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Bird Watching in Botswana

Africa's best authentic tailor-made safaris

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Bird Watching in Botswana

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By Antoinette Booyse

Safari Travel Planner

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Botswana stands as a dream destination for birdwatching safaris, boasting an astounding array of bird life that thrives across its diverse ecosystems, which include savannas, wetlands, woodlands, and deserts. From majestic raptors and elegant waterbirds to vibrant songbirds, Botswana’s nearly 600 bird species make it a must-visit for avid birdwatchers.

When to Go Birding in Botswana?

The best time for birdwatching in Botswana is during the spring and summer months, from October to March. This period sees a remarkable influx of avian species, with bird diversity increasing significantly. By December, the bird population swells to an impressive 20% more than in the winter months, offering a unique opportunity to observe a wide array of birds in their natural habitat.

Where to go birdwatching in Botswana

Chobe National Park
A group of hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) lounge in the Chobe River. A Great Egret (Ardea alba) stands on the back of one.
Hippos in the Chobe River with Great Egrets

Home to Botswana’s longest bird list of 450 species, Chobe National Park features diverse habitats like floodplains, riverine woodland, and broadleaved woodland.

Notable species include:

  • African FinFoot
  • White-backed Night Heron
  • Narina Trogon

Accessible via the village of Kasane, the park requires a 4×4 for navigation.

Makgadikgadi Pans
Flamingos in the Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
The pan is home of one of only two breeding populations of Greater Flamingos in southern Africa, and only on the Soa pan, which is part of the Makgadikgadi pans.

Known for its large flamingo colonies, especially in high-rainfall years.

These Makgadikgadi Pans offer sights of:

  • White Pelicans
  • Secretary Birds
  • Various raptors

The area requires a 4×4 vehicle, and visitors must be prepared with essentials like water.

Okavango Delta
Wattled Crane courtship in the Okavango Delta
Wattled Crane courtship in the Okavango Delta

This Ramsar site offers a mix of habitats, from flooded grasslands to riverine forests.

Notable birds include:

  • Wattled Cranes
  • Slaty Egrets
  • Pel’s Fishing Owls

The delta is best accessed by light aircraft or from Maun for the western delta and Moremi Game Reserve.

10 Birds to Spot on a Safari in Botswana

African Fish Eagle
African fish eagle in Botswana.
African fish eagle in Botswana.

Known for its majestic appearance and fishing skills, often found near large bodies of water.

Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-breasted roller in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Lilac-breasted roller in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

A brightly colored bird known for its acrobatic flight, commonly seen in open woodlands and savannas.

Kori Bustard
kori bustard strolling in Botswana
kori bustard strolling in Botswana

One of the heaviest flying birds, known for its distinctive courtship display.

Secretary Bird
The Secretary bird is a fearsome snake wrangler
The Secretary bird is a fearsome snake wrangler

Recognizable for its hunting skills and long legs, typically found in savannas and grasslands.

Saddle-Billed Stork
Saddle billed stork | Photo credits: Changa Safari Camp
Saddle-billed stork | Photo credits: Changa Safari Camp

Notable for its colorful bill and tall stature, often seen in wetlands hunting fish and other aquatic prey.

African Jacana
African Jacana Botswana
African Jacana Botswana

Known as “lily-trotter,” distinguished by its long toes, allowing it to walk on floating vegetation

Pel’s Fishing Owl
Pels fishing owl in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Pels fishing owl in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

A large, nocturnal owl, elusive and sought after by birdwatchers, usually found near water bodies.

African Skimmer
African Skimmer fishing by dragging beak with small hooks through water in Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Botswana
African Skimmer fishing by dragging beak with small hooks through water in Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Unique for its lower mandible used to skim for fish, often seen in synchronized group flights.

Carmine Bee-Eater
Southern carmine bee-eater in Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Southern carmine bee-eater in Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Recognizable by its carmine plumage and long tail feathers, typically found nesting in riverbank colonies.

Greater Painted-Snipe
Bird: Wood Sandpiper. Tringa glareola.
Bird: Wood Sandpiper. Tringa glareola.

Known for its cryptic plumage and sexual role reversal, commonly found in wetlands.

Going on a Birdwatching Safari in Botswana

With binoculars and a camera in hand, birdwatching in Botswana promises to be an unforgettable birding experience. Whether exploring by safari, river cruise, or bush walk, the variety of bird species ensures a rewarding adventure. Each bird, admired for both beauty and behavior, plays a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

For those eager to witness these magnificent birds, speaking to a safari expert at Discover Africa about a tailor-made, luxury safari is a great starting point. Discover Africa can help you craft the perfect itinerary to explore Botswana’s rich bird life in comfort and style.

Botswana’s birdwatching opportunities are a testament to the country’s commitment to conservation and the preservation of natural habitats. As a birdwatcher’s paradise, it offers an unparalleled experience to observe and appreciate some of the most fascinating avian species in the world.

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Copyright © Discover Africa Safaris | Bird Watching in Botswana | Last Updated: 16 January 2024