Following the success of the last few years we head back in South Africa again in 2020, 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.
We’ll cover 3 different centres, each with its own special habitats. We’ll start off in the south of Zululand, based at the forest town of Eshowe. This area is known for its Afrotemperate forest habitats. We’ll visit the Dlinza Forest boardwalk, known for its Charaxes. We should see Forest King, Blue-spotted, Pearl, White-barred, Silver-barred, Green-veined, and Satyr Charaxes there. As well as using fruit bait lures we’ll be able to watch them in their natural forest habitat, with other canopy dwellers such as False Acraeas, Blonde Gliders and Forest Leopards.
Zululand is Steve’s ‘backyard’ and he knows the best localities well. We’ll visit forests at Ongoye and Nkandla as well as the high biodiversity Harold Johnson Nature Reserve at the mouth of the Tugela River. There we will see the showy Boisduval’s False Acraea as well as the Forest Queen and many species of Whites and Tips.
This area has two iconic African ‘hilltops’ at Mandawe Cross near Eshowe, and Fort Pearson at Tugela Mouth, where we can watch for specials like the Eastern Scarlet, Sulphur Orange Tip, Foxy and Pearl-spotted Charaxes, Red-line Sapphire and Natal Bar, and the amazing Queen Purple-tip. Rarities may turn up unexpectedly at these places; even Steve gets a surprise sometimes!
We’ll then move to the Hluhluwe Area where we’ll stay in the middle of the False Bay sand forests. There are many special butterflies here; it’s one of the best places for Gold-banded Forester, as well as rare lycaenids such as the Large Glasswing and Zulu Yellow Buff. This area is home to many Whites, Yellows and Tips as well as Swordtails (including the spectacular Mamba Swordtail) and Swallowtails such as Constantine’s Swallowtail.
Leaving Hluhluwe, we’ll move north towards the Mozambique border where many of Zululand’s most sought-after butterflies are found. Around Tembe Elephant Park, Manguzi Forest, the banks of the Pongola River we will look for more Gold-banded Foresters, the Mottled-green Nymph, as well as the rare Flame-bordered Charaxes and elusive Liodes Hairtail (Steve’s bogey butterfly). The area is also home to the beautiful Dark-webbed Ringlet, and there are many rare lycaenids such as the Black-and Orange Playboy. You may be fortunate enough to see the Fiery and Clear-winged Acraeas, tropical species whose southern limit is Zululand.
As well as butterflies, Zululand is home to some of Africa’s most spectacular moths. Noctuids like the glorious diurnal Peach Moth (which shares a host plant with Forest Queen and Gold-banded Forester), Sphingids such as the Verdant Hawk, and many Emperor Moths, Notodontids, Geometrids etc. We’ll have a moth trap with us for the insomniacs on the holiday.
The whole area is also a birder’s paradise with gorgeous feathery creatures such as Narina Trogon and Emerald Cuckoo on the menu. Ongoye is home to a flock of the endangered Ground Hornbill. 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!