South Africa Nature

Birding South Africa

South Africa is one of those few destinations that “has it all” - abundant wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, great road networks, stunning accommodations, vibrant culture and much more. The country calls itself “The Rainbow Nation” an apt description that refers to the wonderfully diverse cultural influences that have shaped its people. South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological sites in the world and the fantastically unique Table Mountain, one of the new seven wonders of nature. Home to over 850 bird species and, with a staggering 80 endemic or regionally endemic birds, the country is one of Africa’s premier birding countries. Iconic birds include Cape Rockjumper, Cape Sugarbird, African Penguin, Black Harrier, Knysna Turaco and Orange-breasted Sunbird. The country features high altitude mountains, forests, desert, ocean, savannahs and thornveld to name but a few of South Africa’s landscapes. Some of the best birding areas are West Coast National Park, Kruger National Park, Wakkerstroom Wetlands, the Drakensberg Mountains, Maputaland and the Tanqua Karoo. Large mammals like lions, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo are easily viewed in a network of exceptionally maintained national parks and reserves. South African arterial roads are amongst the best in the world and accommodations are world-class. Besides Birding, South Africa also has a reputation of providing world-class adventure activities like shark cage diving with Great White Sharks, bungi jumping, mountain biking and scuba diving and has a reputation for excellent cuisine and wine-tasting, especially in the Cape region. Overall, South Africa truly is a “world in one country”.   -  overview courtesy of James Currie/Birding Adventures TV.

What to See in South Africa

Notable Birds in South Africa (click species name to see related articles)

Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

  • Aardvark
  • Aardwolf
  • Springhare
  • African Savanna hare
  • Egyptian fruit bat
  • Pangolin
  • African Civet
  • Blue wildebeest
  • Common warthog
  • South African Giraffe

Other Attractions

  • Table mountain/Table Mountain National Park- Hike to the top for stunning views of Cape town and Table Bay
  • Garden Route- this route full of lagoons, lakes, and mountains encompasses ten nature reserves of varying ecosystems lying between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains and the Indian ocean.
  • Boulders Beach- a cove between many large granite boulders, complete with its own African Penguin colony!
  • Cango Caves- check out limestone formations dating back to the Precambian, located at the foothills of the Swartberg mountain range

Where and When to Go

Nature & Birding Hotspots in South Africa

  • Kruger National P ark
  • Cape Town: try a pelagic tour or explore the endemic-rich Western Cape botanical biome.
  • Wakkerstroom marsh area, a haven for waterbirds and several uncommon and range-restricted species
  • Mkuze area in Kwazulu-Natal, one of the most productive birding hotspots in Southern Africa.
  • Ngoye Forest, home of endemic subspecies of Green Barbet (Woodward's Barbet).
  • Drakensberg Mountains for Blue Swallow
  • Karkloof for Afro-montane species
  • Augrabies Falls National Park for Sociable Weavers'
  • Kimberley, an old mining town that holds grassland and thornveld species

South Africa Birding and Nature Tours

South Africa Ecolodges/Accommodations

  • Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a botanical wonderland that attracts numerous wildlife
  • Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
  • Leshiba, which is by, of, and for the people of South Africa

Best Time to Go

South Africa houses a temperate climate with plenty of sunny, dry days to maximize your viewing pleasures!

Wet season storms may make travel to destinations messy and muddy from October-April so make sure to plan and pack accordingly! Weather patterns are more extreme during this time depending on elevation, with high heat and humidity.

The dry season from May to September sees low rainfall and humidity making wildlife view able from predictable water sources.

Visit South Africa

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