Birding Safaris in East Africa; Where to Go?

ATW Holidays Africa
6 min readDec 16, 2023

The East African region is known for its remarkable show of wildlife and experiences it offers to today’s travelers. It’s breathtaking sites and destinations like national parks and reserves shelter some of the most iconic wildlife, from the African Big Five to the small game and avian species. Over the years, special interest vacationers have found it a perfect place to be; birding enthusiast, primate enthusiasts, photographers and many more have found the region a great destination to match their interests.

For nature enthusiasts and avid birdwatchers, East Africa offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a kaleidoscope of bird species in their natural habitat. In this article, we will immerse into the fascinating birding safaris and experiences in East Africa, exploring the top destinations, and unique species.

Rich Avian Diversity:

In East Africa Birdwatching is possible almost everywhere. The region boasts an impressive array of birdlife, making it a haven for birds and heaven for ornithologists and birders alike. East Africa is home to three of the four African countries whose bird list hits the 1'000 mark. Its vibrant eco-system makes bird-life flourish. From the open savannas and forest fringed zones, to marshes and open water bodies.

East Africa’s avian diversity spans from its beautiful sunbirds, striking flamingos, Great Blue Turacos to regal African Fish Eagles and the pre-historic looking Shoebill Storks. Birding safaris around East Africa by ATW Holidays Africa offer extraordinary opportunity to spot both resident and migratory birds and birding is basically done on nature walks, boat and motorized local canoes and safari drives.

At ATW Holidays Africa, we curate birding safaris and packages around East Africa, led by profound birdwatching guides. These safaris range from simple and short birding tour packages of 1–8-days to core birdwatching journeys of 20-days and more. On an East African birding tour, one can take on a simple or core birdwatching package in one country or cross boarder.

Top Birdwatching Spots in East Africa:

1.. Bwindi Impenetrable forest: Though its popularly known for its epic Gorilla trekking adventures, Bwindi is a top birding site not only in East Africa but Africa in general. In 2012, Bwindi was voted number 1 birding site in Africa by the African Bird Club. Its bird diversity takes in more than 340 species including 23 Albertine Rift endemics like the African Green Broadbill, Shelly’s Crimson-wing, and Short-tailed Warbler among others. Explore our 12-days Uganda Birding safari with Bwindi Impenetrable.

Apart from Bwindi, Uganda has other top birding spots, and here one can see the open savanna species, water birds like Kingfishers, Marsh dwellers like the Shoebills and Forest species. Some of Uganda’s birding sites that are worth during an East African birdwatching trip include; Murchison Falls national park, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale Forest national park, Mabamba wetland and Budongo forest. Depending on what your interest would be such as spotting forest species, elusive or endangered, endemic range birds, you will find a perfect match in the “Pearl of Africa”.

For starters, our recommended birding safari package in Uganda would range from 4–10-Days and 15+Days for core birders. So in this period, one can be able to see various species in a combination of habitats.

2.. Nairobi National Park: Located just within the city area, the park is one of Kenya’s birding stronghold with more than 500bird species and it is also a hotspot for the African Big Five. Its diversity of habitats composed of forest fringed zones, seasonal wetlands, open savanna grasslands and rugged valleys among others, make avian life flourish. It is home to small, medium sized and large bird species from Yellow Bishops, Grey Herons to Kori Bustards. Within just days, you can be able to see more than 100species.

For core birders, a 10-day + East African birding safari package in Kenya at minimal is worth and for starters 5–8-days package is recommended. The other bird sites you would aim to explore in Kenya include Kakamega forest, Lake Nakuru, Arabuko Sosoke Forest, Masai Mara and Buffalo Springs national reserves, Lake Baringo and many other sites. Depending on the time and what your interest is, there’s a variety of spots you will find worth. If your interest is the savanna specials, water birds like Flamingos or forest species, at ATW Holidays Africa we shall curate the best birding package in Kenya.

3.. Serengeti National Park: It is Tanzania’s and one of Africa’s renown wildlife destination, popular for its annual wildlife event, the Wildlife Migration and great show of the traditional African Big Five, but it’s also a haven for East African birding enthusiasts. The park is home to a variety of bird species including the Tanzanian endemic, the Rufous-tailed Weaver and other species like the Secretary birds, Ostriches, and the critically endangered Kori bustard.

The other places to consider in Tanzania while on the East African birding safari include Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha national park, Ruaha and Rubondo Island national parks among others.

4.. Nyungwe Forest National Park: Characterized by its tropical montane forest, Nyungwe is a stronghold for a variety of forest birds with over 300 species including more than 20 Albertine rift endemics. It’s a must be place for Rwanda birding safaris and its know for its elegant bird species like the Great Blue and Ross’ Turacos, Regal Sunbird, Shelley’s Crimson-wing and many others.

For a complete birding experience in Rwanda, sites like Gishwati-Mukura national reserve, Volcanos national park, Akagera, Rugezi wetland and the environs of Lake Kivu are worthwhile. A birding safari in Rwanda can be combined with a gorilla trekking adventure to immerse in the country’s signature experience.

Cormorant and the Pied Kingfisher around Lake Victoria

The East African Birdwatching Safari Experience:

Our East African Birding safaris and journeys are curated by topnotch travel designers and planners who will seamlessly tailor all your need in one perfect itinerary. They’re are led by profound birding guides with clear knowledge about the avian life. While on an ATW Holidays Africa birdwatching tour, your driver will be a birding specialist and at times depending on the birding location or site, some activities will be led by local /site guides.

So during a birding journey or safari, you’re engaged in various activities depending on the location and these activities would include boat /canoe trips if birding on lakes or marshes, nature walks, trekking and safari drives most especially in savanna parks.

During your birding safari with us, you’re provided with field note pads and pencils, you’re advised to carry specific bird guide books, pair of binoculars and camera with the necessary accessories. Check out our tips for birding

Conservation and Sustainability:

During our birding safaris around East Africa, we mainly focus on small group birding journeys of less than seven (7) people per group because most of the birdwatching trips and packages would involve visiting ecologically sensitive sites which wouldn’t be fit for mass tourism.

Engaging in birdwatching safaris in East Africa also contributes to conservation efforts. As responsible tour operators, we prioritize sustainable practices and support local communities, encouraging eco-tourism and wildlife conservation initiatives. By participating in these safaris, visitors indirectly contribute to the preservation of the region’s delicate ecosystems and the protection of endangered bird species.

To plan your next East African birding package safari to Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania or Kenya, talk to our travel planner via Email: atwholidaysafrica@gmail.com or Tel/Whats App: +256–773148649

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ATW Holidays Africa
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ATW Holidays Africa, is an African Safari brand championing sustainable tourism, handcrafting Luxury Gorilla safaris, Big Game Safaris, Honeymoons, Adventures