South Africa is a great place for birds and other wildlife. We have had just one trip to South Africa which we did with Rockjumper (it was our first Rockjumper tour and it will be the last tour we do with Rockjumper), and we logged 514 species for the 30 day trip.
We haven’t used Birding ecoTours ourselves, but have heard good reports from some fellow birders who have also recently been to South Africa, and they may be a better choice if you are planning a trip yourselves. We can recommend Niall Perrins of Bustards Birding Tours.
Whilst we weren’t impressed with Rockjumper, we highly recommend the guys from Birds and Beyond who took us on a day trip up Sani Pass. This is a great spot for birds. It was cloudy and slightly drizzly on the way up, but gloriously sunny for our short venture in to Lesotho. The top of the pass is the place to find the Drakensburg Rockjumper.
In Kruger Park we travelled in open top vehicles which was excellent for spotting birds and wildlife. We did a night tour as well but found it disappointing so we wouldn’t recommend that. There is plenty to see during the day, starting early (5.30 am) when the gates from the various rest camps open. It was very dry (possible 50 year drought) when we visited – usually it is a fair bit greener than the photos show.
There are numerous entrances to Kruger Park and it is very large. We only spent time around Satara and Skukuza camps, and found the areas full of bird life.
This road is about 1 hour drive from Johannesburg, north of Pretoria off highway 1. It is used by many birding groups including Rockjumper tours, and it is quite possible to see 100 species in a morning’s birding along this road. It is a great for a day trip from Johannesburg.
This is the most accessible of the three places I have listed in Madagascar. It is only a couple of hours drive from Antananarivo along a reasonably good road, and the accommodation near the National Park is quite good. It is a good spot for Lemurs, especially the vocal Indri.
It is a long (3- 4 hour) bumpy drive from Tolognaro to the private Berenty reserve. You will need to pay for a guide, but it is well worth a visit. The accommodation is good, and you will get views of Lemur’s at close quarters. This is the area for spiny forests of Octopus trees and Baobab’s. Getting off the track means getting prickled. A good spot for Ground Roller’s, Mesite’s and Coua’s.
It is a bit warmer on the north-west, expect day temperatures around 40 Celcius. There is a lake nearby, with many heron’s and breeding Cattle Egrets. It is about a 3 hour drive from Mahajanga to get to the park, and accommodation here is fairly basic though the restaurant serves good food. It is a good spot for several species of Coua, the White-browed Mesite, and Van Dam’s Vanga (which took us two attempts to find).