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Africa is a fantastic continent for a birdwatching holiday, as the range of environments make for a hugely diverse bird population. The geographical range is vast, with montane forests, wetlands, marshes, deserts and coastlines on both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. With a range of African and country-specific endemics, as well as migrant birds which visit to breed and ‘summer’ in the southern hemisphere, birdwatching in Africa is packed full of variety.
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.
With a range of endemic bird species, Tanzania is a great location for a birdwatching holiday. A tremendous amount of ornithological research has been carried out here in the past twenty years, which has hugely increased the information and resources for bird watching in Tanzania. Come for great endemics, near-endemics and speciality birds.
The changes suggested by ongoing research make listing an exact number of endemics difficult. Some sources suggest around 22-23, whilst others split into sub-species and suggest as many as 34. A handful of spectacular endemic birds that most sources agree on include: the Udzungwa forest-partridge; Mrs Moreau's warbler; Loveridge's sunbird; and the Usambara eagle-owl. Birding in Tanzania is not only recommended for endemism. Over 1000 species have been recorded here and birders in Tanzania will love the range of environments and the sheer variety of birds to be seen on a safari holiday.
South Africa has the highest number of endemic bird species in mainland Africa. Birding in the Cape is particularly good due to the sheer variety of flora found in the Cape Floristic Region. Furthermore, as many South Africans are keen birdwatchers, the resources about birds and information available are usually excellent. The flora of the Cape is particularly special because South Africa is the meeting point of two of the world's six floral kingdoms; the paleotropical and the capensis (Cape Floristic Region). The Cape Floristic Region is the smallest floral kingdom in the world; it's the only one to be contained entirely within one country. Around 9,000 plant species grow here, and roughly 69% of those are endemic. This variety and level of endemism of flora is mirrored in a spectacular array of birdlife.
For a good example of the Cape Floristic Region, look to De Hoop Nature Reserve where you will find the 'fynbos' ('fine-bush') shrub-lands which are so characteristic of this region. The endemics here include many 'fynbos specials' - like the Cape siskin, Cape sugarbird and the Hottentot button quail. De Hoop is just one of many great Cape destinations for a birdwatching holiday in South Africa. For vegetation and birds more typical of the rest of Africa, head to the Kgalagadi Trans-frontier National Park, in the north of the Cape. With plenty of game it is renowned for its raptor activity, and species of note here include the white-backed vulture; cape vulture; tawny eagle; pygmy falcon; rednecked falcon; and the distinctive bateleur. You may also see the highly localized, endemic red lark (if you're lucky!) Other endemic birds of South Africa include the Knysna scrub-warbler, Knysna laurie, forest canary, protea canary and African rock pipit. Birding in South Africa offers incredible variety with the chance to tick off over thirty endemics.
Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to bird watchers ( tour), not only to because of the unusually number of species recorded within its borders, but also because it offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach else where. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity-1,008 species recorded in an area similar to that of Great Britain can be attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savanna, the West African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north. The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats: arid semi-dessert, rich savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, vast wetlands, volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda covers an altitude from 650 to 5000m.
Therefore you want to see or watch a wide range of birds in Uganda for tour enthusiasts, try to visit Entebbe (water and forest birds), Lake Mburo (water and acacia associated birds), Queen Elizabeth (Over 600 species are recorded), Murchison Falls (a best place in East Africa to see the Papyrus-associated shoe-bill) and Kidepo (over 50 raptors recorded ).
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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
Much of northern Botswana consists of vast tracts of untouched wilderness with plenty of wildlife. Observe also that it encompasses two extremes of environment: the arid Kalahari and the verdant, watery Okavango - and you'll understand why birdwatching in Botswana can be as good as it gets! The Okavango Delta is perhaps the ultimate destination for birding in Botswana. Best visited after the rains, around October, enthusiasts may seek the slaty egret, wattled crane and lesser jacana. Elsewhere, Chobe National Park and the vast expanses of largely undisturbed wilderness are also suitably commendable for keen birders.
Herons and larks are two well-represented bird families found in Botswana. Although it has no endemic bird species, birders in Botswana will often seek out several specialities of note, including: groups of southern pied-babblers and hartlaub's babblers; swamp boubou; brown fire finch; and melodious larks.
The best time for bird watching in Namibia is during the rains - typically between around November and April. Then many migrants visit, adding to the native species found inland; food is plentiful and many species sport colourful breeding plumage. Meanwhile Namibia's rich, cold ocean attracts large permanent populations of coastal birds. If you're looking for the highlights of birding in Namibia, start with Etosha National Park in the early months of the year, when the vast saltpan there fills with water. Great flocks of blue cranes descend to feed, and flamingos arrive to breed. For Namibia's best birding area, seek out the Caprivi Strip, where dry Kalahari areas stand beside the waterways and swamps of the Okavango and Linyanti Rivers.
Beside Namibia's coast, around Swapokmund and Walvis Bay, birders will find not only Cape cormorants; greater and lesser flamingos and colonies of eastern white pelicans - but also 'specials' like the endangered, ground-nesting damara tern. The only endemic bird species of Namibia, the dune lark, is highly localised in the Namib Desert - but bird-watchers will find interesting array of birds in many areas
Birdwatching in Rwanda is somewhat overlooked in favour of gorilla-trekking trips. However, birdlife in Rwanda is excellent, giving visitors the chance to see some of the Albertine Rift endemic bird species. There are over 600 species in Rwanda, which is amazing for such a small country and makes for great birding. Perhaps the key area for bird watching in Rwanda is the vast Afromontane forest of Nyungwe National Park, which is recognised as an IBA ('Important Bird Area') by Birdlife International. Look here for some of Rwanda's Albertine Rift endemics, including the Albertine owlet, collared apalis, red-collared mountain-babbler and Grauer's and Neumann's warblers.
As an aside, the papyrus swamps in Akagera National Park are one of few places in Africa where shoebill storks are found - although we haven't yet found a good way for our travellers to see them here.
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.
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.
Whilst Zimbabwe doesn't have any endemics, it's still great for bird watching. A Zimbabwe holiday which focuses on birdwatching would be best during the rains (Oct - March) - as then food is plentiful, migrants are around and many species are in breeding plumage. Specialities include the rare Angola pitta (or 'African Pitta') and the Taita Falcon. There have been over 650 bird species recorded in Zimbabwe, and eight of the ten families endemic to the African mainland are represented here.
Some key destinations for birdwatching in Zimbabwe include the dry Kalahari environment of Hwange National Park, the lush rainforests localised in the tiny Victoria Falls National Park, and the rocky shores of Lake Kariba. Meanwhile Mana Pools National Park may be renowned for its walking safaris, but it's well worth a visit for its birdlife which varies from massive goliath herons to the tiny, iridescent Shelley's sunbird.
Birdwatching in Zambia will reveal a mix of south, east and even central African birds. Birdlife is richest during the 'emerald' wet season (Nov-March) when foliage is dense and insects are thriving; this is also when palearctic and intra-African migrants visit. There is limited accessibility to some areas during this time, but some amazing opportunities for keen birders. In total, there are over 750 bird species in Zambia, across a range of environments. Wetland and swamp areas attract a variety of waterfowl, from herons, storks and ibises to the stately crowned and wattled cranes. Zambia's the most sought-after wetland species, the shoebill stork, is the highlight of any birdwatching break to Zambia's Bangweulu wetlands.
The birding highlights of Zambia's drier areas include the country's only truly endemic bird species, the Chaplin's barbet - with its distinctive red eye patch. Other colourful specialities in Zambia include Bohm's bee-eater, racket-tailed roller and spotted creeper.Note that the best time for birding in Zambia, the wet season, sees many birds nesting and displaying full breeding plumage; but many camps and lodges close their doors. The good news is that the few which remain open will often offer heavily reduced rates - so this is usually the cheapest time to visit. For some more of our favourite places for birdwatching in Zambia
Malawi has a number of species which are rare in the rest of Southern Africa, and birdwatching in Malawi is probably at its best in the country's water and forest habitats. Malawi's birding highlights include near endemics such as the Malawi batis, east coast akalat and white-winged apalis. In terms of water birds, the expansive Lake Malawi is very important. Its lengthy shores are lined with marshes, savannah and evergreen forests, which support a variety of species. The lake also drains into the Shire River, which is lined with lush riverine vegetation and wide floodplains. This stretch of the Shire beside Liwonde National Park has some of the most spectacular birding in Malawi, with night trips to find Pel's fishing owl on many birder's wish-lists.
A handful of further noteworthy habitats for birdwatching in Malawi include mopane and miombo woodlands, palm savannah and marshes. Birders may also be keen to explore the montane grassland of the Nyika plateau, which supports the uncommon and localised blue swallow.
Mozambique stretches over 2000km from north to south. It is a lush and varied country, and birding in Mozambique is particularly good along its Indian Ocean coastline. Migrant coastal waders are found in the south, whilst the ornithological records of the bays and islands of the north are still incomplete. Birdwatching in Mozambique offers the chance to see spectacular species including the endangered Thyolo alethe; beautiful white-tailed blue flycatcher; and striking red and blue double-collared sunbirds. Other popular and colourful species include the mangrove kingfisher; tiny greenbul; and olive-headed weaver.
One of the birding highlights of southern Mozambique is Gorongosa National Park, which has open woodlands, grasslands and expansive seasonal wetlands. This was one of our highlights for birding in Mozambique when we visited Gorongosa in 2011. We had many great sightings including crowned cranes and the vocal Burchell's coucal, not to mention plenty of the common red-necked spurfowl. In the far north, the Quirimbas Archipelago remains relatively untouched and thus of special interest to keen birdwatchers. Ornithological records here are constantly being updated, with new sightings recorded very frequently.
The Seychelles is a disparate group of islands - some granitic; some coralline - scattered around the equatorial Indian Ocean, over a range of a thousand of kilometres or so. Come birdwatching in the Seychelles to see a handful of rare endemics that evolved here, plus some huge colonies of ocean-going birds. Excluding the remote and hard to visit Aldabra group of islands, the Seychelles has 12 endemic bird species: the Seychelles black parrot (the national bird of the Seychelles); Seychelles blue pigeon; Seychelles black paradise flycatcher; Seychelles magpie robin; Seychelles warbler; Seychelles scops owl; Seychelles white-eye; Seychelles sunbird; Seychelles fody (also referred to as 'Tok Tok'); Seychelles kestrel; Seychelles swiftlet; and Seychelles bulbul. Some sources also recognise the Seychelles turtle dove as being endemic, whilst others question if it has interbred with the Madagascar turtle dove.
Its location in the Indian Ocean makes the Seychelles an important winter stop-over for many palearctic migrant birds. Whimbrels, sandplovers, and unusually large flocks of crab plovers spend their whole non-breeding season on the islands. In the interior of the islands, the bright Madagascar fody (or 'Red Cardinal fody'), Indian myna, and zebra dove (or 'barred ground dove') are the most commonly seen birds. Beautiful red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, and dazzling white fairy terns are other spectacular species to look out for when birding in the Seychelles. Bird Island is definitely the highlight for birdwatching in the Seychelles. In 1986 the owners of the island declared it a wildlife sanctuary, notably for its huge breeding colony of sooty terns. Now there are also spectacular opportunities for birders to observe sea, shore and land birds here which breed on the island in tremendous numbers.
Either you want a one-day safari or a long monthly expedition; we are here to make your African dreams come true! The mission of Moonlight Tours Expedition Travel is to be your guide in these beautiful lands. Our safari company is committed to bringing the best safari experiences to the explorers of Africa. Our tours are fully customized - whatever your booking inquiry may be, we are here to make your African dreams come true.