Meet Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris (Africa)

lawsons_logo_clayLawson’s opened its doors in 1990, and as such is the original South African birding company. Back then there were very few resources for the birder, such as the books, websites and apps we have today, and many of the routes, stakeouts and hotspots we still use were first pioneered by Peter Lawson over twenty years ago. Since those early years Lawson’s has grown in stature and scope, and even though Peter Lawson retired in 2010, the company still retains that family business ethos, with his daughter Mavourneen Pearce as the brains behind the operation, assisted by her business partner Leon Marais, who also leads many of the tours. They are in turn assisted by a small and able team, comprising Sue Ricketts in reservations, Lyndell Luyt as Mavourneen’s able assistant and handler of the administration behind our set-departures, and John Davies as our Central and East African specialist and able tour leader. Lawson’s also have established relationships with a number of capable and trusted freelance guides across the country, whom we use for many of our regional tours.

Our business is made up of three core elements, each of roughly equal proportions. These are as follows:

1: Custom-made Safaris for individuals, couples and groups. These can be birding, wildlife or photography safaris. Our custom-made safaris are all about your requirements. You tell us what you want to see, when you want to travel and how long you want to travel for and we come up with a plan and a price.

2: Set-departure Safaris with set dates and itineraries, on which individuals, couples and small groups can book. These have either a birding or a wildlife focus, though our safaris are generally very holistic in that we won’t totally ignore the mammals, plants and insects on a birding safari and vice versa on a wildlife safari we won’t totally ignore the birds (though we’ll refrain from examining each and every small brown bird we come across!).

3: Other Operator Safaris: we are ground agents on a wide range of set-departure safaris sold by established and reputable tour operators based both locally and abroad. These include Naturetrek (, Ornitholidays (, The Travelling Naturalist (, Avian Adventures, (, Sunrise Birding ( and Wild Rainbow African Safaris (

All in all we strive to create fun, rewarding and memorable birding, wildlife and photographic safaris – that’s the bottom line. Here’s a comment from Janet and Alan from Brooklyn, NYC, who’ve done two custom-made birding and photographic safaris with us:

“I can recommend Lawson’s without reservation. We traveled with them in 2009 on a custom birding, wildlife and photo safari to Mpumalanga (Dullstroom, Blyde River Canyon, Kruger NP and Sabi Sand reserve.) They worked closely with us to plan a customized itinerary and all of their suggestions were right-on. Everything was extremely well-organized and we benefited from their long-time experience in this area. Our guide, Leon Marais, was fantastic–an excellent wildlife spotter and birder, and importantly for us, an excellent photographer as well, so he really understood our needs and desires. Leon worked tirelessly every day to make the most of our experience. We are now eagerly anticipating our second custom trip with Lawson’s to the Western Cape and the Kalahari.”

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