andBeyond has partnered with optics manufacturer SWAROVSKI OPTIK to create a selection of specialised itineraries that have been designed specifically to cater for birding fanatics while also providing an outstanding travel experience for their non-birding companions.
Specially curated for couples where one is an avid bird-watcher and the other is not, the five limited-edition set departure journeys explore some of the best birding and scenic destinations across three continents. Travellers are accompanied by specialised birding guides who will provide keen birdwatchers with the opportunity to expand their knowledge. At the same time, non-birders can delve deep into each destination with a variety of experiences that immerse them in local culture, spectacular wildlife and unforgettable natural wonders.
“We have often come up against a situation in our lodges where very avid birders find themselves travelling with or sharing a safari vehicle with partners who do not have the same fascination with the feathered world,” said Nicole Robinson, andBeyond CMO.
“Our guides are trained to deal with this and to balance the needs of our guests to ensure that everyone remains happy. It was a natural step from there to create a range of itineraries that are specifically designed to satisfy groups of travellers that include both birding fanatics and their partners, who are simply looking for an exceptional travel experience.
..It was a natural step from there to create a range of itineraries that are specifically designed to satisfy groups of travellers that include both birding fanatics and their partners…
“Lots of people who are very passionate about birding have partners who might not share that passion to the same extent. A lot of the birding tour operators are just looking at focussed birding trips, which don’t offer the nonbirding partner anything other than the opportunity to tag along. Here we are looking at a well-curated experience where both partners have a wonderful vacation together,” adds Dale Forbes. Head of Strategic Business Development at SWAROVSKI OPTIK.
Launched as part of andBeyond’s 30-year anniversary celebrations, the itineraries explore some of the world’s key birding hotspots and are all designed for travel in 2022 or 2023.
Beyond Average Birding in South Africa combines the cosmopolitan and scenic attractions of Cape Town with Big Five safari in KwaZulu-Natal, all while exploring some of the country’s best-known birding destinations.
In Cape Town, avid birders can set out in search of pelagic species, explore the birdlife of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and scour the coastline in search of a variety of birdlife. Non-birders can choose between whale watching and shark cage diving, explore historical sites such as Robben Island and enjoy the city’s many other attractions. At andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, birding fans can combine thrilling game drives with specialised birding trips that target the reserve’s diverse landscapes in search of some of its 411 bird species. Partners have the option to go scuba diving or snorkelling at nearby Sodwana Bay, set out in search of nesting turtles on the beach, explore the local Zulu community or find out more about the reserve’s exciting conservation work on a rhino, elephant or pangolin experience. Departing in November 2022, this nine-night adventure starts from ZAR 123 000 per person.
Highlighting the iconic landscapes and birdlife of Ecuador, the Beyond Average Birding in Ecuador itinerary travels from the depths of the Amazon to the Galápagos Islands. Over 600 bird species can be found in the rainforests for the Napo Wildlife Centre, where birders can spend time in the canopy observation towers, set out in search of sightings on the lake or river by canoe and hike through the dense vegetation to the best observation spots. Non-birders will spend time getting to know the traditions of the local Kichwa Community, taking part in some of their rituals. Travelling to the famed Galápagos, guests will explore the islands on board a private charter yacht, getting to know the unique birdlife and landscapes of this unusual destination. From swimming and snorkelling among the exceptional marine species to walking trails within Darwin’s living laboratory, there is no shortage of opportunities for an in-depth glimpse into the marvel of nature. Travelling in February 2023, this 10-night experience is available from US$9,485 per person.
Travelling in February 2023, the Beyond Average Birding in Sri Lanka itinerary explores a range of ideal birding destinations that include mangroves and wetlands, as well as protected areas in the country’s highlands and lowlands. Birders enjoy the opportunity to spot many of Sri Lanka’s endemic species, as well as winter migrants from Central Asia and the Himalaya. In the meantime, their non-birding companions can explore thriving markets and fascinating cultural sites, thrill to the challenge of white water rafting and whale watching, explore thriving tea estates and set out in search of Sri Lanka’s fascinating wildlife in Yala National Park. This 10-night adventure begins from US$6,560 per person.
Exploring a different aspect of the Asian continent, Beyond Average Birding in Bhutan seeks out a diversity of Himalayan bird species while offering an array of cultural, spiritual and wellness activities. A variety of walking trails offer opportunities for birding in Bhutan’s lush valleys, across its mountain passes and along the banks of its rivers. Meanwhile, non-birders can explore the vibrant cultural highlights of the country, from arts and crafts to exquisite religious sites and breath-taking landscapes. This itinerary travels in March 2023 and is priced from US$8,595 per person for nine nights.
Another experience that combines birding and safari is the Beyond Average Birding in Botswana journey, which ventures from the Chobe River to the famed Okavango Delta. A paradise for birdwatchers, guests can immerse themselves in these two watery destinations, both of which attract a wealth of both resident and migrant bird species. Their travelling companions enjoy the opportunity for a selection of wildlife safaris from many different vantage points, from a photographic safari on a specially adapted riverboat to walking trails and dugout canoe trips in the Delta, as well as an optional scenic helicopter flight over the waterways. Scheduled for May 2023, this eight-night adventure begins from US$11,900.
Each of these set departure itineraries travels in groups of ten to twelve people and is accompanied by a specialist birding guide. In addition, guests benefit from the opportunity to choose their favourite SWAROVSKI OPTIK binoculars from a selection of three of their latest models. Travellers will trial the binoculars throughout their trip and will have the option to purchase and keep them at the end of the journey. A special edition Guides’ Journal created by &Beyond and featuring destination information, maps and wildlife illustrations will also arrive before the journey, allowing plenty of time for the anticipation to build ahead of the trip.
For more on the birding experiences, log on to the Beyond Average Birding with SWAROVSKI page on andBeyond.com.