Tours

Malcolm Gemmell is an accredited tourist guide who has over 30 years of birding experience in the area and has developed an intimate knowledge of the local bird population, as well as roosts, feeding areas and activities. (And sometimes nest sites.) He has located a Blue Swallow breeding site in the district, and provides tours to this and other localities for specials such as Cape Parrot and Black-rumped Buttonquail.

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GENERAL INFORMATION

TRANSPORT
Usually in our comfortable 4×4 (driver plus 3 is ideal but can take 6 – but not all window seats)
No extra charge for tours within a 10 km radius of our base.

EXTRAS
Pick-up for guests arriving from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport can be arranged.

TAILORMADE BUTTON BIRDING TOURS
Bird tours to suit your requirement for example:
· Kwa-Zulu Natal
· Wild Coast
· Eastern Cape

GUIDING TARIFFS

R220 per hour (Not per person) for a group of five

NTSIKENI NATURE RESERVE TOURS
Transport: R660.00 for a group of 5 max. plus hourly guiding fee

*Please note that we no longer operate the Lodges at Ntsikeni Nature Reserve. Bookings must now be made via EKZN/Ezemvelo Wildlife/Natal Parks Board in Pietermaritzburg. Our outstanding Guide and Caretaker, Dalu, is still there, but now employed by EKZN.

SANI PASS 12 HOUR DAY TOUR
R2750 plus R65 for packed lunch. (Maximum 4 passengers)

Special rates for Bird Clubs

* All rates are subject to change without notice

TOURS

AMUR FALCON ROOST (November to March)

This kick-off to Creighton involves a 5 minutes drive to the local cricket ground, with snacks provided by your hostess, and your cooler-box stocked-up from our honesty bar. We try to get there an hour before sunset, relax in deck-chairs in the middle of the ground. We wait for the remarkable appearance from a darkening sky of a thousand Amur Falcons, who swarm above us in a swirling vortex before diving into a single tree, on the edge of the ground, at last light.
1½ hours.

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NIGHT BIRDS IN THE GARDEN

After a really good dinner, it can be good for the constitution to take a stroll in the garden. This we do, with torches (bring your own) and we check out our owls (Barn and Spotted Eagle) and also our resident Fiery-necked Nightjar.
30 minutes.

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THE DAWN CHORUS

This is probably a highlight for most visitors (as well as a culture shock) because we are out of bed an hour before sunrise. Travel for 30 minutes to our forest edge picnic-site, and then enjoy the dawn chorus from the comfort of deck chairs whilst sipping a hot cup of coffee or tea. The view is spectacular, and the birds never fail to impress. In particular, we are sitting below the regular flight path of the Cape Parrot. We follow this with a guided walk into the forest, not only for more birding, but to see pristine Podocarpus Yellow wood trees and flowers, including a variety of orchids – so bring your tree and flower field guides – as well as your cameras.
4 Hours.

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GRASSLAND TOUR

It is good for the soul to wander in a field of knee-high grassland filled with flowers (November to March).
This is home to our Widowbirds and Whydahs, especially Long-tailed, Fan-tailed, Red-collared, and White-winged. Above us will be the continual serenade of Zitting Cisticola.
2 Hours.

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RAILWAY LINE WALK

For those that struggle to get up in the morning, this tour will suit them, as we only need to start an hour after sunrise! We travel by car 2 kms down to the village, leave our vehicle, and then walk back home along the rail-line, stepping from sleeper to sleeper. The line is built-up, affording good viewing with the morning light behind us, of any species that is on the fences on either side. This is particularly apparent if there has been heavy dew or rain the previous evening. This walk always rewards – perhaps Pale-crowned Cisticola at close range (the male has a striking Zorro eye-mask which most people have never seen.) Orange-breasted Waxbills are regulars and spectacular. Every group of seed eaters gets thoroughly scanned, in the hope of finding Cuckoo Finch.
2 Hours.

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NTSIKENI VLEI

This beautiful place resides on a high plateau between Franklin and Creighton in Southern KZN. It comprises a large wetland of some 1200 ha., “one of the most important in KZN� according to Wetland ecologist George Begg, and is at a key position on the Umzimkulu catchment. It is surround by impressive buttresses with evocative names like Mangeni, Tsawule,and Elephant Hill. Visible forever,Ntsikeni Mountain towers above all, with its unmistakable shape making sense of the name. The central support of a traditional home is an ‘ntsika’ .

Although a provincial reserve since 1978, it has enjoyed a natural protection and secrecy due to its remoteness,isolation and inaccessibility until recently, when a reasonable access road and lodge were built.
With a core management principal of ‘Minimum Impact’, hikers, mountain bikes and horse trails are the order of the day. It is understandable how and why, numerous, very sensitive, endangered bird species, have managed to evade detection thus far. Yellow Breasted Pipits, Cape and Bearded Vultures, Black and Montagu’s Harriers, African Marsh and even the rare Western Marsh Harriers and other exciting large species like breeding Wattled Cranes,can be found.

Since the summer of 05/06, the enigmatic Great Bittern has been observed at least 6 times constituting a South African record for this species.

This reserve is a place of sensational wafting grassland and prolific flowers, inviting relaxed hiking and exploring , to the surrounding ring of hills, which harbour impressive rock faces, chimneys, cracks and caves. Bearded Vulture has been found to be nesting in the reserve.

For the less energetic, the main Ntsikeni Lodge has four comfortable chalets and a large equipped central dining area, where trained staff look after guests. A second lodge, designed for scholars, is under construction.
The rural roads will attract the more adventurous driver,with appropriate transport, to this exciting destination, central to Southern KZN.

Ntsikeni Nature Reserve epitomises a RAW,UNTAMED, QUIET,and NATURAL beauty, inviting one to savour all its dramatic, and diverse moods.
It is unspoiled,and precious,enjoy it NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

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THE SANI PASS TOUR

With passports (not I.D. books) your host carefully takes visitors up this fantastic pass to visit the Mountain Kingdom. The birds of the Sani are spectacular and very restricted (Lammergeier, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Yellow Canary, etc.) The scenery is outstanding. The weather dramatic and unpredictable, and flowers sensational. Your hostess provides a packed lunch.

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THE 4 DAY TOUR

DAY ONE: Arrive mid-afternoon, in time to settle in ahead of sunset on the cricket field.
DAY TWO: Dawn chorus – yellow woods – grasslands – brunch – rest – Blue Swallow
DAY THREE: Sani Pass
DAY FOUR Black-rumped Buttonquail – brunch. Depart 11 a.m.