A guide to South Africa’s best birding

We at Go Touch Down Travel and Tours are firm believers in celebrating all of the animal wealth South Africa is blessed with. The ‘Big 5’ are certainly her most iconic creatures, grasping the hearts and minds of people worldwide, but this remarkable continent offers a rich and abundant variety of fauna so staggering it’s difficult to believe at times. The secret? The many spectacular and diverse biomes the country offers, ranging from arid semi-desert to rich riverine forest. With every landscape comes a dazzling display of native birdlife, from tiny songbirds to commanding predators. Today, we’re exploring the best spots to observe our feathered friends in South Africa- and what to expect from each. Bring your binoculars and notebooks, people!

Cape Town: Spot the African Penguin

Penguins probably weren’t a bird you were expecting to encounter here in Africa, but we have our very own population of African Penguins making their home onshore at Simon’s Town in the Cape. That’s not all this remarkable area offers, either. The Cape Sugarbird, Hottentot Buttonquail, Protea Seabird and abundant Sunbirds all are waiting for you to discover them.

We recommend: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Nestling on the slopes of Table Mountain, the rare fynbos plants here offer some spectacular and rare birdlife too. Look out for the Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird as well as the rare Cape Siskin, Spurfowl and Southern Boubou.

Kruger National Park: Abundant diversity, iconic birds

There can be little surprise that the iconic Kruger has a wealth of birdlife to offer. From the mighty Bateleur, Tawny, Brown Snake and African Fish Eagles to tiny Lilac Breasted Rollers, Bee Eaters and Starlings, the park has it all. This is also the prime spot to encounter African Kingfishers at the dams and waterholes.

We recommend: Anywhere in the park will yield birding treasures. The areas around Sabir and Pafuri, however, are particularly abundant.

Greater St Lucia Wetlands

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a sub-tropical paradise for bird lovers as well as a World Heritage site. Expect to find over 500 bird species here, with water-loving wading birds like the Saddle-billed Stork, Rufous-bellied Heron and Greater and Lesser flamingos dominating. There’s too many to name, and if you have a love of water-and-wading birds, this place will become your holy grail.

We recommend: Anywhere you go here will produce birding treasures, so simply pick your spot! However, Mkhuze Game Reserve is widely held to be the premier birding spot in South Africa.

Eastern Cape: Raptor Paradise

The Eastern Cape is the place to head for some of the highest raptor populations in South Africa.  Think Martial and Crowned Eagle, African Fish Eagle and many more- with a supporting act from some of Africa’s most beautiful Kingfishers.

We recommend: Head to Kariega Game Reserve to support their thriving raptor population [and nab great shots and experiences too].

The wealth of birdlife in South Africa ensures keen birders a premier experience wherever they roam, but these top spots will almost guarantee you some of the most spectacular sightings of your life. Come explore the wealth of birdlife in South Africa up close and personal with Go Touch Down Travel and Tours– you won’t be disappointed!