This fairly intensive, 2N Kruger Birding Safari,two-and-a-half day tour tours starts and ends in Nelspruit , the capital of Mpumalanga, and efficiently covers a very broad diversity of habitats and bird specials.
We can extend this 2nKruger Birding Safari, to include other birding areas close by.
Alternatively, we can include this 2N Kruger Birding Safari, with a broader bigger South Africa tour.
Travel through from Johannesburg to Dullstroom in the late afternoon.
This day involves driving through spectacular scenery in the descent from the cold, rocky highveld grassland on top of the Steenkampsberg pass through to the escapment grasslands and forests in the Graskop area and down to the bushveld in the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park.
Spend the early morning in the Dullstroom area, travelling through the Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (an important sanctuary for Wattled Cranes) and to the top of the picturesque Steenkampsberg pass on the Die Berg road, one of the best roads in Mpumalanga for finding South Africa’s grassland endemics.
Birds that will be searched for include Blue and Whitebellied Korhaan, Stanleys Bustard, Blackwinged Plover, African Pied Starling, Stanley’s Bustard, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Vulture, Secretarybird, Redwing and Greywing Francolin and Bald Ibis. All three of South Africa’s Crane species (Wattled, Blue and Southern Crowned Crane) occur in the area.
The sought after Southern-African endemics, Rudd’s Lark and Yellowbreasted Pipit are most likely to be found in summer.
Cape Weaver, Anteating Chat and Orangethroated Longclaw are usually easily found. Ground Woodpecker, the attractive Buffstreaked Chat and Mountain Chat, Sentinel and Cape Rock Thrush, Wailing Cisticola are likely to be found on rocky outcrops whereas Grassbird, Drakensberg Prinia, Bokmakierie prefer vegetated rocky outcrops.
Around flowering plants (particularly Proteas) Gurney’s Sugarbird, Malachite Sunbird, and Greater Doublecollared Sunbird occur.
In wetlands African Rail, Ethiopian Snipe, Palecrowned Cisiticola, and if fortunate Redchested Flufftail may be found. Other species to look out for include Yellowrumped Widow and Whitenecked Raven.
From the top of the Steenkampsberg Pass, we travel either via the spectacular Long Tom Pass through Sabie or via Robber’s Pass and the historical mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest to Graskop. Spend time birding in the forests and grasslands around Graskop.
The grasslands around Graskop are one of the last remaining stongholds of the critically endangered Blue Swallow and good sightings of this species can be obtained here with relative ease.
Gurney’s Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird can be seen in Protea stands.
The forests here provide for excellent birding: Southern African endemic and near-endemic species to look for here include Knysna Lourie, Olive Bush Shrike, Cape Batis, Forest Canary, Lesser Doublecollared Sunbird, Chorister Robin, Bush Blackcap, Barrat’s Warbler, Swee Waxbill, and Southern Boubou.
Other forest specials include Orange Thrush, Yellowstreaked Bulbul, Starred Robin, Yellowthroated Warbler, Grey Cuckooshrike, Olive Woodpecker, Narina Trogon, Cinnamon (Lemon) Dove and Rednecked Francolin.
After the afternoon’s forest birding travel through Hazyview to Skukuza the main camp in the Kruger National Park to spend the night.
A days birding in Kruger gives visiting birders the opportunity to find many bushveld species at the southern end of their range.
Kruger provides a good chance to tick many of the larger raptors, vultures and storks which may be missing from a visiting birders list.A good days birding in southern Kruger can deliver well over 150 species.
Spending a day birding in the southern section of Africa’s premier nature reserve also provides a fairly good chance of finding at least two or three of the ‘Big Five’ mammals (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino).
We spend the early morning birding at the best spots around the remarkably diverse and productive Skukuza restcamp, where possibilities include the sought-after African Finfoot and Halfcollared Kingfisher, as well as Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills, Eastern Bearded and Heuglin’s Robins, Redbacked Mannikin, Southern Black Tit, Natal Francolin, Marabou Stork, Southern Boubou, Terrestrial Bulbul and the delicate Bluegrey and Fantailed Flycatchers.
From Skukuza, we travel west along the Sabie River towards Pretoriuskop.
This road provides an excellent opportunity to find riverine as well as bushveld species, and is one of the best places in Kruger for Redbilled Helmetshrike, as well as many attractive species such as Whitethroated Robin and Orangebreasted and Greyheaded Bush Shrikes
Aquatic birds that frequent this area include African Black Duck and Goliath Heron, whereas the drier bushveld along the road is home to White Helmetshrikes, Steirling’s Barred Warbler, Burchell’s Starling, Whitecrowned and Longtailed Shrikes, Bearded Woodpecker and Mousecoloured Flycatcher.
Areas of acacia thornveld support Burntnecked Eremomela and generally provide excellent birding.
A lion-kill may deliver Whitebacked, Lappetfaced, Whiteheaded and Hooded Vultures.
We leave the Sabie River and enter the broadleaved around Pretoriuskop restcamp, entering a habitat most favoured by White Rhino
The moister broadleaved woodland also holds a number of different bird species, including Grey Penduline Tit and Yellowbellied Eremomela
The Pretoriuskop area provides good habitat for Dark Chanting Goshawk and Lizard Buzzard. Larger raptors occur throughout, and the species most likely to be seen are Tawny Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle (summer), African Fish Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Martial Eagle and African Hawk Eagle. Redbilled Oxpeckers feed on ticks on Rhino and other mammals and a large herd of Buffalo may hold Yellowbilled Oxpecker, although this species is more common in the north of Kruger.
An eye must be kept open at all times for Bushveld Pipit, which appears to favour recently burnt areas. Granite outcrops near Pretoriuskop contain thickets in which Gorgeous Bush Shrike commonly occurs.
From Pretoriuskop, we head towards the highly picturesque Berg en Dal (Mountain and Valley) region of Kruger. On route to and around Berg en Dal, Redcrested and Blackbellieds Korhaan, Coqui and Swainson’s Francolins, Sabota Lark and Mocking Chat occur.
Monotonous Lark has been recorded in this area, although this is a nomadic species which can be found almost anywhere in its distribution range after good rains and is by no means a certainty.
The large Berg en Dal restcamp contains excellent birding habitat and gives an opportunity to pick up a few last extra species before leaving Kruger Park at Malelane Gate and heading back to Nelspruit.