. Driving in SA is very easy due to the low volume of traffic. 


I'm afraid that I don't know of a local guide covering that area but Birds and Beyond do tours to the berg and it might be worth reaching out to Birdlife. They run the community guide programme for the Zululand Birding route and they may have a suggestion. 




Link to comment
Share on other sites


Splendid trip report @lmSA84 and you are so right South Africa is a wonderful place to visit.We have used a guide from the Birding route program near Polkwane and can greatly recommend the scheme

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, lmSA84 said:


@Atravelynn - Thanks! The Gannets and other seabirds are resident at Bird Island so no need to time a trip. That said if you visit in August and get lucky you might be able to combine a trip to Bird Island with the Namaqua flower season. You could charge for that piece of travel advice!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. You have spoilt us with some really excellent info, not to mention many photos of fabulously rare birds (and other stuff)!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for an excellent report - practical details, lots of birds, mammals and beautiful scenery. All illustrated by your wonderful photos.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really enjoyed reading your TR, @lmSA84, and learning about many excellent places thjat we will be able to visit in future trips to this part of Africa. 8500 km ... you really covered a lot of territory!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@lmSA84 thanks for the lead to Birds and beyond, I have contacted Stuart and will book with him once my RSA safari dates are confirmed. Good hint about the community bird guides too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



What an epic trip report and a real reference source for relatively unknown places (at least to me) in South Africa. I really appreciated your practical details, not to mention your obvious enthusiasm for the country. With two previous trips totaling 4 weeks in South Africa, it's obvious that we have only scratched the surface. 


Thanks again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Really enjoyed your Drakensberg photos, and glad you found your barbets!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Love all the bathing, whether Secretary bird in the water or ostrich in the dust!  The African Wildcat caught something!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

@Treepol - I would love to know what is your final itinerary for SA? It sounds epic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@lmSA84it is rather epic!


There are 7 of us starting in Dar with a week in Dar/Zanzibar then 2 nights each for Mikumi and Udzungwa NPs before 4 nights at Kilimatonge Camp in Ruaha. We are picked up from Iringa from where we drive south through northern Zambia with 2 nights each at Kapishya (I am very keen to see Shiwa N'gandu aka the Africa House) and Mutinondo before overnighting for a night in Lusaka to provision for 6 nights in Kafue NP where we have to partly fend for ourselves at Hippo Bay campsite for 3 nights before spending the next 3 nights in lodges - be seeing you @KaingU Lodge. Our guide will then take us to Vic Falls for 2 nights and then we fly to JNB.


Next up is a 3 night stay at Marrick Farm - there are a few changes in the group along the way. Four maybe 5 of the original 7 will have departed by the time we leave Marrick, however @farin and @GnuGnu are flying in for RSA and the Marrick and another 2 for the RSA sector only. In RSA we are at Tembe for 3 nights, Manyoni and Endomeni for 2 nights with 3 nights at St Lucia. This is followed by 2 nights each at Mountain Zebra and Karoo NPs and Cape Town after which the group trip ends.


Three of us are staying on for an extra night in Cape Town and a 3 day trip to West Coast NP returning thru' the Winelands. Just 2 of us are continuing to Giant's Castle where the vulture hide has been booked for us and then we fly back to JNB where @Peter Connan has very kindly offered to take both myself and @farinto Marievale.


I may stay on for a further 2 weeks if a scheduled Birds and Wildflowers trip gets off the ground. The company need 4 clients for this to run and so far I am the only one to show interest - the trip didn't run this yearand there is no one on a waiting list, so I think its unlikely (and very sad) that it won't run next year. I'd very much like to do it, but have booked my international flights to take advantage of a special and to ensure that I land in Dar with the others on 23 June 2018.


I will post a detailed itinerary when the RSA sector is booked and deposits paid.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! That sounds even more ambitious than our recent trip! What flowers are you hoping to see? At West coast the time to see the flowers is when we went in September. Even then it can be very hot or miss, we got lucky at West coast, but I was told there have been hardly any flowers in Namaqualand this year.


If you are going to Karoo National Park, you are so close to Dunedin farm and the Riverine rabbit retreat! The night life there is just amazing, even if you don't get the rabbit, which is very hard, you will definitely see tons of bat eared foxes and some other goodies, which I won't go into now but will cover in my report soon enough! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

Oh my god !!! this trip report is simply awesome and the marrick farm section and night drives you had are amazing !!

we are going there in December and have booked 4 private night drives so I'd love to see what you saw. Even what you saw during your second drive would make my day (if I can say so )

May I ask you which lense and camera settings you used for the night drives as your pictures are very decent ? Do we need a telezoom  (300 to 500mm) or  would something like a 70-200mm f2.8 be enough if we can come close to animals?

thanks in advance for your feedback 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy