Birding Destinations

Jump to: Namibia | Zambia


General information:

Namibia is home to over 640 species of birds of which there are one true endemic and about 14 near endemics. Birding habitats in the country range from the dry Namib Desert and surrounding semi desert in the west to the mature teak and riverine woodlands of the north-east. Most of Namibia's specials are found in fairly accessible locations and the country has a wonderful infrastructure and road conditions. All of this makes Namibia a brilliant birding destination.

The Specials:

The Dune Lark is Namibia's only true endemic and is always a highlight on any birding trip. The near endemics include Hartlaub's Francolin, Rockrunner, Violet Woodhoopoe, Carp's Black Tit, Gray's Lark, Ruppell's Parrot, Herero Chat, Bare-cheeked Babbler, White-tailed Shrike, Monteiro's Hornbill, Damara Tern, Barlow's Lark, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Bradfield's Swift and Ruppell's Korhaan. Other specials include Pel's Fishing-owl, White-backed Night-heron, Meve's Starling, Bradfield's Hornbill, African Skimmer, Long-toed Lapwing, Swamp and Tropical Boubous, Coppery-tailed, Senegal, White-browed and Black Coucals, Western Banded Snake-eagle, Lesser Jacana, Eurasian and African Golden Orioles, Shelley's Sunbird, Brown Firefinch, Luapula and Chirping Cisticolas, Grey Kestrel, Rufous-tailed Palm-thrush, Cinderella Waxbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Pink-billed Lark, Pygmy Falcon, Chinspot Batis, Blue Crane, Damara Hornbill and the recently discovered Angola Cave Chat near the Kunene River.

The birding spots:

Windhoek Area:

This is where most Namibian birding trips will start and/or finish. The Capital City has a lot of good birding sites close by and a lot of the regions specials can be found here with relative ease. Avis Dam is always a popular birding destination and a great spot to find Rockrunner, Orange River Francolin, Chinspot Batis, Rock, Kestrel, Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Bradfield's Swift, Monteiro's Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird and a variety of water birds including Great White Pelican, Grey Heron, African Sacred Ibis, Three-banded Plover, Great Egret and even African Fish-eagle.

The nearby Daan Viljoen Game Reserve is good for Monteiro's Hornbill, Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike, Orange River Francolin, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Carps Black Tit, Pale-winged Starling, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Kalahari Scrub-robin, Cape Penduline-tit, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Damara Hornbill.

Swakopmund and Walvis Bay:

This area is Namibia's best spot for waders, especially the Walvis Bay Lagoon and the Salt works just north of Swakopmund. Damara Tern breed in the area and during certain times of the year huge numbers of both Greater and Lesser Flamingos are present. In summer huge numbers of migratory waders including a host of possible rarities join the resident species. Some of these include Sanderling, Ruff, Chestnut-banded Plover, Little Stint, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black Tern and Pectoral Sandpiper. A little further inland is the best spot to find Dune Lark, Namibia's only true endemic. Other interesting birds in the area include Gray's Lark and Tractrac Chat on the gravel plains and Orange River White-eye in the town gardens.

The Namib Desert:

The oldest desert with the highest sand dunes in the world. The whole area from Sossusvlei in the south to Damaraland in the north is included here. Although not home to huge numbers of birds, it still has a number of specials including Dune Lark, Ruppell's Korhaan, Ludwig's Bustard, Gray's Lark, Tractrac Chat, Stark's Lark, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Ostrich and Burchell's Courser. Barlow's Lark is found in the south and Lappet-faced Vultures are breeding in parts of the Namib Naukluft National Park.

Erongo Mountains and surrounds:

Hartlaub's Francolin, White-tailed Shrike and Herero Chat are the main specials for this part of the country. This area especially around Omaruru offers some of the best bushveld birding in the country. Besides the three specials mentioned above this area is also brilliant for Monteiro's Hornbill, Ruppell's Parrot, Violet Woodhoopoe, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp's Black Tit, Chestnut Weaver, Black-chested Snake-eagle, Augur Buzzard, Damara Hornbill, Rockrunner, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Freckled Nightjar and Orange River Francolin to name a few.

Waterberg Plateau National Park and surrounding bushveld habitat:

The beautiful sandstone cliffs form the perfect backdrop for this park and great birding spot. This is the only site in Namibia where Cape Vultures are breeding. Specials for this area include Damara, Bradfield's, Monteiro's, African Grey, Southern Yellow-billed and Red-billed Hornbills, Ruppell's Parrot, Rockrunner, Red-billed Spurfowl, Carp's Black Tit, Pririt Batis, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Violet-eared Waxbill, Southern Pied Babbler, African Hawk-eagle, Martial Eagle and Freckled Nightjar.

Etosha National Park:

Namibia's most famous park is not only the best game viewing spot in the country, it is also one of the top birding spots and a 2-4 day visit will almost guarantee great results. The park is brilliant for raptors especially Martial and Tawny Eagles, Black-chested and Brown Snake-eagles, Lanner, Peregrine and Red-necked Falcons, Pale-chanting and Gabar Goshawks.

Scan the top of the huge Sociable Weaver nests for African Pygmy-falcon. Etosha is brilliant for owls with sightings of Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Scops-owl, Southern White-faced Owlet, Barn Owl, Verreaux's Eagle-owl and Spotted Eagle-owl fairly common. The flat open plains of the western section are good for Lark-like Bunting, Pink-billed, Sabota, Red-capped and Spike-heeled Larks, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, Namaqua and Double-banded Sandgrouse, Double-banded and Temminck's Coursers.

The open acacia savannahs are good for Crimson-breasted Shrike, Great Sparrow, Violet-eared Waxbill, Southern Pied Babbler, Red-headed Finch, Kori Bustard, Scaly-feathered Finch, Marico Flycatcher, Namaqua Dove and Blue Crane. The woodland sections of the middle and eastern parts holds specials like Bare-cheeked and Black-faced Babbler, Violet Woodhoopoe and Carps Black Tit. When the Etosha pan fills up with water after very good rainy seasons it becomes a water bird paradise. Huge numbers of lesser and Greater Flamingos, Great White Pelicans, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, Caspian Plovers, Cape and Red-billed Teals and a number of rarities congregate on and around the pan.

The Kunene River:

Although it requires a long drive it is a must for any birder. The main attraction here is the beautiful Cinderella Waxbill which is difficult to find but well worth the effort. The other two big specials that are not found elsewhere in Namibia include Rufous-tailed Palm-thrush and Grey Kestrel. Madagascar Bee-eater, Meve's Starling, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Senegal Coucal, Hartlaub's Francolin, Chestnut Weaver and the Kunene race of the Red-necked Spurfowl. This region has received a lot of birding attention of late with the discovery of the Angola Cave Chat at the Zebra Mountains.

The Caprivi Strip:

With its mature Teak Woodland and Riverine forest the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi Rivers this area completely different from the drier habitats mentioned up to now. The birds found here are also totally different and the number and quality of specials does warrant a 3-7 day stay.

Some of the specials here include Swamp and Tropical Boubous, Water Thick-knee, Souza's Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, Rufous-bellied Tit, Racket-tailed and Broad-billed Rollers, Long-toed and White-crowned Lapwings, Brown Firefinch, Pennant-winged Nightjar, African Hobby, Grey-headed and Meyer's Parrot, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Luapula and Chirping Cisticolas, African Skimmer, White-backed Night-heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Slaty Egret, African Mourning Dove, Terrestrial Brownbul, Arrow-marked, Hartlaub's and Black-faced Babbler's, African Barred Owlet, Wattled Crane, Coppery-tailed, Senegal and White-browed Coucals, Golden and Brown-throated Weavers, Pel's Fishing-owl, Western Banded Snake-eagle, Schalow's Turaco, Lesser Jacana, Rock Pratincole, Eurasian and African Golden Orioles, to name a few.

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General information:

With over 700 species found in Zambia which includes some really big specials that is very difficult to find elsewhere, Zambia is one of the top birding countries in the region. Most of Zambia is covered in Miombo Woodland and holds all the sought after Miombo specials. Large sections of Mopane Woodland in the south is home to the range restricted Black-cheeked Lovebird and Zambia is known for its swamps and wetlands which home to an incredible number of water birds and off course the highly sought after Shoebill. Zambia's endemic, Chaplin's Barbet is relatively easily found in the south as well.

The Specials:

The Shoebill must be the biggest special in Zambia and is always the highlight on any birding trip. Chaplin's Barbet, Zambia's only true endemic is found in the south together with the much localised Black-cheeked Lovebird. Miombo Woodland found across most of the country is home to Miombo specials like Miombo Pied Barbet, Spotted Creeper, Bar-winged Weaver, Red-capped Crombec, Pale-billed hornbill, Anchieta's Barbet, Miombo Scrub-robin, Cabanis's Bunting, Souza's Shrike, Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-bellied Tit, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-weaver, Black-necked Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Hyliota and Miombo Rock-thrush. Other specials found in Zambia are Ross's Turaco, Schalow's Turaco, Pel's Fishing-owl, Wattled Crane, Bohm's Bee-eater, Black-backed Barbet, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Bohm's Flycatcher, Bocage's Akalat, Anchieta's Sunbird, Tanzania Masked Weaver, Slaty Egret and Lesser Jacana. The extreme north-west is home to specials restricted to the Congolese rainforests and is a must for the adventurous birder.

The birding spots:

Livingstone and the south:

Livingstone is home to the Victoria Falls and a perfect starting location for any Zambian birding trip. This is a great base from which to find Chaplin's Barbet and Black-cheeked Lovebirds. The Zambezi River, its floodplains and riverine woodland holds specials like Schalow's Turaco, Slaty Egret, Pel's Fishing-owl, Rock Pratincole, Lesser Jacana, Western Banded Snake-eagle, African Finfoot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Brown Firefinch, Hartlaub's Babbler, Grey-headed Parrot, Meve's Starling, Trumpeter Hornbill, Coppery-tailed, White-browed and Senegal Coucals.

Kafue National Park:

This massive park has many different habitats which hold a wide variety of species. Mopane Woodlands in the south is home to black-cheeked Lovebirds. The beautiful Kafue River and riverine forest is home to Pel's Fishing-owl, White-backed Night-heron, Ross's Turaco, African Finfoot, Bohm's Bee-eater, Rock Pratincole, Black-backed Barbet, Olive and Green-backed Woodpeckers and Crested Guineafowl. The floodplains and grassy plains hold Saddle-billed stork, Wattled Crane, Rosy-breasted and Fulleborn's Longclaws and Long-toed Lapwing. Large sections of Miombo Woodland can be found in the park which holds many of the country's Miombo Specials.

Kasanka National Park:

This small park is one of Zambia's best birding spots. Birding habitats in Kasanka range from floodplain and papyrus swamps to Miombo woodland and Mushitu forest. The floodplain and swamps hold Black and Coppery-tailed Coucal, Fulleborn's Longclaw, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Broad-tailed Warbler, Wattled Crane, Chirping Cisticola, Anchieta's Tchagra and Sooty Chat. The Mushitu and Miombo Woodland holds African Broadbill, Dark-backed Weaver, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Cabanis's Greenbul, Yellow-throated Leaf-love, Bocage's Akalat, Miombo Pied Barbet, Black-necked Eremomela, Anchieta's Barbet, Bushveld Pipit, Red-capped Crombec, Anchieta's Sunbird and Cabanis's Bunting to name a few.

The Bangweulu Swamps:

The swamps are the best location in Zambia to find the Shoebill, one of the most sought after birds in the world. Beside the Shoebill it holds a number of other swamp and floodplain specials that include Swamp flycatcher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Tanzania Masked Weaver, Fulleborn's Longclaw, Long-toed Lapwing, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Chirping Cisticola and Lesser Jacana to name a few.

Mutinondo Wilderness, Forest Inn and other Miombo Woodland locations:

The Miombo Woodland locations are all very accessible and are found in the north-central areas of the country. They are to home to Miombo specials like Miombo Pied Barbet, Spotted Creeper, Bar-winged Weaver, Red-capped Crombec, Pale-billed hornbill, Anchieta's Barbet, Miombo Scrub-robin, Cabanis's Bunting, Souza's Shrike, Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-bellied Tit, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-weaver, Black-necked Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Hyliota and Miombo Rock-thrush to name a few.

Other Birding Locations:

Please note that only a few of birding locations found in Zambia are described above. There are many more holding a variety of specials not mentioned here. Please contact us for more information on this.

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