Hartley’s Safaris UK
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Hartley’s South Africa
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A Serengeti balloon safari is an extraordinary opportunity to relish a bird’s eye-view of the phenomenal sweeping plains below. Tiny little dots rove across the diverse landscape and as you get closer you are spectator to the most magnificent view of dramatically striped black and white zebra, sashaying enormous grey elephants meandering to a waterhole, wiry warthogs foraging in the grassy scrub and subtle swishes of puffed golden tails reveal lions lolling under shady trees.
Gently bob through the air and your eye darts to every possible corner, euphoric on adrenalin this stunning approach to absorbing the home of the wild things is truly an overwhelming experience, where very little can hide from you here.
TANZANIAN ROMANTIC EAST AFRICA SAFARI ITINERARY: Sleep in the boughs of an ancient forest, camp on the Serengeti plains, bathe in rose petals at the Ngorongoro Crater and relax on a private island.
Your journey at a glanceIndulge in the drama of East Africa’s most beautiful landscapes, from the romance of classical safari to the wonder of breath-taking landscapes and the barefoot luxury of a private island. At Lake Manyara you will share a cosy tree house in the heart of a scenic landscape, where lions lounge in the forks of trees and pink flamingo wade near the lakeshore.Enjoy a taste of adventure combined with the ultimate luxury on the open plains of the Serengeti, where Persian carpets and fully sized beds are separated from the African night by only a thin sheet of canvas and the light of lanterns sparkles on silver and crystal as your private feast is served in the open air.
Transfer to Lake Manyara Day 1 Upon your arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport you will be met by your transfer team who will assist you to your scheduled flight to Manyara Airstrip. On arrival at the airstrip, you will be met by a representative from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for your first game drive to the lodge.
Overnight in Lake Manyara Day 1-3 Spend two nights at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Accommodation is in an elegant, stilted treehouse, which is cradled in the boughs of mahogany trees. Your room is built of timber and makuti (palm fronds) and has a spacious sitting area, viewing deck and a lovely ensuite bathroom.
Find tree-climbing lions Day 2 Game drives from Lake Manyara Tree Lodge explore areas of the park that cannot be reached by day visitors and are undisturbed by others. Each morning and afternoon set off in the company of your guide and tracker in an open 4×4 safari vehicle with a canvas canopy. Together you will explore the diverse habitats of the park, stopping on the lakeshore to admire the different bird species and look for pink flamingo. You will traverse a mosaic of acacia woodlands, grassy floodplains and tall forest in search of wildlife, including Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions and family herds of elephant.
Bicycle ride through Mayoka village Day 2 - afternoon Guests at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge can enjoy a scenic guided bike ride through the Mayoka community. Drive to Mayoka to collect your bicycle and begin. Cycle through this bustling village and interact with the friendly people, including the nomadic Mang’ati tribe, adorned with traditional animal skin cloaks, skirts and colourful beads. A picturesque bike ride brings you to the lakeshore, where you can admire bright pink flocks of flamingos. If the birds are close enough, put on some gumboots and walk out to observe and photograph them. All proceeds go directly to the Mayoka community.
Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Day 3 Enjoy an early morning breakfast before a safari vehicle drive back to the Manyara airstrip, where you will be met by a representative from Ngorongoro Crater Lodge who will drive you to the lodge.
Overnight in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Day 3 - 5 The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, within the Serengeti, is home to more than 30 000 protected animals. It is an area of spectacular beauty and excellent game viewing, a truly unique safari destination in Africa. The Ngorongoro Crater, once a gigantic volcano, is the largest intact caldera in the world. Some maintain that before it erupted, it would have been higher than Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. Today, long since having collapsed and eroded, it is an extensive highland area with the famous 600 metre deep Ngorongoro Crater as its focal point. Nearly three million years old, the ancient caldera shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth. Fresh springs and a large soda lake quench the thirst of all the inhabitants. Black rhino are protected within its rim, giant tusked elephants wander the forests, black-maned lions stalk the grasslands, and flamingos crowd the soda lakes.
Spend two nights at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Accommodation is in a suite with ensuite bathroom with bath and shower.
Dine in an ancient volcano Day 4 Indulge in a gourmet feast served in one of the most unique settings in Africa. Descend into the scenic landscape of the Ngorongoro Crater and enjoy the incredible density of wildlife before making your way to a private picnic spot on the Crater floor. Tables set with snowy tablecloths and sparkling silver cutlery are laden with the most delectable of dishes. An army of butler’s spring into action to attend to your every wish as you indulge in a mouth-watering meal served against the backdrop of groups of zebra strolling along the Crater floor.
Transfer to your flight to the Serengeti Day 5 Tuck into a sensational breakfast feast before your drive back to the Manyara airstrip for your scheduled flight to Serengeti Under Canvas.
Overnight in the Serengeti Day 5 - 8 Spend three nights at Under Canvas in an ensuite tent. Your stay includes accommodation, meals, scheduled activities, laundry, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and return airstrip transfers.
Float above the Serengeti Day 6 Experience the breath-taking beauty of the Serengeti National Park on a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon flight. At dawn, rise as the sun greets the day and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times you will probably ascend to 1000m or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below.
Get front row seats to the Great Migration Day 7 Game drives are tailored to suit your preference, with a choice between shorter, twice-daily drives or one full-day game drive, with a stop for a picnic lunch. The game drives are carefully planned to anticipate the progress of the Great Migration, so you should not have to travel too far to see the vast herds. However, if the Migration has moved off, or the dramatic river crossings are in progress, you may choose to spend more time on the vehicle in order to maximise your chances of seeing this incredible phenomenon. When the Migration herds are not within easy reach, the properties are perfectly situated in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the Serengeti, with game drives setting off in search of the exceptional resident game. Game drives are conducted in the Serengeti National Park, so off-roading and night drives are not permitted.
Flight to Zanzibar Day 8 Depart by road to the Airstrip, where you will board your scheduled flight to Zanzibar Airport.
Transfer to Mnemba Island Day 8On arrival in Zanzibar you will be met by a representative who will assist with your road transfer to the crossing point for Mnemba Island. Here you will be met by a boat for your transfer to Mnemba Island Lodge.
Overnight on &Beyond Mnemba Island Day 8 – 11Spend three nights at Mnemba Island Lodge in a Banda. Your stay includes accommodation, meals, soft drinks, house wines, local beer, local brand spirits, snorkelling, kayaking, salt water fly-fishing, windsurfing and scuba diving (guests must provide proof that they hold a valid diving certificate, alternatively diving courses are available at an additional cost.
Immerse yourself in a world beneath Day 9
Zanzibar boasts a variety of pristine coral reefs, particularly off Unguja Island, the main island of Zanzibar, as well as Pemba Island and Mnemba Atoll. Boasting calm waters and a wide variety of colourful marine species, these are some of the top dive sites in the world. Keen divers will find diving off Zanzibar an absolutely breath-taking experience, with some of the healthiest reefs in the Indian Ocean. An average water temperature of 26ºC / 79º and visibility of 30 to 40 metres / 100 to 130 feet, as well as truly staggering range of marine wildlife, make this an unforgettable diving destination.
Paddle along the beach Day 10 - morning Explore the warm Indian Ocean waves in utter tranquillity in a deep sea kayak built for two. Ask one of Mnemba’s Dive Instructors for a quick tutorial session or set off with your partner on the quiet waters protected by the island’s surrounding reefs. Paddle along the beach to admire the changing features of the shoreline or head out into deeper waters in the hope of encountering a pod of dolphin or some sea turtles.
Reawaken your soul and relax your body Day 10 - afternoon Seize the wonderful opportunity to rejuvenate and heal in true African style. Embrace wide ranging wellness and spiritually awakening activities that draw inspiration from the breath-taking scenery of this unique and colourful island.
Delight in massages and wellness treatments by professional masseurs and therapists from East Africa, Thailand, Bali, and India. Be sure to try traditional cures and reflexologies, as well as an island inspired henna tattoo.
In addition to wonderful wellness treatments, indulge in a spiritual based activity from India. Channel your energy and increase your self-awareness with a yoga class placed against the background of a clear ocean. Classes are plentiful and can be accommodated to fit all levels of experiences and preferred styles.
Transfer from Mnemba Island to Zanzibar Airport Day Depart by boat to the crossing point, where a member of the &Beyond team will meet and transfer you to Zanzibar International Airport for your flight to Dar es Salaam Domestic Airport. On arrival at the Domestic Terminal of Dar es Salaam International Airport you will be met by a representative and transferred to the International Terminal for your outbound flight.
Rates: 11 Days, 10 Nights From USD 10 365 per person sharing.
Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist you with a comprehensive itinerary
Hot air balloon adventures in Sossusvlei promise a most memorable and truly romantic way to experience Namibia’s brilliant vista. This soul-satisfying journey offers excellent photographic opportunities and lifelong memories.
Awaken before dawn and set out in the early morning moonlight to a designated launch site, where you can watch excitedly as the balloons are brought to life. Giant, hot bursts of flame slowly inflate the brightly coloured nylon, strung to robust baskets that rest on their side. As the sun’s first rays peek over the scarlet sand dunes, the hot air balloon drifts slowly upward, revealing the undulating landscapes of Sossusvlei.
This sensory experience will let you see the world from a true bird’s-eye view as you sniff the cool, fresh air, feel the wind caress your hair, touch the warm pockets of air created by gusts of flame overhead and taste the champagne victory upon landing, a longstanding tradition among balloon pilots. As you float amongst the clouds, the sun rises dramatically over the horizon, throwing hues of gold and rose across the vast sky. Marvel at the wide expanse of sand dunes that seemingly never end.
Watch as mighty herds of gemsbok shrink in size below you and spot the enigmatic fairy circles, which stand out as indented circular patches devoid of vegetation and are an intriguing phenomenon of the Namib Desert. These mysterious rings have been the subject of many theories that include, dragons, gods, and UFOs.
The balloon soars at varying heights and gradually rotates with the morning breeze, constantly giving you a new perspective of the desert. Many animals gaze up at the neon ball in surprise and curiosity as it passes overhead. The seasoned pilot will eventually select the perfect landing spot, just in time for a grand celebratory bubbly breakfast, where you can recap the morning’s bucket list moment as you savour a delicious morning meal.
THE SPIRIT OF SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE
Take a breather from your hectic schedule and reconnect with yourself and with nature at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.
Surrounded by the mountains and sand dunes of the Namib Desert, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is an escape to the world as it should be. Sheer silence, total tranquillity and romantic luxury. From stargazing to intimate picnics in the desert, this is an extraordinary desert wilderness.
Nestled deep in the heart of Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert in Southern Africa, the lodge is a secluded and serene oasis that overlooks awe-inspiring dunes and stony outcrops. A world of vast spaces, endless horizons and rugged mountain heights, the utter tranquillity and extraordinary clarity of light make this area one of Africa’s most compelling landscapes.In this spectacularly beautiful location, spacious and serene suites envelope guests in pure indulgence, complete with an outdoor shower and a dramatic skylight over the bed for late night star gazing.
If you’re up for something more active, quad biking adventures, hikes and walks will let you explore the surrounding scenery and satisfy your sense of adventure.
Why we love it
This trip is designed for 6 participants only with over 20 Namibian near-endemics including Rockrunner. Guests experience the Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast and the world-famous Etosha Pan mammals. Spend 3 nights in Botswana on the Okavango River which is the best place for Pel’s Fishing Owl and view the Carmine Bee-eater breeding colonies. Possible other sightings included are 9 species of owls, 6 species of bustards and 12 species of eagles.
This tour has been designed to have the best chances to see Namibia’s endemics, near endemics and regional specials, including the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl, plus a wide diversity of African mammals and reptiles.
You will see from the itinerary that there are multiple opportunities to find some of the tricky bird species (especially the desert larks and other desert-adapted species), giving us the best chances of success. The reason we have done this is to avoid the temptation of rushing around trying to get the biggest list. Instead we allow you to focus on the birds that you will always remember and can only see here. However, having said that, we will be in some of Africa’s best birding areas and when birding we'll focus on all the available species (within reason) and will see a huge diversity.
A species list will be handed as part of your tour booklet and is available beforehand upon request. This is a dedicated birding tour with early starts and lots of time in the field. We will also search for and watch mammals and reptiles; Namibia has a fantastic diversity and we are likely to have some great sightings. Lion, African Elephant, Southern Oryx, Burchell’s Zebra, Hippopotamus, Banded Mongoose, to name a few, and perhaps even chameleons, geckos and many other creatures may capture our attention.
The tour is timed to coincide with the presence of mammals and large flocks of sandgrouse at the Etosha waterholes, the breeding season of Southern Carmine Bee-eater and the return of the summer migrants. The day may be hot, cooling off in the evening and we’ll travel in an air-conditioned mini-bus.
Meet the Tour leader:
Tertius Gouws leads birding tours in 9 African countries and has a special interest in mammals, volunteers as a wildlife vet and is an accomplished bird photographer. He has that rare balance between showing people good birds and sharing his photographic insights. His sharp eye and gentle nature are key in making his tours such a success.
On this Birding Africa Namibia Okavango Tour, we'll explore the scenic Erongo Mountains for Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Short-toed Rock-thrush and the endemic Rockrunner, before driving west to Walvis Bay with its abundant shorebirds on one of Africa’s richest estuaries. Here we’ll stay for two nights.
We’ll then head north east via Spitzkoppe, premier site for Herero Chat, and the Brandberg inselberg where the surrounding gravel plains are home to a variety of endemics including the recently described Benguela Long-billed Lark. We may also be lucky enough to glimpse the rare desert-adapted African Elephant.
From here we continue north to Etosha National Park for four days (staying in rest camps within the park or just outside the park, depending on availability), before heading north towards Rundu and the well-watered Caprivi region. Crossing the border into Botswana, we will stay three nights at Shakawe on the Okavango Panhandle (one of the best places to see Pel’s Fishing Owl).
Finally, we’ll visit Mahango Game Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park before our journey concludes at Windhoek airport.
When: Dates (17-day tour) 15 Sep - 1 Oct 2017Cost: Guaranteed Price: From $5460.00 per 2 pax and $590.00 for a single, including transfers, drinks and tips.
One of Hartley’s favourite destinations is a luxury eco-reserve close to the Southern tip of Africa tucked between mountains, forest and sea. With 118 different bird species, Grootbos is uniquely positioned to offer both avid birders and curious novices a rich and varied birding experience. Glimpse the vivid orange of a Sunbird’s breast, see a Cape Sugarbird sipping on nectar or spot a rare Black Harrier.
Cool Afromontane forests, the rocky coastline and serene estuaries provide a magnificent backdrop to our birding outings. Our experienced guides will share fascinating facts while helping you spot rare and endemic birds feeding and breeding in these different ecosystems.
What’s on offer?
Standard 3 nights Package Day 1 - OverviewAfter a celebratory drink on arrival, enjoy a delicious lunch either in our restaurant or on the deck outside. After lunch, check in to your suite and make yourself comfortable before taking a trip to the pristine nearby Walker Bay beach, where dramatic rock formations and a vivid blue ocean provide the perfect backdrop to your historical cave tour. Back at Grootbos, enjoy the most decadent six-course dinner paired with award-winning local wines.
Day 2 - Overview Enjoy breakfast in our restaurant or on the outside deck, before gearing yourself up for a morning of adventure. Experience the adrenalin rush of a personal encounter with a great white shark during a once-in-a-lifetime shark cage diving excursion. Alternatively, experience the Marine Big 5 first hand on a boat based trip when you spot whales, sharks, penguins, dolphins and seals. In the afternoon, embark on a horseback adventure through the reserve before ending your day with another sumptuous six-course dinner.
Day 3 - Overview Explore the unique Cape Floral Kingdom on a revitalising 4x4 tour through the reserve as you soak up the fresh air and natural beauty that surrounds you. During the trip, our specialised guides will tell you facts about this rare flora in ways that will amaze and fascinate you. After lunch, learn more about our Green Futures and Growing the Future Colleges which help with the upliftment of local communities. After a busy morning, relax with a full body massage in our Forest Spa, surrounded by ancient Milkwood trees. End the day off with another six-course dinner and retire to your suite sun-kissed and sated.
Day 4 - Overview On your last morning at Grootbos, join one of our guides on an early morning walk through the magical Milkwood forest as the dappled light and gnarled ancient branches create a mysterious setting. After a final breakfast in our restaurant, depart Grootbos with a host of memories you won’t soon forget.
Cost: From R 9100.00 per night per 2 adults sharing in a luxury suiteThese rates include luxury 5 star accommodation ; full English breakfasts,3 course lunches and 6 course dinners; guided walks and hikes; nature, marine & coastal drives; horse-riding; and a variety of land-based guided adventures.
Please click here to contact one of our consultants to assist youwith a comprehensive itinerary including flights and transfers
Lying in the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the whole of Rubondo Island is given over to conservation. It is Africa’s largest island national park (26 kilometres long and varying from 3 to 10 kilometres wide). Over three-quarters of its 25 000 hectares are blanketed in untouched equatorial forest – an unusual protected habitat for Africa’s wildlife.
It’s a rare privilege to set foot on Rubondo. Bar a handful of park wardens, wildlife researchers and camp staff, the island is uninhabited by humans and has been set aside as a refuge for threatened chimpanzees, families of elephant and the shy sitatunga antelope. The surrounding waters of Lake Victoria are a crucial breeding ground for tilapia and the enormous Nile perch. This unique corner of Africa is a sanctuary to be enjoyed by only a handful of fortunate – and intrepid – travellers.
The camp – the only lodgings on this verdant island – immerses you in this lush and unspoilt ecosystem. From its lakefront location to the eco-friendly design of the eight fabulous cottages, the camp offers unrivalled access to this one-of-a-kind destination, where elephant roams wild, colourful birds and butterflies flit through the pristine indigenous rainforest and the waters teem with hippo, crocodile and the iconic Nile perch.
East Africa’s birdlife is quite simply stunning and very plentiful. This itinerary will take you through vibrant swamps and mighty rivers to discover the water birds before moving to the higher altitude of the Upper Rift Valley and then to the rolling grasslands of the Serengeti. Explore the lakeshore of Rubondo Island, an ornithologist’s dream, before ending in Ruaha to view both northern and southern species in the same area. Itinerary offers:
Days 1 & 2: Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha Once an old coffee estate, Rivertrees is now a charming country inn nestled in abundant foliage with the Usa River flowing by. Set in the foothills of Mt Meru, conveniently close to Kilimanjaro International Airport and a short drive to Arusha, its location proffers a wealth of natural wonders to explore. Activities: Game drives; Canoeing; Mountain biking; Cultural & community visits.
Days 3 & 4: Oliver’s Camp, Tarangire National ParkDiscover Tarangire, a park with over 500 recorded species of birdlife. With varied habitats ranging from vibrant swamps to rolling grasslands and acacia woodlands there is a bird diversity to match, and ashy starlings and yellow-collared lovebirds, endemic to Tanzania, can both be found here.Activities: Game drives; walking safaris; Fly camping
Day 5: Serena Manyara, Lake Manyara National Park Stop off at Lake Manyara, a water-birdlover’s paradise that’s home to herons, egrets, storks and spoonbills. And of course the elegant pink flamingo that congregate around the shores of the shallow, alkaline lake of the same name, alongside huge populations of pelicans. Activities: Game drives; Boating; Cultural & community visits
Day 6: Plantation Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area With easy access to the world-famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Plantation Lodge is a wonderful base from which to discover the birds of the Upper Rift Valley. The tropical gardens around the lodge also attract colourful birds and butterflies for some viewing closer to home. Activities: Game drives; Cultural & community visits
Days 7 – 8: Dunia Camp, Central SerengetiExplore the heart of the Serengeti from Dunia, a tranquil tented camp with expansive views of the pristine wilderness. With a varied habitat of grasslands dotted with acacia groves and the vast granite protrusions, the Moru Kopjes, the resident birdlife is superb and sightings spectacular.Activities: Game drives; Balloon safaris; The Great Migration (May/June and November/December)
Days 9 – 11: Rubondo Island Camp, Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria Explore Africa’s largest island National Park, Rubondo, and the phenomenal birdlife hiding in the equatorial forest and lakeshore papyrus. Over 400 endemic and migratory species have been recorded on its shores, and darters, cormorants, egrets and pied kingfisher are common. Activities: Game drives; Forest walks & hikes; Canoeing & boating; Fishing
Day 12: Onsea House, ArushaJust outside Arusha on the drive from Kilimanjaro Airport is Onsea House. Owner-managed and run, the house has an intimate and friendly feel. Add to this the superb staff and a reputation for culinary excellence and Onsea House is a wonderful place to spend your first night in Tanzania.
Days 13 – 14: Kwihala Camp, Ruaha National Park The last stop is the iconic Ruaha, a park with 580 species of recorded birds and an interesting mix of northern and southern species. Of note are the substantial populations of black-collared lovebirds and ashy starlings as well as a number of water birds on the banks of the great Ruaha River. Activities: Game drives; walking safaris
Cost: From US$ 11 042.00per person sharing
The green season months are the most exciting for birding in Zambia. The migrants are present and many local birds are in full breeding plumage and are singing. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in South Luangwa National Park and some of the highlights include Western Banded Snake Eagle, Lilian's Lovebird, Collared Palm Thrush and the stunning Fire-crowned Bishop in its summer finery.
In addition to the regular game drives birding guests will also venture out on foot specifically listening for bird calls. There will be an emphasis on exploring the wide variety of different habitats to be found in the Luangwa Valley.
As well as mixed riverine woodland with its lagoons and backwaters you will visit mopane forests home to species like the Arnot's Chat and Racket-Tailed Roller which will not be seen elsewhere. One day will be spent driving across the Park to the Mchinga Escarpment (weather and roads allowing!). You will drive through brachystegia and other woodlands until you reach the escarpment to look for Pale-Billed Hornbills and other very rare Luangwa sightings.
The birding guides offer an unequalled knowledge of Luangwa's birdlife and there is always an opportunity for guests not only to see many new species but also to learn a lot about the physiology, behaviour and distribution of birds.
Choose from either a family Lodge or the luxury of Chinzombo for this adventure.
Day 1Meet your designated representative in Lusaka Airport where you will be escorted to your connecting flight to Mfuwe, your gateway to the South Luangwa National Park. This flight takes just over an hour. On arrival at Mfuwe Airport, you will be transported to Chinzombo, where you can settle into your chalet. This afternoon after an excellent afternoon tea, you will participate in your first game viewing activity, exploring the surrounding area on the back of a 4X4 vehicle with an expert birding guide.
Days 2 -7 Over the course of the week there is the opportunity to go on an all-day drive, allowing you the chance to explore deeply into the Park. Taking a picnic lunch with you, lunch can be set up in the shade of a gorgeous old tree, with the sounds of the bush and the birds a symphony in the background. On other days, you will set off early to catch the morning light and enjoy afternoon/evening drives where you’ll get to see magnificent skyscapes and sunsets, a wealth of migratory birds, lions and leopards on the hunt and occasional dramatic tropical downpours.
Day 8 This morning you will enjoy one final hearty breakfast at your camp, and then make your way to Mfuwe Airport for your domestic flight back to Lusaka.
Best for: Those interested in seeing migrant bird species and breeding plumage; the budget conscious traveller who want great value and stunning photography opportunities Included: This safari is sold on a fully inclusive basis with: accommodation, all meals, standard bar drinks, laundry, Mfuwe Airport transfers to/from our camps, inter-camp transfers and two guided safaris per day.
Bird watching holidays in Africa are unique, with around 2300 bird species found in Africa, you'll be kept busy almost every moment of your birding holiday. The standard of guiding is superb throughout the continent and you can be sure of a great experience. There are scheduled birding safari departures to specific destinations, but private custom bird watching tours are also available.
From Zambia with over 400 species of bird occurring in The Luangwa Valley, this is a stunning destination for any ornithologist. One of the top raptor spotting destinations in Africa is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, shared between Botswana and South Africa.
Large populations of both Lesser and Greater flamingos breed in some of the Rift Valley Lakes, particularly Lake Nakuru in Kenya. The Rift valley also forms a “flyway’ for many species of migrant moving from southern Africa to Western Asia and eastern Europe.
In central Africa the Albertine Rift Valley of Rwanda and Uganda offers specialist tropical birds with many endemics. Uganda alone has a national checklist of more than 1000 species. “Special sightings” include the Ruwenzori Apalis, Ruwenzori Turaco and the Green-breasted Pitta. Uganda is also a good place to look for the enigmatic Shoebill.
Madagascar is another birding hotspot – of the approximately 290 species recorded on the island just over 100 are endemic – in other words they are found nowhere else on earth.
Further places to explore would be The Bale Mountains in Ethiopia; Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, the Cape Coastal areas, the Kwa Zulu Natal reserves and the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Etosha in Namibia to name a few.
When should we go birding?
The best time to see birds in Southern Africa is between November and March. These countries are all excellent destinations with many birding Safaris available: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.
In East Africa, the best time to go birding is January - March. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia are all very popular birding destinations during these seasons.
West Africa offers a huge and exciting variety of birds and the best time to visit Cameroon, the Gambia and other destinations is during the European winter from November to March.
How to get a good bird’s eye view:
There are two elements essential to the enjoyment of any African birding safari – plenty of birds, and excellent guiding. When asked by guests, what is needed for birding, a simple answer is a good pair of binoculars, a sun hat and a notebook if required.
More than anything you will need a good pair of bins / binos or for the uninitiated binoculars, as well as a bird field guide specific to your safari area. Every naturalist using binoculars has an opinion on magnification, and there is never a shortage of advice as to what constitutes the best magnification for safari goers and birding. Taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here are 6 steps to choosing the correct binoculars
Review additional features and warranties. Pay attention to field of view and close focus, two measures that affect how much you’ll see. Also pay attention to durability, waterproofing, and warranty—many major optics companies now offer excellent warranties.
Recommended Birding books: