Birding Day Trips
How our 1-to-3-day tours work
Please note that we run day tours in all the major South African cities, and sometimes also in Lima, Peru (where we have an established office), in Windhoek, Namibia, and in Thailand at certain times of the year (when Andy is living there).
Our 1-day Cape Town, Johannesburg/Pretoria and Durban area tours cost R4000 for one person, with an extra R500 per person if more than one participant. We run all our 1-day tours as private tours, since we have found we never manage to put groups together. Most people travel singly, in couples, or they bring their own small group along. Half-day trips lasting less than five hours are much poorer value for money as we can only give a R500 discount for groups of two or more (because the guide usually ends up doing a large mileage even for such a short trip).
These prices include guiding fees and vehicle costs, but they exclude the relatively small but variable costs of entrance fees (which depend on which tour you do) and lunch (you can tell us if you prefer “on the run” sandwiches or a sit-down restaurant meal halfway through the day of birding). Entrance fees and lunches for you and the guide are for your account. The birding guide will fetch you from wherever you are staying, after breakfast, and drop you back before dinner/before dark in the case of a 1-day tour (airport drop-offs are also perfectly OK). In the case of a half-day tour, the trip will run either from breakfast until lunch or from lunch until dinner. Please e-mail us for the starting time you prefer – we are happy with an early start (e.g. 5 a.m.), but we also understand that you will sometimes prefer a later start (e.g. 9 a.m.). The trip is yours, and you can tell us when you want to start the day. We often recommend 7:30 a.m. at the entrance to your hotel, but we can also advise about the best time to avoid rush hour for specific tours.
Longer trips – accommodation and meals have to be added to the price – please ask us; we can usually get accommodation for R900 per person sharing per night (ballpark), but if more luxury is needed the price, of course, increases. The guide’s accommodation also needs to be paid.
Tour prices for Port Elizabeth and other cities are the same. For smaller cities and towns we sometimes struggle to find guides.
We strongly recommend that you book far in advance even for the three larger cities. At certain times of the year our birding guides get booked particularly far in advance, but even at the best of times we recommend booking as far in advance as possible. On the other hand, we can often accommodate you even if you book a week in advance (sometimes even the day before).
You are welcome to just pay the guide cash (South African Rands; ZAR) on the day of the tour after you have booked with us. For trips that are longer than one day, we need payment of a deposit in advance.
Which tours do we recommend? In Cape Town, if you have never visited the Cape before and only have one day available for guided birding, we suggest doing a 1-day tour of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, which can be custom-made to your exact needs (you can discuss this with the guide at the start of the day). If you have a second day available, we recommend also doing a 1-day West Coast birding tour. If you have more than two days available, there is a stack more you can do birding-wise – please ask us for suggestions. In Johannesburg, we recommend Suikerbosrand/Marievale (south of Johannesburg) if you only have one day available. If you have a second day, we suggest Zaagkuilsdrift and environs (north of Pretoria), an area which has Kalahari-type birds. The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden provides an excellent half day around Johannesburg.
We believe in providing first class service, and if you e-mail us with any questions you will find we answer in lots of detail and very enthusiastically.
We look forward to hosting you here in sunny South Africa!
Please note: Any of these 1-day tours can be run as 1-day photographic birding tours – to convert them into birdwatching photo tours we modify the sites visited and slow down the pace.
South Africa: Cape Town
Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, is located near Table Bay on the northern extremity of the stunning Cape Peninsula. We will fetch you from your Cape Town hotel and spend a day taking you to some of the Peninsula’s top birding sites. We will try to find a lot of the localized endemics (of which there are many), and we will also see flamingo, pelican and other waterbird spectacles, plus we will enjoy fantastic botanical garden birding in idyllic surroundings.See all South Africa: Cape Town tours
South Africa: Garden Route
The Garden Route – a special gem, offering spectacular and unique bird sightings, complimented with breath-taking scenery and phenomenal landscapes, all encompassed within lush forest lands, fynbos, thicket, and water habitats (rivers, estuaries, and ocean), as well as prime localized farmlands. Using key locations and remarkable areas of the Garden Route, our primary focus will be on sighting the exquisite bird species these locations host.See all South Africa: Garden Route tours
South Africa: Durban
We do a variety of excellent 1-day and 2-day tours around Durban, in addition to our longer Kwazulu/Natal and subtropical South Africa birding tours. Please contact us for further details or click here for general information on our South African day trips.See all South Africa: Durban tours
South Africa: The Sani Pass and Lesotho
The ascent up Sani Pass, one of the most famed birding routes in South Africa, provides easy access to most of the birds endemic to the Drakensberg Escarpment and highlands, plus spectacular mountain scenery.See all South Africa: The Sani Pass and Lesotho tours
South Africa: Johannesburg / Pretoria
In Johannesburg, we recommend Suikerbosrand/Marievale (south of Johannesburg) if you only have one day available. If you have a second day, we suggest Zaagkuilsdrif and environs (north of Pretoria), an area which has Kalahari-type birds. The Roodepoort Botanic Gardens provides an excellent half day around Johannesburg.See all South Africa: Johannesburg / Pretoria tours
South Africa: Northern Cape
Southern Africa is the lark capital of the world, and larks are at times the favorite group of birds for Chris (when he is not chasing owls) and some of the other Birding Ecotours guides. And a disproportionate number of these subtly beautiful birds lurk in Namaqualand and other parts of the remote Northern Cape, South Africa. This is why we love to do 3-5 day lark tours to this region.See all South Africa: Northern Cape tours
For most Namibia day tours, out of Windhoek, we do not have a set or fixed itinerary. We basically provide a list of specials/birds that could be realistically seen, and then, once we have the wish list of clients, we decide on the route.See all Namibia tours
We offer day tours out of Lima. Please contact us for availability and details.See all Peru tours
We offer day tours/short tours out of Bangkok between November 2016 and March 2017. Please contact us for availability and details.See all Thailand tours
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What our clients say
Bo Beolens of Fatbirder put me onto Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours originally. What a favour he did me. Not only is Chris an excellent birder, but he goes out of his way to be really helpful. I and my partner settled on Namibia with Birding Ecotours as our next trip, and as we were in Jo`burg visiting friends a few days before the trip, I asked Chris if he could also arrange for me to see Flufftails in the gap available. The hub of Birding Ecotours couldn`t have been more delightful to deal with. Not only did he get very excited by this challenge, but took it upon himself to do our guiding. He found an equally enthusiastic birder, Kevin, to join the trip and off we set for the Dullstroom area, where there was a Striped Flufftail guide, all revved up and ready to go except it was miserable weather. Never mind, a quick re-calculation and we descended down to Nelspruit Botanic Garden and sunshine, and spent half a day revelling in Sth. African birds. Then we ascended and went lark and pipit hunting which Chris found by call. He also found us an Oribi which was stunning, we were so close. Chris and his guide worked extremely hard the next day, trying to call out a flufftail . We could hear them but the thick vegetation prevented any views of them. After doing a circuit of the whole area, Chris and the guide doing more, as they were going up and down the hill , we were losing heart. Luck returned as Chris planted us by a carefully placed mp3 playing flufftail, and a narrow trodden path into the bracken. We waited as the sound of another flufftail got closer. I could hear Kevin hyperventilating as he suddenly found himself looking at a full frontal view of a male Striped Flufftail. As I was at a slightly different angle, I couldn`t see this marvellous apparition, but found myself breathing hard in anticipation when, from behind the clump of grass I was straining to see through, a female suddenly leapt across the gap like a frog, so fast that all I got was a view of the back and tail! No wonder they are a difficult bird to get to grips with but I would recommend this sort of diversion to anyone. I wouldn`t have climbed the hill after the Cape Eagle Owl if it wasn`t for Chris`s infectious enthusiasm either, and we were sorry to see both of them go; they had been so easy to get on with, both entertaining and amusing We flew to Walvis Bay a few days later to meet Steve Braine, our leader for the Namibia trip, and the rest of the participants. We found that Steve was a born and bred Namibian and knew the country like the back of his hand. He knew exactly where everything was, and if he didn’t, he had a hot-line to somebody who did. Fortunately the rest of the group were a relaxed bunch and very talkative and entertaining, and soon Steve had everyone fixated on birds. Steve and his bird knowledge is fearsome. He worked tirelessly, always on the go arranging the next highlight, repeating things if he thought anybody had missed out. He knows all the mammals, all the reptiles, loves scorpions and even dabbles with Lepidoptera. We were all beginning to think he was some kind of magician a week into the trip. There are sights on this trip you will never forget. For me, even the sight of a line of larks, all squashed together along a 1 inch wide line of shade under a notice board was spectacular. The plumage of desert birds looking like ink etchings: I could go on. Steve is an extremely good leader and I for one am grateful for his excellent birding skills and tireless driving.