African Bird Watching
Bird watching, or birding, is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, by listening for bird sounds, or by watching public webcams.
Bird watching often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods.
Bird Watching is an activity that allows birders to explore a diverse range of habitats. We have some great ideas on destinations that you may consider for the best bird watching experience. We however would like to customize a unique experience for you, one that will suit your safari needs.
Speak to one of our knowledgeable consultants in order to get the best of our birding experience advice.
There are over 900 species of birds in southern Africa, many of which can be seen to great advantage in the more popular game viewing areas but, if you’re particularly interested in birds, there are a few spots you shouldn’t miss.
These include the Nylsvlei Wetland, in Limpopo Province, and the wetlands of the West Coast, including Langebaan Lagoon, Rocher Pan, and VerlorenVlei. The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is also home to a number of interesting waterfowl, as is Botswana’s Okavango Delta, the Bangweulu Swamp in Zambia, and the wetlands near Walvis Bay in Namibia. And, if you’re into seabirds, you could see lots in many places along the 3,000km coastline but Cape Town offers the greatest variety, as well as the very real chance of spotting a number of Antarctic vagrants.
South Africa is arguably so far the top bird-watching destination in Africa. Bird Life in South Africa is a good place to start. Find out about the Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) – the estimated population of the species in Southern Africa is 1322 individuals, so this species has a high probability of extinction in years to come.
While in Namibia, it is easy to foray briefly into Botswana to see Pel’s fishing owl, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds, Slaty Egret, a Botswana near-endemic, and tons more, in the nearby panhandle of the Okavango Delta. And, since you’re so close to one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls, Victoria Falls, a 2-day foray to this site either from the Zambian or Zimbabwean side is very worthwhile and will anyway add lots of new birds to your burgeoning list. We recommend something like an 18-days tour to bird Namibia/the Okavango/Victoria Falls. Botswana is the “Gabon” of southern Africa – expensive, not all that strategic for birds (after you’ve spent a couple of days there tacked onto your Namibian tour), but absolutely brilliant for those into general wildlife viewing and photography rather than just birds.
By birding Tanzania, you’ll add a host of East African endemics, and also most of the 20 country endemics.
You can also see your first Miombo (south-central African) endemic birds in Tanzania. And, you’ll see a great many of Africa’s big (and small) animals, along with some of the continent’s most famous sites. These include the Great Rift Valley and its flamingo-filled lakes, the Serengeti with its relatively easy to see Big Cats & Wildebeest migration,Ngorongoro Crater and last but not least, Kiliminjaro, one of the world’s biggest isolated Mountain.
- Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Combine your birding experience with a Gorilla Trekking safari. Your time here will be enough to generate the essential Ugandan birds (Shoebill, The Albertine Rift endemics, Green-breasted Pitta, etc.) plus mammals (especially Gorillas and Chimps but the country also has magnificent Colobus Monkeys and more).
Time spent in Uganda would certainly not be wasted! In this little country called “The Pearl of Africa” you’ll find the people fluent in English and even friendlier than in other parts of Africa, and you’ll also see the Albertine (or Western) Rift, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the source of the Nile at Jinja, Africa’s biggest lake (Victoria) and vast Papyrus Swamps inhabited by Shoebill, a monstrous birds placed by some authorities in its own order because it’s so different from any other species on earth.
Kenya has a more than 1,000 species of birds in a vast variety of habitats. The big variety of birds is made possible by lack of climatic extremes. Kenya straddles the equator and has only two seasons, wet and dry. In the northern latitudes huge numbers of birds migrate southwards to avoid the harsh winter. From as far east as the Bering Straits and as far west as the northern tip of Norway, they come in their millions to East Africa. It has been estimated that 6 billion birds make the journey each year. Add the visiting birds to the incredible variety of local birds, and you have an ornithological paradise. Birding is mostly done in the following areas.