Dates & Prices

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Dates: 24th January – 7th February 2020

Price: £3,250 Just 1 place left!

Single Room Supplement: £250

Deposit: £350 per person


Price Includes: All meals, accommodation with private facilities, ground transport, services of the guides, holiday report & a donation to a wildlife charity

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to charity

Leaders: Frank Gaude (local guide) & Yiannis Christofides

Languages: Guiding in English and German

Group Size: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 10 guests plus 2 leaders.

Holiday Highlights


  • One of the largest alpine zones in South Africa & we’ll visit to take advantage of peak summer flowering
  • A veritable treasure trove of flowers with over 2000 species and several hundred endemics!
  • Many different habitats visited including Afromontane forests and high-altitude Austro-Afro Alpine grasslands
  • Visit world famous landscapes and locations such as the Sani Pass, Giants Castle and the Golden Gate National Park
  • Endemic plants, including Agapanthus, Gladiolus, Dierama, Helichrysum, Erica and Proteas. Plus orchids such as Disperis, Disa and Satyrium
  • Drakensberg Crag Lizard, Southern Rock Agama and other extraordinary lizards
  • Sloggett’s ice rats, hyrax, giraffes, antelope and zebras
  • Plenty of good birds, such as the Drakensberg Rockjumper, Grey-crowned Cranes, Southern Bald Ibis, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds plus lots more!
  • Butterflies, such as the endemic Bush Beauty
BOOK HOLIDAY NOW

New for 2020! Enter the spectacular Drakensberg “Mountains of Dragons” for a treasure trove of alpine flora featuring over 2200 species & many endemics!   

The Drakensberg Mountains feature the largest areas of alpine zone in Africa, with world-famous scenery such as the Sani Pass and Golden Gate National Park. It is a sublime mix of rugged peaks, scarps, pinnacles, forest, waterfalls and rivers. Because of its range of plant life and the richest collection of San rock paintings in Africa, it has been declared a World Heritage Site. And it isn’t just great for flowers, there is plenty of other wildlife interest, including Bearded Vultures,  Drakensberg Rock-jumpers and the stunning Bush Beauty butterfly!

The Drakensberg, also known as the “Dragon Mountains,” is southern Africa’s most impressive mountain range and one of the world’s oldest centres of plant endemism. They are the best known part of  The Great Escarpment, a major topographical feature in Africa that consists of steep slopes from the high central Southern African plateau downward in the direction of the oceans. About 180 million years ago, a mantle plume under southern Gondwana caused bulging of the continental crust in the area that would later become southern Africa. The upliftment of the central plateau over the past 20 million years caused the original escarpment to be moved inland through erosion to its present position, creating the present-day coastal plain.

The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for over 1,000 kilometres from the Eastern Cape Province in the South, then successively forms, in order from south to north, the border between Lesotho and the Eastern Cape and the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Province. The Drakensberg landscape is both dramatic and rich in flora and fauna. The high treeless peaks of the Drakensberg (from 2,500 m upwards) are known as the Drakensberg alti-montane grasslands and woodlands eco region. These steep slopes are the most southerly high mountains in Africa. Plants from all families are found here including  Agapanthus, Brunsvigi, Nerine, Zantedeschia, Bulbine, Kniphofia, Eucomis, Crocosmia, Gladiolus andMoraea for which South Africa is the centre of endemism. We also hope to see many  terrestrial orchids such as DisaDisperis and Habernaria species. The area is rich in members of the Asclepiadaceae and the Asteraceae families such as Berkheya, Helichrysum and Senecio with many species in these genera. Wahlenbergiais a member of the Campanulaceae and we should see this. Scrophulariaceae  are well represented with several genera.

Whilst we shall focus on plants on our travels, we shall not ignore the rich fauna especially the butterflies and other insects, reptiles (especially chameleons), birds and the larger mammals. We shall make the pace as slow as possible so as to make the best of each area we visit.

Weather: It is mid-summer in the Drakensberg and a wide range of temperatures can be expected. It can be hot at lower altitudes (up to 30C), but most of our time will be at medium to high altitudes where it will be milder and often cold in the evenings. At higher altitudes, it is often warm in the direct sun but otherwise cool if there is a breeze. We can expect some rain, most of which falls in very dramatic late afternoon and night thunderstorms.

Passport requirements: Please ensure you have at least 2 – 3 blank pages in your passport as you will be denied entry to South Africa unless you have 1 blank page, and you need space for the visit to Lesotho. UK passport holders do not need a visa to enter South Africa or Lesotho but if you are traveling on the passport of another country then please check the requirements

Health and fitness: The highest altitude we will reach on this tour is 3250m above seal level. You will need to be reasonably fit to derive maximum enjoyment from this tour. However, much of the flora can be found close to the roadsides and if you are comfortable to sometimes remain at the vehicles or lodgings while we do some of the longer walks then that should be possible.

Languages: The guides are native and/or fluent speakers in English, German and Greek.

This promises to be a fantastic and very popular tour – we recommend booking early to avoid disappointment!

    

Day 1 (24th Jan): Leave London

Day 2: Arrive Johannesburg and fly to Durban. We drive to Port Edward (2-nights) stopping en-route for our first exploration of the countryside.

Days 3: Today we shall explore the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, which lies a short distance from Port Edward. The reserve includes a section of the Mtamvuna River and surrounding cliffs and plateaus. The plateau areas consist of grasslands (Pondoland Sourveld). Many endemic plants grow here. The grassland areas of the reserve are known for their natural display of wildflowers in late spring. The forest is the only or the principal home of a host of rare trees. Rare grassland plants include Searsia (Rhuspondoensis, Leucadendron spissifolium, Encephalartos laevifolius, Raspalia trigyna, Podalyria velutina, Psoralea abbottii, Phyllanthus arvensis, Anisodontea scabrosa, Erica abbottii, Brachystelma australe, Selago peduncularis andHelichrysum diffusum. Rock outcrops bear Anthospermum streyi, Apodytes abbottii, Craterostigma nanum, Canthium suberosum andC. vanwykii. Transkei dwarf chameleon Bradypodion caffrum, a Pondoland coastal plateau endemic, is present, as are the butterflies Pondoland charaxes Charaxes pondoensisand Amakoza rocksitter Durbania amakosa albescens. Overnight at Port Edward Umtamvuna River Lodge.

 Day 4: Explore the coastal grasslands for species such as Brunsvigia, Disa, Brachystelma, XysmalobiumCyanotis, Hybanthus, ZorniaEulophia, Dissotis and then drive to  Underberg (3 nights) from were we shall spend a couple of days exploring the surrounding countryside. Depending on time we may also visit Mount Currie reserve which hosts a a large number of bird species. Overnight at Himerville Arms (superior).

Day 5: From Underberg we shall climb to the Sani Pass.  We expect to see DisperisRhodohypoxis, Protea dracomontana, Disa cephalodes, Dierama dracomontanumLobelia galpinii, several species of Kniphofia, Moraea alticola, Eyryops acraeus, Helichrysum species, Protea roupelliae, Saundersonia aurantica, Jamesbrittenia, Craterocapsa and may others. Birds  to be seen here include Mountain Wheatear, Red-winged Starlings, Drakensberg Siskins and Drakensberg Rock jumper, Gurneys’s Sugarbird amongst others. Sloggett’s ice rats, the equivalent of the Alpine Marmots, are at home here as well as Drakensberg Crag Lizards. Overnight at Himerville Arms (superior).

Day 6: We explore the part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park known as ‘Castle Gardens’. In summer, this area is rich in flowering orchids such as various species of the genera Disa, SatyriumHolothrix, SchizochilusEulophia and Disperis.  Of course other plants will also be of interest such as Protea dracomontana, Dierama dracomontanum, AgapanthusCyrtanthus and many more, of which we will attempt to find as many as possible on walks in the reserve. With a bit of luck we may spot Chacma baboon and Eland. Overnight at Himerville Arms (superior).

Day 7: From Himeville we drive northwards for ca 2 hours to Highmoor Nature Reserve and will take some time to explore the reserve on foot. Larger mammals of the area include Reedbuck, Baboon, Blesbok and Eland. We continue to our accommodation around Winterton. Overnight at Dalmore Guest Farm.

Day 8: From Himmerville we drive northwards towards the Giants Castle Game Reserve, home of the eland, the majestic bearded vulture and  Chacma baboons. Plant species  to look for include Disa cooperiGladiolus species, Brunsvigia, Crocosmia and Heperantha. Grey-crowned Cranes and Southern Bald Ibis are possible. Overnight at Dalmore Guest Farm.

Day 9: The Royal Natal National Park.  Drakensberg most famous vista, The Drakensberg Amphitheatre is located here. The 1000m high basalt cliffs stretch for 5 kilometeres. We shall explore the grasslands and forest areas forHesperanthus, Agapanthus, Gladiolus and GomphostigmaTugela  or similar Gorge Walk. Overnight at Witsieshoek Phuthaditjhaba.

Day 10: Golden Gate National Park  Oribi Loop/Blesbok Loop. The park is an area of rich highveld and montane grassland flora and a large variety of bulbs and herbs. The park also has Afromontane forests and high-altitude Austro-Afro alpine grassland. We expect to see high alpines, orchids, birds, mammals, lizards. Orchids to look for include  Disperis renibractea, Disperis tysoniiDisa fragrans and other plants such as Eucomis autumnalis, Dierama dracomontanum Moraea brevistylaand Helichrysum spiralepis. Satyrium longicauda, Satyrium parviflorum, Schizochilus flexuosus and Sopubia cana. The Golden Gate Widow butterfly, Torynesis orangica, is endemic of the area. Other butterflies occurring here include Aeropetes tulbaghia, Mountain Pride, Riley’s Copper, Aloeides simplex and Variable blue. Overnight at Witsieshoek Phuthaditjhaba.

Day 11: Today we explore the immediate surrounds of Witsieshoek. Overnight at Witsieshoek Phuthaditjhaba.

Day 12: Drive to Howick, stopping on the way. Overnight at Old Halliwell Umngeni Valley NR.

Day 13: Howick Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. The greater part of the Umgeni Valley nature reserve lies in the spectacular gorge below the Howick Falls, while the upper part is the fringe of a rolling plateau which has an average altitude of about 1 000m. The land falls away abruptly at the edge of the plateau for about 60m to form rock faces in places. The Umgeni Valley reserve is home to giraffe, Bruchell’s Zebra, impala and wildebeest.  A bird watcher’s paradise, with over 200 bird species to view throughout the year and good for butterflies. Overnight at Old Halliwell Umngeni Valley NR.

Day 14: Departure. We drive the short distance to Durban for our flight to Johannesburg and onward to London. Will make suitable stops on the way.

Day 15 (7th Feb): Arrive back in London.

New holiday – testimonials will appear next year

New holiday – report will follow later