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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary


Saturday 23 November to Saturday 7 December 2024
South Luangwa Extension to Wednesday 11 December
with Ethan Kistler as leader
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Pel’s Fishing Owl Photo: Frank Willems

Zambia is an extremely scenic country in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa with numerous wonderful parks and safari areas. It is also unusually diverse biologically, and has one of the largest bird lists in Africa (even though under-birded), surpassing 750 species. Zambia is also a premier destination for mammals, and we hope to see plenty of antelope species and with that, large predators such as lions, leopards, and perhaps groups of African Wild Dogs. It’s a destination you don’t want to miss!
We’ll begin near the renowned Victoria Falls, which stretches for a mile, drops 350 ft, and creates a mist forming a microclimate surrounding the falls with lush green forests full of birds. Moving to the interior of the country, we’ll visit mammal-rich Kafue National Park, which also hosts the localized Black-cheeked Lovebird. Nearby, the miombo woodlands around Choma hosts Zambia’s only true endemic: Chaplin’s Barbet. We’ll continue to the northeast and Kasanka National Park where we’ll spend three nights. The birding here is phenomenal and we’ll keep an eye out especially for Fulleborn’s Longclaw, and perhaps a Pel’s Fishing-Owl. There are plenty of mammals around as well including the Sitatunga and we should witness hundreds of thousands if not millions of Straw-colored Fruit Bat departing their colonial roosts.

Nearby, we’ll look for the highly localized Katanga Masked-Weaver before moving on to Mutinondo Wilderness Area, undoubtably the most scenic region of Zambia. Our accommodation is nestled among spectacular inselbergs and the area hosts a number of species easier here than nearby Kasanka as well as a few specials including Chestnut-headed Flufftail.

We’ll finish back on Zambia’s southern border along the Lower Zambezi River valley where we’ll target African Pitta which we expect to be displaying on territory.

Day 1: The tour begins in Livingstone. Depending on arrivals, we’ll bird the accommodation grounds located between town and Victoria Falls and overlooking a tributary of the splendid Zambezi River. We’ll keep an eye out for White-fronted Bee-eater, Pied Kingfisher, and African Jacana along the shorelines while in the gardens we may see White-fronted Robin-Chat, Collared Palm-Thrush or noisy groups of Arrow-marked Babblers. Night near Livingstone.

Day 2: We’ll have the full day to absorb mind boggling, mile-wide Victoria Falls and bird the surrounding area. Plunging 350 ft into the gorge below, the spray from the falls has created a lush rainforest around its border where we hope to see Schalow’s Turaco and Trumpeter Hornbill. Not far from the falls we may see Long-toed Lapwing, Lesser Jacana, Half-collared Kingfisher, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Dusky Lark, Rock Pratincole, and African Finfoot. Night near Livingstone.

Day 3: We’ll depart early for the Nanzhila Plains at the southern edge of Kafue National Park. This area hosts the near-endemic Black-cheeked Lovebird, which regularly comes to drink at a local watering hole. We’ll also keep an eye out for Wattled Crane, Southern Ground Hornbill, Dickinson’s Kestrel, and perhaps a mix of vultures, many of which are endangered or critically endangered. Night at Nanzhila Plains.

Day 4: We’ll have all morning to explore the mopane woodlands and open plains around Nanzhila where we’ll be alert for Saddle-billed Stork, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Lilac-breasted Roller and Magpie Shrike to name a few. This area is also rich in mammals, and we may see a good selection of antelope such as Roan and Sable, and attendant  predators including Wild Dog, Cheetah, and Lion. If we’re lucky, we may spot a Honey Badger or Serval. After lunch we’ll depart for Choma in the fig-tree savanna biome. Night in Choma.

Day 5: We’ll have the full day to bird the Nkanga Conservation Area, one of the most reliable sites for the endemic Chaplin’s Barbet. Other birds that will distract us include Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Green Woodhoopoe, Racket-tailed Roller, Miombo Tit, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, and Arnot’s Chat. If there is water, we may find Lesser Moorhen, Allen’s Gallinule, and Parasitic Weaver. Night in Choma.

Day 6: A travel day: after breakfast we’ll head toward the capital and our lodging north of the city. If time permits, we’ll make a birding stop on the outskirts of Lusaka where miombo woodlands may reveal Souza’s Shrike, Pale-billed Hornbill, and Spotted Creeper. Night north of Lusaka.

Day 7: We’ll finish our drive to Kasanka National Park, our base for the next three nights. We’ll make a few stops along the way to stretch our legs and see some birds. If time permits, perhaps tonight, we’ll witness hundreds of thousands or millions of Straw-colored Fruit Bats leaving their colonies. The park is home to roughly ten million of these migratory bats. Night at Kasanka.

Days 8-9: We’ll have two full days to explore this varied park, home to over 110 species of mammals and an impressive list of birds possibly including Boehm’s Bee-eater, Pel’s Fishing-Owl, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Boehm’s Flycatcher, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher among many others. On the mammal front, the rare Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest has a good population here along with Sable, Puku, and Sharpe’s Grysbok.

On one of the days, we’ll detour to search for the highly localized Katanga Masked-Weaver which has a patchy distribution in northwest Zambia and southeast Democratic Republic of Congo. Nights at Kasanka.

Days 10-11: Today we’ll make the 4-hour drive to Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge, one of the most scenic regions of Zambia, for two nights. Nestled among the dramatic inselbergs, Bocage’s Akalat, Gray-olive Greenbul, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Anchieta’s Sunbird and Western Miombo Sunbirds are easier here than in Kasanka, while Eastern Miombo Sunbird, Bar-winged Weaver, Laura’s Woodland-Warbler, White-tailed Crested-Flycatcher, Marsh Widowbird, and Green-headed Sunbird would only be found here. We’ll spend extra effort on Chestnut-headed Flufftail, an incredibly rare and elusive bird. At the time of this writing, there are only a dozen records on eBird. Nights at Mutinondo Wilderness Lodge.

Day 12: We’ll spend the morning cleaning up species we may be missing before driving to Forest Inn, halfway back towards Lusaka. Although only an overnight to break to a long journey, the birding here is excellent and we’ll shope for Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Weaver and Black-necked Eremomela. Night at Forest Inn.

Day 13: Leaving the north behind, we’ll make the long drive south towards the Lower Zambezi where we’ll experience another unique woodland habitat dominated by open-canopied mopane trees and crossed by the occasional streams lined with riparian vegetation. Night near Chirundu.

Day 14: We’ll focus on the highly prized African Pitta. Having just returned to their breeding territory, they’ll be in full display making them easier to see. We’ll also search for other marvelous birds occurring in this new habitat, including Barred and African Emerald Cuckoos, African Broadbill, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, and Bearded Scrub-Robin. Night near Chirundu.

Day 15: We’ll have a second morning as a backup for African Pitta, and to clean up on any other species we may still be missing, before heading back to Lusaka where the trip concludes in time for evening departures.

South Luangwa Extension

Ext Day 1 (Day 15): Night in Lusaska. 

Ext Day 2: This morning we’ll take a short 1-hour flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe and transfer to our comfortable accommodation situated right on the scenic Luangwa River. Here we may spot our first mammals, including elephants, hippos, Impala, and perhaps some lions. The lush property should be active with birds such as Jameson’s Firefinch, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Tropical Boubou, Retz’s Helmetshrike, and perhaps our first Lilian’s Lovebirds. The river should provide a host of waterbirds including an excellent representation of storks, namely Yellow-billed, Saddle-billed, and Marabou. At night we may fall asleep to the sounds of hippos, distant hyenas and perhaps a Square-tailed Nightjar. Night in South Luangwa.

Ext Days 3-4: Covering an area over 5,600 sq miles, South Luangwa National Park has a reputation for being an unspoiled wilderness and is a renowned destination for mammal viewing. Among the large numbers of Impala and Puku, we’ll keep an eye out for African Buffalo, “Crawshay’s” Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, and a host of predators including African Lion, African Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, and an impressive number of Leopards. Not only is the safari aspect unparalleled, but the birding is exceptional with over 400 species occurring in the park. One of our main targets will be Lilian’s Lovebird, which is unlikely to be seen on the main tour, but common in the park.

The river hosts an impressive array of birds such as flashy Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, which breed in colonies on the riverbanks, African Skimmers, various lapwings that prefer sandy islands, and perhaps large gatherings of Gray Crowned-Cranes. If we are particularly lucky, we may spot the elusive African Finfoot in the shadows of trees overhanging the water. 

We’ll bird a variety of habitats including mopane woodlands and lush riverine woodlands along the Luangwa River where we’ll keep an eye out for Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers on the plentiful game, the gorgeous Red-throated Twinspot, an excellent selection of hornbills and colorful starlings, and small flocks of finches coming in to pools of water including Southern Cordonbleus, Green-winged Pytilias, and Red-billed Firefinches. We’ll accumulate an impressive number of birds each day. Nights in South Luagnwa.   

Ext Day 5: Depending on the flight, we may have some time to bird locally after breakfast before catching our flights back to Lusaka.  

Updated: 17 October 2023


  • 2024 Tour Price : $7,150
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $930
  • South Luangwa Extension : $3,350
  • Extension Single Occupancy Supplement : $280


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Questions? Tour Manager: Matt Brooks. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

This tour is limited to eight participants with two leaders.

**Single rooms may not be available at all camps/lodges (see Tour Information for more details).

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