- Trip Outline
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Amatolas, Addo & Baviaanskloof 2021
25 April to 4 March 2021
This adventure takes us to several exciting destinations and is much, much more than a pure birding trip. We visit three iconic Eastern Cape destinations ie The Baviaanskloof, Addo Elephant National Park and Hogsback.
The word Baviaanskloof, although derived from the Dutch “valley of baboons” is associated with pristine nature, narrow gorges with flowing streams, steep mountain passes, vast plains with waving grasslands, and views of unspoiled wilderness.
Our entire country can be divided into just nine biomes (a unique ecological unit with a characteristic set of plant, animal species and climate) and Addo stretches over five of these with each biome having its own set of key species. In a lesser-known stretch of Addo, where the park meets the sea, there’s a great gathering of high and wide dunes known as the Alexandria Dune Field. This dune sea, as it’s also known, is the largest and least degraded of its kind in the southern hemisphere, stretching over 15 800 hectares, with its widest point being five kilometres from the sea
The village of Hogsback, high up on the Amatola mountains and surrounded by centuries-old Afromontane forests, has a dramatic natural beauty. One’s overwhelming sense of Hogsback is the quiet, broken only by the singing of birds, the primeval call of the Knysna Turaco or the chatter of a troop of Samango monkeys as they feed and play in the canopies of trees.
An ever-flowing spring bubbles on the plateau above Nieu Bethesda. Its water flows downhill and through the village’s network of furrows, one of the last working furrow systems in the country. The bubbling water is a fitting soundtrack to the serene pace of life in this small village, where the streets remain untarred and the locals treat visitors like friends. Nieu Bethesda is overlooked by the Compassberg, the highest mountain in the Eastern Cape. Night skies are clear, velvety and unforgettable and the air is crisp and enlivening.
The Baviaanskloof lies about 120 km west of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and comprises 270 000 ha. of unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain. The area encompasses the World Heritage site of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve and the Karoo towns of Steytlerville, Willowmore, Rietbron and Grootrivier. Starting in the East at Komdomo, the road leads through the rugged Grootrivier gorge on its winding path through this pristine conservancy to Willowmore in the west, a total distance of about 203 km
With its World Heritage Site status, the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve is home to the largest wilderness area in the country and is one of eight protected areas of the Cape Floristic Region. Covering some 200km of unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain with spectacular landscapes the area hosts more than a thousand different plant species, including the Erica and Protea families and two species of ancient cycads. Seven of South Africa’s nine biomes are represented within the Reserve – Fynbos, Forest, Grassland, Succulent Karoo, Nama-Karoo, Subtropical Thicket and Savanna.
The area is characterised by its diverse landscapes due to the region’s high geological, topographic and climatic diversity. The colourful cliffs and rock formations are characteristic of the predominant hard sandstone, which is part of the Table Mountain group of sediments.
The rich and diverse animal life of the area can be attributed to the diversity and complexity of its environmental component. Some of the larger mammal species found are Cape Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Kudu, Cape Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Bushbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Eland and Baboon.
The Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant Park, formerly known as the Alexandria State Forest, is an 80 km section of the coastline located between the Bushman’s River to the east and the Sundays River to the west. The vegetation of this region primarily consists of the dune fields of the former Alexandria State Forest, which runs along the Indian Ocean coastline between the Bushman’s River and the Sunday’s River. The coastal forest contains classic Afromontane forest trees such as yellowwoods, growing alongside milkwood and coral trees on sandy soils. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in the forest and adjoining habitats, including the beach.
Hogsback is a small village situated about 1300m above sea level in the Amatola Mountains. It has the character of an English country village and is surrounded by the misty tangled forests of the Amatolas.
The Amatola Mountains boast more waterfalls per square km than anywhere else on earth. Hogsback alone has dozens of waterfalls, including Swallow Tail falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Madonna and Child Falls. The Amatolas is one of two areas in South Africa where the distinct afro-montane forest biome occurs. The other is the Tsitsikamma and Knysna area on the coast. This forest is characterised by waterfalls and bubbling streams, dense fern layers, multi-layers of trees with twisted branches, hanging mosses, arum lilies, orchids and other wildflowers, fallen logs covered in bright mushrooms, and thick, high canopies formed by large hardwoods such as the yellowwood.
This 10-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned Double Cab 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Date : April 25, 2021
Johannesburg-Nieu BethesdaEarly morning departure from Johannesburg. Travel via Bloemfontein and Gariep Dam to Nieu Bethesda, arriving mid-afternoon. Late afternoon birding and overnight at farm guesthouse near Nieu Bethesda.
Date : April 26, 2021
Nieu Bethesda-BaviaanskloofEarly morning birding around Nieu Bethesda. Depart after breakfast for Baviaanskloof, via Camdeboo National Park. Mid-afternoon arrival at Blue Hill Nature Reserve, Baviaanskloof. Late afternoon walk on Reserve. Overnight at Blue Hill Escape.
Date : April 27, 2021
BaviaanskloofEarly morning drive on to plateau in search of Hottentot Buttonquail. Rest of day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Baviaanskloof. Overnight at Baviaanskloof Cottages
Date : April 28, 2021
BaviaanskloofEarly morning birding in kloof near cottages. Rest of day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Baviaanskloof. Overnight at Baviaanskloof Lodge, Cambria.
Date : April 29, 2021
BaviaanskloofEarly morning birding around lodge. Rest of day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Baviaanskloof. Overnight at Baviaanskloof Lodge.
Date : April 30, 2021
Baviaanskloof-Addo Elephant Park (Woody Cape)Early morning birding around lodge Depart after breakfast Visit Mondplaas Ponds and Tankatara en route and arrive at forest mid-afternoon. Overnight at Langebos Huts.
Date : May 1, 2021
Addo Elephant Park (Woody Cape)Day spent birding in forests and surrounding grasslands. Overnight at Langebos Huts.
Date : May 2, 2021
Addo Elephant Park-HogsbackEarly morning birding in forest Depart after brunch for Hogsback Travel via Alexandria and Fort Beaufort, arriving in Hogsback mid-afternoon Overnight at The Edge Mountain Retreat
Date : May 3, 2021
HogsbackDay spent birding and sightseeing in forests and grasslands around Hogsback Overnight at The Edge Mountain Retreat
Date : May 4, 2021
Hogsback-JohannesburgEarly morning birding around Hogsback Depart after breakfast for Johannesburg
Transport, all meals and accommodation, guiding, entrance fees and specified activities.
Alcoholic beverages, gratuities and items of a personal nature.
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