Safari Help

May 28th, 2005, 01:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 8
Safari Help

We are interested in an African safari but when I look into the possibilities, I am quickly overwhelmed. We would like to spend at least 2 weeks with modest but not necessarily luxurious accomodations. Air travel between camps is preferred. Safely and little or no health risks are important. A wilderness experience with a healthy dose of bird life are desired. We are an older couple and my wife has trouble climbing hills.
Our goals are to learn about the preferred time of year for weather and the better locations to meet are needs.
birder1 is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
If you could narrow the countries of interest, we could give you better answers.

Air travel can be done anywhere, but is standard in Botswana. For minimizing health risks, contact a travel clinic for the proper immunizations and drugs. If you stay with reputable camps the food and water provided will be fine, so no problem there. I've never had any health problems during the trip or upon return.

You may never need to leave your vehicle (or maybe boat/mekoro) to birdwatch or if so, it would not be necessary to climb hills.

Good birding times are the wet season, low season, sometimes also called green season. In East Africa that would include the end of March through May, for the longer rains, but from October to May can provide good birding. In Southern Africa better birding would be about Dec through March.

Some keen birders who read this could give you more specific information and exact locations that they have enjoyed.

Actually, birding can be rewarding all year round. We saw 196 species on a 3 week trip to Kenya and Tanzania in July/August-the dry season, and we were not focused on birds specifically. The Okavango Delta in Botswana has good birding all the time.

Ask a few agents for a birding safari, then post those details here for members to review.

There is a company that does East Africa safaris called Origins. They recently changed their name from East Africa Ornithological Safaris. They are owned by a birding expert. I've gone with them on several trips, though not for birdwatching alone.

Good luck and please post again with more questions.
atravelynn is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 05:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Depending on the time of year you are visiting will determine the pricing and birding possibilities.

The Bangweulu Floodplains in Zambia is an excellent option and it will also allow for a safari in South Luangwa National Park.

If you were to visit Zambia, for example, in April, you would be able to visit a place like the Bangweulu Wetlands, where their list of recorded birds is currently at 412.

The Kasanka Trust oversees the Bangweulu Floodplains as well as Kasanka, a very small but highly regarded game park.

Here is the bird list for the area.

The price for Kasanka at either Shoebill Island Camp or one of their two camps, Wasa or Luwombwa, located within Kasanka, is $200 per person per night.

So, let's say you chose to spend 4 nights on Shoebill Island, 3 nights in Kasanka and 5 nights in South Luangwa National Park at one of their best lodges, Luangwa River Lodge,, your pricing would be as follows:

Shoebill Island Camp $1600
Kasanka $1200
Luangwa River Lodge $2300 (green season pricing)

Your price for a 12 night Zambian safari is only $3,050 per person plus Zambian air transfers. I don't know the exact pricing on the air transfers, but assuming they are $950 per person, you would be able to enjoy a 12 night Zambian safari (starting from Lusaka where you will be able to fly in direct from London or Johannesburg) for only $4000 per person. That price is good, of course, if you go with a trusted local Southern African tour operator, rather than with an American or European company who may charge extra.

For just a little more, it would be possible to visit Victoria Falls if that interests you. I believe round trip flights from Lusaka to Livingstone would be about $300 per person, and from there you would be able to stay in a nice place for about $350 per night.

If the above piques your interest, feel free to e-mail me for agent recommendations.

Roccco is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Made a mistake on my math.

The ground cost for the 12 night safari I recommended would actually only be $2550 per person, not $3,050 pp.
Roccco is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
The Bangwelu Swamps in Zambia, mentioned by Rocco, would be an awesome birding experience with a good chance of seeing the Shoebill, especially if you stayed on Shoebill Island. I am planning on going there on my next Zambia trip.

If you were looking for something more mainstream and less remote, the lakes in Kenya (Baringo, Nakuru, Navasha, and others) offer good birding. Below are some sites that give birding itineraries. I have not used these companies, but it gives you an idea of where to go and when.

The Botswana itinerary shown on the last website is for the dry season-August. That reminded meóI have seen the Pelís Fishing Owl in the Okavango Delta in Botswana (and Zimbabwe) in August. Neither was even a birding trip. So the dry season can produce some great sightings, especially in water rich areas such as the delta.

If you were thinking of a group safari, I would do a birding trip so that your particualr interests would be catered to.

Finally, when I mentioned in an earlier post that you may not need to leave your vehicle to see birds, I could expand that to you may not need to even leave camp or the entrance of your tent/hut/room. The birds are so plentiful they sometimes come to you. You could ask your agent about which camps offer the best opportunities to see birds at the camp. Also ask which camps do bird walks. The ones I've done have been very slow over flat terrain.
atravelynn is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 02:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 56
Greetings Joe,
My husband and I are leaving tomorrow for a birding/wildlife safari. We booked it through Birding and Beyond Safaris ( It is for 13 nights in Tanzania and it is just for the two of us with a private guide and driver. I would be happy to answer any of your questions in more detail if I can. Please feel free to e-mail me directly. Good luck.
jandj is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 03:17 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 81
Atravelynn (and anyone else): you seem to know a good bit about birding in Africa. In two weeks I am leaving for SA: Cape Town, Kruger, Vic Falls, and lastly, Chobe. I will be the only birder, I am sure, but would greatly appreciate any thing you can tell me about the birding in those places. I have been studying the book Birds of Southern Africa. Thank you. Susan
birder57 is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 03:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,766

Cape Town - I haven't birded there but the Cape of Good Hope reserve is agreat spot, also take the boat to see the seals at Hout Bay. COGH offers a good chance of Verreux's Eagle.

Kruger - the migratory birds will have left, but last September in four days in Sabi Sand we got to 119 birds. Our March record is 162.

Here you should see lots of raptors, most of the vultures, kingfishers, some of the storks and herons. Then it gets tougher to identify the smaller guys.

Vic Falls is supposed to be a great spot for birding, but I wasn't into it when I went.

Chobe should be fairly similar to Kruger, with a chance of strays from Vic Falls area and north. Here you may get Arnott's Chat, Ostrich, Kori Bustard and Secretarybird. Wattled Crane is unlikely.

Do you have Newman or Sasol as your guide?
Most vehicles will have a copy of one or the other, I like to take my own, so that I can study up in down time. I also have the Roberts Multimedia Guide to SA birds. This has calls, video, photos and will produce bird lists by location. It also has some pretty cool advice for birding specific spots.
napamatt is offline  

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