Safari & Wildlife

Top Three African Birding Experiences

Top Three African Birding Experiences

The African savannah's big beasts have obvious appeal, but the continent is also a birder's paradise, home to avian species - resident, endemic, migratory - ranging from the rangy (the ostrich) to the downright bizarre (the shoebill stork) and every shape, size and colour in between. If you have a species in mind, or just want to marvel at the sheer diversity of birdlife on offer, our Africa team can point you in the right direction.


Best For: Close Ups

Quite simply one of the most amazing birding destinations in the world, Botswana is home to roughly 600 bird species across habitats as diverse as the wetlands of the Okavango Delta and the vast arid Makgadikgadi salt pans.

We'll start with the Delta, where in the winter months from April to September, and with a good guide, you can probably tick off 80 to 100 species in a single birding dedicated day's safari. That figure would be more like 150 species in summer. The delta and Linyanti swamp region of Chobe National Park are also two of the best places in the world to see Pel's fishing bowls (a birders' bucket list species if there ever was one). Our Africa specialists know the exact tree where a breeding pair roost at one of our favourite camps.


Top Tip: Double Vision

This may sound blindingly obvious, but a good pair of binoculars should be the first thing you pack for a safari. If you don't already own a pair, ask our specialists for recommendations on good brands in every price and size bracket.


Best For: Diversity of Habitats

Namibia is home to a lucky-for-some 13 endemic bird species, including the gloriously named rosy faced love bird and the Herero chat. Eight of the 13 call the Etosha region home, where they share the massive salt pan (Etosha means 'great white space') ecosystem with around 140 other bird species including several raptors and beautiful blue cranes.

Elsewhere, Erongo and the central highlands are great for migrant species. In summer you can see literally thousands of yellow-billed kites and black kites feasting on the alates (flying termites) that leave their colonies during the rain.

Meanwhile, Namibia's coastline has year-round populations of flamingos, pelicans and wetland species such as African black oystercatchers and Damara terns. Different again, the Caprivi Strip region hosts water birds, herons and summer migrants such as the glorious carmine bee-eaters.


Top Tip: Buy the Book

Invest in a good bird book before you go, and ideally one specific to the region you're visiting.


Best For: Variety of Species

Last but by no means least, Uganda can claim the honour of being home to nearly half (1,000 plus) of all the bird species in Africa. These species are found dotted across drastically different landscapes from crater lakes to the banks of the White Nile and thick jungle. Legend has it that one three-week trip around the country resulted in one eagle-eyed (excuse the pun) spotter ticking off an astonishing 665 species during their stay.

If it's quality you're after rather than quantity, then try to track down the rare green-breasted pitta, found at altitude in Uganda's tropical jungle, or the extraordinary shoebill stork, best spotted from a boat on the fringes of Lake Albert.


Top Tip: Dawn Chorus

Make sure you are up with the sun at least once, because that's when the air is cooler and sound travels further, and birds call to re-establish territory or attract mates.


Feeling inspired? Get in touch with our Africa team today.