Boasting numerous national parks and dozens of private reserves with the Big Five present; a South African wildlife trip nearly always focus on the high bushveld of Kruger National Park and its surrounds. But to do this can mean missing out on other habitats and parts of the country that are unique and filled with wildlife that is either only found there or best seen there. This trip does not touch the Kruger area and we will not see lions and elephants but we will see a different set of wildlife that is no less amazing and spectacular in their own rights. Exploring many different habitats on this tour we will find the rare and unusual species that inhabit the dry grasslands and rocky escarpments of the zone between the Karoo to the south and the Kalahari to the north. If successful we could be among the first people (if not the only people) to see black-footed cats, aardwolfs and aardvarks in the same trip!
All in all this dedicated and comprehensive wildlife tour of some unusual South African ecosystems that we hope will have you falling in love with the other side of safari holidays in South Africa. The whole of Southern Africa has many hidden secrets and much more than the Big Five and we hope to showcase some of these highlights throughout this tour.
Witsand Wildlife Reserve
On your arrival into Upington airport you will be collected by your local guide and taken to Witsand Wildlife Reserve. Witsand Wildlife Reserve is covered with white and red Kalahari sand dunes and his home to over 150 species of birds and several intriguing mammals. Protected since 1993 the area is an important site for many Kalahari species that now battle with farmers for space in the once vast Kalahari ecosystem. We will spend whatever time we have here (after arriving) this afternoon exploring some of the reserve to look for wildlife.
Witsand Wildlife Reserve
Today is a full day exploring the reserve; as well as the range of mammals we will hopefully see some of the important bird species here include pygmy falcons, kori bustards, secretary birds, crimson-breasted bouboul and three species of sandgrouse. But of course our focus will be spending time looking for mammals, particularly gemsbok, springbok, common duiker, steenbok, red hartebeest, South African ground squirrels and the endearing meerkats. Then after dinner when it is dark we will go out with a spotlight in search of some of the rarer animals in Africa. The ground pangolin has been seen here on occasion and whilst it is very rare this is probably our best chance to see one of the most elusive species in the whole of Africa. Also here and that can be seen at night are aardvarks, South African crested porcupines, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, South African springhare and various species of owls.
Marrick Game Farm
This morning we will make our way from the edge of the Kalahari ecosystem and through the Karoo and towards the town of Kimberley. Our destination is Marrick Game Farm, once here we will have an afternoon game drive around the 3,000 hectare property. Once a functioning dairy and sheep farm it has been managed as an eco-tourism property for the last 15 years and the grounds sustain a range of ecosystems including savannah, rocky scrub and thick thorny bushveld. This range of habitats is one of the reasons for the array of wildlife here and whilst on our game drive this afternoon we will hope to see greater kudu, common eland, blesbok, gemsbok, black wildebeest, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, steenbok, common duiker, Burchell’s zebra, mountain reedbuck, waterbuck, impala, common warthog and springbok. There are also giraffe here which represent one of the few herds of giraffe in the Kalahari. The birdlife is also spectacular here with the blue crane, African fish eagle and double-banded courser all highlights. After dinner once again we will have an night safari and here we have the best chance of seeing an aardvark, they are not very rare and are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa but are hardly ever seen. We will also try for South African springhare, aardwolf, Smith’s red rock rabbit, South African crested porcupine and bat-eared foxes.
Marrick Game Farm
Today we will be a full day exploration the various ecosystems around Kimberley in search of as much wildlife was possible. We will leave Marrick and visit some nearby locations for known wildlife before returning to the farm for spotlighting. Many of the species listed on the previous days will be our targets today and then after dark once again we will try and find the rare and elusive nocturnal species.
Mokala National Park
Today we will travel from Marrick Game Farm to Mokala National Park, this is one of South Africa’s newest national parks and is home to both white and black rhinos, African buffalo, black wildebeest, klipspringer, blue wildebeest, common warthog, giraffe, mountain reedbuck, gemsbok, roan & sable antelopes, meerkat, Cape grey mongoose, slender mongoose, black-backed jackal and many other diurnal species. On the way to the park we will visit Kamfer’s Dam which is one of only 4 lesser flamingo breeding sites in the world. Then after dark we will have a night safari and look for brown hyena, Cape fox, African wild cat, caracal, small spotted genet, Southern African hedgehog and possibly aarvark too.
Mokala National Park
Today we will spend the day exploring the Mokala National Park and try and find as many species as possible and also have another night drive.
De Aar Game Farm
This morning will be our last game drive around Mokala National Park before we leave and head to De Aar and the Karoo Experience. This rustic country house is set in the Karoo, another unique South African habitat and home to many species. The Karoo and Kalahari are very similar habitats and we will spend the afternoon and evening looking for wildlife. Many of the larger diurnal species will be the same as we have seen elsewhere but we have chosen these places to visit based on recent sightings of some of the more unusual species such as black-footed cats, aardvarks and possibly pangolins. So we will have a night safari as well to see if we can find any of these rarer species. We may also find Southern African hedgehog, Cape fox, red rock rabbits or smaller species like the very unusual elephant shrews that also inhabit this arid habitat.
De Aar Game Farm
Today we will spend the time exploring the property and surrounding countryside including visiting nearby parks, reserves and other known wildlife areas that have been researched by our local naturalist guide. We will come back to the Karoo Experience for our evening meal and last night in the Kalahari / Karoo of South Africa.
Today you will have one last morning game drive around De Aar game farm before departing for the town of Kimberley. You can either arrange your flight to depart from here in the late afternoon or evening today or we can arrange an overnight here for you.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The Western Cape province of South Africa has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate with mild, moderately wet winters and dry, warm summers. Winter, which lasts from the beginning of June to the end of August, may see large cold fronts entering for limited periods from the Atlantic Ocean with significant precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. Winter months in the city average a maximum of 18°C (64°F) and minimum of 8.5°C (47°F). Total annual rainfall in the city averages 515mm (20.3in).
August is on average the third rainiest month of the year and the occasional storm blowing in from the Atlantic is not uncommon.
The Western Cape is also climatologically diverse, with many distinct micro- and macroclimates created by the varied topography and the influence the surrounding ocean currents. These are the warm Agulhas Current which flows southwards along South Africa’s east coast, and the cold Benguela Current which is an upwelling current from the depths of the South Atlantic Ocean along South Africa’s west coast. Thus climatic statistics can vary greatly over short distances. The Karoo has an arid to semi-arid climate with cold, frosty winters and hot summers with occasional thunderstorms.
In general when the sun is out the days should be warm and plesant but expect chilly weather and rain during the tour, especially when on the water.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned vehicle to be driven by your local guide. You get the services of the zoologist escort as well as the local naturalist guide included in the fee.
All our excursions including jeep safaris, guided walks, night safaris and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be clothes for both warm & dry days and chilly nights and cool morning safaris. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Insect repellent is handy but not essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. Spotlights for night drives are also included. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Emirates or KLM as good airlines for flights to Johannesburg; and then from there we recommend South African Airways for internal flights to Upington. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is to and from Johannesburg and Upington is www.opodo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for South Africa. However these are given out free of charge on arrival at the airport. Usually 30 days is granted but please confirm this as less if sometimes given. The easiest way to find information is by visiting www.southafrica.info (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit India, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting South Africa as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Mr & Mrs. Howes - Essex, UK
Ms. Joyce Hoy - UK
Mr. Valentine & Ms. Skye - New York State, USA
The Peal family - County Derry