A Luxury African Safari – For Bird Lovers!
When one thinks of an African Safari, we automatically associate it with exciting sightings of Africa’s beasts of river and veld, but there are literally multitudes of beautiful creatures of the wilds that adorn the African skies too. Bird watchers and bird lovers may be forgiven for turning their binoculars to the skies and treetops whilst others are pointing at Lions and Elephant!
One of the things about engaging really flexible guided tour operators like Jewel of Africa Safaris, one of Africa’s most successful, is that you as a bird watcher can have your Safari experience geared towards your preference for bird viewing. So, how about a luxury African safari – for bird lovers?
When to Visit?
As with most places in the world, spring and summer are favoured times, as many birds migrate before winter. There are certain spots however, where birding is possible all year round – and these are a few of them:
Where To Go Birding
Here we offer some suggestions on specific areas to visit if you are a keen birder.
The Kruger National Park with over 2500 km of road allowing access to well frequented water holes and viewing spots, is not only south Africa’s premier game viewing area, but is also home to over 500 bird species!
The Garden Route National Park is a birding paradise with 371 species of birds to be spotted including 45 vagrant species which are seldom seen, so these are prize sightings! 22 species of raptors have been spotted here too, including the Crowned Eagle and the African Cuckoo hawk.
The West Coast National Park was established to protect a section of the coastline, the Langebaan lagoon and 4 bird islands. The Langebaan lagoon is said to be one of the great wetlands of the world. A bird watchers paradise in summer when over 60 000 birds make it their homes, arriving from as far away as the Arctic, Greenland and even Siberia.
The Okavango Delta
Up to 15000km2 of the kalahari is transformed into one of the miracles of nature and one of Africa’s prime wildlife regions. Rain water falling 1000km away in the central Angolan highlands flows southwards down the Okavango river into the flat kalahari desert of Botswana and never finds its way to the sea. The water turns the hostile, dry kalahari into one of nature’s paradises. This fast-flowing river transforms the desert into lush waterways, lagoons, floodplains, and fast and slow flowing rivers to create a wonderful haven for all forms of wildlife.
Bird life is stunning with the peak during the spring and summer months from October through to March when the intra-African and European migrants are resident.
Botswana, and in particular the Okavango Delta, is the greatest stronghold in Africa for the Wattled Cranes, boasting the continent’s largest population as well as most of the world’s Slaty Egrets.
Other important bird species of Botswana include White-backed Night Heron, Pel’s Fishing-owl and the country is an important habitat for the African Skimmer. Botswana also has the most renowned Greater Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo breeding sites in southern Africa.
Africa’s Most Famous
Africa has loads of great birds to offer, from the reclusive Grey-necked Rockfowl, to the super-DIY Weavers and the powerful and enigmatic Martial Eagle. Just a few of the most famous and most sought after sightings are:
The Bateleur, a stunningly beautiful eagle, with jet-black plumage, scarlet face, and a terracotta red back. In flight, it appears almost tail-less.
Livingstone’s Lourie, a bird of the coastal lowland forests from northern South Africa and up along the coast of Mozambique, these birds are large, about the size of a Black-headed Gull.
Ostriches, flightless birds native to Africa, are the largest living species of bird. They are distinctive and comical in appearance, with a long neck and legs and they can run at high speeds. Ostrich ‘races’ are a famous tourist activity in the Outshoorn area!
The African penguin is a uniquely different, small to medium sized Penguin species that is found along the coast of South Africa and on a number of its surrounding islands.
The Blue Crane – is the national bird of South Africa and can be commonly seen in the wild.
Endangered Bird Species
There are unfortunately many endangered birds in Southern Africa. The destruction of indigenous vegetation, forests or grasslands to make way for agriculture, commercial plantations or residential/industrial development, have led to habitat loss which is a big problem!
Electrocution from transformer boxers and even, in some cases, birds killed for use in traditional medicine, have all contributed however. Just a few well known endangered birds are:
Southern ground-hornbills are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN in Africa, however, the South African population is classified as ‘endangered,’ as only about 1,500 individuals still live within the country.
The Grey crowned Crane, White-backed Vultures and the Northern bald Ibis are just a few more which can be found on this list.
The Black Oystercatcher, Birdlife South Africa’s Bird of the Year. Although numbers are on the rise, the African Black Oystercatcher still faces some challenges, especially where it breeds in or near urban centres. The biggest threats include continued habitat loss due to coastal development, and disturbance of breeding birds by beach visitors and their dogs.
Make It Happen
Jewel of Africa, famous for their flexibility and tailor-made packages, create customised guided tours that can be arranged for those clients who are especially interested in birding. We guide you and arrange your package around the best season and destinations in South Africa for great sightings.
Contact us to learn more and let us start to arrange your personalised, specialised, unforgettable luxury African safari – for bird lovers!