Best time to travel to South Africa

Birdwatching in South Africa

Come in season to spot local endemics and near-endemics along with migrants from Europe and north Africa

Best time: September–April (best November–February)

Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Birdwatching

South Africa offers luxurious birdwatching with over 840 species. About 140 of them are near-endemic, and 14 are true endemic. Some of the most notable birds are the African penguin, Blue crane, Crested guineafowl, Southern ground hornbill, Mocking cliff-chat, rare Pel's fishing-owl and Tawny eagle. The list could be way longer if we mentioned all of the species that can be spotted in South Africa, but let's explore best places to observe the largest variety.

Kruger National Park is considered number one for general birdwatching. Mkhuze Game Reserve offers an incredible number of species in a relatively small area. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is especially known for raptors. The capital city doesn't fall behind—check out penguin colonies around Cape Town. Other great places for birding include Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, and Kariega Game Reserve. But of course, this is not the entire list. All of South Africa can be considered a birding destination. They are everywhere, just be attentive to spot as many as possible.

The best time for birdwatching is the rainy African spring and summer between September and March or April. Peak viewing time runs from November to February. In this season, migratory birds from Europe as well as northern Africa take over the territories. Also, many bird species are nesting and show off their bright breeding plumage during this time.

Practical info

What are some of the top spots for birdwatching in South Africa?

South Africa offers a wealth of birdwatching opportunities, with over 840 bird species. Some of the prime birding regions include Kruger National Park, Mohohlo-dolo Game Reserve, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, and Kariega Game Reserve. Birding can be done countrywide, with each region of the country showing off unique avian species. Show more

When is the best time to go birdwatching in South Africa?

To obtain the best birdwatching experience, visitors should visit South Africa during the wet season from September to March or April, with peak viewing running from November to February. During this season, it is possible to observe numerous migratory bird species from Europe, and northern Africa, as well as nesting bird species displaying their bright breeding plumage. Show more

Which unusual bird species are found in South Africa?

South Africa has a rich bird life, with about 840 bird species, 14 being true endemics and 140 being near-endemic. While there are many interesting species, some of the most striking birds include the Blue crane, Crested guineafowl, Mocking cliff-chat, Pel's fishing-owl, Southern ground hornbill, and the rare Tawny eagle. The region's birdlife is diverse, with birds such as Cape Sugarbirds, Knysna Louries, and Ostriches being commonly seen. Show more

Where can African penguin colonies be found in South Africa?

Two species of penguins can be found in South Africa, the African penguin, and the Jackass penguin. There are several penguin colonies, one of the most famous being the colony at Boulders Beach near Cape Town on the False Bay Coast. Observers can see over 3,000 pairs of these birds at this location. Another excellent viewing spot for African Penguins is Stony Point in Betty’s Bay, which is located further east along the coast. Show more

What other fauna can be observed while birdwatching in South Africa?

Birdwatchers can spot not only birds but also mammals such as rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalos, in addition to snakes, lizards, and amphibians. Zebras, giraffes, and hippos are some of the ungulates that visitors might spot. While birding close to water sources, visitors might see Nile crocodiles, otters, or various fish species as well. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin