Republic of South Africa

Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius ©Dominic Rollinson Website

South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by c.2,800 kilometres (c.1,700 miles) of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini. It also completely enclaves the country Lesotho. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World, and the second-most populous country located entirely south of the equator. South Africa is a biodiversity hotspot, with unique biomes, plant and animal life. With around 62 million people, the country is the world’s 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of c.1,220,000 Km² (c.470,000 square miles). Pretoria is the administrative capital, while Cape Town, is the seat of Parliament, and is the legislative capital. The largest city is Johannesburg with over six million people, Followed by Cape Town (4.8 million) and Durban (3.5 million)

Simply put South Africa is comprised of a high lying plateau (known locally as the Highveld) in the eastern interior largely 1,500m or more above sea level. This falls away in the west and north into a bowl-shaped feature known as the Kalahari Basin. These two features are rimmed by a mountainous escarpment – known as the Great Escarpment or simply the Escarpment – which varies in altitude from around 800m in the west to more than 3,000m in the Drakensberg range in the east. Finally there is a narrow coastal plain 50 to 200km wide and mostly below 500m in altitude.

This varied topography and oceanic influence result in a great variety of climatic zones, ranging from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the border with Mozambique and the Indian Ocean. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August. The extreme southwest has a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous fynbos biome of shrubland and thicket. This area produces much of the wine in South Africa and is known for its wind, which blows intermittently almost all year. The severity of this wind made passing around the Cape of Good Hope particularly treacherous for sailors, causing many shipwrecks. Further east on the south coast, rainfall is distributed more evenly throughout the year, producing a green landscape. The annual rainfall increases south of the Lowveld, especially near the coast, which is subtropical. The Free State is particularly flat because it lies centrally on the high plateau. North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat.

The country has three international airports – Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban., served with regular daily flights by most major airlines. The important domestic airports at Port Elizabeth, East London, George, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Upington are all serviced by regular internal flights. It is also possible to reach the country via overland trips through Africa or via one of the many cruises that visit the country’s major ports – Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban. The vast majority of international birders fly into South Africa. For UK Birders the time zone is GMT + 2.

Numerous mammals are found in the Bushveld including lions, African leopards, South African cheetahs, southern white rhinos, blue wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamuses and South African giraffes. A significant extent of the Bushveld exists in the north-east including Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, as well as in the far north in the Waterberg Biosphere.

 South Africa in Bloom ©John Buckingham

Birding South Africa

South Africa is one of the best value birding destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, good accommodation, excellent food, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in. Typically, the birds are easy to find, and well over 500 species can be seen during a 3-week trip. But South Africa is not only one of the best countries to start one’s African birding in – it is also boasts more endemic species than any other country on this vast continent, making it an essential country for any world birder.

Bird-wise South Africa can be divided into seven major natural regions: Grassveld – almost treeless grassland; Fynbos (pronounced fain-bos) – a sort of Macchia or chaparral; Karoo – an arid to very arid semi-desert; Afromontane Forest – more or less evergreen with a closed canopy; Bushveld – a fairly arid to arid open to closed woodland often referred to in South Africa as Savannah; the East Coast Littoral – a moist tropical to sub-tropical mosaic of forest, coastal thicket and grassland; and Pelagic – open sea up to 200km off-shore. Each of these regions have their own suite of birds and the first four hold many endemic species.

There are pages for each South African Province outlining the Top Birding Spots, trip reports and all the usual links and facts… just click on the Provinces under the map below.

This page is sponsored by Birding Ecotours

This page is sponsored by Rockjumper Birding Tours

Top Sites
  • Birding Hotspots

    Birding hotspots abound throughout South Africa and birders are referred to the “Southern African Birdfinder” by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw, published by Struik in 2006. The hotspots listed below are merely representative of those in each Birding Region and finally Pelagics
  • Pelagics

    Pelagic trips are run out of various harbours in South Africa but, generally, Cape Town offers, by far, the best sea birding in South Africa. In fact, is considered to be some of the best anywhere in the world. The cold Benguela Current brings highly nutrient-rich waters up from the south, and the strong winds (predominately from the south-east) create an up welling that brings all the nutrients to the surface. This, in turn, sustains the phytoplankton that forms the basis of the marine food chain. Pelagic fisheries thrive in the area, and discards from the trawlers provide a constant food source for pelagic birds. There are around 85 species that have been recorded on South African pelagic trips including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, skuas and a whole host of other exciting birds. Day trips can produce in excess of 30 species with, particularly winter trips, providing the spectacle of some 30,000 individual birds. Added to this, there are a number of whale and dolphin species that are encountered as well as some other interesting marine wildlife. Pelagic trips are spectacular to say the least and will provide one with many cherished memories. If you are in South Africa, it should become a priority on your birding itinerary and should not be missed. For more information on the seasonality of the various species, photographs and other general information regarding pelagic trips in South Africa, visit and Regular trips are offered out of Cape Town and Durban and occasionally trips are organised from Port Elizabeth. Interested birders should contact Zest for Birds/Trevor Hardaker, Birding Ecotours or Cape Town Pelagics
  • The Afromontane Forests - Approx. 1,000 km²

    South African Afromontane forests are highly fragmented and largely scattered along the southern and eastern slopes of the Great Escarpment. With the exception of the fairly extensive forests around the coastal towns of George and Knysna and to the south of Port Elizabeth, all are located more than 40 km inland. The southern forests are best accessed from Cape Town, Durban, George or Port Elizabeth. Johannesburg is the closest airport to the northern forests of Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. As is typical of mountainous areas everywhere the weather is rarely predictable except that it will be cold in winter. Summers are generally mild and evenings can be cool. Rain and mist can be expected throughout the year. Some 120 species occur regularly in the Afromontane Forests. Nine of South Africa`s endemic species (two are endemic to the forests) and a further 15 species (eight of them are nearly endemic to these forests) endemic to southern Africa are found here. Birding hotspots include Grootvadersbos and the George-Knysna area in the Western Cape Province, Hogsback and Weza-Ingele forests in the Eastern Cape, Xumeni and Ntumeni in KwaZulu-Natal, the Barberton-Graskop-Blyde River Canyon area in Mpumalanga and Woodbush/Magoebaskloof in the Northern Province.
  • The Bushveld - Area 385,799 km²

    The Bushveld can basically be divided into two areas - the arid Bushveld of the Kalahari in the west and the moist Bushveld in the east. It shares the Kalahari basin with the Karoo in the west and the north, but also extends into the lower lying area between the Great Escarpment and the East Coast Littoral in the east. The arid west is best accessed from Kimberley and Upington while the east and north is best accessed from Johannesburg. South Africa`s two giant conservation areas - The Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – as well as the Pilanesberg and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserves, are situated in the Bushveld and most of the country`s remaining large mammal population is found here. For the most part summers are warm to hot and winters mild to cool. What rainfall there is falls during summer. Malaria can be a problem throughout the year in the moister east, but particularly in summer so anti-malarials are needed. Almost 550 species of birds occur regularly in the Bushveld. None of these are endemic to the South African Bushveld, but no fewer than 86 of the species endemic or nearly endemic to southern Africa as a whole can be found here. Birding hotspots are many in such a diverse area, but some of the best known ones include the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserves in KwaZulu-Natal, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in the Northern Cape and Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Northern Province. Other less well-known spots include Nylsvley and Langjan Nature Reserves in Northern Province, the area north of Pretoria in Gauteng Province, the Kimberley area and Witsand Nature Reserve in the Northern Cape and Loskop Dam Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga.
  • The East Coast Littoral

    This area is made up of a mosaic of sub-tropical to tropical grassland, woodland and forest and not surprisingly has a high diversity of species. As the name implies it is a narrow strip stretching up the east coast of South Africa from north of Port Elizabeth to the South African-Mozambique border. The area is best accessed from Durban or Port Elizabeth. The climate is generally humid with hot, wet summers and warm winters. Malaria can be a problem in the areas north of the towns of Eshowe and Mtunzini and anti-malarial drugs and other precautions are recommended when visiting these areas. Nearly 430 regularly occurring species can be found in this narrow coastal strip. While no species are endemic to the South African portion itself, five species - Pink-throated Twinspot, Neergard`s Sunbird, Rudd`s Apalis, Lemon-breasted Canary and Woodwards Batis all have a very localised distribution in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique, occurring only marginally outside this area. Overall, 38 species found here are endemic or nearly so to southern Africa. It is difficult to single out any particular birding hotspot - virtually the entire area is a hotspot! Mkuzi and Ndumo Game Reserves, the Greater St Lucia Wetland area (a World Heritage site); Mtunzini village, Ongoye, Ntumeni and Dhlinza Forests near Eshowe and Oribi Gorge near Port Shepstone are but a few that spring to mind.
  • The Fynbos - Area 59,282 km²

    The Fynbos occurs on the coastal plain and southern mountain slopes in the southernmost part of the African continent. It stretches from north of St Helena Bay in the west to around Port Elizabeth in the east. The vegetation comprises mostly a macchia type of scrub and it is renowned for its botanical variety. It is best accessed from Cape Town, George or Port Elizabeth. Typically the climate consists of mild to warm, dry summers (wetter in the east) and cool, wet winters. Some 270 species of birds occur regularly in the Fynbos, with a respectable suite of rather localised endemics. Birding hotspots include the Cape Peninsula, the West Coast National Park, the Berg River Estuary and De Hoop Provincial Nature Reserve.
  • The Grassveld - Area 280,047 km²

    South Africa's Grassveld is concentrated in the high lying interior plateau and is best accessed from Johannesburg or Durban. East London, Bloemfontein and Kimberley are other possibilities, particularly for the more arid western areas. The climate is typically mild to warm, wet summers and cold, frosty, dry winters with snow sometimes in the higher lying areas. More than 400 species occur regularly in the Grassveld, including a good number of South Africa’s endemics. In common with grasslands throughout the world South Africa's grasslands are under huge pressure from human development programmes. As much as 80% of South Africa's grasslands have been put to the plough, planted to alien trees, covered by urban sprawl or swallowed up by huge open-cast pits. These threats are reflected in its bird life. Birding hotspots in the Grassveld include Wakkerstroom and Sani Pass (between South Africa and Lesotho) in the moist eastern area and Barberspan and the Bloemhof area in the arid west.
  • The Karoo - Area 369,946 km²

    The Karoo stretches eastward from South Africa`s west coast, north of St Helena Bay across the southern portion of the Kalahari basin. The most arid parts are found in the north-west along the Namibian border, gradually becoming less arid to the east and south. It is best accessed from Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Kimberley or Upington. Generally summers are hot and dry with winters being cold and dry. What rain there is generally falls in spring and autumn and this is the best time for birding in this fascinating part of the country. More than 300 species occur regularly in the Karoo, and the number of endemics here is staggering.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 877

    (As at March 2024)

    Prince Edwards Islands are geographically separate but politically part of South Africa - they have an additional 8 species which do not occur on the mainland

  • Number of bird species: National Bird

    Blue Crane Anthropoides paradisea
  • Number of endemics: 18 (Endemic to South Africa)

    Fynbos Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus
    Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra
    Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus
    Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata
    Rudd’s Lark Heteromirafra ruddi
    Cape Long-billed Lark Certhilauda curvirostris
    Agulhas Long-billed Lark Certhilauda brevirostris
    Red Lark Calendulauda burra
    Botha’s Lark Spizocorys fringillaris
    Cape Bulbul Pycnonotus capensis
    Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus
    Knysna Warbler Bradypterus sylvaticus
    Victorin’s Warbler Cryptillas victorini
    Yellow-breasted Pipit Anthus chloris
    Cape Sugarbird Promerops cafer
    Orange-breasted Sunbird Anthobaphes violacea
    Cape Siskin Crithagra totta
    Protea Canary (Seedeater) Crithagra leucoptera
  • Number of endemics: 20 (Only found in South Africa, Lesotho & Eswatini)

    Southern Bald Ibis Geronticus calvus
    Forest Buzzard Buteo trizonatus
    Grey-winged Francolin Scleroptila afra
    Blue Korhaan Eupodotis caerulescens
    Knysna Turaco Tauraco corythaix
    Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus
    Eastern Long-billed Lark Certhilauda semitorquata
    Bush Blackcap Sylvia nigricapillus
    Cape Rock Thrush Monticola rupestris
    Sentinel Rock Thrush Monticola explorator
    Buff-streaked Chat Campicoloides bifasciatus
    Chorister Robin-chat Cossypha dichroa
    Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius
    Drakensberg Prinia Prinia hypoxantha
    Mountain Pipit Anthus hoeschi
    African Rock Pipit Anthus crenatus
    Pied Starling Lamprotornis bicolor
    Greater Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris afer
    Forest Canary Crithagra scotops
    Drakensberg Siskin Crithagra symonsi
  • Number of endemics: 1 (Breeding Endemic)

    South African Cliff-Swallow Petrochelidon spilodera
  • Avibase - The World Bird Database

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in South Africa , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers.

    PDF Checklist
    Birds of South Africa
  • Wikipedia

    Annotated List
    This article is about the list of birds from the country of South Africa. For the list of birds from the region of Southern Africa, see List of birds of Southern Africa.
Useful Reading

  • Birding in South Africa's National Parks

    | By Rob Little | Jacana Publishers | 2019 | Paperback | 208 pages, colour photos, colour maps, tables | ISBN: 9781431426898 Buy this book from
  • Birds of South Africa

    | By Adam Riley | Bloomsbury | 2022 | Paperback | 224 pages, colour photos, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9781472990808 Buy this book from
  • Newman's Birds of Southern Africa

    | By Kenneth B Newman, Faansie Peacock & Vanessa Newman | Random House Struik | 2010 | Paperback | 536 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781770078765 Buy this book from
  • Roberts Bird Guide

    | By Hugh Chittenden, Greg Davies & Ingrid Weiersbye | Jacana Publishers | 2018 | Edition 2 | Flexibound | 570 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour photos, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781920602017 Buy this book from
  • Sappi Birds of South Africa

    | By Saartjie Kidson & Herman van Niekerk | Briza Publications | 2014 | Paperback | 320 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781920217334 Buy this book from
  • Sasol Birds of Southern Africa

    | By Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, Peter G Ryan, Norman Arlott & Peter Hayman | Random House SA | 2020 | (5th Edition) | Paperback | 482 pages, plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781775846680 Buy this book from
  • Southern African Birdfinder

    | [Where to find 1400 bird species in southern Africa and Madagascar] | 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 Complete Photographic Guide to Birds of Southern Africa

    | By Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan | Random House Struik | 2009 | Paperback | 432 pages, 2500 photographs, distribution maps | ISBN: 9781770073883 Buy this book from
  • The Important Bird Areas of Southern Africa

    | Edited by Marnewick MD, Retief EF, Theron NT, Wright DR and Anderson TA | 2nd Edition 2015 | (BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg) | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780620234238 Buy this book from
Birding Aps
  • Newman’s Birds of Africa

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Birds of Southern Africa | App Developer Studio Cc | 771.8 MB | Requires iOS 11.0 or later | Requires Android 4.1 and up |

  • Roberts Bird Guide 2

    Apple iOS | Android
    | Southern Africa Birding cc | 1.5GHB | 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*.
  • Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa 5th Edition

    Apple iOS | Android
    | | 8.9M | Requires Android 4.0.3 and up |

    If you like the way this app works please check out the full version or you can download up to 89 species 'groups' as in-app-purchases within this app.
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • African Bird Fair

    In the year 2020, the African Bird Fair went virtual. For about 15 years the African Bird Fair has been held physically in South Africa.
Museums & Universities
  • Animal Demography Unit

    Animal Demography Unit, Deparment of Zoology, University of Cape Town - From 1 January 2008, the Avian Demography Unit (or the ADU for short) will become the Animal Demography Unit (still the ADU). What prompted this? Ever since the ADU initiated the frog atlas project a decade ago in 1998, there have been issues with the name Avian Demography Unit
  • Ornithology Department - National Museum

    National Museum, PO Box 266, Bloemfontein, 9300 SOUTH AFRICAtel. +27 (0)51 4479609;fax +27 (0)51 4476273e-mail National Museum: - The Ornithology Department was established in the early 1970s, with the appointment of Dr Tibor Farkas (1973-1986). The organization of material on display, much of which was exotic in origin, was the primary objective at this time.
  • University of Cape Town Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology

    Welcome to The Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology on line! This web site provides an overview of what the Institute is about, study opportunities, including the Institute`s Conservation Biology Masters Programme, and current research themes and projects. You can also familiarise yourself with the staff and students of the Institute, and visit our hot links page for some useful and interesting websites.
  • African Bird Club

    The Republic of South Africa, a large country boasting extraordinary natural history, is probably better known for apartheid, a fading legacy in a new democratic society. A popular destination for the birder interested in Africa's southern latitudes, South Africa's varied climate and topography has produced a variety of habitats that supports an astounding array of nearly 850 species, a large number of which are endemic or near-endemic. Ornithologically the country is well researched, which is evident from the excellent field and site finding guides available to birders. Coupled with a well developed infrastructure and a stable economy, South Africa must rank as one of Africa's prime birding destinations…
  • BirdLife South Africa

    Isdell House, 17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West 2196, Johannesburg, South Africa - Private Bag X16, Pinegowrie, 2123 - Tel: +27 (0) 11 789 1122 - Email: BirdLife South Africa has developed a number of position statements to assist staff, bird clubs, council members and indeed all members, to align themselves with the organisation's viewpoints on a range of important matters. These statements are intended to summarise and demonstrate a clear stance on specific viewpoints.
  • South African Rarities Committee

    The BirdLife South Africa National Rarities Committee is tasked with the evaluation of records of birds which would constitute national rarities anywhere in South Africa.
  • VulPro - Vulture Conservation

    VulPro approaches vulture conservation in an integrated, multidisciplinary fashion, with the benefits from the programme accruing to both vultures and society at large. VulPro combines education and good science, with networking, capacity building and knowledge generation. The veterinary disciplines of toxicology, pharmacology, clinical pathology and medicine are combined with the science of GSM/GPS telemetry and the banking of genetic and DNA resources, with the goal being to positively influence the well-being of our natural resources to ultimately benefit society. In this regard, VulPro engages in a number of interrelated activities, and uses a variety of resources, in endeavouring to meet its objectives.

Abbreviations Key

  • Diamond Birding Route

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Diamond Route refers to a series of properties that have been set aside for conservation and tourism. Many have accommodation, ranging from luxurious lodges to camping, and offer a range of wildlife and outdoor activities.
  • South African National Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The vision of the South African National Parks is that national parks will be the pride and joy of all South Africans. The mission of the South African National Parks is to acquire and manage a system of national parks that represent the indigenous wildlife, vegetation, landscapes and significant cultural assets of South Africa for the pride and benefit of the nation.
  • WR Gough Island

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Gough Island is a remote, uninhabited island in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, in the South Atlantic, more than 1,500 miles from Cape Town. Being so far from disturbance makes Gough an idyllic nesting ground, and it is relied upon by millions of the world’s most unique seabirds who breed nowhere else. Its importance for threatened species and sites of outstanding universal value earned Gough World Heritage Site status in 1995 and Important Bird Area status in 2013.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Aves Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Aves Birding Tours offers simply the ultimate in Birding. With 98 endemic and 62 near endemic bird species, it is no wonder that Southern Africa should be at the top of any international birder's list. More than 800 spectacular bird species to be seen whilst enjoying the rich botanical heritage, extensive wildlife and vast scenic beauty. The First World infrastructure, fine food and wine and great hospitality, makes it a must-visit destination.
  • Avian Leisure Tours

    Tour Operator
    Essentially our business is organising birding and wildlife tours throughout South Africa - tailored to individual interests and requirements: both fully guided and self drive trips or a combination of self drive & guides in certain places. Patrick has an in depth knowledge of the country and puts together itineraries that are optimised for an individual client's requirements - minimising distances required to travel in one day and using accommodation in or near to the best birding localities. We do not run set departure tours (unless on behalf of another tour operator). Our focus is on small groups (between 2 and 6 ideally). We also run a self catering birder friendly guest house in Cape Town which is a convenient place for birders to stay whilst in the Cape, but this does not necessarily have to be part of the birders itinerary
  • Birding Africa

    Tour Operator
    Birding Africa is run by three Capetonian birders and naturalists, Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Peter Ryan, all based at the University of Cape Town`s Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Callan and Claire are postgraduate research students, and have recently published an new birding site guide to Cape Town and beyond: Essential Birding - Western South Africa. Peter is a lecturer and researcher, and the author of numerous publications, most recently a new field guide to the birds of Afrotropics.
  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    South Africa is one of the best value destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, great accommodation, excellent food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in.
  • Birds 4 Africa

    Tour Operator
    Birding, ringing & research - Birds4Africa specialises in a variety of personalized Ringing and Birding tours in Africa and surrounding islands. Our tours are for small groups of 1-6 participants. While birds are the main focus, we are also interested in other fauna and flora, and their inter-relationships with birds. Birders, bird ringers (banders) and photographers are welcome to contact Dieter for further information. Being based in Cape Town, South Africa, we also run day trips on the Cape Peninsula. In addition to enjoying bird ringing, bird watching and guiding, Birds4Africa conducts ornithological research on African birds, with a particular focus on the weaverbirds.
  • Lawsons

    Tour Operator
    As Southern Africa is so diverse, with a great number of vastly different habitats, the birdlife is considerable. This makes the sub-region a popular birdwatching destination with over 900 species on the list. Lawson`s plan and run tailormade guided birdwatching tours for small groups throughout the sub-region. Most trips are led by Peter Lawson who is a highly experienced specialist tour guide. His knowledge and ability at finding and identifying difficult species is well known by birders from various parts of the globe. When Peter is not available to personally lead tours we engage the services of other knowledgeable registered guides and we have a good reputation for our expertise. P O BOX 16849, NELSPRUIT, 1200 SOUTH AFRICA
  • NtabaTours

    Tour Operator
    Ntaba African Safaris specialise in delivering bespoke safaris to Africa and creating the most memorable safari experiences.
  • Rockjumper

    Tour Operator
    Our tours are intended for birders who wish to spend most or all of their holiday time birding. To optimise the increased bird activity in the cooler morning hours, an average day on tour usually begins before sunrise and frequently ends well after sunset with a night drive in search of nocturnal birds and mammals, although we often take a rest during the heat of the day. We try, where possible, to divide the day`s activities into optional sections, allowing participants greater freedom and flexibility. Whilst the hours are often rigorous, most Rockjumper tours are not physically strenuous, requiring no more than moderate fitness. Less focused itineraries can be planned for groups who wish to concentrate on the cultural or other wildlife aspect of the countries in which we offer tours (although in no way are these ignored on our standard itineraries.)
  • Sustain Safaris

    Tour Operator
    Sustain Safaris leads captivating and sustainable wildlife and birding expeditions for small groups throughout Southern Africa
  • Zest for Birds

    Tour Operator
    We specialise in extended birding tours throughout South Africa as well as guided birding day trips in the Western Cape targeting all the endemic and near endemic species. These trips are designed either to maximise the number of species our client can see or to chase their specific target birds. All trips are led by highly experienced guides to ensure you get the most out of the time you have available.
Trip Reports
  • 2006 [10 October] - Bo Beolens

    PDF Report
    …the lanes around the village specifically to a spot where there are Broad-tailed Warbler which he taped out into the open for most of us to see; oddly Cape Grassbird also responded to the tape. In the area raptor sightings were confined to Yellow-billed and Black-shouldered Kites, Jackal Buzzard but we also saw our first Long-crested Eagles sitting on a telegraph pole close enough for photo silhouettes against the sky. In the fields there were also Fan-tailed, Red-collared and Long-tailed Widows, Cape Canary, White-throated Swallow, White-breasted Cormorant, Grey-crowned Crane and African Wattled Lapwing. He took us to a farm where he has regularly seen Black-bellied Korhaan and we got great views. Whilst looking for the Korhaan we also had a distant view of a magnificent Lanner Falcon…
  • 2014 [11 November] - Errol de Beer

    PDF Report
    Our standard trip covering the eastern part of South Africa covers a wide variety of habitats and a good sampling of what the country has to offer. We had good weather for most of the trip with no rained-out days; in fact, northern KwaZulu Natal was again in the grips of a major drought.
  • 2015 [10 October] - Chris Durdin

    PDF Report
    This holiday, as for every Honeyguide holiday, also puts something into conservation in our host country by way of a contribution to the wildlife that we enjoyed. The conservation contribution this year of £40 per person was combined with those from Honeyguide’s group in Namibia in November 2015.
  • 2015 [12 December] - Bruce Wedderburn - South Africa, Zimbabwe & Mozambique

    This was a month long trip to Southern Africa, from early November through to early December 2015, with a focus on a number of difficult to get birds, the key target being the Africa Pitta. The plan was to spend about four days in the Johannesburg/Pretoria area before doing an overnight trip to Dullstroom in Mpumalanga (Zulu for "the place where the sun rises") for the Cape Eagle Owl. Following this a one-week pre-tour from Johannesburg through to Harare in Zimbabwe looking for three species of Flufftail and other targets. Then a two-week main tour from Harare through the Eastern Highlands and central Mozambique, ending up in Beira on the coast.
  • 2015 [12 December] - John van der Woude

    For this December trip Nollie and I chose western South Africa as it would be one of the few regions in the tropics and southern hemisphere with little influence of the prevalent severe El Niño. Also, we like the Karoo region very much, and the Western and Northern Cape in general. Needless to say, any trip to South Africa is a sheer pleasure, even though we would see only very few lifer bird species. I had guessed that we might see five lifers, and was content with the four we got. This was our fourth trip to South Africa, although the last one was quite some time ago, in 2006.
  • 2016 [03 March] - Matt Prophet - Northern Cape to Zululand

    PDF Report
    We managed to see a pair of Dusky Sunbirds, a target species for Stephen, of which many more sightings werehad during the trip. Along the same stretch of road we obtained nice viewsof Desert Cisticolaand the thick-billed form of Sabota Lark.We also sighted Fawn-colored Lark, Yellow Canary, Cape Bunting,Ring-neckedDove,Laughing Dove,Pale Chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel,Fork-tailed Drongo, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Scaly-feathered Weaver, Sociable Weaver, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater,White-backed Mousebird,Lesser Grey Shrike,SouthernFiscal,andWhite-browed Sparrow-Weaver.Aforaging Kori Bustardclose to the road gave us very good views.
  • 2016 [03 March] - Steve Woodhall

    PDF Report
    South Africa is home to almost 700 species of butterfly, as diverse in size and colour as they are in number, from the smallest blues and coppers to the largest swallowtails and emperors or charaxes. This holiday explored the tropical coastal plain of Zululand, from Durban to the Mozambique border, an area having most of South Africa’s tropical species and some it its largest.
  • 2016 [08 Aug] - Matthew Kwan

    A quick change of scenery, Brian drove inland into an agricultural area, we soon got an endemic Large-billed Lark and a Red-capped Lark in a field, a smart looking Capped Wheatear was also added. It wasn't long before Brian suddenly announced that he spotted a distance single Blue Crane...
  • 2016 [08 August] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    This tour is timed to take advantage of the great birding conditions in the Western Cape fynbos zone along with the annual displays of the Namaqualand flowers. With only two participants the tour was run as a private tour, tailored to their exact wants.
  • 2016 [09 September] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    This was a customized tour for a couple designed to take in ‘The Best of South Africa’ in a relatively short 10-day period. A combination of birding, general wildlife viewing, and some of the true splendor of scenic South Africa allowed us to achieve just that.
  • 2016 [09 September] - Greg de Klerk - Cape & Kruger III

    PDF Report
    The best of South Africa: Cape andKruger provided our participantswith the opportunity to witness thesespectacular habitats at their very bestwith thriving populations of birdsand mammals.
  • 2016 [10 October] - Terry Stevenson & Joe Grosel

    ...Highlights here included Verreaux's Eagle, Karoo and White-quilled bustards, Namaqua Sandgrouse, White-backed Mousebird, Pygmy Falcon, Pririt Batis, Red, Karoo, Spike-heeled and Karoo Long-billed larks, Fairy Flycatcher, Black-fronted Bulbul, Rufous-eared Warbler, Yellow-rumped Eremomela, Karoo Thrush, Pale-winged Starling, Yellow Canary, and Social Weaver. Mammals varied from the small Bat-eared Fox and Yellow Mongoose to the far larger Springbok, Mountain Zebra, and Gemsbok...
  • 2016 [11 November] - Matt Prophet

    PDF Report
    This custom tour was specially designed for our clients. A total of 313 species of birds were seen, a further 13 heard, and 47 mammal species recorded for the tour. This report details the highlights of each location during the tour and does not detail every single species seen by our clients. The trip lists include species which were seen and heard by the clients and the guides while together.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Jason Boyce - Subtropical South Africa

    PDF Report
    OVERVIEW This was a tour with incredible diversity, varying habitats, enjoyable company, and a host of endemic South African bird species. Our 16-day ‘Subtropical South Africa’ tour gave us 397 species of birds, with an additional 15 species being heard only.
  • 2017 [04 April] - Wian van Zyl - Western Cape

    PDF Report
    Here in the endemic-rich Western Cape Province of South Africa there is a lot of interesting and marvelous birding to be had. As we broke off from the west coast we made way for the interior of the province known as the Tanqua Karoo. Here the semi-arid landscape provides a surprising amount of birds and small mammals one wouldn’t expect in an area such as this. From the Tanqua Karoo we saw ourselves heading toward South Africa’s south coast, where we connected with some marvelous cranes, bustards, and larks.
  • 2017 [08 August] - Dylan Vasapolli - Eastern South Africa

    PDF Report
    This custom tour mainly followed our normal ‘Subtropical South Africa’ route, with the exception of deleting the bushveld of Kruger and the thornveld of the Rust de Winter/Pienaarsrivier area.
  • 2017 [09 September] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    ... With a total of 377 bird species (plus seven heard only), including many endemic and/or sought-after species, and considering that the majority of our time was spent in the less diverse arid regions of the country, along with this not having been the prime birding season, we were very pleased with our success...
  • 2017 [09 September] - Dylan Vasapolli & Wian van Zyl - Comprehensive Trip

    PDF Report
    This private tour for a large group of 16 clients took place in two legs, a western leg and an eastern leg. The tour began with the western leg in Cape Town, where we spent a few days around the Cape Peninsula before working our way up the west coast and into Namaqualand. From here we moved eastwards into Bushmanland and eventually to the Kalahari Desert before ending in Upington.
  • 2017 [09 September] - Jason Boyce

    PDF Report
    We recorded 340 species of birds and 51 species of mammals on this tour, with an additional 12 species of reptiles
  • 2017 [11 November] - André Bernon

    PDF Report
    We ended up with a huge total bird listof 426, with special sightings such as many turacos, trogons, rare larks, all three crane species and allof the endemics that we target. We even found representatives of the two southern African endemics:namely Drakensberg Rockjumper and Gurney’s Sugarbird! All in all, it was a fantastic and muchenjoyedtour of this great part of the world.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Dylan Vasapolli - Northern South Africa

    PDF Report
    This short tour was an extension to northern South Africa for a private client, following our set-departure South Africa tours to the Western Cape and Subtropical South Africa. The primary goal was to target species occurring in northern South Africa that are absent/uncommon elsewhere in the country and/or any species missed on the set-departure South Africa tours. This short tour began and ended in Johannesburg and saw us transiting northwards first to the rich thornveld of the Zaagkuilsdrift Road, followed by the montane forests of the Magoebaskloof hills before visiting the moist grasslands and broad-leaved woodlands found in north-eastern Gauteng.
  • 2017 [12 December] - Martin Benadie

    PDF Report
    The 2017 Birdquest Ultimate South Africa tour certainly lived up to its name – yet again! An outstanding birding destination and this tour delivered, with an amazingly high proportion of the targets (the hoped for endemics, regional endemics and specialities) being not only found, but also seen remarkably well. 510 bird species were seen well by all group members (out of 523 species recorded on tour).
  • 2018 [01 January] - Dominic Rillinson - Cape Peninsular Day trip

    PDF Report
    Highlights: African Oystercatcher, Cape Spurfowl, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Bulbul, Cape Grassbird, Cape Batis, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Swee Waxbill, Cape Siskin, Forest Canary
  • 2018 [01 January] - Dominic Rollinson - West Coast Day Trip

    PDF Report
    Highlights: Chestnut-banded Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Cape Spurfowl, Southern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, African Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew, Large-billed Lark. and Cape Bulbul.
  • 2018 [01 January] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    After the arrival of John, Margaret, and Gerry at Johannesburg, I met up with them in the mid-afternoon at our spacious guesthouse before we headed off for some afternoon birding.
  • 2018 [01 January] - Wayne Jones

    PDF Report
    The beauty of South Africa lies in its richness of habitats, from the coastal forests in the east, throughsubalpine mountain ranges and the arid Karoo to fynbos in the south. We explored all of these andmore during our 25-day adventure across the country. Highlights were many and included OrangeRiver Francolin, thousands of Cape Gannets, multiple Secretarybirds, stunning Knysna Turaco,Ground Woodpecker, Botha’s Lark, Bush Blackcap, Cape Parrot, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Caracal, Oribiand Giant Bullfrog, along with spectacular scenery, great food and excellent accommodationthroughout.
  • 2018 [03 March] - Gareth Robbins

    PDF Report
    ...We finally arrived at the start of the Zaagkuildrift Road and immediately started to see birds like the ever-vocal Rufous-naped Lark, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, as well as Black-chested Prinia and Desert Cisticola. We then continued along the road, stopping for the stunning White-throated Robin-Chat, Crested Barbet, Red-faced and Speckled Mousebirds, Rattling Cisticola and Tawny-flanked Prinia...
  • 2018 [04 April] - Jason Boyce

    PDF Report
    ...Highlights included Violet-backed Starling, African Green Pigeon, Black Saw-wing, an exciting couple of Blackcollared Barbets, and a few of the more common things in the area like Southern Black Flycatcher, African Stonechat, and the smart-looking Red-winged Starling...
  • 2018 [10 October] -

    PDF Report
    Today was arrival day, with everyone making their way to the Greenwood Guesthouse, which would be our lodging for the next three nights
  • 2018 [10 October] - Greg Smith

    PDF Report
    Dalton introduced us to several botanical oddities. Microloma sagitatem produces pollen sacs that collect on the tongues of Malachite Sunbirds, so that they carry it to the next flower. Babiana ringens provides a rigid perch, or “rat tail” for the sought after Malachite Sunbird, and thoughtfully arranges its flowers upside-down, so that when the sunbird leans over to take a sip, it collects the pollen on its bill. Many of the flowers here open only for sunny days to conserve energy/water, and unfortunately for us the big white and yellow daisy type flowers we saw blanketing the Cape are closed today.
  • 2018 [11 November] - Sue Dietderich

    South Africa is a world-class destination for birding and mammalian mega-fauna.
  • 2018 [12 December] - Martin Benadie

    PDF Report
    The 2018 Birdquest Ultimate South Africa tour was simply phenomenal! The southern tip of Africa is an oustanding birding destination and this tour delivered, with an amazingly high proportion of the targets (the hoped for endemics, regional endemics and specialities) being not only found, but also seen remarkably well.
  • 2019 [02 February] – Jason Boyce - Magoebaskloof & Kruger NP

    PDF Report
    The forests of Magoebaskloof would be our first stop, spending a day and a half in the area and targeting forest special after forest special as well as tricky range-restricted species such as Short-clawed Lark and Gurney’s Sugarbird. Afterwards we would descend the eastern escarpment and head into Kruger National Park.
  • 2019 [07 July] - Bent Otto Poulsen

    PDF Report
    Birding and mammal watching W to E in South Africa
  • 2019 [07 July] - David Karr

    PDF Report
  • 2019 [10 October] - Dominic Rollinson - Subtropical South Africa

    PDF Report
    This set-departure Subtropical South Africa tour is a comprehensive tour of eastern south Africa that visits a number of South Africa’s major game reserves and includes a broad diversity of habitats. Due to the diversity of habitats visited it often results in an impressive bird and mammal list.
  • 2019 [11 November] - Dylan Vasapolli - Comprehensive South Africa

    PDF Report
    This three-week customized tour took in essentially the main birding routes of South Africa, beginning in the fynbos-dominated Western Cape before transiting to the endemic-rich Northern Cape, where we spent time in both the Namaqualand and Bushmanland regions.
  • 2020 [03 March] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    As a whole the birding was good, and we did well to record well over 300 species on this route with many of this area’s prized specials successfully being found.
  • 2022 [08 August] - Dylan Vasapolli - Birding Ecotours

    PDF Report
    This custom tour was prepared for a group of Spanish birders and was, unfortunately, one of many Covid-postponed tours. It was eventually run in August 2022.
  • 2022 [09 September] - Dominic Rollinson % Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    This 37-day comprehensive tour of South Africa took in many of the country’s great birding and wildlife hotspots, incorporating a multitude of habitat types and also included some spectacular scenery in iconic tourist destinations. The tour was divided into two legs: western and eastern South Africa. The western South Africa leg started in the Kalahari’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park before making our way through the semi-deserts of the Northern Cape province to the west coast at Langebaan...
  • 2022 [10 October] - Birding Ecotours - Dylan Vasapolli - Cape & Kruger

    PDF Report i n f o @ b i r d i n g e c Overview This private tour was run for the Tucson Audubon Society and was divided into two portions. An eight-day leg in and around Cape Town and the Western Province, followed by a ten-day Kruger and highveld leg.
  • 2023 [02 February] - Birding Ecotours - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    As we neared Magoebaskloof we saw a small group of Abdim’s Storks feeding in a field, had brief views of Burchell’s Coucal and saw our first Pale Chanting Goshawks. After a busy day, we made it to Magoebaskloof in the late afternoon and enjoyed Friday night curries, as we discussed the exciting trip ahead...
  • 2023 [09 September] - Dominic Rollinson - Western South Africa

    PDF Report
    Some of the major birding highlights included Black Harrier, Martial Eagle, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures, Pygmy Falcon, Maccoa Duck, Chestnut-banded Plover, Southern Black Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Eremomela, Cape Rockjumper, Victorin’s Warbler, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, and Protea Canary.
  • 2023 [10 October] - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    Over our eight days of Cape birding we racked up an impressive 228 bird species which included many of the Cape’s endemics and specials. Some of our highlights included Grey-winged Francolin, Karoo and Southern Black Korhaans, Namaqua Sandgrouse, African Penguin, Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants, Black Harrier, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rockjumper, Fairy Flycatcher, Grey Tit, Cape Penduline Tit, nine lark species (including many Black-eared Sparrow-Larks), Victorin’s Warbler (annoyingly only seen by one of the group, despite our best efforts), Rufous-eared, Cinnamon-breasted and Layard’s Warblers, Dusky Sunbird and Protea, Forest and Black-headed Canaries.
  • 2023 [10 October] - Dylan Vasapolli - Subtropical South Africa

    PDF Report
    Starting in the coastal town of Durban, we headed to the fabulous Drakensberg Mountains and took a trip up the birdy Sani Pass into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, before venturing through the myriad of coastal forests and Zululand bushveld nature reserves and sites. Meccas we stopped at included the world-famous Isimangaliso Wetland Park, and Mkhuze Game Reserve, amongst others. We then headed inland, and made a trip to the highlands of Wakkerstroom, where we focused on the many grassland endemics of South Africa, before calling in at the excellent Kruger National Park, where we enjoyed some of Africa’s megafauna, along with its supreme birding. The tour then ended in the diverse mixed acacia thornveld north of Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Other Links
  • Go Birding - BirdLife South Africa Avitourism - Birding Routes

    GoBirding was made possible through a generous donation from the Chamberlain Foundation.
  • South African Birding

    Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa
  • Zest for Birds

    This site's aim is to provide an up to date resource centre which will appeal to all birders, whether you are a beginner starting out and hoping to find out more about this fascinating pastime or an avid twitcher working on augmenting your life list. We will provide general information on both land based and pelagic birding and will also keep you up to date with all the latest news and views of the birding world.
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Frank Droge

  • Photographers - Russell & Rina Warren

    Russell and Rina Warren

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