South Africa: Mammals & Birds

Mammals, birds and more

At a Glance


Primarily a mammal tour with the main emphasis on the more difficult to see species with some birding too.


South Africa - Cape Town, Kimberley and Madikwe


Target mammals include Southern Right Whale, Heaviside's Dolphin, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Black-footed Cat, Cape Clawless and Spotted-necked Otter and African Wild Dog

Dates and Prices:

Dates: September 2022

Leader: TBC

Prices: TBC

Client quote: “Good leader, guides, companions and superb wildlife – one of the best trips we have been on!” M&B.G. Sept 2018

  • Lilac-breasted Roller, South Africa
  • Lion, South Africa
  • Lion, South Africa
  • Cheetah, South Africa
  • Karoo Rock Sengis, South Africa
  • White Rhino, South Africa
  • Jaguar, South Africa
  • Wild Dogs, South Africa

Tour overview

This exciting tour focuses on three main areas with an exceptional selection of mammals. We hope to see in excess of 50 species, with our primary focus being on some of South Africa's rare and elusive mammals including Black-footed Cat, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Cape Porcupine, Cape Clawless and Spotted-necked Otter and African (Cape) Hunting Dog. We also hope to see a number of Africa's ‘Big 5’, as well as a good variety of predators, more widespread African mammals and around 250 species of birds.

The tour starts with three nights to the east of Cape Town where we hope to see Southern Right Whales, as well as some fantastic land mammals including Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra. This area is also home to some localised birds and those we would expect to find include African Penguin and Cape Rockjumper.

We will then move on to the Kimberley area where the night spotlighting can be truly exceptional with the chance of a number of enigmatic nocturnal mammals. We hope these will include Black-footed Cat, the recently split African Wildcat, Bat-eared Fox, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Cape Porcupine and Springhare, with the possibly of South African Hedgehog and Caracal.  During the day we will visit sites for otters and a variety of ungulates including Black Wildebeest.

We will then visit two or three localities not far from Johannesburg where we will focus on looking for Otters, Black Wildebeest, Blesbok and Mountain Reedbuck along with many other species.

The final leg of the trip in Madikwe Game Reserve in northern South Africa on the border with Botswana will focus on looking for African Wild Dog, Brown Hyaena and other carnivores including Lion, Leopard and Cheetah.  We also expect to see a good variety of ungulates including the remaining members of the African ‘Big 5’, Cape Buffalo, White (and hopefully) Black Rhinos plus African Savanna Elephant, together with a good selection of birds hopefully including African Finfoot.

It is important to stress, however, that the main focus of this trip will be mammals so if you are looking for a bird tour to South Africa, then we suggest this may not be for you, although we will try to accommodate the wishes of birders as far as possible.

There is no obligation on any tour participant to take part in every excursion but we strongly recommend that you do so.  It is better to catch up on your sleep in the back of the vehicle where we can wake you if we see something good, than in the hotel room where you might miss something.

The key locations:

The Cape – Our trip will start near Cape Town with visits to Hermanus and De Hoop. Both these areas are well-known calving grounds for the Southern Right Whale with Hermanus considered one of the premiere whale-watching locations in the world. We should get excellent views of the whales and whilst at De Hoop will hope to find Bontebok, Cape Mountain Zebra, Grey Rhebok and Baboon with chances for Caracal and Leopard. We will also look for some of the speciality birds of this region and these could include African Penguin, Bank Cormorant, Cape Sugarbird and Southern Double-collared Sunbird.

Kimberley Area – We will visit several sites in the Kimberley area including Marrick Game Farm where we plan to stay for three nights.  Marrick is well-known for its night drives when we hope to see Black-footed Cat, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Cape Porcupine, Smith’s Red Rock Rabbit and a number of commoner species.  During the day we will look for a good selection of ungulates including Black Wildebeest, along with smaller species such as Yellow Mongoose, South African Ground Squirrel, Meerkat and if we are very lucky Western Rock Sengi (Elephant-Shrew).  Whilst at Kimberley we also plan to visit nearby Warrenton to look for Spotted-necked and African Clawless Otter and a range of waterbirds. If time allows, we will also go to Kamfers Dam which has a large colony of Greater and Lesser Flamingos and many other waterbirds.

Madikwe – Madikwe Game Reserve lies on South Africa's border with Botswana and is an area reclaimed as a reserve in 1991.  It is home to a wide range of species some of which have been reintroduced as part of a reintroduction programme.  We hope to see many of Africa's Big 5 and a range of ungulates but our primary target will be African (Cape) Hunting Dog.  Madikwe also offers opportunities to see other predators including Lion, Cheetah, Brown and Spotted Hyaenas and possibly Leopard or Caracal. We will work hard to see as many of these as we can and on most evenings we plan to return to the lodge for dinner after dark to enable us to spotlight on our way back.  We may also do at least one pre-dawn spotlighting session.

Most of our time here will be spent looking for mammals from the vehicle but elsewhere there should be plenty of opportunities to walk around, although no long or strenuous hikes are anticipated.


Day 1: Evening flight from Heathrow.

Day 2: Arrive Cape Town. Transfer to Hermanus looking for African Penguins, Cape Rockjumpers and other specialities on route.

Day 3: Morning Hermanus. Afternoon transfer to De Hoop birding on route.

Day 4: De Hoop.

Day 5: Morning transfer to Cape Town. Afternoon flight to Kimberley and transfer to Marrick.

Days 6-7: Full days at Marrick and Warrenton.  

Day 8: Flight to Johannesburg and transfer to Heidelburg. Late afternoon Suikerbosrand.

Day 9: Suikerbosrand and/or Marievale.

Day 10: Transfer to Madikwe.

Days 11-14: Madikwe.

Day 15: Early morning Madikwe, transfer to Johannesburg for flight home.

Day 16: Arrive Heathrow.

NB: the exact itinerary will be subject to weather, local conditions and governmental and local permissions.

Potential Mammals (selected species only)

South African Hedgehog, Karoo Rock Sengi, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Cape, Scrub and African Savanna Hares, Smith’s Red Rock Rabbit, South African Ground Squirrel, Springhare, Cape Porcupine, Bushveld Gerbil, Cape and Bat-eared Foxes, Black-backed Jackal, African Wild Dog, Cape Clawless and Spotted-necked Otters, Zorilla, Banded, Dwarf, Slender, Small Grey, Marsh and Yellow Mongooses, Suricate (Meerkat), Small and Large-spotted Genets, Brown Hyaena, Aardwolf, Black-footed Cat, African Wildcat, Caracal, Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, Aardvark, African Savanna Elephant, Rock Hyrax, Plains (Burchell’s) Zebra, White and Black Rhinos, Warthog, Southern African Giraffe, African Savanna Buffalo, Zambezi Greater Kudu, Common Reedbuck, Black and Blue Wildebeest, Blesbok, Red Hartebeest, Common Impala, Kalahari and South African Springboks, Transvaal Klipspringer, Steenbok, Mountain Reedbuck and Common Duiker.

Potential Birds (selected species only)

Common Ostrich, Spur-winged Goose, Knob-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Helmeted Guineafowl, Crested Francolin, Swainson’s Francolin, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, African Black Swift, Kori Bustard, Red-crested Korhaan, Northern Black Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Speckled Pigeon, Namaqua Dove, Greater Flamingo, Water Thick-knee, Spotted Thick-knee, African Oystercatcher, Blacksmith Plover, African Jacana, African Penguin, Cape Gannet, Bank Cormorant, African Darter, Hadada Ibis, African Spoonbill, Black-headed Heron, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, Secretarybird, Cape Vulture, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, African Fish Eagle, Southern White-faced Owl, Spotted Eagle Owl, Speckled Mousebird, Red-faced Mousebird, African Hoopoe, African Grey Hornbill, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Lilac-breasted Roller, Purple Roller, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Little Bee-eater, White-fronted Bee-eater, Bearded Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Chinspot Batis, Pririt Batis, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Brubru, Black-headed Oriole, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Cape Rockjumper, Southern Black Tit, Spike-heeled Lark, Sabota Lark, Eastern Clapper Lark, Grey-backed Sparrow Lark, White-throated Swallow, Lesser Striped Swallow, Red-breasted Swallow, South African Cliff Swallow, Long-billed Crombec, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Southern Pied Babbler, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Starling, Kurrichane Thrush, Karoo Thrush, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Marico Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, White-throated Robin-chat, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Mocking Cliff Chat, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Weaver, Black-faced Waxbill, Quailfinch, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-headed Finch, Cape Wagtail, Cape Siskin, Lark-like Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Golden-breasted Bunting.