page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68
page 69
page 70
page 71
page 72
page 73
page 74
page 75
page 76
page 77
page 78
page 79
page 80
page 81
page 82
page 83
page 84
page 85
page 86
page 87
page 88
page 89
page 90
page 91
page 92
page 93
page 94
page 95
page 96
page 97
page 98
page 99
page 100
page 101
page 102
page 103
page 104
page 105
page 106
page 107
page 108
page 109
page 110
page 111
page 112
page 113
page 114
page 115
page 116
page 117
page 118
page 119
page 120
page 121
page 122
page 123
page 124
page 125
page 126
page 127
page 128
page 129
page 130
page 131
page 132
page 133
page 134
page 135
page 136
page 137
page 138
page 139
page 140
page 141
page 142
page 143
page 144
page 145
page 146
page 147
page 148
page 149
page 150
page 151
page 152
page 153
page 154
page 155
page 156
page 157
page 158
page 159
page 160
page 161
page 162
page 163
page 164
page 165
page 166
page 167
page 168
page 169
page 170
page 171
page 172
page 173
page 174
page 175
page 176
page 177
page 178
page 179
page 180
page 181
page 182
page 183
page 184
page 185
page 186
page 187
page 188
page 189
page 190
page 191
page 192
page 193
page 194
page 195
page 196
page 197
page 198
page 199
page 200
page 201
page 202
page 203
page 204
page 205
page 206
page 207
page 208
page 209
page 210
page 211
page 212
page 213
page 214
page 215
page 216
page 217
page 218
page 219
page 220
page 221
page 222
page 223
page 224
page 225
page 226
page 227
page 228
page 229
page 230
page 231
page 232
page 233
page 234
page 235
page 236
page 237
page 238
page 239
page 240
page 241
page 242
page 243
page 244
page 245
page 246
page 247
page 248
page 249
page 250
page 251
page 252
page 253
page 254
page 255
page 256
page 257
page 258
page 259
page 260
page 261
page 262
page 263
page 264
page 265
page 266
page 267
page 268
page 269
page 270
page 271
page 272
page 273
page 274
page 275
page 276
page 277
page 278
page 279
page 280
page 281
page 282
page 283
page 284
page 285
page 286
page 287
page 288
page 289
page 290
page 291
page 292

The Republic of Seychelles is composedof a scattered archipelago of wonderfulislands in the equatorial western IndianOcean. Although the combined land area ofthe islands is small (only 455 squarekilometres), they hold an exceptional andincredibly diverse natural history, and thelarger granitic islands have a rugged andoften precipitous relief that accentuates theappeal of this unique country.On Mahe, by far the largest island, asinuous 30-kilometre spine of verdantpeaks rises spectacularly to 900 metres,above idyllic bays of clear, turquoise sea,beaches of shining white sand anddelightfully old-fashioned coconutplantations. High on the winding andpanoramic Sans Soucis road, and in theMorne Seychellois National Park, a richflora includes the strange, carnivorousSeychelles Pitcher Plant and SeychellesWild Orchid. Wild ginger, cardamon andphilodendron vines grow in the ditches andup the trees here, and in the mountain mistforests we may chance upon the endemicSeychelles Bulbul, the dazzling but highlyendangered endemic butterfly, the King ofthe Seychelles, or the elusive TigerChameleon. Our exploration of Mahe willalso take us to lovely beaches, pastCreole-style houses and tea plantations,and over the reefs at nearby MoyenneIsland. A roost of endemic Seychelles FruitBats is another highlight on Mahe, while onthe mudflats of Victoria many species ofmigrant shorebird congregate, amongthem the striking Crab Plover, PacificGolden Plover and other waders. By daythere will be the chance to roam amongspices such as Cloves, Patchouli and Nutmeg, enjoying their exotic scents to thefull, while at night we will search for theisland's interesting nocturnal inhabitants,among them the Seychelles Scops Owl.On Praslin we find an environment that isutterly unique. The Valle de Mai is the lastrelict of an ancient palm forest that oncecovered much of the islands. Walkingalong the narrow trails here induces aprofound sense of timelessness,augmented by the relative absence of birdsong. A variety of palms and the bizarrepalm-like pandanus create an eerie, thoughfascinating environment. Only theoccasional flock of endemic Black Parrots,weaving their way through the palmcrowns, reminds us that we are in amodern and not prehistoric age. Along theGlacis Noir Nature Trail, Takamaka Trees,Santol and the vulnerable Coco de Mer areamong the vegetation of interest; the latterproduces the largest seed in the world and,until the true source of the seed wasdiscovered in 1768, it was believed to growon a mythical tree at the bottom of the sea!Praslin will serve as a base from which tovisit the smaller granitic islands whichshelter vulnerable but still survivingpopulations of rare species such as theSeychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher andSeychelles Fody. From Praslin we will visitthe islands of Aride, Cousin, Curieuse, St.Pierre and La Digue. The former risesimpressively from the sea, cloaked in richwoodland with a fertile coastal plateau onthe south side and it is the picture of anidyllic tropical island. The wildlife here hasremained undisturbed for centuries and theisland is, arguably, the most important birdreserve in the Seychelles. It is host to morethan 750,000 pairs of 10 breeding seabirdspecies, including several thousand Greaterand Lesser Frigatebirds, and five speciesendemic to Seychelles, amongst them thevery rare Seychelles Magpie-robin. La Digueis the fourth largest of the granitic islandsand famous for its unique Seychelles BlackParadise Flycatcher, which can be seen inthe Veuve Special Reserve.Owned by the conservation organisationNature Seychelles, the tiny island ofCousin has provided a sanctuary for theSeychelles Warbler and efforts to protectthis species have certainly resulted insaving it from extinction. Some 250,000birds nest on the island each year, most of them seabirds, but among the othersare Seychelles Fody, Seychelles Sunbird,Seychelles Warbler and Seychelles TurtleDove. The reserve is also home to a widerange of other fauna, including skinks and giant tortoises. There will be opportunities for snorkelling for those who wish, and among the exciting potential underwaterdelights of these islands is the criticallyendangered Hawksbill Turtle, which nests in the Seychelles.On Bird Island the emphasis is on leisureand wildlife in whatever blend you fancy,making it the perfect location to round offour Seychelles holiday. White-tailedTropicbirds and Common Noddy nest onBird Island in large numbers and, thanks tocareful management practices, the islandhas seen a return of vast numbers of SootyTerns - about a million pairs at the lastcount! Fairy Terns, Lesser Noddy andGreen-backed Heron are all seen here,and Bird Island is also home to Esmerelda,the largest tortoise in the world! Together with the warm hospitality of thepeople and delicious seafood, this relaxing yet rewarding holiday in theseenchanting islands is sure to fulfil andexceed all expectations.The SeychellesA 14-day holiday in search of the unique birdlife and natural history of the mountains, forests and islands of the Seychelles.Tuesday 25th September - Monday 8th October 2012 Cost: £4,995Tuesday 24th September - Monday 7th October 2013 Cost: £5,195Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationINDIAN OCEANMAHE VICTORIAPRASLINCOUSINBIRDISLANDLA DIGUECURIEUSEARIDEOutline itineraryDay 1 Depart London.Day 2/5Mahe.Day 6/10Praslin; island visits.Day 11/13Bird Island.Day 14 Arrive London.AccommodationComfortable hotels with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy day walks only.FocusBirds and other wildlife.LeaderGemma Jesse.Single room supplement£425.Web quick search: SYC01167Saint Pierre Island, SeychellesFairy TernSeychellesGiant Tortoise

The arrival of South Africa's southernspring is marked by a carpet of wildflowers which blanket the westernpart of the country from the Cape to themountains and plains of Namaqualand tothe north. This spectacular show attractsbotanists from far and wide but few realisethat, a few months later, 1,600 kilometresfurther to the east, another remarkablefloral display erupts which, althoughlacking Namaqualand's feast of colour,contains a wealth of beautiful floweringplants set amongst some of thecontinent's most spectacular scenery. Thistour has been timed to appreciate thesewonderful alpine flowers at their best,taking in the lower slopes of thespectacular Drakensberg escarpment tothe highland region of Lesotho. From therewe descend to the grasslands and bush ofthe midlands for the region's summerflowers, concluding with a few days on the coast. We start our holiday with an overnightflight from London to Johannesburg. Onarrival we will meet our local guide anddrive a short distance to the SuikerbosrandNature Reserve in the highveld grasslandsjust outside the city. Here we will look forour first flowering herbs, as well as variousgrasses such as Sporobolusspecies andThemeda triandra. Next we travel to theRoyal Natal National Park and explore themagnificent natural amphitheatre formedby 1,000-metre high basalt cliffs whichtower over the softly appealing rocky spursof the Little Berg. Here we will explore thegrassland and forest patches of the TugelaRiver Valley in search of its abundantplant-life including the blues of Agapanthuscampanulatus, the whites and greens ofZantedeschia albomaculataand thestriking pinks of Hesperanthus grandiflora.We also expect to see Gurney's Sugarbirdfeeding on the nectar in the proteapatches. This is an exceptional area in allrespects. It is now time for us to depart on thescenic drive to Lesotho. Our route will takeus through the Golden Gate National Parkwhere we hope to find orchids such asDisa stachyoidesand Disa versicolor.Crossing into Lesotho itself we will startascending a spectacular pass to arrive atthe small town of Oxbow - altitude 2,600metres - and our base for the next twonights. We are now well into the alpinezone and with virtually no one else in sight,we spend our time searching for suchfloral gems as Moraea alticola,Gazaniakrebsiana,Erica cooperiand Phygeliusaequalis. The Red-hot Poker (Kniphofiacaulescens) patches will be alive withbirds, in particular the flashing green of theMalachite Sunbirds visiting the massdisplay of red and yellow flowers, whilstoverhead soaring Jackal Buzzards areoften seen. From Oxbow we will continue ourexploration of Lesotho. At Mokhotlong wewill visit a colony of Southern Bald Ibis andonce on the Sani Pass we will stop to lookat pincushion plants such as Helichrysummarginatum. Boggy areas provide theirown special plants and for thebirdwatchers in the group, localspecialities include Orange-breastedRockjumper and Drakensberg Siskin. Thedescent down Sani Pass must rank as oneof the most spectacular roads in thecontinent and we plan to walk most of the12 kilometres down to the border post, asthere are many fine flowers to be seen.Cyrtanthus stenanthus,Kniphofia laxiflora,several pineapple plants (Eucomisspp.)and pink Watsonia confusawill be some ofthe species to look for. Ground Woodpeckeroccurs here too, although a sighting of thiselusive bird will be a real treat!We now leave the mountains behind anddescend to the midlands town of Howick.Here we will spend a day at Umgeni ValleyNature Reserve, where the Brunsvigiaonthe grassland slopes form pinktumbleweed inflorescences and are wellworth seeing. There are numerous othergrassland species here and below thecliffs, Cycads and Dracaenasare alsopresent. Several species of antelope occurhere and Black Eagles nest nearby too. The final part of our holiday takes us downto the coastal dune forests around PortEdward. Here we will search for the FlameLily (Gloriosa superba) and visit theUmtamvuna Nature Reserve, which holdsmany endemic species and is part of thePondoland Complex - a centre of highbiodiversity. Species such as Tridactylebicordata, an orchid epiphytic on rocks,Bulbine natalensis,Sopubia simplexandGnidia cuneatashould all be found, whilston a nearby estuary birds such as Piedand Malachite Kingfishers, Water Dikkopand various waders can be seen. After acouple of restful nights at a hoteloverlooking this estuary we will take aleisurely drive back to Durban for ourreturn flight home. Flowers of South Africa'sDrakensberg MountainsA 14-day tour in search of the plants and animal-life of South Africa's spectacular DrakensbergMountains, the Royal Natal National Park and coasts around Port Edward.Tuesday 15th January - Monday 28th January Cost: £3,995Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Johannesburg.Day 3/4Drakensberg.Day 5/6Oxbow/Lesotho.Day 7Sani Top.Day 8Sani Bottom.Day 9/10Howick.Day 11/12Port Edward.Day 13Depart Durban.Day 14Arrive London.AccommodationComfortable guesthouses,mountain chalets and hotels, allwith private facilities.FoodAll meals are included except forlunches. Allow £150. GradingB. Day walks only. FocusPlants (primarily), though birds andmammals will be seen.LeadersMaureen Ponting and JeremyExelby.Single room supplement£295.Web quick search: ZAF02168Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryBOTSWANANAMIBIAZIMBABWENAMAQUALANDLANGEBAANWEST COASTNATIONALPARKCAPE TOWNSANI PASSDURBANOXBOW LODGEHOWICKNATAL NATIONAL PARKDRAKENSBERGMOUNTAINSMAPUTALANDCOASTAL FORESTRESERVESWAZILANDKRUGERNATIONALPARKJOHANNESBURGHÉIDELBERGINDIAN OCEANATLANTIC OCEANSOUTH AFRICAPORT EDWARDLESOTHOWatsonia confusaDrakensberg MountainsMusician above Sani Pass