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Groot Karoo Birding Safari



The Karoo is a massive chunk of central South Africa that is characterised by a dry climate and harsh landscapes. Vegetation is sparse but curiously still home to an abundance of life. We will take you to the various oasis scattered around the Karoo and unravel the secrets it holds in store. A mere 150km from Cape Town in a north easterly direction begins the Klein Karoo, as soon as you cross the dividing mountain range you know you have arrived. This is a distinct change from the Fynbos biome. The Karoo is divided into two areas and as soon as you cross the second mountain range you enter the Great Karoo which is even more uncompromising and hauntingly beautiful.

 

 

Day 1 Cape Town – Montagu

The town of Montagu was founded on the farm Uitvlugt in 1851. It is set in a narrow valley of Cape fold mountains. There is the Touws river running through the valley which on occasion comes down in spate. The area is known for its fruit and vineyards as well as wonderful hiking trails in the mountains. Look out for raptors on fences and poles along the road.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow 
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Distance – 186 km
  • Duration – 2,5 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar via N1 and R62
  • Specials along the way – Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pied Starling, Black Crow

Day 2 Montagu – Anysberg

The Anysberg Nature reserve is a 64,565 hectare gem of plains and majestic Cape fold mountains with deep valleys and deep gorges. It was established in 1988 to conserve both succulents and mountain fynbos. Over 180 species of bird have been observed here as well as many species of mammal.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 72 km
  • Duration – 2 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar and gravel on R62
  • Specials along the way – Rufous Eared Warbler, Ludwigs Bustard, Blue Crane

Day 3 Anysberg - Karoo National Park

This is a park which defines the Great Karoo with its harsh and unforgiving landscape. The park boasts at least 20 pairs of breeding Verreaux’s Eagle. Many mammal species have been re-introduced over the years including African Lion and Brown Hyena. Many farms bordering the park have also been bought and consolidated into the park. The park has great bungalow accommodation, a pool, restaurant and bird hide.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 270 km
  • Duration – 4 hrs
  • Conditions – gravel then tar via N1
  • Specials along the way – this park alone has 238 species

Day 4 Karoo National Park - Camdeboo National Park

This park surrounds the town of Graaff-Reinet and includes the Valley of desolation and Nqweba Dam. Over 250 species of birds are to be found here as well as many species of mammals and reptiles. The town is the fourth oldest in South Africa and was named after the Dutch VOC governor of the Cape Colony, Cornelias Jacob van de Graaff (his wife was Reinet).                          

  • Accommodation – tented camp
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 215 km
  • Duration – 3 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar on the R61
  • Specials along the way – Diederik Cuckoo, Brownhooded Kingfisher, Cardinal Woodpecker

Day 5 Camdeboo National Park - Mountain Zebra National Park

This park is a not to be missed gem on the eastern limit of our travels. It is nestled between mountains and sits high on a plateau. The views are simply breath taking and the park offers many 4x4 routes as well as mountain top drives. The camp is well appointed with great bungalows, swimming pool (including one out in the bush), restaurant and picnic areas. Lions, cheetahs and many other species of game are to be found here together with many species of birds.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 154 km
  • Duration – 2,5 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar on the R61
  • Specials along the way – White-Browed Sparrow-Weavers, Secretary Birds, Eastern Clapper Lark

Day 6-8 Mountain Zebra National Park – Hanover

This is a small sheep farming town that was established in 1854. It took its name from Hanover, Germany and has a strong spring that releases 200,000 litres of water per day. During the Anglo-Boer war the town gained the dubious distinction of being the place were British atrocities took place.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 184 km
  • Duration – 3 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar on the N10
  • Specials along the way – Lesser Kestrels, Karoo Lark, Karoo Eremomela

Day 9 Hanover – Carnavon

Carnavon was establish as a way station between the Cape and Botswana. It also has links to the Rhenish missionary society and was named after the Earl Carnarvon. This was a land of conflict where hunters shot out the game and San Bushman in turn took to hunting livestock to sustain themselves.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 264 km
  • Duration – 3,5 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar and gravel via R384
  • Specials along the way – Black Shouldered Kite, Lanner Falcon, Karoo Korhaan

Day 10 Carnavon - Fraserburg 

 This is a very interesting little town which has dinosaur history. It has the St. Augustine’s Anglican church which has no steeple. The Pepper Pot building is of the most interest and there is also a local museum. The folk are renowned for being friendly.

  • Accommodation - Bungalow
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 135 km
  • Duration – 2 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar and gravel via R361
  • Specials along the way – African Rock Pipit, Karoo Long billed Lark, Short toed Rock Thrush

Day 11-12 Fraserburg - Tankwa Karoo National Park

This is a relatively new park and great efforts are being made to enhance its value. The main reason behind the efforts are the number of endemic species that area resident in the park. The clear skies are also outstanding for star gazing. There are numerous view points and 4x4 routes. The park falls within the succulent Karoo biome.

  • Accommodation - Lodge
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 220 km
  • Duration – 5 hrs
  • Conditions – Gravel on R356
  • Specials along the way – Black Harrier, Grey Winged Francolin, Cape Clapper Lark.

Day 13-14 Tankwa Karoo National Park - Cape Town

Today we head back to Cape Town, the drive is a little longer but should be eventful as we drop off the plateau and get to see mountain birds before hitting the farmlands on the flat.

  • Accommodation - Lodge
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Distance – 332 km
  • Duration – 5 hrs
  • Conditions – Tar via R46
  • Specials along the way -

Cost - 14 day Tour : €3,010/$3,360/£2,200 per person sharing (minimum two guests/maximum of eight guests)

Sociable Weaver  Philetairus socius