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Baviaanskloof & Addo

21 to 30 October 2023

This adventure takes us to several exciting destinations and is much, much more than a pure birding trip. We visit two iconic Eastern Cape destinations ie The Baviaanskloof and Addo Elephant National Park.


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

Colchester Dunes


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 Bathesda 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.


Birding Attractions


Ludwig’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Booted Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Black Harrier, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Red-necked Spurfowl, Grey-winged Francolin, Common Quail, Fynbos Buttonquail (with some luck),Black Stork, Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Olive Woodpecker, Southern Tchagra, Cape Grassbird, Cape Rock-Thrush, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Chat, Fairy Flycatcher, Cape Sugarbird, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Victorin’s Warbler, Black-headed Canary, Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin.


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.

Birding Attractions

Addo Elephant National Park(Woody Cape)

African Crowned Eagle, Forest Buzzard, African Wood-Owl, Denham’s Bustard, Black-winged Lapwing, Knysna Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, Olive Bush-Shrike, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Grey Sunbird, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Knysna Warbler, Lemon Dove, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Cape Batis, , Dark-backed Weaver, Forest Canary


This 10-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle  4-wheel drive Microbus.


Day 1

Date : October 21, 2023

Johannesburg-Nieu Bethesda

Early 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.

Day 2

Date : October 22, 2023

Nieu Bethesda-Baviaanskloof

Early 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.

Day 3

Date : October 23, 2023


Early morning drive on to plateau in search of Fynbos Buttonquail.
Rest of day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Baviaanskloof.
Overnight at Blue Hill Escape.

Day 4

Date : October 24, 2023


Early morning birding around Blue Hill Escape.
Rest of day spent sightseeing and birding, in the area.
Overnight at Baviaanskloof Cottages.

Day 5

Date : October 25, 2023


Early morning birding in kloof near cottages.
Rest of day spent birding, game viewing and sightseeing in Baviaanskloof.
Overnight at Baviaanskloof Lodge, Cambria.

Day 6

Date : October 26, 2023


Day spent birding and game viewing in Baviaanskloof.
Overnight at Baviaanskloof Lodge.

Day 7

Date : October 27, 2023

Baviaanskloof-Addo (Woody Cape)

Early morning birding around lodge
Depart after breakfast and
travel through Addo Elephant Park en route to Woody Cape Section near Alexandria.
Overnight at Langebos Huts.

Day 8

Date : October 28, 2023

Addo (Woody Cape)

Day spent birding in forests and surrounding grasslands.
Overnight at Langebos Huts.

Day 9

Date : October 29, 2023

Addo (Woody Cape)

Day spent birding and game viewing in forests and surrounding areas.
Overnight at Langebos Huts.

Day 10

Date : October 30, 2023

Addo (Woody Cape)-Johannesburg

Early morning forest birding.
Depart after breakfast for Port Elizabeth.
Visit Sundays River Mouth and Swartkops estuary en route.
Afternoon flight to 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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