Southern Africa - Birding Tours
Sustain's Southern Africa birding tours have it all! They combine Natural Wonders of the World, World Heritage Sites and wildernesses you have always dreamed of - From semi-deserts to deltas, from savannas to forests, from mountain vistas to ranging rivers and breathtaking coastlines. The sheer abundance of birds, mammals and all manner of biodiversity on offer, is an experience that rivals the very best our natural world has to offer.
We would love to lead you from the fairest Cape to Etosha, the Okavango Delta to Victoria Falls, the Eastern Highlands to the Zambezi Valley. Expeditions through these areas offer a mouthwatering prospect of adventure and abundance.
Victoria Falls & Livingstone
Our trip will commence at the mighty Zambezi River and the thundering Victoria Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, where the wide Zambezi plummets over 300ft into the Batoka Gorge.
This region is diverse, and includes the Falls, Kazungula, Victoria Falls National Park, Mosi-ou-Tunya National Park. Zambezi National Park to the south of the Falls and many other habitats. The region offers a variety of birding habitats and opportunities including the rainforest next to the Falls itself, the Zambezi river, the gorges below the Falls, the miombo woodland surrounds and the National Park. Most of this area has large populations of African Elephant, African Buffalo, Lion and Hippopotamus, so great care must be taken when walking. Over 470 species of birds are possible in the area, with many being sought-after specials.
Kazungula occupies the most westerly corner of the country and overs the river, wetlands, floodplains, acacia and open woodland. Zambia lies just across the river, with Botswana positioned to the west and the Caprivi Strip to the north. On the floodplains the following specials can be expected: Slaty Egret, Long-toed Lapwings, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Swamp Nightjar, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Greater Swamp-Warbler, Luapula and Chirping Cisticolas, Plain-backed Pipit, Southern Brown-throated Weaver and Swamp Boubou. Shelley’s Sunbird is also a possibility together with Basra Reed-Warbler. Other species include Bradfield’s Hornbill, Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah, Orange-winged Pytilia, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Red-necked Falcon, Olive-tree Warbler in the woodlands of the area, Denham’s Bustard in the National Park, along with occasional and rare Red-headed Quelea between the Falls and Kazungula.
The Victoria Falls region offers Brown Firefinch, Schalow’s Turaco, Olive Woodpecker, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Collared Palm-Thrush and many others. The gorges are very popular for adventure-type safaris and activities and this has threatened the Taita Falcon, though Peregrine Falcons are more tolerant of disturbance. There are also many other raptors to be seen in the area, including the summer migrants. African Black Swifts are common in the gorges and even possible Mottled Swift. Naturally every birder knows to check out the local sewage works and the ponds at Victoria Falls are no exception. Ross’s Turaco has been reported from the river, as well as Western Banded Snake-eagle and Lesser Sand Plover.
Other target species include: Augur Buzzard, Bat Hawk, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Grey-headed Parrot, White-crowned Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Racket-tailed Roller, Red-necked Falcon, Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah, Mottled Spinetail, Böhm's Spinetail, Lesser Jacana, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Senegal Coucal, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-browed Coucal, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, and many others.
Namibia - Namib, Etosha and Caprivi
Namibia offers extraordinary beauty and uniqueness. It is a must-visit African country. It possessed the world’s oldest desert with the highest sand dunes in the world, that meet the sea. It also offers the rugged desert mountains of the Namibian Escarpment with its desert elephants and rhinos, and the vast Etosha National Park, which ranks as one of the world’s greatest game parks.
Most importantly though, Namibia possesses a multitude of birds that can only found be here or in neighbouring Angola. The country is home to over 620 species of birds , of which 14 are endemic, and 8 of which are reportedly from the Etosha region. In addition, you can expect to view a host of magnificent wildlife.
The tour will lead you through vastly diverse habitat types, including: coastal shores and estuaries, broad-leaved woodland, riverine forest, floodplains, grass plains, papyrus swamps, mountains, gravel and sandy deserts. We will visit Windhoek and surrounds, the Namib Desert sand dunes, Spitzkoppe, Etosha, and the Caprivi Strip.
Target species include: Multitudes of both Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Ludwig’s and Kori Bustards, Rüppell’s and Northern Black Korhaans, Hartlaub’s Spurfowls, Rüppell’s Parrot, Monteiro’s, Damara, Red-billed and Bradfield’s Hornbills, Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike, Herero Chat, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Shelley’s and Copper Sunbird, Carp's Tit, Bare-cheeked, Southern Pied and Black-faced Babblers, Barlow's, Dune, Gray’s and Benguela Long-billed Larks, Chestnut-banded Plover, Damara Tern, Cape, Bank and Crowned Cormorants, Burchell’s and Double-banded Coursers, African Black Oystercatcher, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Bradfield’s Swift, Bokmakierie, Rufous-eared Warbler, Black-faced Waxbill, Orange River White-eye, Dusky Sunbird, and Cape Vulture.
On the mammal front you can expect to discover: the “Big Five” (Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, Black and White Rhinoceroses, and African Buffalo), Cheetah, Bat-eared Fox, Hartmann’s Zebra, Roan and Sable Antelopes, Red Lechwe, Topi, Common Eland, Springbok, Sitatunga, Meerkat, Honey Badger, Dassie Rat, Spotted-necked Otter, South African and Damara Ground Squirrels, Caracal and African Wild Cat.
Botswana - Okavango, Moremi and Chobe
Botswana is arguably southern Africa’s most famous and abundant wildlife destinations. It offers remarkable contrasts from the lily-laden backwaters of the Okavango Panhandle to the desolate Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Botswana's exceptional avifauna includes several range-restricted and highly sought-after species.
The tour will commence in the drier area of Maun, from where we will search for the localised Boulder Chat, the scarce near-endemic Orange River Francolin, and Common Whitethroat. We will then head into the Moremi and Okavango Delta in search for the scarce Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret and White-backed Night-Heron. This swampy region also offers African Pygmy Goose, African Skimmer, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Wattled Crane, Lesser Jacana, Southern Pied Babbler and Brown Firefinch.
From hear we will head north-east through the renowned Savuti and up into the Chobe National Park.
Target species in the Savuti will include: Dickinson's Kestrel, Burchell's Sandgrouse, Meyer's Parrot, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Bradfield's Hornbill, Red-capped Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark and Grey-backed Sparrowlark.
Target species in Chobe's riverine and forested area will include: Bat Hawk, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Long-toed Plover, Rufous-bellied Heron, Slaty Egret, White-backed Night-Heron, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Dwarf Bittern, Tropical Boubou, Swamp Boubou, Red-necked Falcon, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Wood Pipit, Racket-tailed Roller, Broad-billed Roller, Hartlaub's Babbler, Collared Palm-Thrush, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Cape Penduline-Tit, Tinkling Cisticola, Pririt Batis, Red-faced Crombec, Shaft-tailed Whydah and Cut-throat Finch. The list is endless...
On our journey through this wilderness region we can also expect to discover all manner of big game, with extraordinary wildlife sightings. Quality time will be spent observing many sought-after species, including Lion, African Elephant, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, African Buffalo, Roan, Sable, Red Lechwe, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Sitatunga, Topi, Puku, Bat-eared Fox and Caracal.
Eastern Zimbabwe and Central Mozambique
Eastern Zimbabwe combines very well with central Mozambique, as these areas have an incredible amount to offer, and can easily yield in excess of 400 avian species. The combined region offers the highest diversity on the planet for 30 different avian orders. They also share the second-highest count of different families, in combination with coastal West Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
The exciting tour for avid birders will lead you through extremely beautiful and diverse scenery. Zimbabwe offers good infrastructure and conditions in Mozambique are continually improving.
Our tour of Eastern Zimbabwe will depart from Harare for the Mashonaland Plateau in search of south-central African endemics, largely confined to Miombo woodland, including Miombo Rock Thrush, Miombo Tit, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, and many others. We then head eastwards to the magnificent Eastern Highlands near the Mozambique border. En-route we will seek out the Boulder Chat, and then explore the evergreen forests for some very localized endemics, such as Chirinda Apalis and Roberts’ Warbler, as well as several other great species that are easily found here, including Swynnerton’s Robin. We bird the mountain grasslands for the vulnerable Blue Swallow and, if we are fortunate, we may find Striped or Buff-spotted Flufftail, Scarce Swift, and many others.
Our main focus areas will include: Harare wetlands and woodlands, Gosho Park, Honde Valley, Nyanga National Park mountains and forests and the Bvumba Highlands.
We will then head for the Zambezi Valley and will enter Mozambique through the Forbes Border Post in Mutare. The chief reason to travel to Mozambique is its offering of a significant number of new birds. Approximately 105 species are either endemic to this region, or are most easily seen here. These includes species like Ayre's Eagle and Racquet-tailed Roller.
Our main focus areas are the mountains, deltas and coastline, and include: Panda, Unguane, Mount Gorongosa, Rio Savane, Caia and Mphingwe (Coutadas 11 and 12).
Mozambique offers the opportunity to view highly sought-after species, some of which include: Crab Plover, Great Knot, Great Snipe, Great Bittern, Blue Quail, Madagascar Cuckoo, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Pallid Honeyguide, Speckle-throated Woodpecker, Green-backed Woodpecker, African Pitta, Tiny Greenbul, White-chested Alethe, East Coast Akalat, Black-headed Apalis, Short-winged Cisticola, Red-winged Warbler, Black and White Flycatcher, Livingstone's Flycatcher, Anchieta's Tchagra, Chestnut-fronted Helmet-Shrike, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-winged Bishop, Locust Finch, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Twinspot Indigobird, Red-throated Twinspot and Lesser Seedcracker.