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Old Tuesday 8th May 2012, 15:54   #1
PeterBird
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SA plans for 2013

Last January I made my first trip to SA and spent 3 weeks traveling in the north-east (trip report is here). We had such a good time that we are thinking about returning next January. We may visit Wakkerstroom and the St Lucia area again, but we were also looking at the Drakensbergen as a possible destination. Are there any suggestions as to which area there would be the most rewarding to spend a few days and perhaps a pointer to suitable accommodation?
Thanks in advance
Peter


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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 10:49   #2
Dave Kennedy
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Originally Posted by PeterBird View Post
Last January I made my first trip to SA and spent 3 weeks traveling in the north-east (trip report is here). We had such a good time that we are thinking about returning next January. We may visit Wakkerstroom and the St Lucia area again, but we were also looking at the Drakensbergen as a possible destination. Are there any suggestions as to which area there would be the most rewarding to spend a few days and perhaps a pointer to suitable accommodation?
Thanks in advance
Peter
One thing you might consider is the Lammergeier hide at Giant's Castle. Your chances are good of seeing both Lammergeier and Verreaux's (Black) Eagle, along with other upland birds. In the old days you could get driven up and walk back down. Not sure if that still applies, but it's a spectacular spot.

Check Giants Castle Drakensberg on the Internet for accommodation.
Best wishes,
Dave
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 07:44   #3
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If you want to spend time in the Lammergeier hide, book early, it is becoming very popular. See info on Giants Castle here:

http://www.sabirding.co.za/birdspot/040319.asp

Another interesting area is Sani pass. See here:

http://www.sabirding.co.za/birdspot/150001.asp


if you want to stay in one place and walk whilst birding, Thendele camp in Royal Natal National Park is good; again ,book in good time. There are two areas to the camp, the lower and the upper camps. The upper camp is nicer because it has natural forest behind it and that's a good birding area. The chalets are self-catering, so that may be something you'd rather not do.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 10:34   #4
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Thanks, Dave, Sal, for the replies and suggestions. Giant's Castle with the hide and Sani Pass both look very interesting. I would love the chance of taking photos of the vultures! Self-catering would be ok with us, so I'll certainly look into Thendele camp.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 13:28   #5
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Giants castle is also self-catering BTW but they have a restaurant . More info and pics here:

http://www.kznwildlife.com/index.php...=21&Itemid=331
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Old Tuesday 10th July 2012, 21:08   #6
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Well, following up on the helpful suggestions here we've looked further into the Drakensbergen possibilities. In view of the fact that on the last day of our stay we would drive back to Johannesburg airport, we thought it would be wise to finish our stay in the Golden Gate NP as that seems to be only a 4-hour drive. That means we would have to make a choice between Giant's Castle and The Underberg/Sani Pass region, since we only have 5 or 6 nights to spend in the Drakensbergen region and we do not want to rush things, but rather take the time to really explore the area we're staying in. Which of the two would be more interesting (bird- and scenery wise) in you opinion? Thank you for any input!
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Old Tuesday 10th July 2012, 21:54   #7
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That means we would have to make a choice between Giant's Castle and The Underberg/Sani Pass region, since we only have 5 or 6 nights to spend in the Drakensbergen region and we do not want to rush things, but rather take the time to really explore the area we're staying in. Which of the two would be more interesting (bird- and scenery wise) in you opinion? Thank you for any input!
Peter
Hi, Peter,
I have never visited the Underberg / Sani Pass area, so I cannot comment. I believe that there are some good professional guides operating in that area, so perhaps an Internet search might yield some useful information.
Best wishes,
Dave
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Old Wednesday 11th July 2012, 14:46   #8
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Well, following up on the helpful suggestions here we've looked further into the Drakensbergen possibilities. In view of the fact that on the last day of our stay we would drive back to Johannesburg airport, we thought it would be wise to finish our stay in the Golden Gate NP as that seems to be only a 4-hour drive. That means we would have to make a choice between Giant's Castle and The Underberg/Sani Pass region, since we only have 5 or 6 nights to spend in the Drakensbergen region and we do not want to rush things, but rather take the time to really explore the area we're staying in. Which of the two would be more interesting (bird- and scenery wise) in you opinion? Thank you for any input!
Peter
If you visit Giants Castle and book into the vulture hide you just might see Lammergeyer as well as other birds such as Verreaux's Eagle,Cape Vulture, Lanner Falcon and other smaller birds. There are usually a few jackals around too. great photographic opportunities. The area generally is good for birding and the scenery is terrific. The accommodation is basic but comfortable and there are enjoyable walks. Sani Pass is probably better for birding but because you would not be staying in a nature reserve the place (I mean the area) where you stay will be less atmospheric but possibly,depending on where you go, more luxurious. To take a trip up the pass is very exciting and very scenic if the weather is good, but the road, when I last heard l is really poor and the taxis that go up and down are hair-raising if you meet them; I wouldn't recommend that you drive yourself. There are various tours that go up either for the day or, even better, for an overnight trip. I will come back to you with a name and some contact details if interested.
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we only have 5 or 6 nights to spend in the Drakensbergen region and we do not want to rush things, but rather take the time to really explore the area we're staying in
- if this is an important part of your plans, it would probably be easier to explore more of the region from the Himeville area (Sani Pass area) as you will be on a main road. At Giants castle you will have driven right into a conservation area; the exploration of that on its ovn is very rewarding if you enjoy the bush.
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Old Wednesday 11th July 2012, 18:04   #9
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Thanks Dave/Sal for your replies. The chance of photos of Lammergeier and perhaps other raptors sounds very tempting. We do't mind basic accommodation, so that would be no problem. By really exploring the area I mean having the time to take walks spend some time at a nice spot and enjoy the scenery rather than being able to drive around a lot. In that respect Giant's Castle does seem a better option even though the number of birds to be seen could be higher in the Himeville area. This is really helpful information! Thank you very much!
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Old Thursday 12th July 2012, 04:42   #10
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Thanks Dave/Sal for your replies. The chance of photos of Lammergeier and perhaps other raptors sounds very tempting. We do't mind basic accommodation, so that would be no problem. By really exploring the area I mean having the time to take walks spend some time at a nice spot and enjoy the scenery rather than being able to drive around a lot. In that respect Giant's Castle does seem a better option even though the number of birds to be seen could be higher in the Himeville area. This is really helpful information! Thank you very much!
Peter
If you make a final decision on Giants Castle, contact them as soon as possible and check that you can book into the hide as its very popular and they keep the number of people visiting it at any one time fairly small. There is a minimum charge (about R650) which covers three people.
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Old Thursday 12th July 2012, 07:05   #11
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I will do that, thank you!
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Old Thursday 12th July 2012, 07:43   #12
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If you have decided to do Underburg/Sani Pass then I can highly recommend Malcolm Gemmel at Button Birding www.buttonbirding.com as a guide for the area. The accommodation is pretty good too.
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Old Friday 13th July 2012, 19:00   #13
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Thanks Jenny, I'll make a note of that. We might not go there this time, but we're slowly getting addicted to your beautiful country, so we'll have more opportunities, I'm sure.
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