Many people think of Africa as the land of wild, ferocious animals only. Which is true, because lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas are the main attractions of this huge, wonderful continent. But while you are there, taking photos of the most beautiful beasts on Earth you will find out that Africa is also the magic land of birdwatching.
It may seem crazy to go to Tanzania, Uganda or South Africa in order to take photos of birds, but … it depends on what kind of birds you will admire.
African safaris do not just concern lions, monkeys and zebras. You could have the chance to go birdwatching and do it in incredible places, admiring incredible birds. But of course there are important information you must learn, before you go. You are still in Africa, and you better forget anything you were used to. Here, even birdwatching is different. Here is what you should know about it.
Birdwatching, where to go
There is a very long list of African places where you can go birdwatching. But among so many, there are nations that offer the best locations. South Africa is famous for some of the best sites of birdwatching, especially between the territories of Durban and Johannesburg. Then, of course, Tanzania: this is the land of the many national parks as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire … and many lakes too. You can enjoy a great birdwatching also in Uganda, Botswana, Rwanda and Kenya.
What to wear
You should mainly wear lightweight fabric clothes, with short sleeves and wide-brimmed hats. You are in Africa, and you must face the local hot temperatures. But you will be standing still for a long time, so you can also bring a jacket in case you need it anyway. Some safaris could start very early in the morning when the air is still cold, or they can last till late afternoon. In most places, the best time to see birds is during the wet season, so you might have to face rain, too. Make sure you have some waterproof clothes as well. Long trousers and high shoes are highly recommended. Do not wear bright-coloured clothes, or fabrics that shine or reflect light. Birds could spot you in the bush and fly away.
Birdwatching in Africa: the equipment
What will you need on a birdwatching safari? Of course a good camera, with zoom lenses and a good quality shot. Binoculars are also recommended, better 7×35 or 8×40. You can also carry a telescope, if you like. You should have a notepad, or a sketchbook if you like to write notes or draw.
A good African birdwatcher must put all the equipment in waterproof bags, because African rains can be sudden and heavy! Never forget a sunscreen, your sunglasses, one or two bottles of water and some food. In case you use camouflage clothes, or tools, ask your guide about adding them to the equipment and when to use them.
You will have no problem at all in finding a tour operator who leads you on birdwatching safaris, they are a new tourist frontier to experience and to celebrate, in modern Africa.