Pel's Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli ©Jonathan Rossouw Website

Africa is the world’s second largest and second-most populous continent after Asia. At over 30 million km2 (11 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 20% of Earth’s land area and 6% of its total surface area. With 1.5 billion people it accounts for about 20% of the world’s human population. Africa’s population is the youngest amongst all the continents. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita and second-least wealthy by total wealth, ahead of Oceania.

The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states, eight cities and islands that are part of non-African states, and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. This count does not include Malta and Sicily, which are geologically part of the African continent. Algeria is Africa’s largest country by area, and Nigeria is its largest by population. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

Africa straddles the equator and the prime meridian. It is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to the southern temperate zones. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and a number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Libyan Dessert©giomodica, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most of the continent lies in the tropics, except for a large part of Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, the northern tip of Mauritania, and the entire territories of Morocco, Ceuta, Melilla, and Tunisia which in turn are located above the tropic of Cancer, in the northern temperate zone. In the other extreme of the continent, southern Namibia, southern Botswana, great parts of South Africa, the entire territories of Lesotho and Eswatini and the southern tips of Mozambique and Madagascar are located below the tropic of Capricorn, in the southern temperate zone.

Africa is highly biodiverse; it is the continent with the largest number of megafauna species, as it was least affected by the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna. However, Africa also is heavily affected by a wide range of environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, water scarcity and pollution. These entrenched environmental concerns are expected to worsen as climate change impacts Africa. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified Africa as the continent most vulnerable to climate change.

Birding Africa

The massive continent has incredible birding opportunities everywhere. Some countries much visited by birders include Morocco, Ghana, Gambia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

Morocco is visited because of its many North African species, stable politics and good infrastructure. In the west Gambia and Ghana give opportunities to see many west African specials, in Ghana some unique species of unique families with excellent infrastructure. In Gambia well developed tourism in a very small country (the smallest in mainland Africa) with a high density of bird species in the attraction.

Masai Mara, KenyaDanijel Mihajlovic, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the east Kenya has a very long list, is relatively small and is along the rift valley. Ethiopia has unique highlands with unique birds although the infrastructure is poor and tourist hotels few. Tanzania has the best opportunities for big game and predators as well as a long bird list. In the south Namibia, Botswana and south Africa are also stable, with good infrastructures, good tourist facilities and many bird species with the chance of many of Africa’s special mammals too… albeit, in South Africa in particular, in artificially created game parks.

Tourism is, especially in the poorer nations, extremely important to local economies and birders would do well to ensure as much of their tourist dollars end up in the local economy and not in international hotel chains etc. In many places it is appreciated if we give something back… old binoculars can turn poverty into a life changing opportunity to train as a guide. School books and equipment are an investment in local young people. Don’t forget, people living on by subsistence farming have no alternative to over exploiting poor soils and adding to deforestation. The more people employed in green tourism the better it is for them, and for the environment.

This page is sponsored by Birding Ecotours

This page is sponsored by Avian Safaris - The East African Specialists

This page is sponsored by Rockjumper Birding

This page is sponsored by LeafLove Safaris

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 2477

    (As at April 2024) - This figure is, of course, approximate - and represents nearly a quarter of the world total.
  • Number of endemics: 1599

    14 Entire families are endemic to Africa as a whole, as are all of the African members of seven other families.
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Africa: South of the Sahara

    | By Ian Sinclair, Peter G REyan, Norman Arlott, Peter Hayman & Alan Harris | Random House Struik | 2010 | Paperback | 767 pages, 340 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781770076235 Buy this book from
  • Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi

    | By Terry Stevenson, John Fanshawe, Brian E Small & John Gale | Helm | 2020 | Edition 2Paperback | 640 pages, 289 colour plates, 3500+ colour illustrations, colour distribution maps, colour & b/w maps | ISBN: 9781408157367 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western Africa

    | By Nik Borrow & Ron Demey | Christopher Helm | 2014 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 592 pages, 266 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472905680 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Western and Central Africa

    | By Ber van Perlo | Princeton University Press | 2003 | Paperback | 384 pages, 109 plates with colour illustrations; colour & b/w illustrations, 1500+ b/w distribution maps, colour maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780691007144 Buy this book from
  • Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra

    | By Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe | Christopher Helm | 2011 | Paperback | 512 pages, 213 colour plates, 1000+ colour distribution maps, colour & b/w maps | ISBN: 9781408157350 Buy this book from
  • Southern African Birdfinder

    | By Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw | New Holland Publishers | 2006 | Paperback | 456 pages, 80 col photos, 100 maps, pull-out route map | ISBN: 9781868727254 Buy this book from
  • The Birder's Guide to Africa

    | By Michael Mills & Tasso Leventis | Go-Away-Birding | 2017 | Paperback | | 544 Pages | Numerous illustrations & 2 Colour Maps | ISBN: 9780620717250 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Africa, Volume 8: The Malagasy Region

    | By Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins, John Gale & Brian Small | Christopher Helm | 2013 | Hardback | 1024 pages, 63 plates with colour illustrations; 1 colour illustration, colour distribution maps, 9 colour maps, 8 colour tables | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713665321 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Africa

    | By Nigel Wheatley | Princeton University Press | 2000 | Paperback | 432 pages, 51 line illustrations, 110 maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780691070476 Buy this book from
Birding Aps
  • Roberts Bird Guide 2

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Southern African Birding CC | 1.5 GB | Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch |

    ROBERTS BIRD GUIDE 2 is a new app based on the new publication "Roberts Bird Guide (second edition)" with all new illustrations, distribution maps and bird texts for 977 Southern African bird species, including all the new species and names, and including new app functions and features*.
  • eGuide to Birds of East Africa

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Paintings; 1300+ species | | 516.1 MB | Requires iOS 9.3 or later |

    The eGuide to Birds of East Africa is an interactive companion to Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe's Birds of East Africa field guide – the essential guide for birdwatchers visiting this spectacular region. It covers Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. This application has specific features that will enhance your birding experience.
Useful Information
  • Urgent Bird Conservation Priorities in Africa & its Islands

    This note was written for the bulletin of the African Bird Club ( (ABC) and is published here on our blog with permission from them. We highly recommend you join the ABC if you want to contribute to bird conservation on the vast African continent.
  • African Bird Club

    African Bird Club, UK registered charity 1053920, has been established: to provide a worldwide focus for African ornithology; to encourage an interest in the conservation of the birds of the region; to liaise with and promote the work of existing regional societies; to publish a twice-yearly colour bulletin; to encourage observers to visit lesser known areas of the region, and search actively for globally threatened and near-threatened species; to develop a Conservation Fund.
  • Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network)

    The Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) is a regional conservation organization with the mission to enhance biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in the Albertine Rift region, Africa Great Lakes region and African Mountains through the promotion of collaborative conservation actions for nature and people.
  • Bushmeat Project

    The Bushmeat Project has been established to develop and support community based partnerships that will help the people of Cameroon, the Congos, Gabon, Nigeria, and Central African Republic to develop alternatives to unsustainable bushmeat. The programme is a long-term effort to provide economic and social incentive to people to protect great apes and other endangered wildlife. For more organizational and program details about the Bushmeat Project please read our Action Agenda, as well as the Project's Mission, Goals and Driving Principles. If you want to join this effort please contact us at
  • Conservation Volunteers for Africa

    We arrange for young people to work on Game and Nature Reserves throughout Southern Africa, playing an active role in Conservation and the maintenance of the Environment – working in intimate association with Game Rangers and Conservationists in the Wild!
  • Peace Parks Foundation

    The primary objective of the Peace Parks Foundation is to promote Transfrontier Conservation Areas in Southern Africa. Through these proposed peace parks the Foundation is working with governments, the private sector and local communities to protect our environment and unlock the huge economic potential of the region`s tourist industry. The peace parks will help to bind together Southern Africa`s nations in a vast network of sustainable and environmental partnerships, protecting their unique natural inheritance for generations, and promoting a culture of peace and cooperation. We encourage you to support one of the most important initiatives.
  • TUSK Trust

    Advancing Conservation Across Africa - Tusk is a dynamic and adaptable organisation with almost 30 years' experience initiating and funding wildlife conservation programmes across Africa.
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • List of Africa's National Parks

    WebpageSatellite View
    This is a list of national parks in Africa by country. The nature of the parks varies considerably not only between countries but also within some nations – the degree of protection, accessibility and type of environment for which it is intended to deliver protection. Some parks have been cleared of their original human population, others have always been essentially uninhabited, while yet others contain significant population centres.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • African Birding Group

    Mailing Groupm & Forum
    AfricanBirding is an email discussion group that is administered by ABC. Topics range widely but include discussion about identification, trip reports, request for information and announcements. Unique in scope, it covers the whole of Africa and is for those people interested in birds, birding and conservation in the region. Membership is open to all and is FREE!
Guides & Tour Operators
  • 2 by 2 African Holidays

    Specialists in travel to Southern & East Africa for over 10 years - we offer outstanding value safari packages & self drive vacations, as well as unique tailor made holiday, private and group tours. Combine your ideas with our local knowledge, and let us help you create a holiday of a lifetime! All our holidays are fully financially protected…
  • Africa Odyssey

    Tour Operator
    Africa Odyssey is the culmination of decades of travel knowledge and long safari experience. Our MD, Marc Harris, is a director of the African Travel and Tourism Association and a judge of the Good Safari Guide, Our Tanzania director is the author of the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and all of our team have worked, lived or travelled extensively in their specialist African countries….
  • BirdQuest

    Tour Operator
    BirdQuest, founded in 1981, has an unequalled repertoire of birding tours and combined birdwatching and wildlife holidays and cruises that will appeal to every kind of birder. Our tours are celebrated as the very best available, and we have shown our clients and friends over 10,200 bird species worldwide, more than any other birding tour company (and not that far off the total for all other birding tour companies combined!), as well as an extraordinary variety of mammals and many other fascinating aspects of the natural world.
  • Birding Africa

    Tour Operator
    Birding tours from Cape Town to Cameroon and Madagascar, with the only African Birding Specialist
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Birding Ecotours, a South African company, aims to provide world-wide birding experiences of superb quality, while contributing to environmental conservation and disadvantaged communities. Please contact us for detailed information, queries and quotations. We are affiliated to Cape Town (South Africa) based pelagic trips and we are happy to help you in every aspect of planning your birding holiday.
  • Eagle-Eye Tours

    Tour Operator
  • Expert Africa

    Expert Africa does not currently offer trips which we label as “birdwatching holidays to Africa". However, we do have bird-watchers among our expert team, and so can advise you on the best lodges and areas for your birding interests – and we do put together many tailor-made trips for travellers who want to go on a primarily bird-watching holiday.
  • FieldGuides

    Tour Operator
    Endemic-rich birding, spectacular landscapes, and a unique flora are the highlights of our energetic survey tour of this beautiful country.
  • Lawson's Safaris

    Tour Operator
    Welcome to our new website, the online home of Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris, a specialized Birding and Wildlife Safari Company. The site was designed with a ‘simple and clean’ motto in mind. The imagery is mostly all ours (we had a bit of help with Botswana and Malawi), and we’ll be changing things regularly to keep it current. We have some great information on destinations as well, so we invite you to grab a cup of coffee and spend some time here as you ponder an African birding and wildlife experience. Get in touch with us if you have any questions or queries, we’re always happy to chat about birds, wildlife and travel!
  • Limosa

    Tour Operator
  • Nature Travel Birding

    Tour Operator
    Nature Travel Birding specialise in birding trips in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Spain, Namibia and South Africa.
  • Natures Wonderland Safaris

    Tour Operator
    Birding & Nature tours throughout eastern Africa
  • Naturetrek

    Tour Operator
    When people think of visiting Africa, safari holidays are regularly at the top of the list. Riding in an open-top jeep along dusty tracks and looking out across the sun-baked savannah teeming with big game is arguably one of life’s best experiences.
  • Njewa Safaris

    Tour Operator
    Birding Safaris - There are over 1,000 different bird species in Kenya
  • Rainbow Tours

    Tour Operator
    If you know where in Africa you are interested in visiting, you can browse our website by country - just click on the relevant destination in the left hand menu. Here you’ll find background information, Africa holiday examples, ideas on where to stay, answers to frequently asked questions and customers reviews.
  • Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures

    Our comprehensive tour portfolio encompasses many of the most breathtaking and biologically diverse destinations on the planet. To provide you with the particular travel experience you desire, we have classified our tours into six categories…
  • Wildside Nature Tours

    Tour Operator
    Since 1993, Wildside Nature Tours has been offering quality worldwide wildlife adventures. Our dedicated, enthusiastic leaders are as excited about your trip as you! We have done extensive ‘hands on’ research into many different areas of the regions we visit, in order to offer you the best opportunity and safest experience for birding, photography and nature exploration.
  • Wings

    Tour Operator
Places to Stay
  • Eco-resorts East Africa

    Welcome to eco-resorts, your online resource for East African eco-tours and safaris! We would like to personally welcome you to the fascinating world of eco-safaris and eco adventures in Kenya and Tanzania. Take your time - visit some of the delightful camps, hotels and lodges available for your safari.
Other Links
  • Birds of East Africa

    Page with travel tips and pictures of birds in Africa
  • Southern Africa Birding

    Birding Resources for Southern Africa. This site is about birds and birding in South Africa and the Southern African region, including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Zambia. The region`s best birding sites are featured under Birding Spots, together with birding resources under Bird guides, tours and Accommodation

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content