The western and northern Cape alternative
Where land ends and oceans meet
Cape Point is in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve within Table Mountain National Park, which forms part of the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site. It includes the majestic Table Mountain chain, which stretches from Signal Hill to Cape Point, and the coastlines of the Cape Peninsula. This narrow stretch of land, dotted with beautiful valleys, bays and beaches, contains a mix of extraordinarily diverse and unique fauna and flora and provides shelter to important migratory bird populations in coastal lagoons and bays. The cold Benguela Current brings highly nutrient-rich waters up from the south, and the strong winds (predominately from the south-east) create an upwelling that brings all the nutrients to the surface. This, in turn, sustains the phytoplankton that form the basis of the marine food chain which creates ideal conditions for thriving populations of fish, seabirds and marine mammals.
Great White Sharks and striking bird species
Southern Africa is a shark hotspot with one of the most biodiverse shark faunas in the world. By joining an AM customised expedition, local experts will take us directly to seal island in False Bay, one of the well known sites in the region to observe resident Great White Sharks. Doing this, we will be in the right place at the right time for the best chance of spotting these giants while they hunt their main prey – Cape Fur Seals. We will be birding before and after the shark trip, at specific sites to look for (near) endemic, bird such as Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rockjumper, African Penguin and Cape Siskin.
Pelagic from Cape Town
Joining a deep sea pelagic to more than 20 nautical miles south of Cape Point will be another highlight during our stay on the Cape Peninsula. The south-western Cape offers the best seabirding in South Africa by far and, in fact, the local pelagic birding is considered to be some of the best anywhere in the world. Pelagic fisheries thrive in the area and discards from the trawlers provide a constant food source for pelagic seabirds. Guided by experienced birders, up to seven albatross species, passage migrants and cetaceans might be spotted. As soon as the boat heads out into deeper waters it’s all about locating a trawler. This is a spectacle in itself as it offers one the opportunity to have literally thousands of seabirds at arm’s length as they all mull around behind the trawlers.
West Coast National Park (WCNP): immersed in nature
The West Coast National Park is considered a biodiversity ‘hotspot’ of global importance. It contains mostly strandveld fynbos, which is a unique feature of South Africa’s West Coast. The fynbos biome, in which the park is situated, is extremely rich in biodiversity. Fynbos has the most abundant species diversity of all the biomes in South Africa proportionally. The main reason why adding this reserve to the intinerary is because of the fact that the reserve is known to be a reliable spot to observe Caracals; a seldom seen and rare Felid. We will also keep an eye on the Atlantic Ocean for passing whales and especially Heaviside’s Dolphins which is an endemic species resident in the coastal waters bordering WCNP. We will concentrate on particular spots where Caracals, aka the desert lynx, regulary occur around dusk and dawn. Birding, before and after our two main goals targeting the cat and the dolphin, we will visit some specific sites to look for more (near) endemic birds species like Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane and Chestnut-banded Plover.
Southern Right Whale nursery
De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is one of Cape Nature’s flagship nature reserves, probably most commonly known for its enormous Southern Right Whale migratory calving population. Without doubt it is South Africa’s best land based whale watching spot, critically important for the conservation of the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) which is an endangered species.
Apart from the whales being our main goal here, De Hoop Nature Reserve’s diverse landscape is an amazing idyllic home to an impressive range of birds and other wildlife. Lowland fynbos underbrush meets grass plains and forested gorges, only to run into a long white beach with rocky shores and blue waters. In a pristine environment, we’ll go for some rare and endangered species like Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra. Possible too are Cape Clawless Otter and Cararcal. Birding wise it’s all about viewing the endangered Cape Vultures as De Hoop hosts the Western Cape’s last surviving colony of these amazing birds.
Ending with game viewing near Kimberly
A domestic flight from Cape Town will bring us to Kimberly. Although world famous for ‘De Beers’, being one of the oldest diamond mines on earth, our journey ends here with totally different reasons. Guided 4×4 exclusive night drives offer a particularly unique and exciting insight into the world of nocturnal animal activity. Focusing on the more rarely seen mammals such as Aardvark, Aardwolf and Black-footed cat. Besides these night drives, the nearby Mokala Game Park offers opportunities to add some African bird and mammal species resident in the area.