While its well known beautiful
lake fills the southern end of the Rift Valley, Malawi's variety
of other habitats supports remarkable bird diversity. This land-locked
country the size of Portugal has an astonishing bird list of 650
species. Many are widespread in southern Africa, but a mouth-watering
array of endemic specials make a dedicated Malawi birding trip essential.
See our recent trip report, or read on for an introduction to the birding sites
We recommend birding at the following
• Miombo woodlands at Dzalanyama
• Viphya Plateau
• Nyika Plateau National Park grasslands and highland forest
• Senga Bay wetlands
• Liwonde National Park
• Zomba Plateau
• Thyolo Mountain and highland forest
• Lilongwe Sanctuary
One key site is the forested inselbergs and table lands of southern
Malawi. Most are now denuded or covered in tea plantations, but
a few accessible remnants support such rare gems as Green-headed
Oriole, Thyolo Alethe, White-winged Apalis, Yellow-throated Apalis
& Green Barbet.
The western border country is also vital to any itinerary.
Here, vast miombo woodlands, fed by crystal clear streams, clothe
granite hills. The number of miombo endemics is overwhelming, and
include Stierling’s Woodpecker, Whyte’s Barbet,
Sousa's Shrike, Miombo Pied Barbet, Pale-billed Hornbill, Olive-headed
Weaver, Anchieta’s Sunbird, Red-capped Crombec, Miombo Scrub-Robin
& Rufous-bellied Tit.
The far north is dominated by the mighty Nyika Plateau,
a huge tableland cloaked in misty grasslands and dark rainforests.
One of the highlights of any Malawi tour, it offers many birds and
mammals not seen elsewhere in the country. Some can be seen elsewhere
in East Africa, such as Scarlet-tufted Sunbird, Mountain
Yellow Warbler, Baglafecht Weaver and Yellow-crowned
Canary, but others are endemic to the Eastern Arc Mountains
complex of Tanzania and northern Malawi, including Rwenzori
Nightjar, Black-lored Cisticola, Olive-flanked Robin-Chat, Fülleborn's
Boubou, Forest Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow-browed Seed-eater
& Montane Widowbird. And then there
are one or two really range-restricted species we may see, such
as Ludwig's Double-collared Sunbird, White-winged
Apalis & Babbling Starling.
The low lying region in the southern Rift Valley offers excellent
riverine and woodland birding. Here we find the localized Brown-breasted
Barbet and a host of other specials such as Böhm's
Bee-eater, Lillian's Lovebird, Livingstone's
Flycatcher, Racket-tailed Roller &
Western Banded Snake-Eagle. Liwonde National
Park is one of the more reliable spots for the elusive Pel's
Fishing Owl & White-backed Night-Heron.
Malawi’s political stability
and friendly inhabitants, combined with superb birds and scenery,
make it a wonderful holiday destination and one of south-central
Africa’s best-kept secrets.
Leader: Michael Mills
Michael Mills grew up "in the bush" in the Kalahari and Kruger National Parks where his parents were carnivore researchers. His incredible focus, dedication and ability to locate and show people Africa's toughest birds is probably unequalled on the continent.
Michael has led dozens of tours in Southern, East, Central, West and North Africa and his experience in locating birds on just the softest of calls or briefest of views impresses those who have travelled with him.
There is seldom a tour where Michael doesn't make an interesting discovery such as finding a new species for a country or record an undescribed bird call (and he has published these in the scientific literature).
Not only is Michael one of our principal leaders, but he also helps extensively with scouting and planning our most challenging itineraries.
'Thanks to the meticulously detailed efforts of Birding
Africa I have great memories to keep me energized until my next
trip with you. How you planned everything down to the tiniest detail
was amazing. The accommodations, meals and general trip were excellent.
Michael was beyond belief.' BR,
'Michael was first class on
every aspect.'FH, UK
'Mike was amazing... he stayed cool and collected all the time
[on the Angola trip]. DW, South Africa
'.... tours were excellent. The trips certainly lived up to
my expectations and we saw a large number of incredible birds. Michael
did a great job and is an outstanding tour guide. His skill at finding
birds in all habitats and his knowledge of bird calls is nothing
short of amazing.' JC, UK
'... his spotting skills and ability to pick out the faintest calls
but also his continual energy and enthusiasm to maximise our birding
For keen birders and mammal enthusiasts. Designed
to see as many as possible endemic birds, but while on the walks
we spend a lot of time looking for other aspects of wildlife
such as mammals. We can also customise any itinerary to suit
to the keen birder, the wildlife enthusiast or both.
Many participants on our trips are amateur wildlife photographers.
And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time
is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this
is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people
have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their
satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter.
Thus, while the photographic opportunities
are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody
who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
No fitness is required. The few walks are generally in relatively
flat areas with occasional small inclines.
Birding is good all year round. Some species are more difficult
to find in the dry season, but navigation is easier then as
the roads are less muddy. Our tours usually go in November.
Warm to hot
A good standard of accommodation in guest houses,
lodges and small hotels.
We travel by minibus or four wheel drive vehicle.
This depends on the specific tour. Please enquire.
African Palm Civet, Bushpig, African Elephant, Greater Kudu,
African Buffalo, Banded Mongoose, Eland, Roan, Sable,
Blue Duiker, Tanzania Mountain Squirrel, Mutable Sun Squirrel,
Side-striped Jackal, Spotted Hyaena, Leopard and Blue
Your booking can be secured with a booking form and deposit. You will receive confirmation and our tour information pack with practical information on what to expect and how to prepare for the tour. The balance is due 150 days before the tour. Contact us to enquire about availability.
About Birding Africa
Birding Africa is a specialist birding
tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed
holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies,
botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's
and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides'
knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength
and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations
with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home
continent. †We've even written two acclaimed guide
books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best
birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and
we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled
with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997,
we've run bird watching tours
in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders,
small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've
run Conservation Tours
in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult
for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC
Natural History Unit.