Following the success of the last 3 years we’re back in South Africa, 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.
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!
What makes this holiday so special and unique is that it is one of the only times 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!
Please don’t confuse or compare this with any other similarly named holiday offered by other companies – this is the only holiday being led by a genuine butterfly expert!
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.
We’ll be based at 3 different sites, each encompassing a different set of habitats. Our first site will be in the Magoebaskloof, which we will use as a base to explore the mid-altitude forests and grasslands in the area. The list will be long; for a start we’ll seek out the impressive Emperor Swallowtail, the largest butterfly in southern Africa with a wingspan of between 100 – 135mm. Other special species on the menu include Kite & 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. Steve’s intimate knowledge of the areas will be a huge advantage in helping locate some local and rare species. We should see a good number of the 23 species found in South Africa, including, Forest King, Pearl, White-barred, Silver-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.
Our next base will be near the awe inspiring 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 Lekgalameeetse 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, Sabine Albatross White, Large Vagrant, African Snout, Clouded Mother-of-pearl, and a chance of some very rare lycaenids. Lekgalameetse is also a prime spot for Emperor Swallowtails, and is probably the place to see the most female forms of the Mocker Swallowtail.
We’ll spend the last 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 out and search for our last butterflies, before eventually heading back to Johannesburg and home. As the savanna species are quite different to the forest species, there’s a good chance of seeing even more new ones. Kruger National Park is particularly rich in Pieridae, the whites, tips and yellows.
As with all Greenwings holidays 10% of the profits from the holiday will be donated to support conservation in South Africa though LepSoc.