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Birdwatching in Zambia
Birdwatching in Zambia
Birdwatching in Zambia
Birdwatching in Zambia
Birdwatching in Zambia

The malachite kingfisher is seen often, as most camps are near aquatic environments.

More elusive than most, the shoebill resides in the Bangweulu Wetlands in Northern Zambia.

Zambia birdwatching

Best options for birdwatching in Zambia

Birdwatching in Zambia will reveal a mix of south, east and even central African birds. Birdlife is richest during the 'emerald' wet season (Nov-March) when foliage is dense and insects are thriving; this is also when palearctic and intra-African migrants visit. There is limited accessibility to some areas during this time, but some amazing opportunities for keen birders.

In total, there are over 750 bird species in Zambia, across a range of environments. Wetland and swamp areas attract a variety of waterfowl, from herons, storks and ibises to the stately crowned and wattled cranes. Zambia's the most sought-after wetland species, the shoebill stork, is the highlight of any birdwatching break to Zambia's Bangweulu wetlands.

The birding highlights of Zambia's drier areas include the country's only truly endemic bird species, the Chaplin's barbet - with its distinctive red eye patch. Other colourful specialities in Zambia include Bohm's bee-eater, racket-tailed roller and spotted creeper.

Note that the best time for birding in Zambia, the wet season, sees many birds nesting and displaying full breeding plumage; but many camps and lodges close their doors. The good news is that the few which remain open will often offer heavily reduced rates - so this is usually the cheapest time to visit. For some more of our favourite places for birdwatching in Zambia, see below.

Kaingo Camp

The main deck at Kaingo and your private deck looking over the Luangwa River are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Between September and October, you can spot thousands of carmine bee-eaters from a special hide located below a nest site in the riverbank.

Mwamba Bushcamp

The two hides at Mwamba Bushcamp, or the private veranda outside each chalet, are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Thousands of carmine bee-eaters may be seen from the camp’s hide , below the nearby riverbank, between Sep – Oct.


Nkwali

Nkwail has first-rate guides who know their birds very well – even the more obscure species. The superb location will also appeal when planning a birdwatching holiday in Zambia, as Nkwali overlooks the Luangwa River.

Nsefu

Beside the river, with bush, open plains and salt pans nearby, Nsefu is a great location for birdwatching in Zambia. Knowledgeable guides, flocks of crowned cranes in the dry season, and yellow-billed storks during the rains are a bonus.

Robin Pope walking

South Luangwas birding is varied and the Robin Pope Safari guides are generally very knowledgeable about the species.


Chongwe River House

You'll find good safari guides at Chongwe River House and a superb location. From the foothills of the escarpment in one direction, to the great Zambezi River in the other – you'll find quite a range of different environments, and some very prolific birdlife.

Luangwa Safari House

Luangwa Safari House makes a very good stop for keen birdwatchers. The safari guides at Luangwa Safari House are knowledgeable birders and the house stands in a lovely location surrounded by tall old trees, with great views across a lagoon to the hills beyond.


Musekese Camp

With over 490 species in the Kafue, this park is great for bird-watching in Zambia. Combine that with the excellent guides at Musekese and you are likely to have a superb birding experience.

Ntemwa Busanga Camp

Zambia’s Kafue National Park is home to nearly 500 different bird species, and so a trip here is perfect for those wishing to partake in some serious bird-watching. The critically endangered wattled cranes are a highlight.


Kaingo Camp

The main deck at Kaingo and your private deck looking over the Luangwa River are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Between September and October, you can spot thousands of carmine bee-eaters from a special hide located below a nest site in the riverbank.

Mwamba Bushcamp

The two hides at Mwamba Bushcamp, or the private veranda outside each chalet, are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Thousands of carmine bee-eaters may be seen from the camp’s hide , below the nearby riverbank, between Sep – Oct.

Tafika

Tafika guides are knowledgeable birders. Highlights of the area include flocks of crowned cranes during the dry season, a yellow-billed stork colony May–July, carmine bee-eaters Sep–Oct, and Pel's fishing owl all year round, making this a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia.

Crocodile Bushcamp

Overlooking a verdant dambo Crocodile Bushcamp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the lounge with some binoculars provides a great opportunity for birdwatching in Zambia.


Tafika

Tafika guides are knowledgeable birders. Highlights of the area include flocks of crowned cranes during the dry season, a yellow-billed stork colony May–July, carmine bee-eaters Sep–Oct, and Pel's fishing owl all year round, making this a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia.

Crocodile Bushcamp

Overlooking a verdant dambo Crocodile Bushcamp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the lounge with some binoculars provides a great opportunity for birdwatching in Zambia.


Chongwe River Camp

With special species such as the red-winged pratincole, Verraux's eagle, Pel's fishing owl and the stunning narina trogon, which visits in the summer (Oct–Apr), Chongwe River Camp is a great location for birdwatching in Zambia.

Mchenja Bushcamp

Mchenja Bushcamp stands beside the Luangwa River, and near several large lagoons – so has several different environments within easy reach. The birding here is good; with water birds and many dry-country species. On one of our short visits we saw flocks and solitary yellow-billed storks, fish eagles, white-fronted bee-eaters, kingfishers and many others.


Tafika

Tafika guides are knowledgeable birders. Highlights of the area include flocks of crowned cranes during the dry season, a yellow-billed stork colony May–July, carmine bee-eaters Sep–Oct, and Pel's fishing owl all year round, making this a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia.

Mwaleshi Camp

The guides at Mwaleshi are consistently top-notch for birdwatching. Most flora and fauna are common to the whole Luangwa Valley, but specials include the white-winged starling, the chestnut-mantled sparrow weaver and the yellow-throated longclaw.


KaingU Lodge

Dry-country and waterbirds found in this diverse area.

Musekese Camp

With over 490 species in the Kafue, this park is great for bird-watching in Zambia. Combine that with the excellent guides at Musekese and you are likely to have a superb birding experience.


Chiawa Camp

Chiawa is a particularly good camp for birdwatching in Zambia: it's great for water and land birds, with favourites including ospreys, eagle owls, kingfishers and carmine bee-eaters. Boating, walks and a wildlife hide give different perspectives, and the camp has expert guides.

Nkwali

Nkwail has first-rate guides who know their birds very well – even the more obscure species. The superb location will also appeal when planning a birdwatching holiday in Zambia, as Nkwali overlooks the Luangwa River.

Birdwatching elsewhere in Africa

Our top ideas and inspiration for Birdwatching in other countries.


Birdwatching in Botswana

Botswana

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Birdwatching in Kenya

Kenya

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Birdwatching in Malawi

Malawi

Malawi has a number of species which are rare in the rest of Southern Africa, and birdwatching ...

Birdwatching in Mozambique

Mozambique

Mozambique stretches over 2000km from north to south. It is a lush and varied country, and birding ...

Birdwatching in Namibia

Namibia

The best time for bird watching in Namibia is during the rains - typically between around November ...

Birdwatching in Rwanda

Rwanda

Birdwatching in Rwanda is somewhat overlooked in favour of gorilla-trekking trips. However, birdlife ...

Birdwatching in Seychelles

Seychelles

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Birdwatching in South Africa

South Africa

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Birdwatching in Tanzania

Tanzania

With a range of endemic bird species, Tanzania is a great location for a birdwatching holiday. ...

Birdwatching in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

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Where to see wildlife species in Africa

Maximise the chances of seeing your favourite African animals based on traveller sightings reports from the field.


Lion

Lion

Panthera leo

Lions are at the top of the food chain and also most safari wish-lists, but with their numbers falling fast, any encounter with these majestic apex predators always feels like a privilege.

80% SUCCESS

1,314 sightings from 1,646 observations

Where to see lion in Africa

Leopard

Leopard

Panthera pardus

The most numerous of Africa’s big cats, leopard occur across many habitats, from wild tracts to populated areas. Their grace and their elusive nature make them a unique safari drawcard.

45% SUCCESS

840 sightings from 1,873 observations

Where to see leopard in Africa

Wild dog

Wild dog

Lycaon pictus

African wild dogs are among the continent’s most compelling animals. Much misunderstood, these rare, tie-dyed canids are amazingly efficient hunters with a fascinating social life.

31% SUCCESS

375 sightings from 1,214 observations

Where to see wild dog in Africa

Cheetah

Cheetah

Acinonyx jubatus

The cheetah is the fastest land animal and the only cat that hunts by pure speed. Found largely in open grasslands, its slim, elegant form is today an increasingly rare sight.

29% SUCCESS

418 sightings from 1,453 observations

Where to see cheetah in Africa

Buffalo

Buffalo

Syncerus caffer

One of the ‘Big Five’, buffalo earned a fearsome reputation in hunters’ tales. By contrast, big herds of these sociable bovids are placid, but mount formidable defences against predators.

83% SUCCESS

1,112 sightings from 1,335 observations

Where to see buffalo in Africa

Eland

Eland

Taurotragus oryx

Africa’s largest antelope, eland are culturally important from prehistoric rock art to modern game farms. Though widespread, they are also shy so sightings are uncommon and often fleeting.

45% SUCCESS

613 sightings from 1,362 observations

Where to see eland in Africa

Elephant

Elephant

Loxodonta africana

By far the biggest of the so-called Big Five – indeed, the largest land animal on the planet – the elephant shapes the very landscape it inhabits and is a defining presence on any safari.

91% SUCCESS

1,590 sightings from 1,750 observations

Where to see elephant in Africa

Giraffe

Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis

The world’s tallest land mammal, giraffes are herbivores which have evolved many unique adaptations. Their iconic outlines tower above the bush in many of Africa’s wildlife areas.

83% SUCCESS

1,523 sightings from 1,833 observations

Where to see giraffe in Africa

Hippo

Hippo

Hippopotamus amphibius

The territorial calls of the hippo create a signature soundtrack to Africa’s rivers & wetlands. Despite an endearing smile, this aquatic herbivore has a notoriously aggressive disposition.

89% SUCCESS

1,168 sightings from 1,310 observations

Where to see hippo in Africa

Roan antelope

Roan antelope

Hippotragus equinus

Africa’s second largest antelope and one of its most handsome, with a powerful build and distinctive markings, roan are wary of people, but renowned for their bravery against predators.

24% SUCCESS

228 sightings from 959 observations

Where to see roan antelope in Africa

Sable antelope

Sable antelope

Hippotragus niger

Perhaps Africa’s most beautiful antelope, sable are renowned for their combative nature, even holding off lions. Shy and restricted in range, sightings of sable are always special.

21% SUCCESS

198 sightings from 954 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Africa

Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena

Crocuta crocuta

The spotted hyena may be thought of as ‘ugly’ and ‘cowardly’. In fact, this versatile and intelligent carnivore is one of Africa’s most fascinating and warrants attention on any safari.

50% SUCCESS

903 sightings from 1,799 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Africa

Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Connochaetes sp.

Superficially bovine in appearance, wildebeests are known for their spectacular migrations sometimes in huge numbers. These resilient animals are some of Africa’s most successful herbivores.

63% SUCCESS

1,058 sightings from 1,668 observations

Where to see wildebeest in Africa

Zebra

Zebra

Equus sp.

The zebra is a quintessential African animal: the horse in stripy pyjamas at the end of every child’s A–Z. There are three species, of which the plains zebra is much the most common.

84% SUCCESS

1,724 sightings from 2,057 observations

Where to see zebra in Africa

Aardvark

Aardvark

Orycteropus afer

The aardvark is one of Africa’s most bizarre and enigmatic animals. A shy, nocturnal termite-eater, signs of its presence may be scattered about the bush whilst sightings remain elusive.

3% SUCCESS

43 sightings from 1,572 observations

Where to see aardvark in Africa

Pangolin

Pangolin

Smutsia sp.

Pangolins appear to be more pine cone than animal in their unique armoury of scales. These nocturnal, ant-eating oddities are not only highly elusive but also increasingly rare.

2% SUCCESS

27 sightings from 1,487 observations

Where to see pangolin in Africa

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Diceros bicornis

The black rhino is the smaller and rarer of Africa’s two rhino species but has the more fearsome reputation. Shy and heavily persecuted, it tends to stick to cover.

29% SUCCESS

261 sightings from 899 observations

Where to see black rhino in Africa

White Rhino

White Rhino

Ceratotherium simum

The white rhino is the largest and most numerous of the world’s five rhinoceros species. They are larger, easier to see and generally more approachable than the black rhino.

43% SUCCESS

218 sightings from 508 observations

Where to see white rhino in Africa

Sitatunga

Sitatunga

Tragelaphus spekii

The sitatunga is the most aquatic of Africa’s antelopes and specially adapted to its swampy habitats. Though widespread across Africa, only a handful of places offer reliable sightings.

20% SUCCESS

25 sightings from 122 observations

Where to see sitatunga in Africa

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