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Of all north African countries, Tunisia is the old favourite. It is,after all, closer to Europe bothgeographically and culturally, and offers astability that has not always been assuredby its neighbours. Perhaps most appealingof all though, is its small size; it is simplydwarfed by its massive neighbours Algeriaand Libya, and is a microcosm of allthings north African. It is therefore ideal fora short break, allowing both swift accessto the great sand dunes of the Sahara, aswell as to its wetlands, woodlands andsavannahs. Indeed, for the naturalist, it isrefreshing to find that these diversehabitats are so well protected by a well-managed system of national parks. In the far north of Tunisia, the ruggedgreen hills and valleys are clothed invineyards, oak woodlands, and tidy townsand villages whose European style onlyenhances an ambience of rural well-being.It is a landscape similar to that ofneighbouring southern Italy, Sardinia andCorsica. To the east lies a lake-land ofgreat appeal to ornithologists, whoseflagship is Lake Ichkeul. Further to thesouth, in the Gulf of Gabes, lie theestuarine mudflats and islands morereminiscent of the south coast of Englandthan of Mediterranean north Africa. Inlandof the Gulf sits a remnant of that scenicsavannah landscape that was once sowidespread across pre-Saharan Africa,and where even this century large gameroamed, stalked by such predators asLion, Leopard and Cheetah. To the south,beyond a rocky and dramatic terrain, thegreat golden sand dunes of the Grand ErgOriental, the northernmost vanguard of thecreeping Sahara, welcome us with springwarmth at the climax of our holiday.We begin our tour with a 2-night stay inthe pleasant northern town of Bizerte, anideal base from which to explore thenearby Lake Ichkeul National Park, andpleasantly removed from the bustle ofmodern Tunis. Lake Ichkeul, like all theTunisian lakes, offers a crucial stagingpost and watering hole for trans-Saharanmigrants. It is, however, particularlyspecial, for it not only lies in a strategicposition at the northern tip of Tunisia - afirst pit-stop for incoming southboundmigrants, and a last-chance saloon forthose outgoing northbound birds - but isalso unusual in having a most variablesalinity, the winter rains ensuring a largelyfreshwater content for much of the year,whilst its salinity is greatly increasedduring the summer. Lake Ichkeul NationalPark has the further attraction of a widevariety of habitats, and during our full dayspent in the park, we will walk in theforests of Mount Ichkeul, haunt of BarbaryPartridge and Moussier's Redstart. We willenjoy the marshes and pastures aroundthe lake where egrets, herons and WhiteStorks feed amongst the feral WaterBuffalo that have long grazed the area. Atthe water's edge we will find Spoonbills,Greater Flamingoes, Greylag Geese, and avariety of ducks and waders, whilstoverhead hunt birds of prey - Long-legged Buzzards, Black-shouldered Kites,Ospreys, and Marsh and Hen Harriersamongst others. With luck we may evenfind the resident and endangered White-headed Duck, a speciality of the Tunisian lakes.Heading southwards next, via the wader-rich wetlands and migration hotspot ofCap Bon, we spend a night in the coastaltown of Mahres. This will allow us toexplore the mudflats and estuarinehabitats nearby. A huge number of waderswinter here, together with high numbers ofBlack-necked Grebes, Caspian and Gull-billed Terns, and Slender-billed andAudouin's Gulls; a rewarding time istherefore assured. Inland from Mahres lieTunisia's scenic steppes and savannahs.Reminiscent of east Africa, this landscapeis a far cry from those breezy mudflats.Here, in Bouhedma National Park, we willbe able to enjoy watching some ofTunisia's larger mammals, several of themsuccessfully reintroduced since theirextinction in the region earlier this century.Solitary Addax, herds of Scimitar-hornedOryx, and smaller numbers of both Damaand Dorcas Gazelles, as well as a numberof other more elusive mammals, all occurin Bouhedma. The magnificent backdropcreated by the less accessiblemountainous part of the park will pleaseany photographers amongst our party,whilst the acacia scrub holds suchattractive species as Southern GreyShrikes and Moussier's Redstarts amongst others. Our final destination, and for many thehighlight of the tour, will be the desert. Wewill be based for two nights in the town ofDouz, the self-proclaimed 'gateway to theSahara' and once an important stop onthe trans-Saharan caravan routes. We willenjoy dawn and dusk excursions by 4x4 toenjoy the warm, golden dunes of theSahara and the shattering silence of thedesert ... at the most productive times ofthe day for birds. There could be fewbetter bases from which to enjoy suchavian desert specialities as Cream-coloured Courser, Brown-necked Raven,Desert Warbler, Desert Sparrow andDesert, Hoopoe and Temminck's HornedLarks. Sandgrouse and the elusiveHoubara Bustard are further possibilities,whilst the Fennec Fox is an occasionalnocturnal visitor.TunisiaA 9-day spring birdwatching holiday to the wetlands, savannahs and deserts of a scenic and varied north African land.Saturday 16th March - Sunday 24th March Cost: £1,495Saturday 28th September - Sunday 6th October Cost: £1,495Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationALGERIA LIBYAALGERIA MAHRESKNEISS ISLANDSTUNISKORBADOUZCAP BONBIZERTELAKE ICHKEULNATIONAL PARKJEBILNATIONAL PARKBOUHEDMANATIONAL PARKDJERBAGULF OF GABESTUNISIAMEDITERRANEAN SEA Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Tunis and transfer toBizerte.Day 2Lake Ichkeul and Bizerte.Day 3/4Cap Bon and Korba.Day 5Gulf of Gabes andMahres.Day 6Bouhedma National Parkand Douz.Day 7Jebil National Park fromDouz.Day 8Djerba or Tozeur.Day 9Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels withprivate facilities throughout.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. A traditional birdwatching tour,though including some easywalking on most days.FocusBirds (and some larger mammals).LeaderGeoff Carr or Dave Smith.Single room supplement£185.ExtensionsGladly arranged on request.Web quick search: TUN01159Saharan dunesWhite-headed Duck

Aland-locked countrystraddling the Tropic of Capricorn,Botswana offers one of the last unspoiledwildernesses in Africa. In its huge,unfenced game reserves, the largest herdsin southern Africa roam free and wild,together with some of the continent's mostspectacular and varied birdlife. Remarkablyfor an African country, Botswana has a tinypopulation; just over two million inhabitantsoccupy this nation that is the size of Franceand Germany together! Nearly one fifth ofits area is given over to national parks. It isa dry land, the majority of the countryabsorbed by the waterless Kalahari, yet theworld's largest inland delta- theOkavango-transforms 15,000 squarekilometres of this desert into a paradise ofpalms, papyrus and crystal clearwaterways. The water that feeds the Deltais Botswana's lifeblood. Falling as rain onthe Angolan highlands a thousandkilometres away, it takes up to six monthsto reach the Delta-a pulse of floodwater that brings life-generating moistureduring Botswana's long, dry winter season.We begin our holiday by flying toLivingstone in Zambia, via Johannesburg.Two nights spent here will allow us to explore the lush forests around the VictoriaFalls. One of the seven natural wonders ofthe world, the Falls are twice as high asNiagara, and one and a half times as wide. In the gorges beneath them, the rare Taita Falcon and Rock Pratincoles cansometimes be seen; in, and from, thelodge gardens we will look for Knysna and Grey Louries, TrumpeterHornbills, Black-collared Barbets, TropicalBoubous and a variety of colourfulsunbirds and weavers.From Livingstone it is 100 kilometres byroad to northern Chobe National Park. Inthis region of the park we will concentrateour attentions on the Chobe River. This isElephant country, and it is possible to seeseveral hundred of these giants in one day,as well as a host of other game. The birds,too, are excellent, particularly thewaterbirds-herons, egrets, ibises,ducks and waders. We have two days inthe area, to enable a thorough exploration,before heading to southern Chobe. Herewe will explore the Savuti Channel, whereElephant frequently graze around ourcamp, and the surrounding savannahholds Lions, Cheetahs, a variety ofantelopes and a rich birdlife.Moremi Wildlife Reserve, on the easternedge of the Okavango Delta, is our nextdestination. This is one of the mostbeautiful and unspoiled reserves in Africa,its western reaches consumed by theDelta, its eastern sector comprised ofMopane woodland and grassland. For twodays we will discover the birds andmammals of the reserve on game drives.Arnot's Chat, Southern Black Tit, SlatyEgret, Heuglin's Robin and a variety ofwoodpeckers, barbets and weavers areamongst the specialities.Moremi is also home to a wide range ofmammals. Large herds of Buffalo, RedLechwe, Tsessebe, Zebra and Waterbuckdot the lightly wooded plains. Parties ofGiraffe stride gracefully across the sceneand herds of Elephant visit the lush greenmarshes to bathe and drink. With such anabundance of big game it is not surprisingthat Moremi is one of the finest reserves inwhich to see Africa's large predators. Lion,Cheetah and Hyena are all common and,with a degree of luck, we may even find aLeopard lazing in a tree or a pack of WildDogs hurrying across the plains. Our holiday now reaches its conclusionwith a most comprehensive 4-dayexploration of the central Okavango Delta.We will visit a cross-section of the region'scomplex habitats and aim to see as manyof its bird and mammal species aspossible. Flying first to our 'wet' camp,situated in the heart of the Delta, we willexplore the permanent waters of the innerOkavango by 'mokoros', the traditionalcanoes of the Delta that are punted alongthe waterways by local boatmen; we willalso travel as much as possible on foot aswe explore the larger islands. This area ishome to Sitatunga and Red Lechwe, aswell as an abundant birdlife. Next wetransfer to a 'dry' camp where we willenjoy the rich variety of mammals thatfavour this part of the Delta. Lion, Leopard,Buffalo, Elephant and even Wild Dog areregularly seen here. Finally we must leavethe Delta behind and return to Maun forour onward flight to Johannesburg, andthen London. BotswanaA comprehensive 15-day wildlife adventure to Chobe National Park, Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Victoria Falls and a 4-day exploration by foot and by boat of the magnificent Okavango Delta.Friday 1st November - Friday 15th November Cost: £6,495 Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London. Day 2/3Livingstone and VictoriaFalls. Day 4/5 Chobe River, NorthernChobe. Day 6/7Savuti, Southern Chobe. Day 8/9Moremi Wildlife Reserve. Day 10/13Okavango Delta. Day 14Depart Maun. Day 15Arrive London.AccommodationFully serviced camping, Chobe andMoremi. First class lodges andpermanent tented camps,Okavango and Victoria Falls, mostwith private facilities.FoodAll included in the price, except forlunches and dinners in Livingstone.GradingDay walks in the concession areasof the Okavango Delta. Grade A.FocusBirds and mammals.LeaderA local naturalist.Single room/tentsupplement£995. Web quick search: BWA01160Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryNAMIBIANAMIBIAZAMBIAZIMBABWE'DRY' CAMPOKAVANGODELTAMAUNNXAI PANNATIONAL PARKMAKGADIKGADI PANSGAME RESERVEVICTORIAFALLSMOREMI WILDLIFERESERVECHOBENATIONAL PARKSERONDELLACHOBE RIVERSAVUTICHANNELOKAVANGO RIVER'WET'CAMPLAKE LIAMBEZILINYANTI RIVERLINYANTI SWAMPSCAPRIVI STRIP (NAMIBIA)MAKGADIKGADIPANSBOTSWANARed Lechwe, Okavango DeltaVictoria FallsWild Dog