TOP BIRD WATCHING DESTINATIONS IN AFRICA
The top African bird watching destinations for twitchers. Birding in Africa is so diverse and it’s done in the most scenic destinations of southern and East African countries. The first time traveller’s shouldn’t miss out on these fantastic destinations.
South Africa Birding
This is the most known country for the first time travelers to Africa and it’s an amazing country with variety of mountains, white and sand beaches and as well as wildlife. It’s known that the experience here is so wonderful and the birders always return as often as they can. These return even though they have seen all the bird species found in the area. This country is so big and it takes several weeks of birding to get sighting these spectacular bird species. This is usually the big excuse for most of those visitors that return to South Africa for birding.
This country has got the big five (BIG 5) animals and variety of smaller mammals. The Zulu land game reserve and the Kruger National Park have got variety of these small mammals. Deciding to have a 2 week birding tour that starts from Durban and ending in Johannesburg, you will be able to see all the mammals as well as the 400 bird species found in this area. By adding the cape, you will view the over 150 bird species as well as the whale and many more.
South Africa is not so expensive and you can bird the whole country on a self-drive tour. The country has got variety of friendly and comfortable Bed and Breakfast lodges and Hotels. In order to enjoy yourself drive, it’s better to link up with a birding tour operator with in the country. In case you like to read about the different parts of South Africa that you need to cover, there are many itineraries on the website that can help you, and for those interested in seeing the big mammals and the birds, a visit to the Kruger Escarpment area will give you the best experience ever!
The best alternative to enjoy South Africa, is to have a week safari in Tanzania. This is also a good country to visit if you give it at least 2.5 weeks if possible. By birding in Tanzania, you will enjoy variety of East African Endemics and almost over 20 endemics in the country. The famous birding destinations include Selous birding, Ruaha, Serengeti, Mahale, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Gombe, Tarangire, Arusha and Katavi. You will as well get chance to see your first Miombo (the south central African) endemic bird species with in Tanzania. Within Tanzania, get chance to view the country’s small and large animals along with the most beautiful famous tourist sites. Some of these sites include; Serengeti with its big cats and the Annual Migration of the zebras and wildebeests, the Great Rift Valley and the many Flamingo- filled lakes, the great Ngorongoro crater and the Kilimanjaro, which is one of the world’s most isolated massive mountain and it’s one of Africa’s highest mountain that rises straight out of the plains of wildlife below to the height of 19,341ft above the sea level.
Birding in Uganda
As you plan to explore Africa for your birding safari, a 12 day Uganda safari will help you enjoy most of the bird species found in Africa. You will get chance to encounter the shoebill stork, and the albertine rift endemics, as well as he green breasted Pitta. The mammals to be enjoyed here include; the Gorillas and the chimpanzees. The country is also famous for the beautiful colobus monkeys and many more. Choosing to have 19 days spent for your safari in Uganda, you will get chance to meet people that are fluent in English and also friendlier than in the other parts of Africa. You will get chance to see the great Albertine or the western rift, the famous Bwindi Impenetrable national park that is famous for the mountain gorillas, the mighty source of the Nile found at Jinja, the biggest lake called lake Victoria as well as the papyrus swamps that are well famous for the Shoebill stork, which is the most monstrous bird that is placed by many authorities in its order since it’s so different from any other species of bird on earth.
Cameroon Birders Paradise
Looking to bird in West Africa, Cameroon should be on your list of countries to visits since it has got variety of birds to feed your eyes. West Africa is known to be rougher than southern or eastern Africa and you will find more basic accommodation, however, with the birding sites, you are in the right place. The Cameroon birding tour will give you adequate comfort level including the hot water showers in case you join a good organised birding tour. Cameroon is the best known starter country in West Africa, this is because you will see all the country endemics as well as the wide spread West African rain forest species and many of the sahelian birds. If you are one of the world birders, you will also need to visit the upper Guinea Forest to be able to view more bird species.
Ghana is also the best country to visit for birding in West Africa, this is because the local guides here have laid out the birds more than any other country in Africa. The country is an English speaking country and is so easy to visit. This country is historically rich but you will be bothered by its domination of memories of slave trade. This country is not strenuous than Cameroon and if you ever chose to bird in any West African country, Ghana Got it all with lots of bird species.
The other West African country that is highly recommended is Gabon. This country has got the lowland Gorilla, the Mandrills, which are West Africa’s best big mammals as well as the large diversity of birds, which you cannot find in both Ghana and Cameroon. This country is also pricey and those interested in wildlife chose it since it has got variety of small and big mammals. The two of Africa’s richest islands known for the endemic birds are found with in Gabon’s offshore territory, these are Sao Tome and Principe. There are many exciting birds that can be found here than anywhere in the whole world.
This is also a must visit country in Africa due to its uniqueness, it has got the world’s oldest desert including the highest sand dunes in the whole world. These have got spectacular red colour, the other sand dunes come down the sea and the rugged desert mountains that are along the Namibian Escarpment, Rhinos and the desert elephants , it has also got one of the world’s greatest game parks; the Estosha National Park. This country has also got variety of bird species that are not found in any other part of the world and it’s also adjacent to Angola.
As you tour Namibia, you can pass by Botswana in order to see the Pel’s fishing Owl, which is one of Africa’s most liked bird, the Slaty Egret, which is an endemic specie and many more that are found in the panhandle of the great Okavango Delta. You will also be close to one of the beautiful and impressive water falls called Victoria Falls, having a 2 day to this site either from Zimbabwe or Zambia side is so worthwhile and will make you view many birds in this area. An 18 day birding day tour will make you adventure and explore Namibia, the Okavango and the Victoria falls. Those most interested in wildlife are welcome to this beautiful country since it’s filled with both small and large mammals. Namibia is also the “Gabon of southern Africa since it’s expensive and it’s not so good for bird watching.
Birding in Ethiopia
This country is so open and so watching the birds is so easy and it’s also not difficult to get list of Ethiopia birds totalling to over 550 species within 3 weeks of your safari. This country has also got a ton of endemic species and many of these can be found in and around Addis Ababa. This country is also home to one of the next African bird that is believed to be in nearing extinct, the Liben (SIDAMO) Lark , which lives a single football sized arid grassland that is under pressure from the cattle that over grazes especially the horrid droughts that the horn of Africa experiences. There is an entire genus that could run extinct and the only other species in Liben lark’s are the Archer’s Lark found in Ethiopia and is known to be extinct and the other is Rudd’s Lark found in south Africa and this one is critically endangered.
Madagascar Birders Hub
This magnificent Island could have been Africa’s Number one birding destination, this is because it’s so unique and we call it “the Eighth Continent”. This Island is so separated from the rest of the African continent and needs to be birded by any interested birder. This island is also full of other wildlife like many endemic mammal families and the Lemurs are the most famous and charismatic, the area is also full of chameleons and many other species. You will enjoy birding in the Baobab- dotted spiny forests, the remote tropical beaches and in the stone forest of Tsingy. This country is sometimes quiet with bird watching. The country has also got fewer species of birds than anywhere else, some bird species found here include; the Helmet Vanga, the ground roller and the Black and white Ruffed Lemur as well as the dancing sifaka . With these, you will be unable to forget this experience for the rest of your life. You will be able to enjoy this excellent taste of the Island in 14 days and also see most of the island’s birds. The Long tailed ground roller also represents an entire genus which is endemic to the small part of the south western Madagascar.
Malawi or Zambia
These two countries are not known but they are good destinations for bird watching as well as the African Mega Fauna. South central Africa has also got many endemic birds and a few of them is restricted to only one country. Zambia as a country is known as a single country for finding the greatest bird species, and Malawi, Zimbabwe as well Mozambique, these countries are also good areas for bird watching. Zambia birding trips often highlight the famous for the shoebill stork after Uganda. Also the African Pitta is a most desirable bird and its breeding ground is found in the Zambezi River catchment of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi as well as Mozambique.
Central African Republic
The Sangha Lodge located in Central African Republic has opened up to birders as well as the low land gorilla trekkers. When you are planning to visit this country, be ready to enjoy those two activities. In the past years, this country was so inaccessible, but in the present years, the new lodge provides a safe and fair realistic better option. Since this country was unbirded until recently, it’s not also surprising that you can find avian discoveries that are being made here at a high rate. These include; the picathartes and the African Piculet and many other West African species that are being found many miles in the east than what is expected. You might also discover the new bird to science in case you visit a place called the Odzala camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its amazing option to consider for a safari.
Northern Botswana also consists of many vast tracts of the untouched wilderness with variety of wildlife. The country also encompasses of two environments including; the Kalahari and the watery Okavango. Here you will understand why bird watching in Botswana is as good as it seems. This Okavango Delta is an ultimate destination for birding with in Botswana. This place is best visited after the rains around October and may get chance to view many species including; the wattled crane, slaty egret, and the lesser Jacana. The birders can also watch birds in the Chobe National park and the many undisturbed wilderness. The Herons and the larks are also two well represented bird families located in Botswana. It has got no endemic bird species, however, the birders will always reach out for several specialities including; the groups of the southern pied babblers, hartlaub’s babblers, brown fire finch, swamp boubou and the melodious larks.
Kenya is a known destination for bird watching throughout the year. The geographical ranges give Kenya various climates as well as landscapes, which leads to the highest numbers of bird species in the country. This country also holds the world record of bird watch with over 342 species that can be seen in 24 hours. More so, between February and October, there are many migrant birds that come to Kenya’s marine and in to the in land shorelines. You will find many swallows, waders as well as terns in this area. Between June and July, the weavers and the bishops are breeding plumage and there are many southern African migrants that visit the country.
In addition, Kenya;s national parks make very excellent centres for bird watching in Kenya, the maasai Mara famous for the rosy throated Long claw and the magpie shrike, the Samburu is common for the rare sun bird and the pink breasted lark, Nairobi is also good for the northern pied babbler and the great pangani long claw. The country has also got many endemic species including; the Aberdare cisticola, the Tara river cisticola, William;’s lark, Hinde’s pied babbler, sharpe’s pipit as well as the Clarke’s weaver. Kenya’s diverse range of habitants supports a great diversity of birds which makes bird watching safaris rewarding in Kenya.
Mozambique is over 2000km from the north to the south. It is also a lush and varied country with birding good along the Indian Ocean coastline. There are also coastal migrant waders which are found in the south and the ornithological records of the bays and the islands in the north are also still incomplete. Bird watching here offers a chance to view beautiful species including; the endangered Thyolo alethe, striking red and blue double collared sun birds, the white tailed blue flycatcher and many more. The other colourful and popular species include; the tiny greenbul, mangrove kingfisher as well as the olive headed weaver.
The most birding highlight of southern Mozambique is the Gorongosa National Park, with open woodlands, seasonal wetlands and the grasslands. This place has got many great sightings of birds including; the crowned cranes, vocal Burchell’s coucal and the red necked spurfowl.in the north, the Quirimbus Archipelago has remained untouched and a special interest to the keen birders. The ornithological records are constantly being updates with the new sightings recorded every time.
Bird watching in Rwanda is so overlooked in favour of the mountain gorillas. Bird watching here is so excellent and it gives visitors the chance to view some of the endemic bird species. Rwanda has got over 600 species, and it’s a mazing for a small country making it a great birding destination. The main area here for bird watching is the vast forest of Nyungwe National Park and it’s recognised as an IBA meaning an important Bird Area by the Bird Life International. Rwanda’s endemics also include; Collared apalis, the grauer’s , Albertine owlet, red collared mountain babbler and the Neumann’s warblers.
The famous papyrus swamps of Akagera National park are also common for the shoebill stork in Africa.
Even though Zimbabwe doesn’t have any endemic species, it’s still a great destination for birds. Bird watching safaris in this country would be good during the rainy season of Oct to March since then food is much, and the migrants are around as well as many species in breeding plumage. The specialties here include; the Taita Falcon, and the Angola Pitta. There are over 650 bird species that are recorded in Zimbabwe and 8 of the 10 families endemic to the African mainland.
The key destinations for birding watching in this country include; the famous dry Kalahari areas of Hwange National Park, the rocky shores of Lake Kariba, the lush rain forests in the tiny Victoria falls national park and the Mana pools National park mainly known for the walking safaris and also birding that varies from massive goliath herons to the indecent Shelley’s sun birds.
This is also a disparate group of islands, and some are granite, coralline and located around the equatorial Indian Ocean, along a range of many kilometres. You can come birding in the Island and see a handful of rare endemics that came here and some large colonies of the Ocean going birds. These Islands have got 2 endemic bird species including; Seychelles blue pigeon; the Seychelles black parrot (the national bird of the Seychelles); Seychelles scops owl; Seychelles sunbird; Seychelles magpie robin; Seychelles warbler; Seychelles white-eye; Seychelles fody, Seychelles swiftlet; Seychelles bulbul, and Seychelles black paradise flycatcher. There are also sources that recognise the Seychelles turtle dove as endemic on this Island.
Just in the interior of the Islands, there is the Indian Myna, bright Madagascar fody also known as the Red Cardinal Fody, the Zebra Dove and these are the common birds seen here. The other bird species to look for while birding in Seychelles include; dazzling white fairy terns, white-tailed tropicbirds, and the Beautiful red-tailed fairy terns. The Bird Island is the highlight of bird watching in the Seychelles and in 1986, the owners of this Island declared it as a wildlife sanctuary for its huge breeding colony of the sooty terns. Apart from birding at the island, the birders can also view the sea, shores and the land birds that breed on the Island.