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My brother John and I joined Chris on a tour of KwaZulu-Natal. As scientists, we were difficult customers, constantly being distracted by plants and rocks instead of birds. Chris tolerated these diversions with unflappable grace. And when our attentions were finally engaged fully in the bird watching we could not have asked for a better guide who knew the calls, where to look for tricky sightings, and had all the necessary local contacts to help us find the truly strange and wonderful. My favorite example of the “strange and wonderful” category was the African Broadbill which was displaying, but in the midst of impenetrable vegetation. Despite this, Chris and the guide managed to get us amazing views in the spotting scope. It was my most memorable bird of the trip. He accompanied us just across the border into Swaziland, past guards with guns (because we wanted to say we’d been there), and to a truly dodgy neighborhood in Durban to look at a rock outcrop, and never once complained – at least not out loud. We’ve been on several other international birding trips, and Chris is still our standard of comparison to all our other guides. And he’s still number one. We will be doing a pelagic trip off South Africa in the not too distant future, and will plan it so Chris can lead us there.

Wil Taylor (University of Wisconsin), on a South African tour guided by Chris
Southern Carmine Bee-eater - Andre Stapelberg

Botswana

Botswana is well known for having some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas on the African continent. With a full 38 percent of its total land area devoted to national parks, reserves, and wildlife management areas,  for the most part unfenced, allowing animals to roam wild and free. Travel through many parts of the country, one has the feeling of moving through an immense nature wonderland.

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Yellow-throated Cuckoo -Niall Perrins

Cameroon

With towering peaks, rolling hills, dry sahel habitat and primary forest, Cameroon is awash with some of Africa’s most sought-after regional endemics. The Cameroon Highlands is one of Africa’s most endemic-rich areas, and we visit three of these amazing peaks — some still have active volcanoes. Bannerman’s Turaco, one of the most range restricted turacos in Africa, can be found in the Bamenda Highlands. Grey-necked Rockfowl (Red-headed Picathartes), a skulking forest species with only one other member in its family, is endemic to this region’s lowland forests, and this is one of the few places you can pick up all three species of African trogons.  With Quail-plover, Egyptian Plover, and Golden Nightjar possible in the dry north, there are opportunities to see a wide range of some of Africa’s most desired birds.

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Comoros

The Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar, comprising the islands of Grande Comore, Mohéli, and Anjouan. With 17 endemic species and a large number of endemic subspecies, these islands have much to offer as a birding destination. In addition, they are a wonderful travel destination, set in rugged volcanic landscapes fringed by idyllic tropical beaches, and linked by good air and road infrastructure.

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Ruspoli's Turaco - Niall Perrins

Ethiopia

Ethiopia, “the Roof of Africa”, is an absolutely unique and spectacular birding destination. It is one of Africa’s most scenically beautiful countries, boasting some of the continent’s highest mountains and plateaus (but also contains a depression that reaches slightly below sea level), impressive escarpments, Great Rift Valley lakes and volcanoes and very varied vegetation from juniper forests to arid savannah dotted with monstrous red termite mounds. Descending from the highlands to the deep valleys far below can seem like entering a completely different world, all within the same day, it is an amazingly varied country.

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Great Blue Turaco - Niall Perrins

Gabon

Gabon is a largely low-lying country with a warm, humid climate. Much of the country is still covered by tropical rainforest and there are also grasslands, savannas, large rivers and coastal lagoons. Wildlife includes forest elephants, elephants, buffalo, various antelope and monkey species, sitatungas, leopards, three species of crocodiles, chimps and gorillas, and several marine turtle species which nest along the coast. There are 604 species of birds throughout the country (data from Birdlife International, 2013). None of these are endemic but some, such as the Ja River Scrub Warbler, Gabon Batis, African River Martin, and Black-chinned Weaver are restricted to Central Africa and have only small ranges. The Grey-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes) and Loango Weaver are classed as vulnerable species by the IUCN.

 

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White-necked Rockfowl

Ghana

Ghana must be the easiest West African country to travel in and thus gives relatively easy access to a very large number of West African endemics, as well as good access to some star North African birds. Ghana has 180 of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome birds, including 12 out of the 15 Upper Guinea Forest endemics, 11 of which are of global conservation concern. These 180 species are West and Central African rainforest birds, some of them reaching as far east as the DRC/Uganda border, but most of them are found only with difficulty outside of West Africa, making Ghana a very convenient country for finding them. This little country also boasts 37 Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome birds, this biome is a strip of savanna just south of the Sahel of North Africa. It is also possible to access the edge of the Sahel itself within Ghana for sought-after species such as Egyptian Plover. Ghana boasts a 100 percent success rate for finding White-necked Rockfowl (Yellow-headed Picathartes), a fine representative of a completely West African family. The people of Ghana are also superbly welcoming and friendly, and fluent in English, enhancing the overall experience.

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Hildebrandt's Starling - Niall Perrins

Kenya

Kenya has a unique and diverse array of habitat types, ranging from the snow-capped mountains at about 5000 meters above sea level, tropical lowlands, highland forests, vast savannas, and rolling plains and grasslands to the coastal dry forests and the shores of the Indian Ocean. There is a total of 1100+ bird species recorded on the country’s checklist from its 62 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), with 117 of these being migrants from the Eurasian region. Our tours will enable us to score at least 600 species and will take us through many spectacular habitats. Throughout Kenya we’ll experience some fantastic birding and excellent large game viewing, so there will always be something to draw the eye. We’ll have a chance to walk in the forests and drive among the many large game animals that the plains of east Africa are famous for.

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Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher - Niall Perrins

Madagascar

Birding Madagascar, our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families and five mammal families (including the lemurs) are endemic to this massive island, and half the world’s chameleons, weird and wonderful endemic plant families, and tons of other wildlife can be found here. An astonishing 120 bird species are endemic ( including such exotic groups as vangas, ground rollers, cuckoo roller, couas, asities, and mesites). Lemurs vie for attention, from the tiny mouse lemurs to the marvelous sifakas and the amazing indri with its calls that resound through the forest. Our tour visits a range of habitats: grasslands, dry deciduous woodland, the bizarre spiny forest with its odd octopus trees (Didiera madagascariensis) and elephant’s foot trees (Pachypodium rosulatum), and lush eastern rainforest, as well as lagoons and mudflats.

The birds that we’ll look for include the roadrunner-like Long-tailed Ground Roller and the stunning Pitta-like, Scaly, and Rufous-headed Ground Rollers, as well as the highly-prized Subdesert Mesite, the unforgettable Giant Coua, the astounding Velvet Asity, and Madagascan Ibis, to name just a handful. We invite you to join us on a special tour to an amazing island!

The Masoala Peninsula extension can generate the unbelievable Helmet VangaBrown Mesite, and Short-legged Ground Roller, as well as the largest, and most bizarre, nocturnal lemur, the aye-ayeand a stack more.

One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in the northwestern Ankarafantsika National Park, more than half of them endemic to Madagascar. They include Van Dam’s Vanga, Rufous Vanga, the elusive Banded Kestrel, and the more easily observed Madagascan Fish Eagle, which can often be seen at Ravelobe Lake. The endangered Humblot’s Heron can also be seen at Lake Ravelobe.

Berenty Reserve is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting a high number of endemic species. With luck we might be able to find Madagascan Sandgrouse, Madagascan Green Pigeon, Torotoroka Scops Owl, and perhaps even Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk here.

 

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Red-faced Crimsonwing - John Caddick

Malawi

Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km2(45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of 16,777,547 (July 2013 est.). Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi’s largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa”.

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Moussier's Redstart

Morocco

Birding in Morocco is both scenic and exciting, and the country has many first class birds. From the snow-capped Atlas Mountains at around 2600m to the low-lying beautiful dunes of the Sahara Desert – the birds we see are always against an impressive backdrop wherever we are! In early spring birds are migrating to Europe, and the beautiful Moroccan landscape explodes into bloom, helping the numerous passerines on their northward migration.
However, for many it is the numerous mouth-watering near-endemic and desert specialties that can be found in Morocco which are the biggest draw, and the list is long!

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Black Coucal - Hugh Chittenden

Mozambique

After nearly two decades of relative stability, many people are now starting to see the tourism potential of Mozambique. Long stretches of idyllic beach landscapes, coral reefs that are perfect for diving, vibrant and accessible cities (especially the capitol, Maputo), and a blossoming arts and music scene give this country all the trappings of an up-and-coming tourism hot spot. Mozambique has a variety of wildlife viewing options, with both Gorongosa National Park and the Niassa Reserve offering ideal safari and birdwatching conditions. Stability has allowed for some tourist infrastructure to be built, but Mozambique retains an off-the-beaten-path feel that makes it attractive to those who like their trips spiced with a little bit of adventure.

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Pale Chanting Goshawk - Martin Benadie

Namibia

Namibia is a must-visit African country since it is so very unique, with the world’s oldest desert including the highest sand dunes in the world, which are a spectacular red color, other massive sand dunes coming right down to the sea, rugged desert mountains along the Namibian Escarpment, desert elephants and rhinos, one of the world’s greatest game parks, the vast Etosha National Park. And, last but not least, Namibia has a whole bunch of birds that are only found there or in adjacent Angola.

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Rufous-bellied Paradise Flycatcher - São Tomé and Príncipe birding tour

São Tomé and Príncipe

With 75% of its area covered by rainforest, São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) is characterized by unspoiled, palm-fringed beaches, towering volcanic peaks, and a fascinating colonial heritage. Now with the recent discovery of large oil deposits in the Gulf of Guinea, STP is on the cusp of change. This is Africa’s second-smallest country, and it exhibits an enticing blend of African, Portuguese and Caribbean culture. Pioneering travelers will discover an African island paradise. Largely unexplored and unexploited by tourism, these tropical, volcanic islands off the west African coast are the antitheses of mass-market destinations, and one of the most unspoiled places on earth. The scarcity of tourists is one of the islands’ biggest attractions.

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Cape Sugarbird - John Tinkler

South Africa

South Africa is one of the best value destinations on the entire continent. The outstanding infrastructure, great accommodation, excellent food, wonderful South African hospitality, spectacular and varied scenery, and the presence of Africa’s big and small mammals makes it one of the most pleasant countries in the world to bird in.

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Hildebrandt's Starling - Niall Perrins

Tanzania

Tanzania is arguably one of the best countries to visit for its avifauna. By birding Tanzania, you’ll add a host of East African endemics, and also most of the 20 country endemics. You can also see your first Miombo (south-central African) endemic birds in Tanzania. And you’ll see a great many of Africa’s big (and small) animals, along with some of the continent’s most famous sites. These include the Great Rift Valley and its flamingo-filled lakes, the Serengeti with its relatively easy to see big cats and its wildebeest migration, Ngorongoro Crater, and, last but not least, Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s most massive isolated mountains. Africa’s highest mountain rises straight out of the wildlife-riddled plains below to a dizzying 19,341 feet above sea level.

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Shoebill - Niall Perrins

Uganda

The essential birds of Uganda are Shoebill (this is the easiest country to see this monster in), the 20-plus Albertine Rift endemics (including African Green Broadbill), and finally a few other birds tough to locate elsewhere, such as Green-breasted Pitta. Most other birds can be seen in other countries and are not focused on during this tour, although you’ll certainly see a lot of some widespread spectacular species such as Great Blue Turaco, Ross’s Turaco, amazing barbets, and so many others.

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Abdim's Stork - John Caddick

Zambia

Blessed with awe-inspiring natural wonders, an abundance of wildlife, huge water bodies and vast open spaces, Zambia offers unforgettable holidays exploring the real Africa. Acknowledged as one of the safest countries in the world to visit, Zambia’s welcoming people live in peace and harmony. And here, in the warm heart of Africa, you will find some of the finest Safari experiences on the planet, including face to face encounters with nature at its most wild.

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Red-throated Twonspot - John Caddick

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an absolutely fabulous country scenically wonderful, with very friendly people fluent in English and, surprising to many people, with a truly excellent infrastructure. The hundreds of miles of paved roads are in very good condition, and it is one of the few African countries of which you can see a great deal without the use of a 4×4. With an improving political leadership and the change to the US Dollar as the local currency, which has greatly improved the economy, the country is once again fast becoming a very popular destination for birders, and right now it is still possible to get very comfortable accommodation at comparatively low rates.

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We can run any of our tours privately any time and we can also arrange custom itineraries - send us your wish-list and we'll put the itinerary together! Please click here.

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