South Africa: Western Cape Extension: Apr 21—27, 2017
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The Southwestern Cape lies in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom—the richest assemblage of flowering plants on the planet. It is also home to a number of endemic and near-endemic bird and animal species including Africa’s only penguin species. The area is scenically spectacular and diverse, and we will sample a variety of what this region has to offer.
Our tour starts with a visit to the world-renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens where we will be introduced to the typical fynbos vegetation of the Cape Floral Kingdom, as well as some of the charismatic birds such as Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbirds that are restricted to this vegetation type. We then head to Strandfontein and the False Bay Wetland Park where we can expect a variety of ducks, rallids, shorebirds, gulls, and terns, as well as a number of warblers, seedeaters, and flamingoes. Raptors such as African Marsh-Harrier and African-Fish Eagle are also possible.
Over the next few days we will explore the Cape Peninsular and surrounding region, visiting the Cape Point and the Boulders Penguin Colony for our first contact with the threatened African (or Jackass) Penguin. We will also make a day-visit to the tidal lagoon of Langebaan in the West Coast National Park where we will divide our focus between the shorebirds and other species in the lagoon and those species frequenting the surrounding scrubby “Strandveld” (lit. coastal bush) vegetation. Big target species here will be the stunning Black Harrier—undoubtedly one of the world’s most striking harrier species, and the equally-striking Southern Black Korhaan (or bustard). We will also head south around False Bay towards the southern tip of the African continent, searching for some of the localized endemics in this area and also stopping at another penguin colony for a last look at these comical birds.
Our visit in April coincides with the last departures of birds as they head further north in Africa, or back to Europe and Asia to breed.
Excellent accommodations; some long travel days; limited walking; climate highly variable under the influence of the surrounding seas; usually cool mornings and evenings, and beautifully mild-to-warm daytime temperatures; strong winds and rain also possible.