With 650 recorded bird species, 10% of which cannot be seen anywhere else in southern Africa, Malawi is a real birdwatchers’ paradise. Lying just on the equator, the country sees lots of migratory birds in addition to the more sedentary species, whilst Malawi’s range of landscapes, everything from mountains to swamp plains, provide superb habitats for all manner of avian creatures. Your life list is guaranteed to grow!
Malawi isn’t the first destination to come to mind when you think of a birding holiday, but in fact it is one of the richest birding locations in Southern Africa. We have found that in birding hotspots such as the Liwonde National Park, it is not uncommon even for experienced birders to tick a dozen or more new species off their life list, and that is on a single nature walk before breakfast! Keen birdwatchers will be able to see a huge variety of different birds from the tiny locust finch to the tall Marabou stork.
Lake Malawi attracts hundreds of birds including pied kingfisher, brown-throated weaver, palm swift, as well as lots of fish eagle. You can see the birds both from the land and from the water: guide Black gives a fascinating early morning bird walk through the woods from Pumulani, picking out even the tiniest LBJs in the trees, and on a kayak or sailing boat ride around Mumbo Island you will see all manner of birds diving for fish. As the population in this part of Malawi is relatively low, the birds are unperturbed about the presence of man. You can often get close enough for photos using a standard camera lens, though with binoculars you’ll see the plumage in greater detail.
Arguably the best place for bird watching in Malawi is the Liwonde National Park, along the Shire River. The combination of different ecosystems in relatively close proximity to one another makes for superbly rich and diverse birding. Guide Angel has a real eye for the birds, and will happily take you a long way up river to see the African skimmer nesting. Liwonde is also a superb place to see malachite kingfisher, Lilian’s lovebird, and Bohm’s bee eater, not to mention several species of colourful rollers and hornbill. Mvuu Lodge has an excellent riverside location beloved by birders, and in 2018 Robin Pope Safaris also opened the brand new Kuthengo Camp nearby.