South Africa Bird Watching

With a bird count of over 850 bird species, South Africa is a birders delight

South Africa Outdoor ActivitiesBird Watching in South Africa

South Africa’s dense forests, scrubby bushveld, rugged mountain ranges, plunging valleys, endless savannahs, and long stretches of coastline share one common trait; they all provide gorgeous habitats for an inordinate variety of colourful birds. These birds are as varied and diverse as the people that spend hours watching them, and promise exquisite displays and irresistible antics as they enjoy the unspoilt loveliness of South Africa.

The grasslands and wetlands of South Africa are prime areas for bird watchers to catch a glimpse of some endangered bird species like the Blue Crane and the African Black Oystercatcher. Whilst the southwestern interior regions of South Africa are known for their high density of birds per square kilometer, spectacular bird watching can be experienced almost anywhere in the country.

Cape Town is home to the glorious World of Birds in Hout Bay. Over 3000 birds of 400 different species are beautifully presented over 100 different landscaped aviaries. Few other places will offer you the chance of seeing so many stunning varieties of birds all in one day. As you walk through the open aviaries, the unique calls, the striking sounds and vivid colors that are all around you are truly amazing. Spread over 4 hectares and set on the foot of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, the Cape Town World of Birds is a truly unique bird watching experience.

Along the Cape west coast of South Africa is a small fishing town called Lamberts Bay. About 60m off the coast of Lamberts Bay is the northernmost seabird island in South Africa. A special bird hide was built here in about 1998 which will afford you the chance to view the Cape Gannets busy at their daily activities thru a one-way glass wall. Also on the island is the African Penguin, of which there are sadly only 50 breeding pairs left. With any luck, you’ll be able to spot some Gull varieties on the island like the Kelp Gull and Hartlaub’s Gull.

Along the east coast of South Africa in KwaZulu Natal, you’ll find the Tembe Elephant Park. Don’t let the name of this game reserve fool you - there’s over 340 varieties of birdlife to be seen here. Birding enthusiasts will be delighted to know that even rarely seen bird species like the Rudd’s apalis, the Natal Nightjar and the Woodwards batis can be seen here.

For the more diehard of bird watching enthusiasts who tend to steer away from commercial birding spots and who prefer roughing it in the bush with binoculars and a safari suit, rest assured that there are plenty such bird watching spots in South Africa. The many game and nature reserves in South Africa offer a huge variety of birding opportunities. Certain game reserves will have tailored trips into the bush to grasslands and wetlands where you’ll be able to spot the Southern Bald Ibis, Tawny and Martial Eagles and the African Green-Pigeon amongst many others.

Alternatively, you can get your sleeping bag and tent and hike up into the Drakensberg Mountains where you’ll be able to spot, amongst others, the Jackal Buzzard, the Drakensburg Rock-Jumper and the Drakensberg Siskin. Armed with your binoculars and a birding guide, you’ll be amazed at the beauty and diversity of birdlife on display in these mountains in their natural habitat.

For the avid birding enthusiast, who’s perhaps not quite fit enough to hike into the mountains, the quaint town of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape is an ideal setting for some splendid bird watching. Easy contour paths through the forest will bring you close to such beautiful birds as the Forest Canary, Cinnamon Dove, the Knysna Lourie and the Forest Weaver. If you’re around during the dawn and dusk times, you might even be lucky enough to spot the rare Cape Parrot flying overhead.

South Africa affords you an incredible selection of bird watching opportunities. From man made aviaries, to birding in the bushes, South Africa offers the bird watching experience of a life time.

Popular Bird-watching Destinations

Bird Watching at Carryblaire

Where? Parys
Price Range? Price On Request
Carryblaire River Retreat is a registered bird sanctuary, and boasts approximately 450 species of birds in the area. 100 of these have been personally identified by our father from the glorious ...

More info and contact details: Bird Watching at Carryblaire

Bird Watching in Wild Mountain Country

Where? Barkly East
Price Range? Price On Request
The Barkly East and Rhodes area of the Southern Drakensberg has prolific birdlife with over 230 species recorded. Wild Mountain Adventures can help you ...

More info and contact details: Bird Watching in Wild Mountain Country

Bird Watching at Lammergeier Nature Reserve

Where? Lady Grey
Price Range? Price On Request
The reserve is named after this magnificent creature, the Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). The Lammergeier feeds exclusively on carrion ...

More info and gallery: Bird Watching at Lammergeier Nature Reserve


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Did you know?

South Africa has an established avi-tourism industry that invites birding enthusiasts from all over the world to indulge in top-class bird-watching.

An impressive 50 avian species can only be found in South Africa, giving birders a prime opportunity to spot something very special.

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