Join this one off special visit to South Africa in spring, 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 unique is that it is one of the only times Steve Woodhall is available to lead the group and it is the very first time he has been able to run a tour at this time of year – making it even more special! 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 will drive from Johannesburg to the hills to the north. There we will explore grassland and savanna hilltops in search of some of South Africa’s most spectacular spring Lycaenids, such as Hutchinson’s Highflier Aphnaeus hutchinsonii, Brown-line Sapphire Iolaus alienus, Bowker’s Marbled Sapphire Stugeta bowkeri, Ella’s Bar Cigaritis ella, Russet Protea Capys disjunctus, among others. We should also find iconic Nymphalidae such as Gaudy Commodore Precis octavia, Pirate and Yellow Pansy Junonia hierta.
Then we will move south-east to the central hills of Mpumalanga Province, where there are high altitude grasslands. The Verloren Valei Nature Reserve contains rarities such as the Satyrine Red-banded Widow, Dingana alticola. In the nearby hills at Dindela there is the recently rediscovered population of Stoffberg Widow, Dingana fraterna, as well as the bright orange Rossouw’s Copper Aloeides rossouwi. All over these grasslands there are likely to be found beauties like the Patrician Blue Lepidochrysops patricia and the Orange Acraea, Telchinia anacreon. The area is home to many species of blues, coppers, skippers and browns. It’s South Africa’s Alpine grasslands.
Finally we will move to the Mpumalanga Escarpment in the Pilgrim’s Rest area. This is a mosaic of high mountain grasslands and forested gorges and valleys. Some of South Africa’s rarest and most beautiful butterflies are found in this area. Lycaenids such as Irving’s Blue Lepidochrysops irvingi, Violescent Blue Orachrysops violescens, Cloud Copper Aloeides nubilus, Transvaal Copper Aloeides dryas, Lydenburg Opal Chrysoritis aethon. Another of South Africa’s endemic large Widows, Narrow-Banded Widow, Dingana angusta flies in several locations here.
In the forests there is a chance of finding the endemic Kite Swallowtail, Papilio euphranor, as well as other Swallowtails and the early specimens of Charaxes species such as Pearl Charaxes Charaxes varanes.
We’ll finish the tour off with two nights in the world-famous Kruger National Park, where we’ll supplement our experience with some large mammals, hopefully including lion, elephant, leopard and more, and a diversity of birds including more than 5 species of eagles.