Dates & Prices


Dates: 18th – 29th April 2024 Confirmed departure

Price: £4,495 Places available

Single Room Supplement: £495

Deposit: £500 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 & 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 in KwaZulu-Natal 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 in our sights including Gold-banded Forester, Large Glasswing, Boisduval’s False Acraea, Brilliant Gem, Zulu Shadefly, White-banded Swallowtail, Natal Silverline, and Mamba Swordtail
  • Three centre tour, designed to maximise the range of habitat and species to show you
  • A truly unique experience – no one else offers this specialised safari for butterflies!
  • 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!

We are excited to be heading back to South Africa again in 2024 with a new itinerary, and 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.

Our holiday will be based in the central-south part of Zululand. We will cover the forests, wooded savannas north of the Tugela River, around the famous wetlands at Lake St Lucia and False Bay, and inland along the adjacent escarpment. This area has most of South Africa’s tropical species and some of its largest butterflies.

We’ll be based at 3 different sites, each encompassing a different set of habitats. Over the years, over 320 species have been recorded from this area. Late summer is the best time for many of them; it’s the beginning of the dry season and numbers should be close to their peak.

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.

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

Day 0: International flights to arrive by the morning of 18th April.

Day 1 (18th April): Meet and commence tour

Arrive at King Shaka International Airport, KwaZulu-Natal, drive to the Stanger area and check in at our accommodation.

Days 1-3: Tugela Mouth area

Close to Stanger is Tugela Mouth, one of the most species-rich areas in the south of Zululand; over 170 species having been recorded there. There are plenty of places to see butterflies (and Odonata, and of course birds) in the Tugela Mouth area. We will spend two half days and a full day there.

Harold Johnson Nature Reserve: this is a well-managed 113-hectare reserve on the south bank of the Tugela. It’s a mosaic of grassland, wooded savanna, and lowland forest, with several rewarding sites to explore on foot along safe, easy paths. There are two fantastic hilltop sites, where we can look out for specials such as Boisduval’s False Acraea, Pseudacraea boisduvalii trimeni, Charaxes including Forest Queen C.wakefieldi, and the Fig-Tree Blue, Myrina silenus ficedula.

Fort Pearson: This is a hilltop between Harold Johnson and the river mouth. It’s one of the most productive local sites; special Lycaenids such as the rare Brilliant Gem Chloroselas pseudozeritis pseudozeritis occur there, as well as spectacular ones such as Natal Silverline Cigaritis natalensis, Eastern Scarlet Axiocerses tjoane, Southern and Red-line Sapphires, Iolaus sidus and I.silas. Fort Pearson has historical attractions too. It’s an important Anglo-Zulu War site, where began the British invasion of Zululand in January 1879.

On the 3rd day we will leave for the forest town of eShowe, in time to check in and spend the first of three nights there.

Days 4-6 eShowe area

eShowe is situated inside a large Scarp Forest, Dlinza. We will first visit the Dlinza Aerial Boardwalk, a 150-metre-long elevated walkway through the understorey, leading to a 20-metre-high watchtower. Canopy specials there are Lesser (Scarce) Fig-tree Blues, Myrina dermaptera dermaptera, Blue-spotted and Forest-king Charaxes C.cithaeron, C.xiphares, and Blonde Gliders, Cymothoë coranus, as well as False Chiefs Pseudacraea lucretia, and Blotched Leopards Lachnoptera ayresi There are other, rarer species, whose appearance isn’t guaranteed but be prepared for surprises! Over 100 species of forest specialist butterflies have been recorded in this forest, on the Boardwalk as well as on the trails below it.

Depending on conditions at the time, there are several attractions we may visit during our stay. One of them is Mandawe Cross, an isolated hilltop in the rain shadow of the hills around eShowe. It is a great place for rarities like the Zulu Shadefly, Coenyra hebe, and spectacular savanna species like Queen Purple Tip, Colotis regina.

Another is one of the high-altitude forests such as Nkandla Nature reserve, 60km away. Its specials are White-banded Swallowtail, Papilio echerioides, Rainforest Acraea, Acraea boopis, and Karkloof Cupid, Orachrysops ariadne.

eShowe is home to the eShowe Butterfly Dome, an educational site where people can see some the local butterflies’ early stages. Only locally indigenous species are reared there. Many of them are normally difficult forest canopy dwellers; captive bred adults offer good photo opportunities.

Days 6-8, St.Lucia area

On day 6 we will leave for the coastal town of St.Lucia, situated on the southern edge of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Like eShowe, St.Lucia is surrounded by a forest-grassland mosaic – but this time, the lowland variety. En route we will visit eNseleni Nature reserve, a lowland riverine forest with mangroves and moist grasslands. Specials there include Jordan’s Sailer, Neptis jordani.

After checking in at our accommodation, in the morning we’ll visit forests in the vicinity. Specials here include Gold-banded Foresters, Euphaedra neophron, various Swordtails and Ladies Graphium spp, and Lycaenidae such as Millar’s Large Buff Deloneura millari, Iolaus Sapphires and Anthene Ciliate Blues. We will have two full days there.

Days 9-11 Nibela Peninsula

On day 9 we leave for the Nibela Peninsula and check into Nibela Lake Lodge. Its Sand Forests harbour Zululand specials – over 170 species, including Gold-banded Forester, Shade Swallowtail Papilio constantinus, Mamba Swordtail Graphium colonna, Zulu Yellow Buff Teriomima zuluana, and Large Glasswing Ornipholidotos peucetia. Steve, ever the optimist, will again be hoping to find his ‘Bogey Butterfly’– male Light Ciliate Blue, Anthene liodes.

Day 12: Tour ends and we return the group to King Shaka International Airport.

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!