10 Places to Go Bird Watching In Africa

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If you love birdwatching, Africa should be on your list of destinations.

For one, it is home to a third of the world’s bird species, which in itself is a lot.

Also, Africa boasts diverse landscapes which provide habitat for a wide variety of birds.

The southern and eastern regions of Africa have the best birdwatching sites.

The diverse and scenic areas attract many bird species to the region.

The following are 10 of the best places to go birdwatching in Africa.

1. Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the largest Game Reserves in Africa, covering 2 635 852 hectares (5 638 000 acres) within the country.

While it is known for being home to the Big 5, Kruger National Park is also a lucrative birding destination.

Pel's Fishing owl Africa safari
Pel’s Fishing owl

In the park, there are over 500 species of birds, some of which are endemic to the area.

The African penguin is a good example, as you may not see it anywhere else. Other birds you may encounter at the park include the lilac-breasted roller, cuckoo, and South African shelduck.

The best time to go birdwatching at Kruger National Park is during the wet season, that is, November to April.

This is when the most variety of birds are present in the park as migrants are also present.

There are many different ways to see the birds of Kruger National Park.

Options – You can go on safari drives, bush walks, or even tube down the river. No matter how you choose to explore, you are sure to have a good time in this bird paradise.

2. Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Lake Bogoria is a popular birding destination in Kenya.

It is home to over 400 species of birds, including the endangered lesser kestrel. The area is also known for its flamingos, which pack the shores in their thousands.

Lake Bogoria birdwatching in Africa
Lake Bogoria

The climate in the area is generally pleasant, so you can go birdwatching at any time of the year.

Still, the best time would be between November and April because this is when migrants from Europe and North Africa are in the Lake Bogoria area, so there will be plenty of bird species to watch.

Another reason you should consider going between November and April is that it is the bird-breeding season, so the birds are nesting.

Note that April gets a little wet because of the rains, so maybe try and arrive earlier unless you don’t mind the rain.

3. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Located in the Crater Highlands of Northeastern Tanzania near Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s most popular birding destinations.

Ngorongoro crater birdwatching in Africa
Ngorongoro crater

The crater is home to over 600 species of birds, ranging from grassland birds, annual migrants, tree nestling birds, water birds, and words of prey.

The annual migrants typically fly from Europe and Asia and inhabit the crater between September and April. Thus, this would be a good time to go birdwatching at Ngorongoro. 

Some of the migrant birds you will see at Ngorongoro crater include the:

  • European swallow
  • the northern Wheatear
  • Caspian Lapwing
  • and Lesser Kestrel

Birds of prey in the region include the Long-crested eagle and the Augur buzzard.

Lesser Kestrel birdwatching in Africa
Lesser Kestrel

You will also spot tree nestling birds like the African White-backed vulture, the Superb Starling, and the Rufous Tailed Weaver.

4. Lake Turkana, Kenya

Home to over 400 species of birds, Lake Turkana is a popular birding destination in Kenya.

In case you may never have heard of it, Lake Turkana is a huge lake located in north-central Kenya and is surrounded by spectacular desert scenery.

Lake Turkana birdwatching in Africa
Lake Turkana

The lake is part of the Great Rift Valley and was formed as a result of tectonic activity.

Every Year – In late August and September, over a million flamingoes migrate to Lake Turkana. This is the largest number of flamingoes in an area of its size in Africa.

Lake Turkana also has a variety of water birds, including the African skimmer and the white-breasted cormorant.

The endangered vulture is also common here.

Lake Turkana acts as a stopover site for many species of migratory birds.

In 2019, BirdLife International declared the place as one of the sixty-eight Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in the country.

5. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, is widely known for its many bird species.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park birdwatching in Africa
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

This lush national park is home to over 350 bird species and was voted Africa’s best birding site in 2011 for being habitable by a variety of birds.

While watching birds at Bwindi, you may catch a glimpse of the endangered Mountain Gorilla, which makes for an even better adventure.

Some of the birds you will see at the site include:

  • the African green broadbill
  • the black George frogmouth
  • the red-chested sunbird
  • flycatchers
  • cinnamon-chested bee-eater
  • white-tailed blue
  • and kiev gerund thrush

Watchers could be lucky enough to spot Grauer’s Warbler and the short-tailed warbler, which are the only surviving in their genera.

The best time to go birdwatching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is March to May and Sept to November, as this is when the migratory birds stop by.

African green broadbill birdwatching Africa
African green broadbill

Birdwatching in the park is normally carried out along the Buhoma Waterfall Trail, Bamboo Zone, Mubwindi Swamp Trail, and the park’s main trail.

While you can watch birds through the naked eye, visual enhancers like binoculars or telescopes will improve your experience.

6. Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, Senegal

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is a wetland reserve in Senegal that is home to over three million birds o 365 species, including pelicans, herons, the African spoonbill, and storks.

Djoudj National bird sanctuary birdwatching in Africa
Djoudj National bird sanctuary

The reserve is located in the Senegal River Delta and covers an area of ​​3,000 square kilometers.

Created in 1971 by the Senegal Ministry of Environment, the reserve is an important stopover for Palaearctic migratory birds after they have crossed the Sahara.

It is also a sanctuary for nesting species like the great egret, the African spoonbill, and the night heron.

Not only is the National Bird Sanctuary a Ramsar Site, but it is also a World Heritage Site.

Remember – The best time to visit the sanctuary is between December and March, as this is when the migratory birds stop over.

7. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana, is one of the greatest bird sanctuaries in the world.

It has a pristine and diverse wilderness that provides the perfect bird environment.

Okavango Delta aerial view Botswana
Okavango Delta Botswana

With more than 570 recorded bird species, the Okavango Delta is a true birding paradise.

While it does not have endemic bird species, Okavango is a stopover site for migratory birds from Europe and North Africa.

They stop over during the green safari season, which is between October and April. Thus, that period is arguably the best time to go birdwatching in the park.

There are knowledgeable and experienced guides to walk you through the different birdwatching sites in the parks.

The guards may even let you approach kingfishers or herons, which are considered friendly. You will also get opportunities to take amazing photos of the birds.

8. Isimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park covers an area of 1,270 square miles in KwaZulu Natal.

Isimangaliso Wetland Park birdwatching in Africa
Isimangaliso Wetland Park

It has five interlinked ecosystems; estuarine, marine wetlands, coastal and terrestrial environments that provide habitat for over 521 bird species.

Lake St Lucia is one the most popular sites in the wetland with a huge population of pelicans and flamingos.

The uMkhuze is a renowned pelican nesting site.

Some other common bird types include:

  • the yellow-billed stork
  • whiskered tern
  • grey-headed gull
  • cape shoveler
  • and the African fish eagle

The water bird population in this area is enormous.

African Fish eagle flying
African Fish eagle

You can access the wetland park by road from Durban or a charter flight into one of the airstrips near the lodges.

Some of the lodges have raised platforms and nature trails for epic birdwatching experiences.

9. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

There are about1600 bird species in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Of these, 600 are resident birds and are in the park all year round.

Africa Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

670 species of birds are seasonal as they only pass through the park in a migration that occurs during the months of November to April and January to February.

If you want to visit the park during the good weather, then June to September would be an excellent time:

  • For one, there is low rainfall, so the rain will not cause any distractions.
  • Secondly, there is plenty o bird food during this time, which attracts many of them.

The birds you are likely to find at the Queen Elizabeth National Park include the greater and lesser flamingos, as well as the Egyptian Geese, bobOLinks, Malachite Kingfishers, and Marabou Storks.

There are also waterbirds, woodlanders, hunters, and many others. Birdwatching can be done through a guide or cycling.

10. Mount Kenya National Park, Kenya

Generally, a Kenyan Safari is a birdwatching paradise.

Mt. Kenya National Park embodies this reputation as one of its most alluring features is its birdlife.

Mount Kenya National park birdwatching in Africa
Mount Kenya National park

The park boasts more than 240 species recorded in the forests, bamboo, moorland, and alpine zones.

The Mt. Kenya National Park is a haven for elusive birds such as:

  • the Abyssinian ground thrush
  • montane white-eye
  • mountain Buzzard
  • Bushshrike
  • and Abbot’s Starling

You may never find these birds anywhere else.

What to Expect? In the moorland area of the mountain park, you will spot Moorland Chat, white-naped ravens, tacazze, scarlet-tufted, and golden-winged sunbirds.

While bearded vultures are present, they can be quite hard to spot.

Final Thoughts

Birdwatching is a good way to connect with nature and can even be therapeutic.

If you are an avid bird watcher, you should plan a safari to Africa and visit the places mentioned in the article above.

Most of the best birdwatching sites are found in Eastern and Southern Africa, mostly because the environment in these places is perfect for birds.

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