Even those of us that would rather see a predator cannot fail to be impressed by the brightly coloured birds in Africa, or the huge birds of prey, which stalk the savannah from the air. Birding in Africa is huge and it is often the birders that see some extraordinary sights. As they peer into the thick bush looking for a tiny little brown bird elusively known as the LBJ (little brown jobby), they often catch the flick of a leopard’s tail, or the twitch of a lion’s ear. It all seems too unfair when one returns from an evening game drive looking solely for cats, seeing nothing, and the birding group get back having seen five leopards and some cheetah cubs. So, we strongly recommend you all ‘bird’ a little more when on safari, fingers crossed you’ll catch something amazing. Here are our top five areas for birding in Africa:
Both the Lower Zambezi and the South Luangwa combine perfectly for those wanting to see a vast variety of birds. The Lower Zambezi offers guests an unrivalled chance of seeing water birds including goliath herons, and South Luangwa offers fantastic carmine bee-eater viewing, as their colonies use the river-banks to nest from September time. The remote Kafue in Northern Zambia also plays host to a dazzling array of avian species.
2. Tarangire & Lake Manyara, Tanzania
These two areas host over 400 bird species, and you cannot fail to be impressed by the vast range you will see even in a couple of hours game drive. For those wishing to see something unusual why not make a special trip to the Udzungwa Mountains in the South, where you can find the endemic rufus-winged sunbird and the Udzungwa partridge. Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania also has four endemic species including the Pemba green pigeon and the Pemba scops owl.
3. Lake Naivasha, Lake Baringo & Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Any of the Great Rift Valley Lakes support a large number of bird species, but we couldn’t write this article without mentioning the flamingoes, which populate many of the Great Rift Valley lakes.
4. Namibia’s Caprivi Strip
The whole of Namibia can be fantastic for birding just after the rains (January to March) but the Caprivi Strip which borders the Okavango Delta is a real haven for birders, most of the options here are by boat or canoe, so it’s very peaceful and the birds respond by behaving naturally.
5. Gorongosa, Mozambique
Gorongosa is currently hard to get to however you will not be disappointed when you do – the birding is fantastic and the area pristine and remote. Gorongosa should open up to tourists next year when luxury camp Kubatana will reopen if everything goes according to plan. Book early and go just after the rains (April).
Rose Hipwood is Managing Director of Africa Rose Travel Ltd.
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