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

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 waterhole hide at Mwamba Bushcamp, or the private veranda outside each chalet, are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Thousands of carmine bee-eaters can also 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 mobile

South Luangwa’s birding is varied and the guides on these mobile safaris are often "best in class", so you can expect them to be very knowledgeable about the birds, the plants, the animals, and almost everything else in the ecosystem.


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 waterhole hide at Mwamba Bushcamp, or the private veranda outside each chalet, are great spots for birdwatching in Zambia. Thousands of carmine bee-eaters can also 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.

Big Lagoon Camp

Overlooking a verdant lagoon, Big Lagoon Camp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the main area or on the shaded deck 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.

Big Lagoon Camp

Overlooking a verdant lagoon, Big Lagoon Camp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the main area or on the shaded deck 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.

Best camps & lodges for Birdwatching in Zambia


Shoebill Island Camp

Shoebill Island Camp

Shoebill Island Camp is an absolutely superb spot for birdwatchers, with over 430 globally significant migratory & resident bird species found in the Bangweulu Wetlands. 10% of the global population of Wattled cranes strut along the plains, whilst White cheeked bee-eaters, Rufous bellied herons, Lesser and Greater swamp warblers, Gallinule, a profusion of waterfowl and of course the wonderful shoebills, all make for great avian sightings!


91% (9 reviews)
Mchenja Bushcamp

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.


99% (69 reviews)
Amanzi

Amanzi

The varied vegetation types around Amanzi, plus its wildlife-rich location and knowledgeable guides, make it a great camp for birdwatching in Zambia. Birds can be seen from drives, walks and canoes. Our best sightings have included goliath herons, paradise flycatcher, malachite kingfisher, Pels fishing owl and numerous African fish eagles.


96% (10 reviews)
Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp

Anabezi Luxury Camp

Anabezi's wildlife-rich location and knowledgeable guides make it a great camp for birdwatching in Zambia. Birds can be seen from drives, walks and canoes. Our best sightings have included goliath herons, paradise flycatcher, black-headed and African golden oriole, Pels-fishing owl, African green pigeon and numerous African fish eagles.


99% (14 reviews)
Chiawa Camp

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.


98% (89 reviews)
Bilimungwe Bushcamp

Bilimungwe Bushcamp

The varied habitat around Bilimungwe, including areas of forest and numerous waterholes, means the birdlife is varied and prolific, great for birdwatching in Zambia. With the help of our guide we were able to spot jacanas, grey crowned cranes, and the elusive Pel’s fishing owl.


95% (12 reviews)
Tafika

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.


98% (318 reviews)
Chindeni

Chindeni

A mixture of miombo woodland, riverine forest and plentiful lagoons means there is varied and prolific birdlife, making the area a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia. On our last visit we saw juvenile saddle-billed storks, several kingfisher species and numerous waterfowl.


97% (12 reviews)
Luangwa River Camp

Luangwa River Camp

Luangwa River Camp stands on a bend in the Luangwa River near several lagoons. These varied environments are within easy reach, making this a great camp for birdwatching in Zambia. There are numerous species including spoonbills, raptors, bee-eaters and rollers.


96% (74 reviews)
Sausage Tree Camp

Sausage Tree Camp

Sausage Tree is great for birdwatching in Zambia, with land and water birds seen from game drives, walks, canoeing and from the camp itself. Our best sightings included goliath herons, giant kingfishers, carmine bee-eaters, open-billed stork and tropical boubou.


98% (43 reviews)
Luangwa Safari House

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.


100% (14 reviews)
Kaingo Camp

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.


97% (213 reviews)
Chongwe River House

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.


100% (8 reviews)
Big Lagoon Camp

Big Lagoon Camp

Overlooking a verdant lagoon, Big Lagoon Camp is in a great location for birds, with first-rate guides who know their birdlife. Even sitting in the main area or on the shaded deck with some binoculars provides a great opportunity for birdwatching in Zambia.


98% (93 reviews)
Busanga Bushcamp

Busanga Bushcamp

When the plains flood (Dec-June) there are high densities of water-birds; crowned cranes are often seen dancing! Endemics such as Chaplin's barbet and unusual species like Lady Ross's turaco are highlights of the wooded areas for birders in Zambia.


93% (20 reviews)
Mwaleshi Camp

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.


99% (60 reviews)
Mwamba Bushcamp

Mwamba Bushcamp

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


99% (152 reviews)
Mutinondo Wilderness

Mutinondo Wilderness

Mutinondo is a great spot for birdwatching in Zambia, home to 362 species including many that are absent from lower-lying areas. The reserve is designated an Important Birding Area, and attracts rarities such as the chestnut-headed flufftail.


100% (2 reviews)
Nsefu

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.


98% (192 reviews)
Robin Pope Safaris Mobile Safari Camp

Robin Pope mobile

South Luangwa’s birding is varied and the guides on these mobile safaris are often "best in class", so you can expect them to be very knowledgeable about the birds, the plants, the animals, and almost everything else in the ecosystem.


98% (24 reviews)
Potato Bush Camp

Potato Bush Camp

Potato Bush is great for birdwatching in Zambia, with land and water birds seen from drives, walks and canoeing. When last there, our best sightings included goliath herons, giant kingfishers, a Gabar goshawk and numerous fish eagles.


100% (17 reviews)
Impandala House

Impandala House

With a range of environments from the forests to the lake, you may see lots of species which are absent from lower-lying areas of Zambia. Good spot for those on a Zambia birdwatching holiday wishing to explore a more remote area.


No reviews yet
Chongwe River Camp

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.


96% (120 reviews)
Ntemwa Busanga Camp

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.


98% (12 reviews)
Nkwali

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.


96% (239 reviews)
Musekese Camp

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.


95% (39 reviews)
Tangala House

Tangala House

Tangala has its own nice, quiet spot on the Zambezi. This makes it an excellent and fairly undisturbed place for birdwatching in Zambia; the boat trips from here are also excellent.


No reviews yet
Wasa Lodge

Wasa Lodge

Kasanka is particularly good for birdwatching in Zambia as it's on the edge of the Central African rainforests, and has many species in common with that ecosystem.


89% (11 reviews)
Robin Pope Safaris bush-camp

Robin Pope bush-camp

Robin Pope Safari guides are generally very knowledgeable about the varied birdlife of the area.


99% (29 reviews)
KaingU Lodge

KaingU Lodge

Dry-country and waterbirds found in this diverse area.


91% (14 reviews)

Best camps & lodges for Birdwatching in Africa

Birdwatching elsewhere in Africa

Our top ideas and inspiration for Birdwatching in other countries.


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Kenya

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Birdwatching in Malawi

Malawi

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Birdwatching in Mozambique

Mozambique

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Birdwatching in Namibia

Namibia

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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

South Africa has the highest number of endemic bird species in mainland Africa. Birding in the ...

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 Zambia

Maximise the chances of seeing your favourite 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.

81% SUCCESS

3,035 sightings from 3,734 observations

Where to see lion in Zambia

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.

47% SUCCESS

1,940 sightings from 4,146 observations

Where to see leopard in Zambia

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

871 sightings from 2,771 observations

Where to see wild dog in Zambia

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.

33% SUCCESS

1,049 sightings from 3,185 observations

Where to see cheetah in Zambia

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

2,557 sightings from 3,090 observations

Where to see buffalo in Zambia

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.

49% SUCCESS

1,467 sightings from 2,979 observations

Where to see eland in Zambia

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

3,629 sightings from 3,995 observations

Where to see elephant in Zambia

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.

86% SUCCESS

3,507 sightings from 4,076 observations

Where to see giraffe in Zambia

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

2,649 sightings from 2,972 observations

Where to see hippo in Zambia

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.

23% SUCCESS

474 sightings from 2,024 observations

Where to see roan antelope in Zambia

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.

23% SUCCESS

456 sightings from 2,017 observations

Where to see sable antelope in Zambia

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.

55% SUCCESS

2,173 sightings from 3,945 observations

Where to see spotted hyena in Zambia

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.

68% SUCCESS

2,486 sightings from 3,670 observations

Where to see wildebeest in Zambia

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

3,826 sightings from 4,548 observations

Where to see zebra in Zambia

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.

2% SUCCESS

68 sightings from 3,319 observations

Where to see aardvark in Zambia

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

54 sightings from 3,325 observations

Where to see pangolin in Zambia

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.

30% SUCCESS

623 sightings from 2,050 observations

Where to see black rhino in Zambia

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.

44% SUCCESS

496 sightings from 1,132 observations

Where to see white rhino in Zambia

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.

18% SUCCESS

60 sightings from 329 observations

Where to see sitatunga in Zambia

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