Zambezi River Birdwatching Safari by boat

African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus)

Short description: Explore the vast Zambezi River by boat in search of special birds that are unique to this habitat. Besides birding there is a high chance to see other animals such as hippos and crocodiles.

Activity Highlights:

  • See plenty of aquatic and riverine birds as well as crocodiles, hippos and other mammals.
  • Explore the Zambezi River in search of avian specialities such as African Finfoot, Rock Pratincole and African Skimmer.
  • Experience the natural beauty of the vast Zambezi River that makes for wonderful sunsets in the evening.

Included: Expert guide specialised in birdwatching, Hotel pickup and drop-off

Excluded: Food and drinks, Gratuities

Duration & Price:

3-hours boat tour: 75 USD (per person)

2-hours boat tour: 50 USD (per person)

To rent your private boat we need at least 2 people. If you are only 1 person you can join a group tour or pay the price of 2 people to have your private boat. If you are more than 3 people, we can give you a discount on the above prices. Please contact us directly to get a more specific quote tailored to your requirements.

Full description:
This tour offers an unforgettable experience for both birders and wildlife enthusiasts. The vast Zambezi River splits into many small waterways and islands. This natural river system hosts many bird species. Among the common bird species you can expect are White-faced Whistling-Duck, Egyptian Goose, Spur-Winged Goose, Water Thick-knee, Blacksmith Lapwing, African Openbill, Yellow-billed Stork, African Darter, Goliath Heron, Great / Intermediate / Little Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Hadada Ibis, African Fish-Eagle and Pied Kingfisher.

What makes the Zambezi River system unique are the rare species. These special and more elusive species in southern Africa often only occur along the Zambezi River. The African Finfoot is certainly one of the star species that most birders will want to see. It usually can be found along the overhanging branches at the river shore. This is where you can also find White-backed Night-Heron, Half-collared Kingfisher and Malachite Kingfisher. Rock Pratincole and African Skimmer are one of the most sought-after species for birdwatchers in the area. Both are seasonal migrants and nest on the sandbanks and rocks along the river. Collared Pratincole and Black-winged Pratincole are seasonal migrants from Europe that spend the winter here. If you are lucky, you can spot a spectacular Pel’s Fishing-owl that inhabits the islands on the river. Search the sky for rare birds of prey such as Osprey (migrant), Banded Snake-Eagle, Bat Hawk (at dawn) and Dickinson’s Kestrel. You also have a chance to see the rare Brown-necked Parrot (Gray-headed Parrot).

Rynchops flavirostris (African Skimmer), Photo by

Besides birds, the Zambezi River system supports healthy populations of hippos and crocodiles, easily seen up close from the boat. You also have a chance to see a variety of mammals that come to the river to drink such as African bush elephants, Cape bushbucks, Impalas and Waterbucks.

Species list birds (species marked with an * are specialities):

White-faced Whistling-Duck

Dendrocygna viduata

Knob-billed Duck

Sarkidiornis melanotos

Egyptian Goose

Alopochen aegyptiaca

Spur-winged Goose

Plectropterus gambensis

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Red-eyed Dove

Streptopelia semitorquata

African Finfoot *

Podica senegalensis

Water Thick-knee

Burhinus vermiculatus

Blacksmith Lapwing

Vanellus armatus

White-headed Lapwing *

Vanellus albiceps

Collared Pratincole *

Glareola pratincola

Black-winged Pratincole *

Glareola nordmanni

Rock Pratincole *

Glareola nuchalis

African Skimmer *

Rynchops flavirostris

African Openbill

Anastomus lamelligerus

Yellow-billed Stork

Mycteria ibis

African Darter

Anhinga rufa

Long-tailed Cormorant

Microcarbo africanus

Pink-backed Pelican

Pelecanus rufescens

Little Bittern *

Ixobrychus minutus

Goliath Heron

Ardea goliath

Great Egret

Ardea alba

Intermediate Egret

Ardea intermedia

Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

Black Heron *

Egretta ardesiaca

Rufous-bellied Heron *

Ardeola rufiventris

Striated Heron

Butorides striata

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

White-backed Night-Heron *

Gorsachius leuconotus

Glossy Ibis

Plegadis falcinellus

African Sacred Ibis

Threskiornis aethiopicus

Hadada Ibis

Bostrychia hagedash

Osprey *

Pandion haliaetus

Hooded Vulture

Necrosyrtes monachus

Banded Snake-Eagle *

Circaetus cinerascens

Bat Hawk *

Macheiramphus alcinus

African Fish-Eagle

Haliaeetus vocifer

Pel’s Fishing-Owl *

Scotopelia peli

Half-collared Kingfisher *

Alcedo semitorquata

Malachite Kingfisher

Corythornis cristatus

African Pygmy Kingfisher

Ispidina picta

Giant Kingfisher

Megaceryle maxima

Pied Kingfisher

Ceryle rudis

White-fronted Bee-eater

Merops bullockoides

Dickinson’s Kestrel *

Falco dickinsoni

Brown-necked Parrot (Gray-headed) *

Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus

Wire-tailed Swallow

Hirundo smithii

Collared Palm-Thrush *

Cichladusa arquata