Rare and Nocturnal Mammals of South Africa

This unique 12-Day Mammal safari offers an opportunity to view the unseen and rare mammals of South Africa; many of them on the night drives which you can look forward to on almost every night of this tour. We will explore South Africa’s deserts and bushveld in the hope of seeing species such as Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-eared Fox, Black-footed Cat and the Black-maned Lions of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Starts in Bloemfontein Ends in Upingon Duration: 12 DaysAvailable as private guided and small group tour


• Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve
• Mokala National Park

• Augrabies Falls National Park
• Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Top Mammals:

Itinerary Overview:

Day to Day Itinerary

DAY 1-3:
Start of tour in Bloemfontein, onwards to Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve
– On arrival at OR Tambo International airport you will take your domestic flight onwards to Bloemfontein. (Depending on arrival times you might need to arrive a day before the start date to be able to get the flight to Bloemfontein).

Once in Bloemfontein you will be met by your guide and make your way to our first stop in the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve. After settling in we should have time for our first Sunset drive, where we may encounter Cape Buffalo and Hippo, which has been reintroduced here after over 200 years of local extinction. After dinner back at the lodge, we will again head out for our first night drive. We will be on the lookout for Aardvark, Aardwolf, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, African Wildcat and Cape Porcupine.

We will have two full days in the wonderful Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve, enjoying night drives every evening after dinner and morning game drives with sunset drives included. Taking every opportunity to see what nature has to offer. During the day, we will be able to relax around the lodge, and explore the reserve, on foot in search of its diurnal mammals and birds. For those that are interested, it will also be possible to take a guided walk from the lodge to an ancient rock art site, while learning about the area’s fascinating history, including the legacy of the Anglo-Boer War.  Of course, the focus of our stay here will be the nocturnal mammals. 

DAY 4-5:
– We will leave directly after breakfast making our way further North to the town of Kimberley.

Kimberley is the capital city of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province and is known for its 19th-century diamond mines. We will arrive in the afternoon and have time to settle in before dinner and continue our routine of night drives, at Marrick we can hope to see the elusive Black-footed Cat, other nocturnal mammals to be on the lookout for are Aardvark, Aardwolf, Smith’s Red Rock Hare, Springhare, Scrub Hare, Porcupine and Hedgehog. Additionally, African wildcat as well as the Striped Polecat also known as the “Zorilla” can be seen.

On our full day here, we will be off after an early breakfast and make our way south to the nearby Mokala National Park. Mokala National Park is a reserve established in the Plooysburg area south-west of Kimberley. The size of the park is 26,485 hectares. Mokala is the Setswana name for the magnificent camel thorn, a tree species typical of the arid western interior and common in the area. Here we will spend much of the morning searching the dry thornveld for a variety of species such as Blue Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Southern Giraffe and Springbok. White Rhino and Black Rhino are present here, and Mokala is well known for a variety of Antelope that are scarce elsewhere in South Africa, such as Roan, Sable and Tsessebe Antelope.

We will have an early dinner back at the lodge and be ready for our next night drive hoping to see what we have missed on the previous night.

DAY 6-7:
Augrabies Falls National Park
– This morning after breakfast we will head west for our five-to-six-hour drive between the towns of Kimberley and Upington and then onto Augrabies Falls National Park. We will stop for lunch and leg stretching en route and hope to arrive at Augrabies Falls National Park around mid-afternoon. After settling into our chalets, we should have enough time to quickly wander down to the spectacular Augrabies Falls, the Khoi people called it “Aukoerebis”, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from the rocky surroundings characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge. Rock Hyraxes are often seen running around over the rocks.

On our full day we will explore this small but diverse national park which covers around 820 square kilometres. We begin with an early morning drive and will be back in camp for brunch. We will drive along the gorge of the Orange River stopping at the many viewpoints along the route hoping to see Cape Clawless Otter in the river below.  Other mammals which live within the park are Steenbok, Southern Giraffe, Gemsbok and Eland along with Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, an endangered species that are closely monitored by park rangers. We will go out for an afternoon drive and then back to camp for dinner and a relaxing night in Africa! 

DAY 8-10:
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
– After breakfast we will pack our things and head North to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. 

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated in the southern Kalahari, with 73% lying in Botswana and the remainder in South Africa. The area, which measures 37 256 km2, represents a large ecosystem relatively free of human interference – an increasingly rare phenomenon in Africa. The name Kgalagadi is derived from the San language and means “place of thirst”.

The Kalahari Desert is home to a surprisingly diverse assemblage of mammals, birds and other wildlife considering how harsh this region can be. Springbok, Blue Wildebeest and Gemsbok are common and we are sure to see smaller numbers of Red Hartebeest, Steenbok and Greater Kudu. Such an abundance of game species attracts predators such as Spotted Hyena and the famous ‘black-maned’ Lions of the Kalahari, and we hope to see Cheetah. On a smaller scale we could see Meerkat (Suricate) and the South African Ground Squirrel is quite common.

On our night drives we will be on the lookout for Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Scrub Hare and South African Springhare which are all quite common here, but we will also be looking for other less frequently seen species such as the shaggy Brown Hyena, Honey Badger, Caracal, Cape Porcupine and African Wildcat.

We will be heading to Dune 91 for our 3 nights here in the middle of the desert. Our lodge is off the beaten track, and we will be busy with morning and afternoon game drives, including night drives after dinner, guided walks, an option to visit the cultural village and then of course some star gazing at night.

DAY 11:
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Twee Rivieren
– After our morning game drive, we will enjoy breakfast and head out to our rest camp accommodation in The Kgalagadi Transfrontier park. Twee Rivieren is the largest rest camp and administrative headquarters. It is at the most southerly point of the park and just inside the main gate on the South African side. It is situated on the banks of the Dry Nossob Riverbed. On our drive to Twee Rivieren we can hope to add more sightings to our list such as Spotted Hyena, Springbok, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Yellow Mongoose and Meerkat (Suricate).

Here we will enjoy our last day of what has been a fantastic mammal tour.

DAY 12:
– We will be up early today and make our way to Upington Airport for our flight back to Johannesburg and ultimately our flight home.

You might also like:

Rhino Walking Safari, Namibia

“We’ve just finished a 15 day Namibia / Botswana Safari, ending with a visit to Victoria Falls and it was amazing!”

“All in all, we cannot stress how wonderful Nature Travel has been for us, and we cannot recommend them enough.”