Birding in Africa – Our Guide to the Top 5 Birding Hotspots
Depending on one’s personal view you can say that Africa is the greatest birding continent on the entire planet, it is definitely a fantastic destination for bird watchers.
Some of the countries that provide the best experience to serious bird watchers include countries in the Eastern Africa region like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya other countries that are also ideal for bird watching are South Africa and Namibia. The ideal time for visiting this region is during the African summer which starts from November and ends in March.
Africa’s pure diversity in terms of the geographical landscape means that close to all the species of birds can be found somewhere within the continent. In Africa, there are vast stretches of deserts, wetlands, marshes and montane forests as well as everything else in between. The birds that live in these areas are as well similarly diverse and in many countries, there are seasonal endemics that are as a result of migration these avian creatures make over the summer to breed in the southern hemisphere.
Where to Go and What to See
With huge diversity in terms of birds and terrain animals, it has become difficult for tourists Below is a combination of the best areas in Africa that bird enthusiasts can visit for a birding holiday. However, be ready to figure out that after your first visit you will be back for more since the first visit will make you realize that the number you saw was just a tip of the iceberg
Kenya is a top contender for Africa’s top birding destination due to its over 1,000 species of birds. It is actually quite normal for birders to spot over 500 species of birds after a short expedition into the wild. Even in the major cities, the birds can be spotted everywhere and it is quite normal to find a Marabou Stork nesting in one of the trees within the capital city. The following are some of the most common birding destinations.
Lake Baringo, Maasai Mara & Lake Nakuru
Classified as an important birding area (IBA) The Lake Baringo is home to over 480 species of birds and it is very rewarding whereby everyone who is conversant with the art of spotting birds will be able to spot around 200 species within a single morning. A few of the rare species include the Verreaux Eagle, the Jackson’s Hornbill, the Northern Masked Weaver, the Slender-Tailed Nightjar and the African Scops Owl.
Based on the great rift valley the lake Nakuru is among the 3 interlinked lakes within the rift valley province in Kenya. It plays host 13 globally endangered species of birds as well as the most diverse population of birds in Africa. The lake as well plays host to thousands of and at times millions of flamingoes that visit the lake to get minerals and algae from the rich lake. The lake is also a breeding and nesting place for the great white pelicans whose number seems to be drastically reducing and may soon be endangered.
Even though the Maasai Mara is famous for the great Wildebeest migration, it is also a spectacular destination for bird watchers. The plains of the savanna are flooded with Courses, Bustards, Larks, Sandgrouse and Plovers. Additionally, you will occasionally spot Rollers Kingfishers, bee-eaters and storks. Moreover, there are numerous raptors including the vultures that are found during the Wildebeest migration.
Tanzania is another African country blessed with thousands of bird species and is a top birding destination for birders all over the world. It is actually quite normal for birders to spot over 500 species of birds after a short expedition into the wild.The following are some of the most common birding destinations in Tanzania.
The Serengeti National Park & Tarangire National Park
The wildebeests are not the only species f wildlife that migrates in the Serengeti. There are numerous flocks of birds that also migrate and they include, Karamoja Apalis, Dwarf Nitterns, Schalow’s and Hartub’s Turacos, as well the Golden-winged Sunbirds.
Tarangire National Park well provides incredible swampy terrain that is home to one of the biggest population of bird breeding species in a single habitat. The types of birds the Greater Blue-eared Starlings, the Red-necked Spurfowl and the White-fronted Bee-eater.
South Africa is Africa’s most famous birding destinations due to its over 1,000 species of birds. It is actually quite normal for birders to spot several species of birds with your binoculars from your hotel room. Even in the major cities, the birds can be spotted everywhere. The following are some of the most common birding destinations in South Africa.
The Kruger National Park, Kwa-zulu Natal – the iSimangaliso Westland Park & The Eastern and Western Cape
Located within the north-eastern region of the country, the Kruger National park is amazing birding destination, that provides a view of over 507 species; This number increases by over 20% after the visitors start trickling in from the north and newcomers to birding will enjoy the Kruger Park’s Birding Big Six – Pel’s Fishing Owl, Kori Bustard, Saddle-billed Stork, and the Lappet-faced Vulture. It is also one of the Best birding sites in the Lower Sabie south of the Park.
The Eastern and Western Cape is home to one of the magnificent sceneries and includes Cape Floristic Region that provides habitation numerous unique plant species like the Proteas of Cape Town. This is also the home to a wide variety of bird species that include over 47 of the 58 South African Endemic Species Birders are expected to spot the Hottentot Buttonquail Protea Canary Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rockjumper, and many more.
Marked as one of UNESCO ‘s World Heritage site, the Kwa-Zulu Natal – the iSimangaliso Westland Park is the home to over 526 bird species. They include the Mangrove Kingfisher, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, the Rufous-bellied Heron, and many more. The Park also serves as a ground for breeding endangered Sea Turtles and is very close to the Phinda, Unfolozi, and Hluhluwe, Game Reserves that are also homes to excellent bird life.
Namibia is also one of Africa’s top a top birding destination for birders all over the world as well. It is actually quite normal for birders to spot numerous avian species after a short expedition into the wild. The following are some of the most common birding destinations in Namibia.
The Sossus Vlei
The Sossus Vlei hosts remarkable red dunes that are among the world’s highest and are not only is Namibia’s bird spotting locations they are also part of the enormous dunes that rise from the beach dramatically as the middle section hosts the Etosha National Park. It is one most known and cherished wildlife reserve in Africa and it is remarkably rich for an arid region with several endemic desert birds, together with some Flamingoes on the salt flats at Etosha Pan and the Walvis Bay.
Neighboring Namibia is the Okavango Delta in Botswana that is an ideal place to spot the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl.
It is not possible to talk about bird-watching in Africa and visiting Uganda which is the home to the rarely spotted, 23 Albertine endemics Shoebill, and the Fox’s Weaver (endemic). However, it would probably not be our first choice as a stand-alone birding destination.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest & Kibale National Park and Bigodi Wetland
These regions are famous for the rare Mountain Gorilla, it they are also the home to over 320 species of birds. Such as the Dwarf Honeyguide Black Bee-eater and the African Wood Owl.
They offer guided bird walks to locations that rare species of birds can be spotted from several viewing platforms.