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Bird watching safari Tanzania

Bird Watching Safari

See, hear and learn about Tanzania’s fascinating world of birds

TANZANIA’S BIRDS – A WORLD OF MESMERISING SOUNDS, BRIGHT COLOURS AND ANCIENT LEGENDS

Visiting Tanzania is an experience to all the senses. After touching down, you will be struck by the rich plethora of bird calls – an iconic part of the nature in Tanzania. The diversity in climate, altitude and region creates multiple habitats for a wealth of resident and migratory birds. From hummingbirds to hornbills and from flamingos to falcons, you will not be disappointed by our birding safaris in Tanzania.

Birds sitting on zebra back
Who should go

Experts and Novices

A birding safari is like a normal safari with fantastic game-viewing, but with a focus on the birdlife. Our guides, both bird and game experts, will help you discover a world of fascinating fauna and flora. Birding safaris are for you, whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced bird enthusiast. No matter your level of interest, some things are guaranteed, like exceptional bird and game-viewing. If you are a photographer and nature lover this experience is for you.

  • Early Birds
  • Nature Lovers
  • Photographers
Great blue heron in the Serengeti
WHERE TO EXPERIENCE IT

DIVERSE CLIMATES AND REGIONS GIVE YOU PLENTY OF CHOICE

From savannahs to highlands and forested lake shores – Tanzania’s diverse ecosystems are home to an equally diverse number of birds. You can go bird watching on the northern, southern, or western circuit. Two of the most popular parks for birding include Tarangire National Park in the north and Ruaha National Park in the south.

When to go

Bird watching can be fantastic all year round. However, depending on the time of year, you will see different types of birds in Tanzania. The best time to go on a birding safari will also depend on other things you want to see and do in Tanzania. If you want to see large mammals on your safari or end your trip with a beach stay on Zanzibar, this will affect your timings for your bird safari.

Male ostrich during dry season

Dry Season

June to late OctoberThe best time to watch resident birds at the water sources

June to late OctoberThe best time to watch resident birds at the water sources

Generally, the best time for bird watching in Tanzania is the dry season from June to October. For example, from August to September, Lake Natron becomes a breeding ground for ~2.5 million flamingos. This rainless period guarantees that a large variety of birds flock to water sources and it makes for great bird-watching. The best weather makes all parks accessible, giving you plenty of choice of where to go. This is also the most popular time of the year to go on a classic Big Five safari, looking for mammals congregating at the few available water sources.

Bird watching rainy season

Green Season

March to MayIdeal for watching nesting birds. Migratory birds return from November to March

March to MayIdeal for watching nesting birds. Migratory birds return from November to March

There are two rainy seasons in Tanzania: November to March are the months when migratory birds return to East Africa and from March to May, the wet season, nesting occurs. Going bird watching in the rain can show you a different side of the birds’ behaviour. They also often sit more still, trying to shelter from the rain – a good opportunity for photographers. Luckily rain in Tanzania usually doesn’t last all day and you can still enjoy sunny hours during your trip. However, classic game watching of large mammals can be more difficult during the rainy season as vegetation is dense and animals scatter in the vast national parks.

DIVE INTO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF BIRDS ON YOUR SAFARI

Tanzania is home to exceptional bird watching; however, you can expect much more. You will discover great African myths related to many species and fascinating symbiotic relationships between birds, animals, and man, whilst enjoying great accommodation, food, and company. Our birding safaris will leave you with long and wonderful memories.

Accommodations

BIRD WATCH IN COMFORT IN THE MIDDLE OF NATURE

During a bird watching safari you can experience multiple types of accommodation. You can choose to stay in an authentic tented camp, a beautiful lodge with a pool, or a Mobile Explorer Camp, where you will be taken to remote places to sleep in tents, which have proper beds, showers, and toilets. No matter what, you can expect excellent Tanzanian hospitality, great food, and comfortable accommodation. Our country experts can help you choose the right accommodation for you.

Mobile Explorer Camp

Mobile Explorer Camp

Ang'ata Tarangire Camp

Ang’ata Tarangire Camp

Pioneer Camp

Serengeti Pioneer Camp

Highlights of birding safaris in Tanzania

What to expect on birding safaris in Tanzania

Tanzania is home to ~1300 bird species, making for excellent bird-spotting. However, what makes bird watching in Tanzania special are the relationships that exist between birds, wildlife, and humans. Whether that is the oxpecker, the tick-remover of the savannahs; or the greater honeyguide, that leads the Hadza tribe to bee nests – an ancient relationship that rewards this entrepreneurial bird with the remaining wax and honey. Our guides will seek-out and share incredible symbiotic relationships, behaviour and even myths of the Tanzania birdlife.

 

Kori Bustard Africa

Look out for the Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird in Africa.

Vultures with a kill

Vultures are the cleanup crew of the savannas. Sadly, their numbers are declining.

Birding safari vehicle at sunset

On your birding safari, you travel in a 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser with large sliding windows and pop-up roof.

Perfect moment birding safari

On a private bird watching safari, you can wait for the perfect moment.

Which birds can you see in Tanzania?

Tanzania with its vast differences in regions, climates and seasons is a bird watching paradise.

On top of every African bird-spotting-list should be the king of all African birds. No, not the Kingfisher, the black-and-white Sacred Ibis, or the regal looking and endangered Grey Crowned Crane, but the Hamerkop – a species of bird that falls between the herons and the stalks.

The legend of the Hamerkop

The Hamerkop, as African-legend goes is the king of all African birds with the ability to control the rains and the flooding of the rivers.

Apart from a distinct hammer-shaped-head, they are not very spectacular. Nor is their false-mounting display regal. They were crowned king, partly because every other species of bird brings a contribution to help to construct their extraordinarily large nests, which can take three-months to build.

Silver birds, Grey Kestrel, and Egyptian Geese visit the nest and appear, to a passerby, to help build it. Watch them for longer and you will discover that these birds use Hamerkop nests as a building supplier and take material for their own needs.

The Hamerkops legendary status is reinforced by their unique post-mating behaviour of never stopping adding to the roof of their nest and fascinatingly, they decorate their royal palace with warthog tusk, porcupine quills, snake skins and even wildebeest-tails.

The legend as the king has been cemented in time thanks to Africa’s largest owl, the Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, who nests in the top of abandoned Hamerkop nests. Believed to have super natural powers, these huge and beautiful birds seemingly guard the palace of the king.

Hamerkop bird river

Other birds in Tanzania

Whilst not as beautiful as the Common Ostrich, the Lilac-Breasted Roller or the Livingston’s Turacos; or as powerful as the Bateleur Eagle or the Fish Eagle; or as intriguing as the display of the Long-tailed Widowbird and the nesting behaviour of the African Grey Hornbill (females cement themselves into a tree-hollow for five weeks to incubate their eggs); or not as crucial to the savannahs as the many carrion birds, such as the White-backed Vulture (whose numbers have halved in the last 50 years), the Hamerkop with their large decorated nest will always be known as the king of African birds who has control of the rain.

Not only that, but their annual abandonment of the nest creates homes for a vast number of birds, reptiles and small mammals.

Join one of unique bird watching tours to Tanzania to discover, learn and be amazed by the prolific birdlife found here.

 

What to bring on your birding safari to Tanzania?

Apart from the normal packing list to Tanzania, here are some suggestions of what to bring on your bird watching safari:

  • A pair of binoculars
  • A good hat
  • A pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses to reduce glare, protect your eyes and provide additional clarity.
  • A pocket notebook for any field notes.
  • And most importantly, a good guidebook for identifying East African birds. We recommend the following two books:
  1. The Birds of East Africa by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe. With this book you can identify birds found in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
  2. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Dale A. Zimmerman, David J. Pearson, Donald A. Turner. A wonderfully illustrated book.

 

What to else can you see on birding safaris in Tanzania?

Whilst bird watching is the main-act on a bird watching safari to Tanzania, you will see a vast array of wildlife during your trip. You may be experiencing the ballooning-throated-call from a pair of Ground Hornbill, whilst in the background a pride of lions could be lying in the shade. Or swirling vultures, a bird watchers delight, indicate where a kill has just taken place and you are likely to see a predator such as cheetah, hyena, and jackals. Or watching Weaver Birds building their nest over a river could enable you to see a herd of wading elephant or Nile crocodiles patrolling the river. The possibilities are endless.

Our guides are experts in both East-African birds and wildlife. To find out more you can contact one of our country experts.

Man at camp on birding safari
Accommodations

Stay at camps in the middle of nature.

Saddle-billed stork in wetlands
Diverse Landscapes

From wetlands and woodlands to savannas.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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