Birding, or avitourism, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in ecotourism internationally. The avitourism division of BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) has established several birding routes throughout the country. What is more encouraging is that local bird guides from previously disadvantaged communities are being trained by BLSA and have become the cornerstone of the birding route experience.
BirdLife Travel develops individually tailored itineraries for the visitor and professionally produced products, such as websites, brochures and checklists, and information on selected birder friendly establishments to further enhance the discerning avitourist’s experience.
The Western Cape offers excellent birding and superlative scenery, a large number of endemics and the best wader watching in the country. More than 610 bird species have been recorded in Cape Town, including 220 species in a single day. The biodiversity hotspot at the south-westernmost tip of Africa showcases more than 70% of Southern Africa’s endemic birds and is world famous for pelagic birding. This region is best explored from Cape Town.
Local bird species include fynbos specials such as Orange-Breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Protea Seedeater and Hottentot Buttonquail. The Cape Rockjumper is found on the craggy mountainsides, while the Knysna and Victorin’s Warblers can be seen in the wetter valleys. Lark species are found in the dry interior.
Botanical gardens, such as the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, are must-visit locations, as is the World of Birds in Hout Bay. The World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa, and houses 3 000 birds and small animals in walk-through aviaries. In winter in particular, the Edith Stephens Wetlands Park is wonderful for waders and waterbirds. The Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary in Somerset West is also a good place to see water birds, and the Durbanville Nature Reserve, Tygerberg Nature Reserve and Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve are other good places for a pleasant walk and some birding.
Numerous nature reserves support a number of endemics and near-endemics, including the Cape Weaver, Greater Double-Collared Sunbird, Cape and Grey-Winged Francolins, Ground Woodpecker, and Cape Rock-Thrush.
More common feathered species likely to be seen in summer include Greater Striped Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, White-rumped Swift, Alpine Swift and a large variety of shore birds such as Little Stint, Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Whimbrel, etc.
Birds of prey are also numerous and regular sightings are made of Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Black Harrier, African Goshawk, Osprey, Rock Kestrel, Yellow-Billed Kite, Black Sparrowhawk, African Fish Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Spotted Eagle-Owl.
A number of birding routes have been earmarked for the greater Cape region: the Eden Birding Route, Winelands Birding Route, Karoo Birding Route and Peninsula Birding Route. Although some are operational, others are still under development.
If you would like to participate in an arranged birding tour, there are a number of accredited operators available. Visit our list of tour operators specialising in birding trips, or contact Cape Town Tourism on +27 (0)21 487 6800 for more information on operators in the area – the organisation will also make your booking (at no extra cost).
- Phone: +27 (0)21 487 6800
Great White sharks are some of Cape Town’s most famous and respected marine inhabitants. Love them or fear them, getting up close and personal with a great white is one of the most adrenaline-fueled experiences you can encounter while visiting the Cape.
Many visitors want to explore nature on higher ground as soon as they arrive in Cape Town and with Lion’s Head and Table Mountain beckoning, many do get to experience the local flora and fauna on foot. However, the entire peninsula can be enjoyed by avid walkers. From Blouberg Beach, with its picture perfect views from its sandy shores, to the more adventurous guided Hoerikwaggo Trails along the spine of Table Mountain, visitors have an expanse of ground to cover.
Birding, or avitourism, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in ecotourism internationally. The avitourism division of BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) has established several birding routes throughout the country.
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