Malawi Birding Tours
Our Malawi birding tours cover most of the country and produce an amazing suite of miombo, savanna, and montane forest specials as well as some other fantastic wildlife sightings. The Republic of Malawi, more commonly known as Malawi, is a unique country in Africa, being one of the few that hasn’t suffered at the hands of a civil war and one where a third of its area is taken up by the massive and stunning Lake Malawi. Malawi has, however, still many of the attributes of other African destinations that make them popular with tourists –comfortable lodges, exquisite resorts (on Lake Malawi), and a number of game reserves and national parks that have the full spectrum of southern African game including the ‘Big 5’. The country’s political stability has indeed made it a safe and comfortable country to explore, with English an official language and the friendly nature of its accommodating people giving credence to its nickname ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’.
Located in south-eastern Africa, this small landlocked country is bordered by Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania. The large Lake Malawi takes up much of the country’s eastern border and is one of the southern-most points in the Great Rift Valley. Malawi has been greatly overlooked by bird watchers, primarily as the country has only one true endemic bird, Yellow-throated Apalis. In spite of having just this one endemic, Malawi is truly a birding paradise. Our Malawi birding tours target a number of rare and localized species restricted to this south-eastern part of Africa that are nearly impossible to find outside of Malawi, and these bird watching trips usually record a high diversity of bird species, in even the shortest of times.
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A wide variety of habitats await bird watchers who travel to the country, and the country’s best bird watching sites span the length of the country fairly evenly. The southern part of the country is perhaps best known for the delightful Liwonde National Park. Located on the Shire River, this wilderness area is one of the most popular parks in Malawi with its large mammals at the forefront. Not to be overlooked, though, a great many special birds occur in the park, such as Pel’s Fishing Owl, Lilian’s Lovebird, Böhm’s Bee-eater, and Brown-breasted Barbet. Ending your day with a G&T on the banks of the Shire with African Elephants a stone’s throw away after a great day’s birding is hard to beat!
In the south the various mountains now only have small fragments of the once-widespread montane forest left on their slopes, but these areas are still of great significance, hosting a wide array of very localized species. Among these is the country’s only endemic bird, Yellow-throated Apalis, along with the likes of Green-headed Oriole, Thyolo Alethe, Malawi Batis, and what has been called ‘the most beautiful African warbler’, White-winged Apalis. These species are best seen by birding the remnant forest patches on the Zomba Massif (above Zomba town), the Mulanje Massif, and the Thyolo Mountain.
Just outside of Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, is one of the country’s best bird watching sites and one of the areas that has helped to put bird watching in Malawi on the map – the Dzalanyama Forest Reserve. The rolling hills blanketed in arguably the most pristine miombo woodland make for a stunning setting and contain a wide range of nearly all of the miombo woodland specialist species. Such elusive species as Stierling’s Woodpecker, Souza’s Shrike, Boulder Chat, Olive-headed Weaver, Shelley’s Sunbird and Lesser Seedcracker make birding in this tough-to-pronounce reserve extremely worthwhile.
Malawi’s true bird watching mecca lies in the north of the country and is centered around the vast Nyika Plateau, entirely encompassed in the Nyika National Park. Here rolling montane grasslands see their valleys decorated with small pockets of montane forest, which give way to immense swathes of miombo woodland on the lower slopes. Nyika National Park has been widely described as one of the most scenic parks in Africa and holds a special place for everyone who has experienced its beauty. Bird watching here is superb, with the park supporting a wide array of species and, importantly, being the stronghold for many scarce species. These include the likes of Bar-tailed Trogon, Blue Swallow, Sharpe’s Akalat, and Babbling Starling, among a great many others.
Our Malawi birding tours are specially designed and timed to give you the best bird watching experience taking in the above sites and covering the best in this almost-forgotten country. In addition to the one endemic bird Malawi has significantly more to offer to bird watchers with a vast number of highly sought-after and localized southern African species occurring there and being reliably found. Birding in “The Warm Heart of Africa” is sure to be overlooked no more!
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Complete Malawi: Birding the Warm Heart of Africa November 2023