7 BEST Birding Tours in South Africa! (2024)

Are you looking to go on a birding adventure in South Africa?

That’s wonderful news. But here’s the thing:

DECIDING to go on a bird-watching trip to South Africa is an easy decision. The hardest part is finding a reputable company that you feel comfortable traveling with.

Below, I did my best to find SEVEN highly-rated companies that offer birding trips in South Africa.

south africa birding tours

Before picking a trip, make sure to pay attention to the itinerary! Some tours are for hardcore birders, where you can expect to be birding in South Africa from sunrise to sunset. By comparison, other birding excursions are more relaxed and integrate other wildlife (like lions and cheetahs) and cultural experiences. And lastly, some experiences are designed specifically for bird photography.

Each tour is unique, and none are better or worse. It depends on what YOU want (or what your traveling companion wants). 🙂

Lastly, please do your own independent research before selecting a birding trip in South Africa!

My list is designed to point you in the right direction and narrow your choices. Before booking a trip, contact the companies directly to make sure they are a good fit for your travel needs.


#1. Birding Ecotours

Tell them Bird Watching HQ sent you and get $100 off your trip!

Birding Ecotours is one of the BEST birding tour companies in South Africa, combining an incredible overall experience with a competitive price. Their typical birding tour focuses on small groups of between 6-8 people, along with staying at exceptional lodging and vehicles.

In my opinion, here are a few of the things that make Birding Ecotours different:

  • Their guides are some of the best in the business. Highly personable and fun, but also excellent birders.
  • Everyone at Birding Ecotours is extremely passionate about conservation. And they put their money where their mouth is, as they donate a minimum of 10 % of net profit to local communities and bird conservation.
  • Their CEO and founder (Chris) is an enthusiastic birder who has been in the birding tour business for a long time. He started Birding Ecotours in 2004 and has been running and growing the company ever since. You can read his story here.

To view a list of upcoming birding tours to South Africa, click HERE.

And don’t hesitate to talk to them about creating a custom birding tour just for you or your group. Creating unique trips that mark off everything on your wish list gets Birding Ecotours very excited.

Many of these trips are incredibly popular, so if you are interested, please fill out the form below, and Birding Ecotours will contact you directly to answer questions, discuss pricing, etc.

You can also send Chris and his team a message HERE.

Make sure to use the link above to receive the Bird Watching HQ discount! 🙂

*Some exclusions apply*

#2. Nature Travel Birding Tours

Embarking on a birding tour to South Africa with Nature Travel Birding Tours promises an unforgettable adventure, catering to both seasoned birders and enthusiastic novices alike.

First, Nature Travel Birding Tours boasts a team of expert guides who are not only passionate about birds but also possess an intimate knowledge of the local ecosystems. These guides are adept at identifying birds by sight and sound, ensuring participants have the best chances of spotting elusive species. Their expertise enhances the educational aspect of the tour, providing valuable insights into bird behavior, ecology, and conservation.

The small group sizes foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, creating a supportive and enjoyable atmosphere for birding enthusiasts to connect and share their passion for birds. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a companion, you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals who share your fascination for the feathered wonders of South Africa.

Additionally, Nature Travel Birding Tours provides comprehensive logistical support, including comfortable accommodations, delicious meals featuring local cuisine, and seamless transportation between birding sites. This allows participants to focus wholeheartedly on the joys of birdwatching without the hassle of planning and organizing logistics.

You can view their upcoming trips to South Africa HERE.

If you’re interested, please email Nadine (tours@naturetravelbirding.com), and let her know that Scott from Bird Watching HQ sent you.

Or you can fill out this form below, which gets sent directly to Nature Travel Birding:


#3. Rockjumper Birding Tours

Rockjumper is one of the best birding tour companies in South Africa.

Their stellar reputation comes from their commitment to quality trips led by excellent guides. The average ratio of tour leaders to guests is excellent, with most trips having a maximum of eight participants.

Rockjumper has birding tours in South Africa for everyone. For example…

  • There is a 22-day birding tour that searches for as many of South Africa’s 99 endemic birds as possible. Includes my favorite bird in the country – the African Penguin!
  • Explore eastern South Africa looking for birds and other wildlife. In addition to searching the savannahs for Kori Bustards, Southern Ground Hornbills, and many other birds, you also see most of the famous mammals. Lion, Leopard, African Elephant, African Buffalo, and both Black & White Rhinoceroses are common, along with Cheetahs, Black Wildebeests, and the African Wild Dog.
  • And if you enjoy drinking wine, you will love their “Birds, Wine, and Big Game” trip, which sets aside time to sample the famous wines of South Africa, along with seeing LOTS of wildlife.

Pay attention to the itinerary because some trips are designed to maximize the number of species observed, while others are more relaxed and allow time to enjoy other unique cultural aspects of a region. And if you can’t find anything that meets your needs, you can work with Rockjumper to design your own trip.

If you want to learn more about a specific tour in South Africa, discuss pricing, or have other questions, it’s best to speak with Rockjumper Birding directly. They have a team of birding experts ready to help!

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Lastly, Rockjumper donates a minimum of $50 per scheduled tour to a conservation fund to support bird projects worldwide.


#4. Adventures by Disney

Even though YOU may love birds and are excited to go on a South African birding trip, your spouse, friends, kids, etc., may not want to look for birds from sunrise to sunset. 🙂

So that’s why I have included Adventures by Disney. They offer an amazing FAMILY vacation package that visits South Africa.

Using Adventures by Disney is perfect if you want an amazing adventure with your family in South Africa that is safe and well-planned. You will definitely see a lot of birds and other African wildlife, but the emphasis on the trip is not seeing as many species as possible, like many of the other birding tours on this list.

If you are interested in traveling to South Africa with Disney, you should use an authorized travel agent.

First, you will get help from someone who has lots of experience planning these sorts of trips. Second, it doesn’t cost you anything. In fact, a Disney-authorized travel agent can usually find a better deal and save you hundreds of dollars!

Adventures by Disney is the best way to see birds in South Africa if you want to take along kids or people that don’t want to go birding every day.


#5. Victor Emanuel Nature Tours

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Founded in 1976, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) has been leading birding trips for almost 50 years. The company is not only one of the best birding tour companies in South Africa but also one of the most respected.

VENT is committed to ensuring every part of your trip is a success. From quality, fun tour leaders to an efficient office staff that handles logistics, you are being held with experienced and helpful hands.

No matter what birds you see in South Africa, VENT should have a trip that makes you happy. As you will see, most of their trips take you from the coasts to see penguins, then to Kruger National Park!

One thing that sticks out to me with VENT is their willingness over the years to give back. The company is strongly committed to eco-tourism, and they use local guides, drivers, and tour operators whenever possible.


#6. WINGS Birding Tours

birding vacation

If you are a serious birder and want an unforgettable adventure in South Africa, then going on a trip with Wings Birding Tours might be a perfect choice. Many other companies on this list try to accommodate people with different interests and physical levels and include things to do on their trips that don’t involve birding.

Wings Birding Tours makes no such promises. They know their target market and try to appeal to them as best as possible. In fact, If you have never been on a bird-watching tour before, they recommend that you contact them first before booking to make sure it’s a good fit.

Almost all of their trips are designed to see birds, regardless of where or when they are to appear. So prepare to be up early and spend your days having incredible adventures and doing a lot of walking. Your trip may take you onto uneven terrain, through lush vegetation, or up and down countless hills.

If you are ready for a hardcore birding adventure in South Africa, then make sure to check out their trip list. They typically have multiple tours scheduled that are approximately two weeks in length and take you to many different habitats and ecosystems within South Africa.


#7. Naturalist Journeys

birding tour companies

Founded over 20 years ago, Naturalist Journeys offers numerous nature and birding tours to South Africa and many other places around the globe. On their website, you can see a calendar of their upcoming birding trips to South Africa.

A typical trip by Naturalist Journeys tries to incorporate different aspects to your adventure. The guides are not obsessed with seeing a bird just to check it off a list, especially in South Africa, where some of the most famous mammals in the world reside.

What’s neat is they also offer Independent Birding Ventures (IBVs), which are trips where YOU design the itinerary and pace yourself. You just tell Naturalist Journeys what you are looking for, and they plan the entire thing.


Final Thoughts About Birding Tour Companies in South Africa:

birding tours in south africa

I hope today that you found a birding tour in South Africa that intrigues you. I did my best to find a variety of companies that offer many different birding experiences, including many South African trips that cater to bird photography.

 

The next step is contacting the company directly and deciding the best option for your adventure!

 

I’d love your feedback below if you have gone on a birding trip before in South Africa.

 

What company did you travel with, and where did you go?

birding tours in south africa

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