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Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris

Features Animals
Nelspruit, South Africa
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About Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris
We are a tour / safari operating company, based in South Africa, offering day and multi-day tours and safaris. Our day tours cover local attractions such as the Panorama Route and Kruger National Park, while overnight tours cover most of Southern Africa and select destinations in East Africa - see our website for our exciting set-departure birding and wildlife safaris. We have been in business for nearly 30 years, starting out in 1990 as South Africa's first dedicated birding safari company. Today we are natural-history specialists, offering top-class birding, wildlife and photography tours and safaris. So consider us for your next (or first!) African birding, wildlife or photography safari - "You'll want to return to Africa with us time and time again"!
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WRR wrote a review 7 Aug
56 contributions
+1
We just completed a one month bird tour with Lawson’s Bird and Wildlife Safaris and the experience was excellent from start to finish. The level of client commitment and personalized service was outstanding. Mavourneen was a pleasure to deal with. Her response time was nearly instantaneous, answered all our questions, and helped us design a private tour that exactly fit our needs. The lodgings she chose were superb and we felt safe the entire trip. Our guide, Leon Marais, is an incredibly talented birder. His knowledge of South African birds is phenomenal, as is his knowledge of the plants and other animals. Leon was exceptional at finding the birds and getting us great looks and photographs. We have gone on bird tours before and come home with a huge bird list only to ask ourselves when going over the list, “did we really see that bird?” Not so with Leon. We felt like we really learned the birds and were able to get quality pictures of most of them. All told, we saw over 400 species of birds and were able to obtain decent photos of over 300 of them — an exceptional list for an off-season bird tour. Also, unless you are a serious lister, don’t be afraid to visit South Africa in the off-season. Sure we missed out on a few migrants, and a few of the birds weren’t in breeding plumage, but the weather was outstanding and we were able to bird all day without having to rush back to our air-conditioned rooms to beat the heat. Also, the parks we visited were virtually deserted. We may have seen ten other cars total in De Hoop Nature Reserve, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and Table Mountain National Park combined. In De Hoop Nature Reserve, for example, the Ostriches outnumbered the cars 10 to one. This overall sense of seclusion really enhanced our overall experience. In addition to the birds, the mammals of South Africa are extraordinary. We saw seven different leopards, including two very young cubs. We saw packs of wild dogs on six different days, including one day getting to see them hunt. We saw many lions on many days, with the added treat of watching a group of young males on a buffalo they had just taken down, and then the next days watching two older dominant males appear and take charge. If you are thinking of taking a trip to South Africa, whether you want to see birds, big game, or incredible scenery, we highly recommend Lawson’s Bird and Wildlife Safaris.
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Date of experience: May 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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23kmcm wrote a review Apr 2022
Gill, Massachusetts18 contributions8 helpful votes
My daughter and I had a wonderful trip with Lawsons Tours. Everyone I interacted with was professional and eager to make our trip spectacular. Prior to our arrival all our questions were promptly answered. Once we arrived our guide, Gavin was so knowledgeable and easy to be with. He was attentive and willing to make adjustments to accommodate our interests. We had a GREAT time! There is so much to see and learn. Thank you! I highly recommend Lawsons.
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Date of experience: March 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Leon M, Owner at Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris
Responded 28 Apr 2022
Thank you so much for the lovely review, we are so pleased that you enjoyed your experience with us.
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RLaurenceDavis wrote a review Mar 2022
Wentworth, New Hampshire129 contributions69 helpful votes
From the first time I contacted Lawson's to the feedback questionaire after the trip, everything was marked by an incredible level of service, professionalism, great listening skills, and a desire to cater to my interests. While most of the trips that Lawson's runs will be for birders or wildlife enthusiasts, I wanted that and something a bit different-some geology (since I'm a geologist). The team at Lawson's, and especially my guide, Leon Marais, went way out of their way to provide me with exactly what I was hoping for. Accommodations were more than adequate. Food was nourishing and fine (not a highlight-but not supposed to be). They were good enough so that I was well rested. Most importantly, we not only saw most of the "critters" out there in Kruger National Park, but also visited some incredible sites of geological interest. When they say "custom" they mean it. They don't just select from a group of pre-packaged tours but actually create one expressly for you with plenty of room for your input along the way. All of this for a very reasonable price. I've heard the old saw "service, price, quality, pick any two" but Lawson's gives you all three! Other reviews talk about Leon's incredible vision and abilities to spot even the most highly camouflaged bird or animal. I can verify that. I told him that I was interested in everything and he was able to spot, point out, and stop for me to photograph everything from elephants, to lions, to wild dogs, to turtles, to chameleons, to skinks, to dung beetles, all the while providing me with lots of information about their habits, their niches and the ecosystems around them. Our vehicle also had special camera "rests" on both sides so that I could hold my camera steady to get those good shots with a long lens. I did not notice these on any other of the Safari vehicles I saw. Just another example of Lawson's attention to detail that sets them apart. Leon was extremely patient with all my questions about what I was seeing (and there were a lot of them) and so the trip went way beyond the "oh look, there's a lion" to a real lesson in African Grassland Ecology along with a good dose of the difficulties of wildlife and park management. Note that all this is coming from a lifelong educator and retired university geology professor who lead dozens of field trips himself during his long career. Don't know if I'll be able to afford to go back (or if my lifespan will allow for it), but I sure would love to. There's so much more to see and I know that the people at Lawson's can (and will) show it to me.
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Date of experience: March 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Leon M, Owner at Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris
Responded 4 Apr 2022
Thanks Dr Davis, it was our pleasure to host you here in South Africa, and we are so pleased you had such a good time. Thanks for your review.
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Debra R wrote a review Oct 2021
17 contributions
+1
My family (six of us) traveled to South Africa for a two week exclusive tour with Lawson's Custom Safaris. Our trip was fabulous. Lawson's was very responsive to our questions, offering thoughtful options on how to organize our trip. We decided split our time between the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands. It was wonderful to see the big vistas in the Kruger and the wider variety of wildlife, and then to end our trip in Sabi Sands with a close up, off-road view of lions, leopards, rhinos, etc. We started each sunrise with a welcomed cup of hot coffee (or drink) and a rusk. Our guide in Kruger was Leon Marais. Not only was he an excellent spotter and extremely knowledgeable of all kinds of wildlife but also very personable and flexible. To boot, Leon is an accomplished photographer and helped us to set up good compositions with the best light. Mark and Ronald were our tour guides in Idube Game Reserve and, equally excellent. They were incredible spotters and also found the best positions for us to take great shots. The entire staff at Idube was also incredibly friendly and helpful. My whole family enjoyed all of them very much. Additionally it was fun to interact with the other guests at the places we stayed. Lawson's is a local South African tour agency that knows Southern Africa (Namibia, Cape Town, Kenya, etc) very well. We plan to return to the area and will for sure use them again, and can highly recommend them.
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Date of experience: August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Leon M, Owner at Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris
Responded 8 Oct 2021
Thanks Debra! We really enjoyed hosting your group here in SA, and look forward to a return visit.
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ddcampbell53 wrote a review Sep 2021
Toledo, Ohio11 contributions3 helpful votes
+1
I have just returned from a safari arranged and guided by Leon Marais. From the very start of the planning process to the final detail to get us on our way home, Leon and his staff handled every detail with the utmost care and professionalism. He listened to our wants, made recommendations and guided us every step through Kruger National Park. Coffee was served as the sun was rising every morning and we were on our way as the gates opened. A mid-day rest was welcome but we were always anxious for our evening drives arriving back at camp just prior to closing. Another plus for our group was Leon’s photography knowledge. He understood working with the light and always positioned our vehicle for the best available photo option. Always checking the sighting boards and through conversations with rest camp guests, Leon learned where we could have opportunities of seeing a pack of wild dogs or hyenas on a carcass. Our safari ended with 4 days at Idube Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sands also arranged by Lawson’s Safari. This gave us a whole new level of safari as our Ranger and Tracker took us off road in search of lions, leopards, rhinos and other more difficult to find mammals. The accommodations, food, guides and staff were excellent. All in all, the total custom safari arranged by Lawson’s safari far exceeded my expectations and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I can’t wait to return for another safari experience with Lawson’s Safari.
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Date of experience: August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Response from Leon M, Director at Lawson's Birding, Wildlife & Custom Safaris
Responded 4 Oct 2021
Thanks Donna, we appreciate the great review, and look forward to hosting you in Africa again someday!
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