Dates & Prices


Dates: 18th – 29th April 2023 (dates TBC)

Price: £TBA Places available

Single Room Supplement: £TBA

Deposit: £400 per person

Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, entry fees, holiday report

Not Included: International & internal flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to LepSoc

Leader(s): Steve Woodhall (for LepSoc) & Callan Cohen

Group Size & Travel: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 2 leaders.

Grade: Generally short walks at a gentle pace and in a variety of terrains, ideally suited for photography

Holiday Highlights

  • Exclusive opportunity to go butterflying with Steve Woodhall, the leading butterfly expert in South Africa
  • Enjoy a good sample (150 or more) from the 660+ species in South Africa
  • Many special species – Kite Swallowtail, Boisduval’s False Acraea,  Queen Purple Tip, Large Striped Swordtail, Marieps & Forest-king Charaxes, Paradise Skipper, Dead-leaf Commodore, Acara Acraea, Black-and Orange Playboy, and many more!
  • 23 stunning Emperor (Charaxes) species in South Africa – we’ll see a good number of these including Flame-bordered, Blue-spotted, Pearl, White-barred, Silver-barred, Green-veined, and Satyr!
  • Visit the world famous Kruger National Park & Blyde River Canyon
  • Relaxed pace ideally suited to photography & full enjoyment of the wildlife & scenery
  • Contribute to butterfly conservation in South Africa with LepSoc

An exclusive butterfly safari led by Steve Woodhall, the leading expert on South African butterflies & the author of numerous associated books and field guides!


Holiday Guide

Steve Woodhall started butterfly & moth collecting in UK at the age of 5. He made the decision to go to Africa after seeing Born Free & finally made it (to South Africa) in 1980. He dabbled around before joining Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa in 1986. Steve spent the next 30 years running around Africa, collecting with net, traps and cameras.

More recently, entirely with cameras since the digital age. Steve has been to nearly every corner of South Africa and lots of places in Zimbabwe, as well as East and West Africa. He even found time to be the president of LepSoc for nearly 10 years! In addition, he began publishing with Practical Guide to Butterflies and Moths in Southern Africa as editor and contributor in 1992. He was co-author on Living Butterflies of Southern Africa in 1998 with Henning GA & SF, and John Joannou. In 2005 he published Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa, What’s That Butterfly? in 2000, The Pocket Guide to Butterflies in South Africa in 2013, and ‘Gardening for Butterflies’ (with Lindsay Gray) in 2015.

He has recently published an App, Butterflies of South Africa, that contains even more information than the books!

Following the success of this tour in recent years we are heading back to South Africa again in 2022, for a unique opportunity to go butterflying with leading expert and author on South African butterflies Steve Woodhall! 

When one thinks of South African wildlife perhaps the first animals that spring to mind include iconic lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra, leopards or rhino. But what about the Blotched Leopard or the Beautiful Zebra Blue? South Africa is home to almost 700 species of butterfly! They are as diverse in size and colour as they are in number, from the smallest blues and coppers to the largest swallowtails and emperors. This tour offers the chance to get to grips with both the butterflies and some exciting wildlife.

What makes this holiday so special and exclusive is having Steve Woodhall is available to lead the group. Steve has been studying the butterflies of South Africa for over 30 years and has published 2 field guides; as well as finding time to be the president of The Lepidopterists’ Society of Southern Africa (LepSoc) for the past 8 years. There simply isn’t anyone better to show you the butterflies South Africa has to offer!

Steve will be joined by Callan Cohen, one of South Africa’s top bird experts. Callan has vast experience and has led over 100 bird, flora and other wildlife tours. He has co-authored two birding books and was once the youngest person to have seen a landmark 800 species in southern Africa. Steve and Callan together make up the perfect team for you to have a rewarding and fun experience.

Our holiday will be based in the northern part of the country, covering the forests, woodlands and grasslands of the Drakensberg range and famous lowveld, which has most of South Africa’s tropical species and some it its largest species. As late summer is the best time of year in this area for butterflies you can be certain of seeing a mouth-watering selection! 

We’ll be based at 3 different sites, each encompassing a different set of habitats. Our first site will be Mariepskop, a huge tepui-like mountain on the edge of the Drakensberg. It has a range of habitats from dry bushveld at its base, to cloud forests and a mosaic of grassland and macchia at the top. We will stay on a nearby property and use it as a base to explore the mountain. The list will be long; for a start we’ll seek out the impressive Kite Swallowtail, the only endemic swallowtail in South Africa and an impressive canopy flyer. Other special species on the menu include Emperor & White-barred Swallowtails, Battling Glider, Long-tailed Admiral, Forest Beauty, Fig-tree Blue, Natal Bar, Eastern Blotched Leopard, Mother-of-pearl, and Pirate.

A major feature of this holiday will be the range of stunning Emperor (or Charaxes) butterflies that we’ll encounter. Mariepskop is home to the rare Marieps Charaxes, which is not easy to find but Steve knows the right places for it. We should see a good number of the other 22 species found in South Africa, including, Forest King, Pearl, White-barred, Green-veined, Foxy, Satyr, Demon, Blue-spotted, Bushveld and Club-tailed Emperors. All are large and stunning butterflies and we’ll use fruit bait to lure them down from the treetops.

Another base will be near the world-famous Blyde River canyon, the 3rd biggest canyon in the world. Here the mountains meet the lowveld creating a huge number of habitats. We’ll visit the remote Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve, where some of our most exciting butterflies may be found. Some of the showy ones are the False Acraeas, including Boisduval’s! A few of the specials found in the areas we’ll explore include African Leaf Butterfly, Large Vagrant, African Snout and a chance of some very rare lycaenids. Lekgalameetse is also a good site for some of the larger Pieridae, such as Large and Cambridge Vagrants.

We’ll also spend two nights of the holiday in the world-famous Kruger National Park, where we will broaden our focus to include some of the other spectacular wildlife, including African Elephants, Lion, Leopard, White Rhinoceros, African Buffalo and more. A huge diversity of birds will also be on offer, from Lilac-breasted Rollers to Martial Eagles, and Kori Bustards to Southern Ground Hornbills. We’ll have to spend much of our time in the vehicles here due to the presence of dangerous animals, but there are some safe places where we can get and search for our last butterflies, before eventually heading back to Johannesburg and home.’

As well as butterflies, Limpopo is home to some of Africa’s most spectacular moths. Diurnal Arctiiids like the glorious diurnal Superb False Tiger, Sphingids such as the Silver-striped Hawk, and many Emperor Moths, Notodontids, Geometrids etc.

The whole area is also a birder’s paradise with gorgeous feathery creatures such as Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, and Scarlet-chested Sunbird on the menu. And with Callan Cohen on the trip, there’s always a chance of a ‘megatick’!

Contact us now to find out more or reserve places on what we expect to be a very popular tour!

Day 1   Sunday 24th April:   Arrival in Johannesburg & drive to Bela-Bela (near Modimolle). Overnight at Klein Kariba Resort.

Day 2   Monday 25th April:   Bela-Bela (near Modimolle). Overnight at Klein Kariba Resort.

Day 3   Tuesday 26th April:   Bela-Bela (near Modimolle). Overnight at Klein Kariba Resort.

Area notes

We’ll visit a few spots in the Modimolle area. Specials we’ll look for are Dira jansei, Coenyra rufiplaga (a key target butterfly in that area), Coenyropsis natalii, all the Pierids we’d see in the Kruger but easier to get to (no need to watch out for big mammals!), savanna Charaxes like C. jahlusa, C. vansoni, C. jasius, skippers like Abantis tettensis, Netrobalane canopus, Caprona pillaana, Leucochitonea levubu, as well as lycaenids like Cigaritis natalensis, Axiocerses tjoane, Myrina silenus ficedula. Also, Telchinia obeira, Acraea anemosa, Acraea barberi.

Day 4   Wednesday 27th April:   Near Lekgalameetse. Overnight at Letaba Junction.

Day 5   Thursday 28th April:   Near Lekgalameetse. Overnight at Letaba Junction.

Day 6   Friday 29th April:   Near Lekgalameetse. Overnight at Letaba Junction.

Area notes

Lekgalameetse is probably the most biodiverse place we’ll visit. As well as loads of Swallowtails – P. dardanus cenea female forms are very diverse there and sometimes you see hundreds of Papilio nireus lyaeus on the mud – it’s a good place for Graphium species such as G. porthaon. We should get the rare Anthene crawshayi juanitae, and various other lycaenids – we may be lucky and find Deudorix (Virachola) dariaves. It’s also a great skipper spot – regular sightings of Abantis paradisea, Abantis venosa, Platylesches picanini and Kedestes such as K. callicles. There are always lots of Danainae including the large spectacular Amauris niavius dominicanus. Nymphalids such as Protogoniomorpha parhassus, P. anacardii nebulosa, Precis tugela tugela, Lachnoptera ayresi, Pseudacraea boisduvali trimeni, Cymothoë coranus, are common in the riverine forest. It’s one of the best places for forest Pieridae such as Appias sabina, Nepheronia argia, Nepheronia thalassina, Eronia cleodora and Afrodryas leda. Charaxes are numerous here; the most spectacular being C. varanes, C. xiphares, C. zoolina, C. phaeus.

Day 7   Saturday 30th April:   Blyde River Canyon area. Overnight at Swadini Resort.

Day 8   Sunday 1st May:   Blyde River Canyon area. Overnight at Swadini Resort.

Day 9   Monday 2nd May:   Blyde River Canyon area. Overnight at Swadini Resort.

Area notes

At Mariepskop the forests have several specials such as Papilio ophidicephalus transvaalensis, Papilio echerioides, Papilio euphranor, Paralethe dendrophilus, Charaxes marieps (the local rarity), Charaxes xiphares kenwayi, Charaxes druceanus moerens, Cymothoë alcimeda marieps, Mylothris trimenia, Aeropetes tulbaghia (if we are lucky and there are some late individuals), Vanessa dimorphica, Antanartia schaeneia. If we are very lucky we’ll get Dira jansei near the Klaserie Waterfall.

Day 10   Tuesday 3rd May:  Central Kruger Park. Overnight at Satara Camp.

Day 11 Wednesday 4th May: Southern Kruger Park. Overnight Skukuza Camp.

Area notes

Kruger is a great place for savanna species such as Colotis, Teracolus, Acraea, Charaxes. Stand-outs are Colotis regina, Colotis annae, Colotis ione, Teracolus subfasciatus, Acraea acara, Charaxes saturnus, Charaxes achaemenes.

Day 12 Thursday 5th May: Transfer to Johannesburg for evening departures.

Please note: The itinerary is subject to change under certain circumstances (e.g. weather conditions or seasonal variation).  We can easily adapt the itinerary as necessary.

Dave C, 2017…I more than enjoyed the trip. You have an exceptional pairing of guides for this in Steve and Callan both so knowledgeable about all the Natural History of the region and surrounding countries too. Added to that they are so lovely characters helpful and tolerant to a fault. It was a genuine pleasure to travel with them!

Dean & Sally J, 2017…We had been wanting to travel to South Africa for more than 12 years. The fact that we could study butterflies in depth and also learn about the birds and other intriguing creatures of South Africa, plus experience Kruger National Park, made this an ideal trip for us!

Pam…Thank you for encouraging me to book the South African Butterfly holiday. I am so glad I did as I had a most wonderful time. The group seemed to get on well and I appreciated Steve’s enthusiasm and expertise and that of Callan too. We were looked after splendidly. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of my visit and, of course, the butterflies were superb but we were also able to learn about any South African wildlife we saw. Being my first experience of Africa it was all very exciting and I am now home with many happy memories and telling folk about them. Once again thank you for all you did!

Tony…Good trip! Of course Steve’s knowledge was incredible, but Callan was outstanding as a leader, organiser, general naturalist and all-round fixer!! I am looking forward to the report!