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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

South Africa: The West

Kalahari to the Cape

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for this tour. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they took this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING SOUTH AFRICA: Citizens of most countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, will need a passport that is valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of departure from South Africa, and an onward/return ticket. Passports must contain at least two blank visa pages. Visitors for tourism do not require visas. 

Travelers entering South Africa from countries where yellow fever is endemic are often required to present their yellow World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for South Africa at Review foreign travel advice from the UK government here: and travel advice and advisories from the Government of Canada here:

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE:  The tour is not a strenuous one. There are no particularly long walks and anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness will be able to take part fully in the tour. 

We should note that we spend a lot of time in our vehicles as we have a number of long drives and we often use the vehicles as blinds to permit close approach to skittish open-country birds.

There are some early starts on this tour and typically days start anytime from 06.00 to 06.30, either with breakfast or a pre-breakfast excursion. Our days usually end around 18.00 – 18.30 although we may not reach our accommodation on some days until as late as 19.30. Normally we try to allow an hour after reaching our accommodation for showering and changing before dinner. However if we have a later arrival for whatever reason, we may need to go directly to dinner. 

If the weather allows we’ll be going to sea on a pelagic trip. Anyone who suffers from seasickness should be prepared for choppy seas, although if it is too rough, we will not go out. We will receive up to date information on the state of the seas just prior to departure and if anyone has doubts about their ability to cope with the conditions then we strongly suggest you do not take part. Once we set sail we will not return to dock for about six hours. How far we go out to sea depends on how quickly we find a fishing vessel, but typically we travel about 35-40 nautical miles.

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for South Africa can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at

Malaria: There is no risk of malaria in the areas we visit.

Yellow Fever: There is no risk of Yellow fever in South Africa. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous:  Tap water is generally safe to drink throughout the parts of South Africa we will visit.  Biting insects are almost non-existent on this tour other than tiny midges in a couple of places. The strong sunlight at times makes sun glasses and a sun hat essential. Upset stomachs are a rare occurrence in South Africa. Weather permitting we’ll take a pelagic trip on the open ocean. 

CLIMATE: Spring in South Africa can be variable and difficult to predict. Although it will be generally warm and dry with maximum temperatures in the low to mid 20?s (60s-70s?F), we can experience some very cold temperatures in the northwestern deserts, even down to freezing during the night and early morning, so a sweater or fleece and a good jacket are essential. We spend two nights in the karoo and it can be very cold here if it is a cold spring, especially at night. If the spring is late, then cool daytime temperatures and especially cool winds can be experienced. Rain is possible once we begin to travel down the west coast. If we manage to go to sea for the pelagic, the weather could be surprisingly cool and there could be a fair amount of spray.

ACCOMMODATION: Our hotels and lodges are generally very good throughout. All rooms will have en suite bathroom facilities and hot water is usually constantly available. Our stay in the karoo is at a remote farmhouse that has a series of accommodation units. Power and water heating is from solar energy. There are no sockets in the rooms here for chargers, etc. Some charging can be done in the main building.

Internet Access and Cell PhonesMobile phones work almost everywhere we go on the tour but we may be out of range in a few remote areas. All of the places we stay have internet access (with the exception of in the karoo, where we spend two nights, which has very limited internet and mobile phone access). The internet connection at our Cape Town hotel is excellent.

FOOD: Food is excellent, plentiful and usually very European, although hot and spicy food is available at some centers. We will have one or two excellent seafood meals. Lunches are usually picnics prepared in the field by the leaders. Since we eat a lot of picnic lunches in the field, it’s advisable to bring along your own plastic plate, cup and knife and fork.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals. 

Drinks: Water is provided on the vehicle throughout the tour. Bottled water a soft drink, a beer or (excellent) South African wine is provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks are the responsibility of the individual.

Food Allergies/Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORT: Transportation will be in a minibus driven by the leader. The leader will arrange a seating rotation. Participants must be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. Note that unfortunately it is no longer possible to rent minibuses that have opening windows for the rear seats.  The middle seats have a small window on each side, and the front passenger seat has a normal opening window.

Updated: 30 November 2022