Western Cape

Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis ©Stephen Hammer Website
Birding Western Cape

Western South Africa, comprising the Western and Northern Cape Provinces, is one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots and is legendary among international and local birders alike for the remarkable variety of birds that are found here and nowhere else. It is an indispensable destination for the eco-tourist and there are no other areas in Africa that offer such a high level of endemism in such a uniquely accessible setting. A staggering 47 of South Africa’s 58 endemic and near-endemic bird species occur here, as well as 76% of southern Africa’s 181. New innovations to assist the eco-traveler include a new birding site guide that covers the region, and the Cape Birding Route that links the up-to-date birding information with practical routes to follow and accommodation options.

Local and international bird-watchers are inevitably drawn to the region by the tourism gem of Cape Town, the capital of the Western Cape Province, and by the region’s scenic and cultural diversity, well-developed infrastructure, high standard of accommodation, and excellent network of national parks and provincial and private nature reserves. A total of 615 bird species have been recorded in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces, and a two-week trip could expect to yield in excess of 300 species. Indeed, over 220 species have even been seen around Cape Town in a single day! Although the sheer diversity of southern Africa’s more tropical eastern region is inevitably higher, most of these species have wide distributions and extend over much of eastern Africa. The west, by contrast, is rich in species largely restricted to this region, making the Western and Northern Cape Provinces an essential destination in both global and local terms. See also Northern Cape Province.

Local and international bird-watchers are inevitably drawn to the region by the tourism gem of Cape Town, the capital of the Western Cape Province, and by the region’s scenic and cultural diversity, well-developed infrastructure, high standard of accommodation, and excellent network of national parks and provincial and private nature reserves. A total of 615 bird species have been recorded in the Western and Northern Cape Provinces, and a two-week trip could expect to yield in excess of 300 species. Indeed, over 220 species have even been seen around Cape Town in a single day! Although the sheer diversity of southern Africa’s more tropical eastern region is inevitably higher, most of these species have wide distributions and extend over much of eastern Africa. The west, by contrast, is rich in species largely restricted to this region, making the Western and Northern Cape Provinces an essential destination in both global and local terms. See also Northern Cape Province.

Top 10 Species in the Western Cape: Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rockjumper, Black Harrier, Knysna Warbler, Protea Canary, Southern Black Korhaan, Hottentot Buttonquail, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, African Penguin, Bank Cormorant.

The Western Cape Province has a wide diversity of birding habitats including the unique Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Nama Karoo, Afromontane Forest and internationally renowned wetlands. The smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms, the tiny Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the richest biodiversity hotspots on earth, and is almost totally restricted to the winter-rainfall climate of the Western Cape. Despite occupying less than 0.05 per cent of the earth’s land surface, this small pocket of diverse vegetation lying at Africa’s southern extremity holds an astronomical 8 700 species of plants and Fynbos, the largest and most prominent subset of the Cape Floral Kingdom, has some notable endemics, namely Hottentot Buttonquail, Cape Rockjumper, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin and Protea Canary.

The Karoo is a vast semi-desert area that is divided into two botanically very different regions and dominates the arid western half of South Africa. It forms part of the most ancient desert system in the world, and is an open area of stony plains, scattered with small shrubs, punctuated by low dunes and hills koppies, and is very sparsely inhabited. The Succulent Karoo Biome is characterized by small succulent plants, supported by low but predictable winter rainfall, whereas the summer-rainfall Nama Karoo Biome is dominated by grasses and low, woody shrubs. The Succulent Karoo Biome is one of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots, and has the highest diversity of succulent plant species in the world. Despite these fundamental climatic and vegetation differences, most Karoo bird specials occur in both biomes.

Karoo endemics and near-endemics in the Western Cape include Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Black-eared Finchlark, Karoo and Tractrac Chats, Karoo Eremomela, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Pale-winged Starling and Black-headed Canary.

Afromontane Forest is scattered discontinuously across central and east Africa’s montane peaks, with the temperate forests of the Cape constituting its southern remnants. Knysna Warbler and Knysna Woodpecker are local endemics. Both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans flank this region, merging at Africa’s southernmost point, Cape Agulhas. The productive Benguela Current surges up the Atlantic coast, bringing chilly, nutrient-rich waters from Antarctica, while the warmer Agulhas Current moves down the east coast of Africa from more tropical climes. The birds endemic or near-endemic to the plentiful waters of the Benguela Current of southern Africa’s west coast are African Penguin, Cape Gannet (breeding endemic only); Cape, Bank and Crowned Cormorants, African Black Oystercatcher, Hartlaub’s and Cape Gulls and Damara Tern (breeding endemic only) Furthermore, huge numbers of migrant pelagic seabirds are attracted to offshore waters (see Pelagic Birding off South Africa).

Foreign birders visiting the Western Cape Province as part of a longer tour around the country will need a week based in Cape Town as the city can be conveniently used a base to explore the surrounding regions described below. The best time to go birding in the Western Cape is undoubtedly springtime – birding picks up significantly towards the end of August, and the very best birding months are September, October and November.

This page is sponsored by Birding Ecotours

Top Sites
  • *Other Sites

    There are many great birding sites in the state and many of the best are set out below. Others of interest include: On the west coast - Berg River Estuary, Lambert's Bay (Cape Gannet colony) & Darling Farmlands.Overberg - De Mond Nature Reserve (for Damara Tern) - Grootvadersbos (for Superb Afromontane Forests with Narina Trogon, Forest Buzzard & Knysna Warbler).Tanqua Karoo - Karoopoort Cliffs and Acacia thickets (for Namaqua Warbler & Pale-winged Starling) - Eierkop Open Karoo plains and koppies (for Karoo Eremomela and Rufous-eared Warbler) - Skieterrykloof Rocky gorge and Acacia thicket (for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Layard's Titbabbler & Pririt Batis)Cape Peninsula - Constantia Greenbelts (for Knysna Warbler) - Table Mountain (for Black Eagle) - Robben Island (for seabirds) & - Kommetjie (for coastal endemics, including Bank Cormorant).
  • Boulder's Beach

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    Come face to face with African Penguin!
  • Cape Peninsula National Park

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    Cape of Good Hope: An area of mostly coastal fynbos with long stretches of sandy and rocky shorelines and numerous cliff promontories, this reserve is also fabled to be the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet as well as laying claim to having the most powerful lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. It is good for endemics such as Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Siskin as well as rewarding bouts of sea watching in winter. The specialty of the reserve is Hottentot Button-quail, a bird that can require spending a lot of time in order to see it.
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve

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    Another area of predominately coastal fynbos with a large fresh water lake or vlei. A number of specials occur at this south coast locality, which are extremely difficult to find elsewhere in the region. Cape Vultures on Potberg Mountain, Southern Tchagra and elusive Knysna Woodpecker in thickets. Others include Stanley's Bustard,Aghulas Long-billed Lark and Damara Terns breed along the coastline in the area.
  • Helderberg Nature Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Fynbos stands with Protea Canary, Victorin's Warbler. The stands of forests in Disa Gorge hosts Olive Woodpecker and Rameron Pigeon, with Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrush on the rocky slopes of the mountain.African Black Duck is a regular visitor to the duck pond to the left behind the restaurant…
  • Kalk Bay

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    Up Boye's Drive for Ground Woodpecker early morning (dusk)
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden

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    Superb starting destination and good for fynbos and forest endemics, including Cape Sugarbird, Orangebreasted Sunbird and occasionally Knysna Warbler. Very scenic, a mere fifteen minutes drive from the city centre.
  • Paarl Bird Sanctuary

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    The local sewage works with good opportunities to see Baillon's Crake, Lesser Flamingo, Paradise Flycatcher, White Backed Duck & Water Thick-knee
  • Pelagic Trips

    With the meeting of the warm Agulhas current and the cold Benguela current just offshore, this creates upwelling and hence a feeding Mecca for many Southern Ocean seabirds. Trips throughout the year produce numbers of pelagic species, but the sheer quantities of birds experienced on winter trips has to be seen to be believed. At least 3 species of albatross and a number of petrels, shearwaters, skuas and other specials are seen on most trips with an average of 19 true pelagic species being seen on a day trip at any time of the year. There are also outstanding opportunities to see whales and other marine mammals.
  • Rietvlei Wetland

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    Rietvlei wetland is situated between Milnerton and Table View in the Cape Metropole. This is one of the more important sites for waders in the Western Cape and is a popular venue for birders…
  • Rooi Els

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    A quiet holiday town with excellent chance to see Cape Rockjumper, Cape Rock Thrush, Verreaux's Eagle, Cape Sisken & Ground Woodpecker ±mid-day. Follow the gravel road along the mountain and stop at gate for a walk along the foot of the mountain.
  • Sir Lowry's Pass

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    This area is predominated by Montane fynbos and is probably one of the best spots to track down a number of endemics in the Western Cape. The most sought after species here are Cape Rockjumper and Victorin's Warbler, while other specials like Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrush and Striped Flufftail also occur.
  • Strandfontein Sewage Works

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    Strandfontein Sewage Works is the best waterbirds site in Cape Town, over 100 species possible in a morning. Specials include waterfowl, African Marsh Harrier and Greater Flamingo.
  • Tienie Versfeld Nature Reserve

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    Excellent for flowers during August with Grey-backed and Cloud Cisticola. The newly split Cape Clapper Lark and Cape Long-billed Lark are both a good possibility, with Grey-winged Francolin and Orange-throated Longclaw ever present.
  • West Coast National Park

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    RAMSAR wetland site with large number of migrant shorebirds and local rarity hotspot. The vast tracts of coastal shrubland host many endemic birds including Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Grey-backed Cisticola and Lesser Double Collared Sunbird whilst the tidal lagoon attracts tens of thousands of migratory waders every year as well as having numbers of resident water birds. It is one of the better spots to find Chestnut-banded Plovers and is also one of South Africa's rarity hotspots.
Useful Reading

  • Essential Birding in Western South Africa

    | (Key Routes from Cape Town to the Kalahari) | By Callan Cohen & Claire Spottiswoode | Random House Struik | 2001 | Paperback | 136 pages, 110 colour photos, 15 maps | ISBN: 9781868725243 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Newman's Birds of the South Western Cape

    | (species of birds commonly found in the fynbos, forest and karoo veld habitats of the region) | By Kenneth B Newman | Korck Publishing | Poster | colour illustrations, size: 594 × 860 mm, double-laminated | ISBN: 9780620203739 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Museums & Universities
  • Animal Demography Unit - University of Cape Town

    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 – “Why is the Avian Demography Unit doing the frog atlas?” This inconsistency has recently been heightened by our involvement with projects on reptiles (Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment, effectively the reptile atlas), and with butterflies (Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment, the butterfly atlas), and with five postgraduate students doing PhD and MSc projects on seals, one on rare mammals in Namibia and even one on dwarf chameleons…
  • 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.
  • Cape Bird Club

    The site has some general info about birds and birding in Cape Province as well as a gallery and other useful info.
  • Cape Nature Conservation

    Cape Nature Conservation (CNC) is concerned with the conservation of our natural environment within the western Cape, South Africa (see our mission statement below). This area includes the fynbos biome - one of the six plant kingdoms of the world. Cape Nature Conservation manages nature reserves and wilderness areas in the Western Cape, and invites you to experience and revel in their pristine natural beauty! If you seek truly wild places, offering hiking trails, rustic accommodation, indigenous vegetation, wildlife, and enough space and silence to renew your senses and recharge your batteries, then come and lose yourself in a Cape Nature Conservation nature reserve or wilderness area…
  • Zandvlei Trust

    Our mission is simple. We seek to safeguard the beauty and biodiversity of the Zandvlei so that future generations can enjoy the area just as much as we do.

Abbreviations Key

  • IBA Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden

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    When Kirstenbosch, the most famous of the gardens, was founded in 1913 to preserve the country's unique flora, it was the first botanical garden in the world with this ethos. Kirstenbosch places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants.
  • NP Agulhas

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    Premier whale watching spot good for southern right whale, but also some good birds such as African black oystercatcher & Damara tern.
  • NP Bontebok

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    The park is noteworthy as an excellent place to see Denham's (Stanley's) Bustard. Other large and visible species include Blue Crane, Spur-wing Goose, Secretarybird and Southern Black Korhaan. Malachite and Southern (Lesser) Double-collared Sunbird should be seen at the reception building, while the campsite attracts a number of species. Prominent amongst these are Fiscal Flycatcher, Klaas's Cuckoo (summer), Acacia Pied Barbet and Red-faced Mousebird. Pearl-breasted Swallow are regularly seen. Swee Waxbill frequents the dense riverine bush adjacent the Bree River, while Water Thick-knee are regular along the river's shoreline…
  • NP Cape Peninsula (aka Table Mountain)

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    The park contains two well-known landmarks: Table Mountain, for which the park is named; and the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern extremity of Africa.
  • NP Namaqua

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    Birding in the park can still be explored more. Species to search for include Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Cape Long-billed Lark, Karoo Lark, Black-headed Canary and Cape Bulbul. Black Harriers quarter the ground in search of rodents…
  • NP Tankwa Karoo

    InformationSatellite View
    Just two southern African regions have been bestowed the honour of designation as Biodiversity Hotspots by Conservation International. One is of course the Cape Floral Kingdom, and the other the Succulent Karoo. For those whose image of the southwestern Karoo is a shimmering wasteland to be endured as briefly as possible en route to Cape Town or Johannesburg, this may come as a surprise…
  • NP Tsitsikamma

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    The Tsitsikamma National Park is a protected area on the Garden Route, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is a coastal reserve well known for its indigenous forests, dramatic coastline, and the Otter Trail.
  • NP West Coast

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    The park surrounds the Langebaan Lagoon, which is a world Ramsar site (site's deemed to be of global significance to wetland bird species). Many of the wader species are Palearctic migrants, so summer is the best time to visit the lagoon, particularly in September as species return fatigued from their transcontinental travel, and March when they congregate in large numbers to feed heavily prior to undertaking the reverse journey. In such times, the birds are often changing into or out of their Northern Hemisphere breeding plumage…
  • NP Wilderness

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    Wilderness National Park is situated in the heart of the Garden Route, and is a fascinating combination of rivers, lakes, estuaries and beaches, unfolding against the backdrop or lush forests and imposing mountains…
  • NR & BS Paarl Mountain

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    45 hectares of paradise with its 140 different species of birds. The Paarl Bird Sanctuary attracts a wide variety of waterfowl. Together with the waterfowl the reserve is also home to a number of species associated with the thicker vegetation growing on the northern and western side as well as a number of local and national rarities.
  • NR De Hoop

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    It lies three hours from Cape Town in the Overberg region, near Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa. Approximately 340 square kilometres (130 sq mi) in area. De Hoop supports a large number of resident and migratory bird species. The reserve's total bird species count is 260. Several water birds breed in the reserve. The reserve is also home to the only remaining breeding colony of the rare Cape vulture.
  • NR Gamkaberg

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    The Gamkaberg Nature Reserve is situated in the Little Karoo region of the Western Cape province. The reserve is also home to an unusually large range of reptile and bird species.
  • NR Helderberg

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    Helderberg Nature Reserve is a 398-hectare (980-acre) nature reserve in Cape Town. Animals that can be found here include over 170 species of birds.
  • NR IBA Bird Island

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    Bird Island Nature Reserve is a 3-hectare (7.4-acre) CapeNature nature reserve in Lambert's Bay. It is an important breeding site for Cape gannets and crowned cormorants.
  • NR Jonkershoek

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    The Jonkershoek mountains are home to Leopards, Caracals, Klipspringer, Baboons, Honey Badgers and Mongooses, however, all but the baboons are very secretive. Birdlife includes kingfishers, black eagles, fish eagles, spotted eagle owls, sugarbirds, orange-breasted sunbirds and protea seed eaters.
  • NR Kogelberg

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    Kogelberg Nature Reserve is considered by many to be the most beautiful of CapeNature’s protected areas. Its exceptional diversity and quality of fynbos means it is also considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom...
  • NR Rietvlei Wetland

    InformationSatellite View
    Rietvlei is a freshwater wetland located on the floodplain of the Diep River before it drains into Milnerton Lagoon and finally into Table Bay. There is a permanent freshwater lake, shallow seasonally inundated pans, extensive reedbeds, true riverine habitat and a tidal lagoon. With the gradual removal of alien vegetation, tracts of typical Strandveld flora and fauna are flourishing. The springtime wild flowers are a wonderful sight. Approximately 560 hectares in size, its location ensures that both freshwater and coastal birds are regularly seen. The wide diversity of habitats makes this wetland system particularly impressive, in both the variety of species to be found, and the sheer numbers of birds present…
  • NR Zandvlei Estuary

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    Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve is a 300-hectare (740-acre) nature reserve and recreational area located in Cape Town. The surrounding wetland is an important habitat for birds and has 166 species on its official list. The estuary was neglected in the past, and suffered from farming, urban development, dredging and the introduction of alien invasive species. The original vegetation has been partly restored through local government and volunteer efforts. There is now an Environmental Education Centre.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Cape Birdnet

    Mailing List
    CapeBirdNet is an email listserver that allows you to share information with other birders in the Cape safely over the internet. When a CapeBirdNet member (such as yourself) sends a message to capebirdnet@yahoogroups.com , the message is automatically sent to all other members of the group.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • 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...
  • Birdwatch Cape

    Tour Operator
    The Western & Northern Cape Provinces cover much of the "dry west" of South Africa. The area extends north and east of the beautiful Cape Peninsula into a vast, sparsely populated semi desert known as the Karoo. Further north still lies the unique & mysterious Kalahari Desert. Our vegetation, climate and positioning on the African continent makes us home to 290 easily seen bird species including 70% of all Southern African endemics.
  • Brian's Birding Tours

    Tour Operator
    Specialises in personalised Birdwatching tours in the Western and Northern Cape. We do Birding Day Trips and Overnight Tours from Cape Town, as far as the Kalahari National Park. We offer customised Birding, tailored to your birding wishes…
  • Cape Ecotours

    Facebook Page
    Welcome to Cape Eco-Tours, specialists in personalised day trips in and around Cape Town. About 350 bird species can be seen in the Western Cape South Africa making this region a hotspot for birdwatchers from all over the world…
  • Cape Town Pelagics

    Boat Trips
    Join our weekly deep sea pelagics to more than 20 nautical miles south of Cape Point - a hotspot for trawlers. On high speed recreational crafts, you'll navigate to fishing shoals and trawlers using radar. Thanks to our experienced guides, you may see up to seven albatross species, passage migrants and cetaceans. Click here to find a trip date that suits you.
  • Rockjumper

    Tour Operator
    Our home country of South Africa is quite simply one of the most pleasurable destinations in which to bird and travel, offering exceptional value for money along with world-class infrastructure. In addition, South Africa boasts the most endemic bird species of any African country, while a rich seabird assemblage and vast numbers of more widespread, yet no less spectacular, African birds and large mammals occur. Add to this the rich botanical heritage, fine food and wines, friendly people and the scenic splendor of 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

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2006 [10 October] - Bo Beolens

    Cape Town is an impressive Garden City and the Karoo an amazing arid plain, Agulhas is fecund and wet agricultural land and De Hoop an amazing Feinbos maritime area – the Cape is a remarkable place of great contrasts…
  • 2008 [08 August] - Oscar Campbell

    …a side-trip to Cape Agulhas in between and spent some 4-5 hours scouring the adjacent Overburg farmlands. Many fynbos, wetland and farmland species are common here. Black Harrier and Southern Tchagra both fell…
  • 2009 [03 March] - Japle Claassen

    The trip started in Cape Town and looped through De Hoop, Grootvadersbosch, Wilderness, Red stone Hills and Karoo National Park before returning back to Cape Town…
  • 2011 [10 October] – Honeyguide -South Western Cape

    PDF Report
    …Our before breakfast bird was an African Harrier-hawk feasting on a small bird in the trees of the Afton Grove Lodge. Not a bad way to start the day!
  • 2013 [04 April] - Birding Africa - West Coast National Park

    …Our first stop was at the Milnerton lagoon - Pied Kingfisher (and a blue/green Ring-necked Parakeet, no doubt an escapee), followed by a short stop at the wetlands, Atlantic Beach - African Snipe and then the Dolphin Beach pans - Purple Swamphen, before heading up the coast via Blouberg and Melkbos. …
  • 2013 [10 October] - Mark Harrington

    PDF Report
    On arrival at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens we quickly came to grips with Sombre Greenbul and also enjoyed good views of an African Harrier-Hawk overhead. This was followed by characteristically knockout views of the resident pair of Spotted Eagle-Owl, while other new additions to the trip list were Cape Spurfowl, African Olive Pigeon, Olive Thrush, more views of African Goshawk, Black Saw-wing, Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Canary, Brimstone Canary, Karoo Prinia, Cape Sugarbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, and brief views of Swee Waxbill.
  • 2015 [10 October] - Chris Durdin

    PDF Report
    At Kirstenbosch … birds were plentiful and often tame: small birds included southern double-collared sunbirds, olive thrush, Cape sugarbirds and Cape batis. On the grass, helmeted guineafowl and a Cape francolin walked close to picnickers: a guineafowl that ventured close to a brood of Egyptian geese was seen off. Up in a tree two spotted eagle owls were roosting for the day, sometimes opening eyes to look down on the people with, it felt, disapproval.
  • 2016 [08 August] - Justin Nicolau

    PDF Report
    This trip commenced rather late in the afternoon due to delayed arrivals from further north. Wasting little time, though, the rental car was packed and shot out from the parking lot to start the 3.5-hour journey up the coastline towards the Breede River mouth, where we would be spending our first evening.
  • 2016 [10 October] - Chris Lotz

    PDF Report
    I fetched Robert and Elizabeth from Hotel Verde at Cape Town International Airport at 7:30 a.m., and we immediately started heading toward the amazingly endemic-rich Tankwa Karoo.
  • 2016 [10 October] - Jason Boyce

    PDF Report
    This was a tour with incredible diversity, varying habitats, enjoyable company, and a host of endemic southern African bird species.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Dylan Vasapolli

    PDF Report
    This was a private two-week tour designed around a small list of possible target species. The two focus areas would be the Western Cape region along with the eastern half of South Africa. As mentioned, this tour was built around specific species, and these species received the bulk of our efforts, with often more common/widespread species not being tried for.
  • 2017 [03 March] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    Birding in South Africa’s Cape Peninsula can sometimes be challenging and a bit windy, but with some patience and persistence it rewards with some magnificent sightings, great photographic opportunities, and an unforgettable day of birding.
  • 2017 [04 April] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    This trip was a 9-day/8-night tour focusing on the Western Cape Province of South Africa. We started in the world famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, made our way up to the West Coast, and from there transferred into the endemic rich Tankwa Karoo.
  • 2017 [10 October] - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    Today I showed Jay and Sandy from the United States around some of the top birding spots along the eastern shores of False Bay to the east of Cape Town. After fetching them early in town we made our way to the small town of Rooiels, which was our first birding destination of the day. The main target here was Cape Rockjumper, which took a bit of time to locate, but we eventually had good views of a male and female.
  • 2017 [10 October] - Wian van Zyl

    PDF Report
    Following the conclusion of our set-departure Subtropical South Africa tour earlier in the day I met up with James, who would be joining this post-tour extension, in the early evening. We headed for dinner and, following dinner, drove south of Johannesburg to search for African Grass Owl.
  • 2017 [11 November] - Gareth Robbins

    PDF Report
    ...we revelled in the factthat we got some fabulous views of a small family group of the extremely rare and Fynbos endemic:the Bontebok! Within the bird aspect, we felt we were rather skilled in finding Cape Bunting, FiscalFlycatcher, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul and Cape Robin-Chat
  • 2017 [11 November] - Sander Bot & Janne Ouwehand

    PDF Report
    ...When driving theshort track back to the main road we saw an African Marsh Harrier hunting over the dunes, a muchappreciatedlife bird. We started our drive to Bontebok NP. ...
  • 2017 [12 December] - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    Bank and Crowned Cormorants, Black Stork, African Oystercatcher, Cape Gannet, CapeVulture, Blue Crane, African Penguin, Damara Tern, Cape Spurfowl, Grey-winged Francolin,Karoo Korhaan, Karoo Long-billed, Agulhas Long-billed, and Large-billed Larks, EurasianGolden Oriole, Grey Tit, Karoo and Tractrac Chats, Namaqua, Layard’s, Rufous-eared, andVictorin’s Warblers, Fairy Flycatcher, Orange-breasted, Southern Double-collared, and GreaterDouble-collared Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbird, Black-headed Canary, Cape Siskin, CinnamonbreastedBunting
  • 2017 [12 December] - Dominic Rollinson - False Bay Day Trip

    PDF Report
    Today I showed Rosalie from the United States around some of the top birding spots along the eastern shores of False Bay to the east of Cape Town.
  • 2017 [12 December] - Jonathan Lethbridge

    PDF Report
    In December 2017 I went on a fantastic five day trip to the Western Cape of South Africa. I had never been before andhaving now sampled the avian delights it has to offer I cannot understand why it took me so long. Mick S and Inotched up 185 species in less than a week and we didn’t even try that hard, prioritising photographic opportunitiesover pure birding. Of those species, around 130 were lifers, ie that big Ostrich-shaped gap on my IOC list is nowfilled.
  • 2018 [04 April] - Pieter and Nicola Vrey

    PDF Report
    We decided to target five lifers (four for me) – all of them endemic to the sub-region (Southern Africa), three larks (Sclater’s, Cape long-billed and Barlow’s), Cape rockjumper and Knysna woodpecker. With both of our Southern African life lists well above 700, this was quite ambitious, so we planned to spend a decent amount of time in the right habitats to find these birds. Additionally, we were also keen on seeing other birds we don’t encounter around home and hoped for a trip list of around 275...
  • 2018 [05 May] - Jan Pienaar

    PDF Report
    ...In and around Springbok, including in the nearby Goegap Nature Reserve, we had Verreaux’s Eagle, Karoo Korhaan, Lanner Falcon, Acacia Pied Barbet, Red-capped and Stark’s Larks, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Orange River White-eye, Capped Wheatear and Cape Starling; whilst mammals included Springbok and Gemsbok. Inland, near the town of Pofadder, we visited a few colonies of Sociable Weaver, and had a pair of Pale-winged Starling....
  • 2018 [10 October] - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    This Birding Ecotours 8-day Western Cape birding tour was a whistle-stop trip around the south-western Cape, aiming to find as many of the area’s endemics as possible while also enjoying the wildlife and spectacular scenery the Cape has to offer. This trip took us from the open ocean to the biologically-rich mountain fynbos to the desolate plains of the Tankwa Karoo.
  • 2022 [02 February] - Dominic Rollinson

    PDF Report
    This eleven-day tour was put together for Peter and Zanna to encompass the major habitats and birding sites of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. We went from the vivid beauty of the Cape Peninsula, to the bird-rich shores of the west coast, into the hostile semi-desert of the Tankwa Karoo and finished in the lush forests of the Garden Route.
  • 2022 [03 March] - Dominic Rollinson 3-Day Tankwa Karoo Birding

    PDF Report
    As it was Richard’s first time in South Africa it was not only endemics and near-endemics which were on the target list, as we tried to track down a number of other more widespread species. We also spent some time around Cape Town on the final afternoon as we birded a wetland area, just north of the city.
  • 2022 [04 April] - Dominic Rollinson Western Cape Custom Birding Trip

    PDF Report
    This custom eight-day Cape birding tour was put together for Wendy and Karen to try and see as much of the beautiful Cape and its incredible array of bird species as possible. The itinerary we decided on was very similar to our set-departure Best of Cape Town and Beyond Birding Tour however we did not include a Cape pelagic trip and instead spent this day exploring the Cape Peninsula.
  • 2022 [08 August] - Chris Lotz & Dominic Rollinson - Birds & Mammals

    PDF Report
    This was a private, custom trip focused on finding Tim some tough and/or localized birds and mammals in remote parts of South Africa. In addition to seeking these tricky species, we also headed into the Richtersveld National Park for spectacular scenery and plants. Since that brought us right to the border, we also decided to cross the Orange River into Namibia to see the Fish River Canyon. Here we were glad to see some of the avian targets we were after, including the sometimes elusive, unique Cinnamon-breasted Warbler.
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • De Zeekoe Guest Farm

    De Zeekoe Guest Farm is a birdlover`s paradise.Come and explore this yourself and stay at our guest house. The farm is a working ostrich and alfalfa farm on 2000 hectares. In the Western Cape region in South Africa, the farm is situated 8km from the town Oudtshoorn between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains on the bank of the Olifantsriver. Oudtshoorn offers the world famous Cango Caves, Calitzdorp the port capital of the world, and of course the famous ostrich show farms. The town is easily accessible situated just 60km from George International Airport.
  • Klein Bosheuwel Guest House

    The Constantia Valley, one of the historical and cultural hearts of the metropolitan area of Cape Town and famous for centuries of fine wine making, spreads out below the gardens of Klein Bosheuwel. Wilderness areas, farms, forests, riverine corridors and scenic routes abound…
  • Langvlei Dunes

    Langvlei Dunes is just 3 km from the N2. The cottage is in a 1 hectare indigenous garden. It is a quiet and safe area…
  • Pumula Lodge B&B

    In the heart of the Garden Route, nestled between the quaint town of Knysna and the famous Knysna Heads, lies Pumula Lodge
  • Swellendam Country Lodge

    Swellendam Country Lodge is a Guest House in the heart of the Overberg District of the Western Cape, South Africa. The Guesthouse is situated on the fringe of the town of Swellendam, it is a well-liked base for exploring this beautiful part of the country. Swellendam is a two hours drive from Cape Town, and bordering on the Garden Route and the Route 62. The guest rooms are situated in a beautiful landscaped garden where you will enjoy the wide range of birds, trees, fruit and flowers.
Other Links
  • Birdwatch Cape

    The Western & Northern Cape Provinces cover much of the dry west of South Africa. The area extends north and east of the beautiful Cape Peninsula into a vast, sparsely populated semi desert known as the Karoo. Further north still lies the unique & mysterious Kalahari Desert. Our vegetation, climate and positioning on the African continent makes us home to 290 easily seen bird species including 70% of all Southern African endemics.
  • Duncan Butchart - Never A Gull Moment

    This blog is a collection of watercolour sketches that capture recent observations or recreate some of my past encounters with birds. I have been fortunate enough to have watched birds on five continents, but have yet to have a memorable moment with a gull of any kind…
  • Ethan Kistler - Nomadic Birder

    Not updated since 2013 - An Ohio native, I currently live in Cape Town, South Africa where I'm attending the University of Cape Town and joining Tropical Birding as a guide…
  • Freddie Strauss Birding Blogs

    Not updated since 2012
  • Kate Robinson - Robben Island Penguin Tracks

    Last updated 2016 - Features news of the African Penguin Spheniscus demersus logger research taking place on Robben Island…
Photographers & Artists
  • Photographer - Trevor Hardaker

    As an avid birder living in Cape Town in South Africa, I spend quite a bit of time in the field. I often drag a camera along on my escapades and do occasionally get the opportunity to take a photo or two of the birds I am looking at. During my travels, I also get the opportunity to see a lot of other interesting creatures and I do take photos of these as well…

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