Mongena Game Lodge has proved itself time and again to be a Wider Gauteng Birding paradise. With species such as Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Water Thick-Knee, Half-collared Kingfisher, Southern White-faced Owl, and White-backed Night Heron, all in one location. It’s a must for any birder chasing the Wider Gauteng Birding challenge, or for anyone looking to increase their Gauteng life list. You never know, there might even be a chance to see Eurasian Bittern.
We run this Wider Gauteng Spectacular in one of two options, the “Exclusive Package” and the “Glamping Package”. This is the “Exclusive” tour, so we’re staying in 4-star Lodge accommodation with air conditioning, full en-suite facilities and all the creature comforts of home. Our focus will be daily open vehicle game drives and boat cruises, hunting down some of Gauteng’s most notorious bird species.
Day 01 – Arrival & Birding Drive:
Your guide will meet you at Mongena Private Game Lodge at 14:00. After which we’ll check in and settle down before heading out for our first birding drive of the tour. During the late afternoon drive, we’ll focus on species such as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Southern Pied Babbler, Ashy Tit, Great Sparrow, Marico Sunbird and Kalahari Scrub-Robin.
Following our sundowner stop, as it cools down and the dusk starts to settle in, we drive back to camp, using our spotlight to focus on encounters with Southern White-faced Owl, White-backed Night-Heron, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and more. If we’re lucky, we might even bump into some hunting Lions or an elusive Leopard getting ready for an active night.
Day 02 – Morning Boat Cruise & Afternoon Birding Drive:
Before heading out for the morning, we’ll enjoy an early wake-up call and some coffee and rusks. After that, we start the day with a guided boat cruise on Mongena Dam. The dam is a 28-hectare birding oasis, fed by the Boekenhoutspruit. As we explore the waters, we’ll target species such as Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Water Thick-Knee, Black Crake, African Rail and Osprey that frequent these waters, which leave birders drooling for more. Multiple reports of Eurasian Bittern have been recorded at Mongena Dam and our guides were the first to discover that the species occurs here. Furthermore, we can expect White-backed Ducks, African Pygmy Goose, Giant-, Pied-, and Malachite Kingfishers, Goliath Heron, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Maccoa Duck, Sand Martin and loads more around the water.
After we’ve enjoyed a hearty brunch and some rest during the heat of the day, we head out for another afternoon birding drive, yet again targeting any important bird species we may have missed. We can expect species such as Northern Black Korhaan, African Cuckoo, Flappet Lark, Striped Pipit, Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow, Golden-breasted Bunting, the melanistic Gabar Goshawk, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Purple Roller, Striped Kingfisher and Coqui Francolin. Finally, after enjoying a refreshing sundowner, we’ll drive back to camp, looking for various Owls, Nightjars and Night Herons in the cover of darkness.
Day 03 – Morning Birding Drive & Departure:
On our last day, we’ll focus on any potentially missed species such as Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Violet-eared-, and Black-faced Waxbill, Olive-tree Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Barred Wren-Warbler, African Snipe, Red-capped Lark, Shaft-tailed Whydah and more.
Then yet again enjoy a hearty brunch, after which we’ll pack up and head to the main lodge area, where we’ll depart back to Johannesburg (or your respective destinations).