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8 May, 20196 minute read

Twitching tours: guided birdwatching holidays and trips

The first recorded use of the term ‘birdwatcher’ was in 1891, birder was introduced as a verb in 1918. There are many names that can describes ones love of our avian friends, whether you see yourself as a Birder, a Bird-watcher, someone who enjoys Birding, or labels themselves using the British term ‘Twitcher’. We have a list of tours that take you to places that could make your bird watching dreams come true. The stunning flora and fauna of Madagascar, the Serengeti in Tanzania and hundreds of different species of bird to discover, what are you waiting for?

South Africa Safari Adventure

South Africa is internationally known for its countless diverse wildlife, game reserves and home to various bird species, all within stunning landscapes. Famously sought out to experience the “Big 5”, bird lovers will also find something worth tweeting about, an incredible place to visit is Waterberg where 340 species of birds have been recorded, including the common ostrich and the Doublebanded Courser. Following through to Limpopo, described by some as ‘Birding heaven’ with around 600 bird species to keep an eye out for, with 420 resident birds. You’ll probably be able to tick off lifers like the grey-headed parrot, African broadbill, Shelley’s francolin and the crested guineafowl.

Spot crested guinea fowl in South Africa

Land of the Lemur – Madagascar

Madagascar is an island that has been separated from its nearest major landmass, Africa for around 160 million years. In that time it has bloomed with stunning flora and fauna, making this island vastly different from any other island or continent. The eastern rainforests are full of birds and lemurs and oddly shaped spikey trees supporting flocks of Sickle-billed Vangas. Half of the 200 or so species of bird which nest on the island are endemic and many will redefine your definition of beautiful. Highlights on the island include Ranomafana National Park where you should keep an eye out for birds such as the Paradise Flycatcher, Ward’s flycatcher, Common Mynah, Hook-billed vanga, Tylas, Madagascar Brush warbler, Common Newtonia, Madagascar wood rail and many more. This incredibly strange island is definitely worth your time.

Crested Drongo in the Andasibe Mantadia National Park in the rainforest of Madagascar

Scenic and Cultural Treasures of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one the world’s greatest repositories of human histories, with historical treasures, medieval churches, UNESCO World Heritage sites and the 3 million year old remains of ‘Lucy’ who helped rewrite the story of humanity. With over 924 species of birds, 23 are endemic; there is plenty to see with some of Africa’s and the worlds other spectacular localized birds including Vulturine Guineafowl and Golden-breasted Starling. Other popular species such as Ostrich, African Fish Eagle, Lammergeier, Saddle-billed Stork, and Carmine Bee-eaters riding Kori Bustards will be roaming around freely for you to enjoy.

A bluebird perches on a branch in Ethiopia

Great Apes of Uganda

Despite its small size, Uganda is Africa’s richest country for birds, over a thousand species have been recorded, including the African Fish Eagle, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Grey Parrot, Great Blue Turaco and Hamerkop. Kbile National Park counts about 335 species in its area while the Queen Elizabeth National Park boasts a record over 600 species, including 11 types of king fisher, over 54 raptors, flamingoes, shoebill stork, African skimmer, white-winged warbler, papyrus Gonolek, and the black bee eater. Once you’ve had your fill of our winged friends, the gorilla and chimpanzee trekking are once in a lifetime experiences that should not be missed.

A long-crested eagle perches on a cactus in Uganda

Grand Safari Kenya

For the best overall wildlife experience it’s hard to beat Kenya, thanks to the presence of so many of the world’s most spectacular mammals and birds, such as Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs to Elephants, Rhinos and Giraffes. Bird lovers are also spoilt with species of Ostrich, African Fish Eagle, Secretary Bird, Black and Goliath Herons, Saddle-billed Stork and Hamerkop amongst others to chirp about. It is also the best place for flocks of Lesser Flamingos, where the concentration is the largest and most accessible in the world. Traversing lush rainforests and sun-baked plains in search of your favourite bird or mammal, makes Kenya an unforgettable experience.

Flamingos gather on a lake in Kenya, a great destination for birdwatching

Wild Plains of Tanzania

Best known for its many game reserves and parks, Mt Kilimanjaro and 30,000 odd mammals roaming around.  Tanzania is a world-class photo safari destination, with over 1100 bird species, many are open country birds that are easy to photograph. The famous Serengeti has one of the most amazing settings on the planet, the Maasai pronunciation is “Siringitu” meaning ‘place where land goes on forever’ with rivers lined with stunning flat-topped acacia trees, grassy plains as far as the eyes can see all thriving with nature. Birds to look out for include flocks of flamingos, Ostrich, African Fish Eagle, Secretary Bird, Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, and localized species such as Crab Plover and Golden-winged Sunbird.

Electric-blue starlings gather on a tree in Tanzania

Natural Wonders of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a birding utopia, with over 900 species of birds in just 50,000 square meters, including 80 Central American endemics and about 40 species spanning the border of Costa Rica and Panama highlands. This stunning country is a pristine paradise, palm strewn beaches, lush jungles home to spider monkeys, toucans and 50 types of humming birds comprise a magical land. Add sloths, howler monkeys, nesting turtles, colourful frogs and giant dragonflies to your experience, it’s no wonder this country has the highest percentage of ‘protected’ land in the world.

A hummingbird drinks nectar from a tropical flower in Costa Rica
Image of blog author Laura Weeden

Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.

Laura | About the author

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