Situated at the south western tip of the African continent towering above the convergence of the warm Indian and plankton rich Atlantic oceans lies the scenically spectacular Cape of Good Hope so aptly described by Sir Francis Drake as the 'Fairest Cape' in all the world.
This spectacular peninsula of ancient granite and layers of sedimentary sandstone is home to a floral kingdom of unsurpassed beauty and splendor. It is a harsh botanical environment that is constantly subjected to hot summer winds and westerly gales in the winter. Over the millennia a unique relationship has evolved within the plant community in response to prevailing climatic conditions within the extremes of this exposed environment. This cycle of progressive change has in turn led to the evolution of a number of species of mammals and birds that have adapted successfully to prevailing climatic conditions over time.
Our trip in search of endemics unique to this 'fynbos' environment, as the biome is scientifically known, starts with an overland visit to Cape Point following a pelagic trip the day before to the trawling grounds on the continental shelf. In the vicinity of the oceanic convergence some 30 nautical miles south of Cape Point we can expect to see as many as seven species of albatross and several species of shearwater and petrel as they careen in large numbers around the trawlers and tuna fishing boats. ( Pelagic trip refers)
A walk to the lighthouse along the coastal path should produce sightings of Grassbird Cape Siskin, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Bunting and Lesser Double-collared Sunbird with the possibility of Peregrine Falcon as an added bonus. Elsewhere in the reserve we will search for Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Cape Sugarbird, Malachite Sunbird and Common Kestrel among other species unique to the area.
Our route north follows the Atlantic coastline with stops along the way to look for Black Oystercatcher, Bank Cormorant, African Penguin, Kittlitz's and White-fronted Sandplover before heading inland to bird an extensive complex of settling ponds adjacent to Cape Town's water treatment plant. Specials within the complex include Cape Teal, Cape Shoveller, Purple Heron, Southern Pochard, African Marsh Harrier and Purple Swamphen among many other sighting possibilities.
An early start sees us taking a slow walk through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in search of Sombre Bulbul, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Olive Pigeon, Lemon Dove, African Goshawk, Cape Batis and Spotted Eagle Owl before leaving for the south coast along one of the most scenic routes the Cape has to offer. Key species are highly localized and include Victorin's Warbler, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Rock Thrush, Neddicky, Bar-throated Apalis, Hottentot Button Quail, Blue Crane and Denham's Bustard.
Our route early the next day follows the sweep of the Atlantic to the West Coast Park and surrounding area. The low lying coastal scrub can prove highly rewarding at times and we can expect to see Ostrich, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Lark, Cape Francolin, Pied Starling, Namaqua Dove, Greywing Francolin, Cape Bulbul, White-backed Mousebird, Yellow Canary and White-throated Seedeater.
Visits to both bird hides overlooking the exposed tidal flats of the Langebaan Lagoon will ensure excellent views of a wide variety of terns and waders in the summer months if the tides are right. Moving further afield we will search for Cape Long-billed Lark, Capped Wheatear, Ant-eating Chat, Grey-backed Finch Lark and Sickle-winged Chat in the open wheat fields before our overnight stop at a fishing village on the coast.
Heading inland the next day we will arrive in the rain shadow of the Cedarberg Mountains to commence our search for a suite of 'specials' unique to the arid Karoo including Karoo Chat, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig's Bustard and Karoo Eremomela. From here our routing takes us across a spectacular pass to the sea facing slopes of the Langeberg mountains where we will bird patches of relic forest looking for Forest Buzzard, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Forest Canary, Swee Waxbill, Knysna Scrub Warbler, Olive and possibly Knysna Woodpecker if we are lucky.
We now enter the Garden Route as we meander along the lush coastal plain to the lake district of Wilderness. This is home to the Knysna Turaco and Narina Trogon as well as a number of other species unique to the area such as Chorister and Starred Robin. Several forest trails will be explored before following the coast to the Tsitsikamma National Park at the mouth of the Storm's River. From here we take the toll road to the Addo Elephant Park to the north of Port Elizabeth. During our stay we can expect close up and almost too personal views of African Elephant as well as Cape Buffalo and possibly Lion along with a mix of antelope if viewing conditions are suitable. From Addo we will return to Port Elizabeth to connect with our outbound flight to either Johannesburg or Cape Town.
Key Species: African Penguin, Bank and Crowned Cormorant, Black-browed and Shy Albatross, Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Great Shearwater, Pintado Petrel, Subantarctic Skua, Spectacled Petrel, Wison's Storm Petrel, Black Oystercatcher, White-fronted Sandplover, Swift Tern, Little Tern, Jackal Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, African Goshawk, Verreaux's Eagle, Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock Thrush, Victorin's Warbler, Grassbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Sombre Bulbul and Cape Bulbul, Spotted Eagle Owl, Lemon Dove, Tambourine Dove, Cape and Pririt Batis, Olive and Knysna Woodpecker, Forest Buzzard, Terrestrial Bulbul, Forest and Brimstone Canary, Lesser and Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Grey Cuckooshrike, Narina Trogon, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Karoo Chat, Karoo Eremomela, Trac Trac Chat, Layard's and Chestnut-vented Tit Babbler, Mountain Wheatear, Namaqua and Spotted Prinia, Dusky Sunbird, Yellow Canary, Lark-like Bunting, Black and Marsh Harrier, Crowned Eagle, Knysna Turaco, Green Woodhoopoe, Black-headed Oriole, Half-collared and Giant Kingfisher, African Black Duck, African Finfoot, Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig's and Denham's Bustard, Blue Crane, Red-chested Flufftail, Wood Owl and African Fish Eagle.
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