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Limpopo Lanner Birding Safari


A fantastic birding safari combining the diverse habitats of the Eastern Lowveld, its rivers, scrub and open savannahs with South Africa's glorious Highveld. Enjoy the rainforests and tea and coffee plantations of Magoebaskloof whilst seeking out the Blue Swallow. Visit the spectacular cycad forests of the Queen of Mojadji. Relax in the remote Makuleke region of the Kruger whilst looking for the Wattle-eyed Flycatcher, Goldenbacked Pytilia, Crowned Eagle and Racket-tailed Roller. En route, be pampered in the superb luxury of the Honeyguide Tented Safari Camp, the wonderful Magoebaskloof Hotel and one of the new gems of the north, the Outpost, a luxury concession within the Kruger National Park itself.

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Itinerary details

Wire Tailled Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow, Hirundo smithii

Day One

Arrive into Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (Nelspruit) in time for a mid-morning start. You will be met by your Ranger/Guide and enter the southern Kruger National Park through Paul Kruger gate. Birding starts immediately, with the day spend exploring the Park in a northerly direction. There is every chance of a good yield of species seen- five hundred and seven different ones are here, of which around 380 are annual residents.

Avian variety encompasses the extremes of the world's largest bird, the Ostrich, the heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard, all the way down in size to the 20g red-billed quelea which visits to breed in colonies of millions, the highest numerical concentrations of any species globally. The quelea accounts for an estimated 54% of the entire 1,500 tonne avian biomass in the Park, compared to the ostriches' 1.4%. Also found here, the bronze mannikin is one of the smallest birds in the world.


Common characteristic species include Raptors such as the Bateleur and the Fish Eagle, Vultures, a range of Hornbills (the Ground Hornbill is endangered) and a number of spectacular songbirds.

In terms of local specials, the Narina Trogon is confined to the south; the Ayers Eagle can be sighted at the longitudinal extremes of south and north. The African Finfoot is sometimes seen around Nkuhlu, and there is a nesting colony of Whitefronted Bee-Eaters close by.

Exiting the public reserve at the Orpen Gate, we will drive to the Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps, part of the Manyeleti concession within the privately held Greater Kruger Park. This is unfenced with the main Park and its animal population, is managed as a whole with the Kruger itself, and offers similarly rich opporunities for game viewing and birding.

We will arrive at Honeyguide in time to allow you to settle in and ready yourselves for an evening and night drive into the bush on an open vehicle. A delicious dinner will follow at the Lodge.

Overnight: Honeyguide Tented Safari Camp

Honeyguide Deck
Deck at Honeyguide Tented Camp

Honeyguide offers two separate Luxury Tented Camps with a central facility. Both enjoying Manyaleti's 23,000 unfenced hectares adjoining (and unfenced with) the Kruger.

Mantobeni tented camp is set among Tamboti trees on the banks of a riverbed. From the sundeck of the sparkling swimming pool, you can watch elephant visiting the nearby waterhole to enjoy their own cooling off time. The reception area has a large lounge, indoor and outdoor dining facilities and a complimentary bar with a climate-controlled wine cellar, stocked with a wide range of fine South African vintages to browse through and enjoy.

Khokamoya camp has been designed to reflect the simplicity and openness of African living. Using the universal building material of corrugated iron, reminiscent of the houses of the early gold prospectors, and aged planks recycled from a previous wooden structure, Khoka Moya camp has been created to a traditional African plan. The communal lounge, dining and bar areas encircle an open atrium where al fresco evening meals are served around a massive log fire. Manicured green lawns flow through to the pool and outside bar.

Honeyguide's facilities are luxurious
Honeyguide's facilities are luxurious

Day Two

Receive an early wake up call with tea or coffee before heading off on your dawn safari. With so much variety it is difficult to predict exactly what birdlife we will see; Lowveld species of varying levels of incidence include the Greyheaded Parrot, three species of Cuckoo (African, Thickbilled and Great Spotted), and the Greyhooded and Woodland Kingfishers. The Carmine, Little and Bluecheeked Bee-eater are beautiful.

Bee Eater
Bee Eater

Look out too for Oxpeckers, Scarletchested Sunbird, Redheaded Weaver, Melba Finch, Violeteared Waxbill and Lemonbreasted Canary. After breakfast at the lodge, enjoy a bush walk with your ranger where you can focus exclusively on orthnithology, or relax around the lodge pool. Enjoy the tranquillity and sense of seclusion brought about by communing with nature. After a light lunch, perhaps take a siesta before afternoon refreshments and your evening game drive.

Overnight: Honeyguide Tented Camp

Day Three

After your morning game drive and breakfast we depart the Lodge and travel to the mighty Drakensberg Escarpment and into the Blyde River Canyon for a visit to the dam and museum. Look out for the breeding pairs of Taita Falcons at the rock marked 'Place of Birds' at the craft stalls outside the J.G.Strydom tunnel. There is a substantial colony of Cape Vultures close by at Mariepskop. Of the predators/ scavengers, also be on the lookout for Peregrine Falcons, Bald Ibis, Cuckoo and Bat Hawks.

Spotter's luck could deliver you sighting of a number of specials, from the African Finfoot, Whitebacked Night Heron, Halfcollared Kingfisher, Blackfronted Bush Shrike, Brown Robin, Green Twinspot, Southern Tchagra, Barratt's Warbler, Rednecked Francolin, Crowned Eagle, Buffspotted and Striped Flufftails, Orange Thrush, Bush Blackcap, Scalythroated Honeyguide, Redbacked Mannikin, to the Forest Canary.

Green Twinspot
Green (backed) Twinspot, Mandingoa nitidula
© South African Tourism

We then travel north and up the escarpment to the lovely Magoebaskloof Hotel for lunch. Set in cool forests the hotel is the ideal place to search for those local specials such as the Blue Swallow to which the small hamlet of Hanertsberg is home.

Some recommended birding activities in the Magoebaskloof area are here.

The day is completed with a sumptuous dinner.

Overnight: Magoebaskloof Hotel

Magoebaskloof Hotel vista
King Makgoba oversees a stunning view over the Valley from the Hotel

You will be welcomed into the Magoebaskloof Hotel via an attractive entrance square with a magnificent mural and the bronze bust of King Makgoba. This opens out onto the expansive view of this legendary leader's famous valley and the hazy distance of the Lowveld. View the Hotel's rare Samango Monkeys; walk to the beautiful waterfall or down to the lake through indigenous rainforest where the birdlife is abundant.

Day Four

This day is set aside to explore the high escarpment region with its beautiful forests, streams and lakes. We will make use of local guides to help in our search for the lovely Jackal Buzzard and elusive Narina Trogon. For those who wish we will also include a visit to the local home-made cheese business or possibly a spot of Bass or Trout fishing. A lovely day in this beautiful area!

Overnight: Magoebaskloof Hotel

Day Five

We will travel via the town of Duiwelskloof and on to the gardens of the Rain Queen at Mojadji Cycad Reserve. The Rain Queen, Mojadji, was immortalized by Sir Henry Rider Haggard in his book “She”. Travelling north we pass through colourful rural villages on our way to the Punda Maria gate of the Kruger Park, en route to the Makuleke region of the far north. This is the land of giant Baobab trees, elephants, legends and history. The Makuleke area has been identified by environmentalists as the Kruger's best birding area at least partly because many of the central African species find their way here (e.g., the Mashona hyliota). Dependent on bird/game sightings we arrive at The Outpost in the mid-afternoon with time to enjoy the magnificent setting of the Lodge, high above the Levuvhu river, before a game drive and a delicious dinner.

Overnight: The Outpost

Magoebaskloof Hotel vista
The great Limpopo River marks the boundary between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique

In the most remote part of Kruger National Park, in a wilderness area previously unattainable by visitors to the Park lies the vast concession awarded to The Outpost as a result of a ground-breaking agreement between the Makuleke People and the South African National Parks Board. The Outpost is the first Lodge to be built in this vast region.

Day Six

A full day to enjoy this unspoilt region of Kruger. Local birding specials include the Wattle-eyed Flycatcher, Goldenbacked Pytilia, Crowned Eagle and Racket-tailed Roller.

Lanner Falcon
Lanner Falcon, Falco biarmicus
© South African Tourism

In the words of Rudyard Kipling, relax “on the banks of the great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River”. This is truly a remote landscape of mystery and legends. We visit the Fever Tree Forest and Crooks Corner, where the countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique meet. This region is home to several rare species including the elusive Pels Fishing Owl. We will also visit Lanner Gorge, home to the stunning eponymous Falcons.

Overnight: The Outpost

Magoebaskloof Hotel vista
The Outpost is a stunning contemporary take on the Safari Experience

Acclaimed Italian born architect Enrico Daffonchio designed The Outpost. Using simple, clean lines and combining elements of steel and canvas the unashamedly contemporary design of The Outpost emphasizes its beautiful surrounds but blends into and preserves the wilderness that is its home.

Its awards include:

  • Top 100 Best New Hotels in the World, Conde Nast Traveller US (2004)
  • Best Safari Lodge, Wallpaper (2003)
  • One of Five Best Baths with a View, The Independent, UK (2004)
  • Hottest New Game Lodge, Young Rich Travel, Australia (2003)
  • South Africa’s Sexiest Bathrooms, Style, RSA (2003)

Day Seven

We depart after breakfast and travel west along the Limpopo River valley before turning south through the tunnels of Wyliespoort Pass, through the towering Soutpansberg mountains. After a late morning stop in Mokado (formerly Louis Trichardt) we continue south to Polokwane (formerly Pietersberg) to check in for your scheduled departure to Johannesburg International Airport. A sad end to a truly magnificent birding safari!

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