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Butterfly Safari in South Africa

Butterfly Safari in South Africa


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Pay a deposit of £400.00 per item


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!


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