Angola Birding Tour Overview
Our Angola Birding tour offers fantastic birding opportunities with a bird list of just over 1000 species, of which 14 are endemic, and at least 30 more near-endemic. Birders from all over the world travel to Angola for the Congo Basin rainforest birds, Angolan endemic birds, Miombo specialties and Namib Desert endemics.
Full Itinerary – Angola Birding Tour
Arrival in Luanda
Our Angola birding tour starts with arrival in Luanda. We will transfer to the comfortable Kwanza Lodge where we will spend the night. You can enjoy some birding in the gardens of our lodge in the afternoon where after we will get together for our first dinner and discuss the plans for our exciting birding tip.
Transfer from Kwanza Lodge to Muxima
We will begin our first morning with some birding around the grounds of the lodge and explore the nearby Kwanza River mouth. Our main targets here are Mangrove Sunbird, Royal and Damara Terns. Other noteworthy species in the area we will look for will be Woolly-necked Stork, Grey Heron, Little Egret, and Water Thick-knee. The Lodge gardens have Palm-nut Vultures as garden birds. We should see a variety of Kingfishers such as Woodland, Malachite, and Pied Kingfishers. The Blue-breasted Kingfisher being the one to watch out for.
We will be listening for the unique call of the near-endemic Bubbling Cisticola, while keeping an eye out for the sought-after Olive Bee-eater. The gardens are rich in Sunbirds and species regularly seen include Purple-banded, Collared, and Scarlet-chested Sunbird.
A visit to the mudflats of the Mussulo bay, will reward us with a good mix of waterbirds and waiders including Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling Grey, Kittlitz’s, and White-fronted Plovers. Caspian and Sandwich terns frequent the area.
In the afternoon we will make our way to the south-eastern corner of the Kissama National Park to the Muxima area, spending two nights here. Our first taste of Angolan endemics will be here, and we will be looking for Gabela Helmetshrike one of the special birds of Kissama National Park.
The area is a lot drier then then the capital and comprises of open, baobab-dominated woodland. We are likely to arrive in the area in the late evening and most of our birding in this special area will be early the next morning.
Birding Muxima and Kissama National Park
A full day is set aside to bird this diverse area. We will walk and explore the paths to access the different habitats and stakeouts of the area.
The dry riverbeds are home to large, mature, acacia-type trees, and we will search these areas for the sought after and localized endemic Monteiro’s Bushshrike and Gabela Helmetshrike, along with the more widespread, near-endemic Red-backed Mousebird. We will explore the denser areas in search of the endemic Hartet’s Camaroptera, White-fronted Wattle-eye- and the near-endemic Pale-olive Greenbul. We will also be on the look our for the hard to see Grey-striped Francolin as this is one of the best places to see this shy endemic gamebird. Also best sought in this area is the near-endemic Golden-backed Bishop.
Some of the other great birds seen in the area are Palm-nut Vulture, Brown Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Lizard Buzzard, African Goshawk, and Yellow-billed Kite, while we will also be sure to watch the skies for the sought-after Böhm’s and Mottled Spinetails. Mosque Swallow, breed in the many baobabs found in abundance in the area.
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove occurs alongside Namaqua Dove, and some of the larger species in the area include Grey Go-away-bird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, and Crowned Hornbill. Colourful Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters frequent the treetops, while a variety of Woodpeckers, including Bearded, Cardinal, and Golden-tailed, prefer the larger trees, with Brown-hooded and Striped Kingfishers being common and vocal. The larger riverine habitat holds a variety of passerines, including Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Brubru, White-crested Helmetshrike, Black-headed Oriole, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Long-billed Crombec, Arrow-marked Babbler, Violet-backed Starling, and Grey Tit-Flycatcher, while the denser forests holds a few sought-after species such as Angolan Batis, Swamp Boubou, Green Crombec, Forest Scrub Robin, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush, and Dark-backed Weaver.
Transfer from Muxima to Uige
The morning will be used to bird the Muxima area for any possible species we may have missed before moving onto our next birding spot inUige. The drive will take us through the northern section of the Kissama National Park and one of the largest baobab forests in the world – a truly spectacular sight to witness, before arriving in the Catete area. Here we will bird the floodplains associated with the Kwanza River for some wetland birding. Birds seen in the area will include White-faced Whistling Duck, Yellow-billed Stork, African Openbill, Squacco, Striated, Rufous-bellied, and Purple Herons, Great Egret, Black Crake, Allen’s Gallinule, African and Lesser Jacanas.The open grassland around the floodplains holds Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Banded Martin, Village and Slender-billed Weavers.
We will enjoy lunch en route on our way to Uige, with a possible birding stop near the small village of Quibaxe, for our first birding in the productive northern escarpment forest. The next two days will see us birding this habitat intensively looking for the area’s many special birds.
We’ll be exploring some of the westernmost settled outposts in the Falklands/Malvinas today. While we enjoy the beautiful countryside, we will look for Black-Browed Albatross or Rockhopper, King, and Magellanic penguin rookeries.
Birding Quitexe and surroundings and the Damengola Forest
We will be exploring and birding the various patches of northern escarpment forest. This forest area of Angola holds arguably some of the most exciting birds in the country.
Our focus will be on the Damengola Forest and surroundings, which gives us access to a far more extensive section of these northern scarp forests. The area plays host to many great birds, including more Guinea-based species along with more central African species. The main target here will be the beautiful, and incredibly localized, endemic Braun’s Bushshrike. This rare and poorly known species is one of Angola’s most sought-after birds and will have the bulk of our time and effort being dedicated toward seeing it.
Some of the other more important specials that we shall be on the watch for include species as African Piculet, Tit Hylia, and White-collared Oliveback, although difficult, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Yellow Longbill, and Blackbellied Seedcracker. While exploring these forests the mournful hoots of Afep and Western Bronze-naped Pigeons are never far away; however, it takes some time and patience to track these species down. Blue-throated Roller’s perch in the open above the canopy, and the massive Black-casqued Hornbills call and fly above us, while Red-fronted Parrots commute overhead in the mornings and evenings and Yellow-crested Woodpeckers drum from the massive trees. The calls of Grey-headed and White-breasted Nigritas are often heard from this location while the impressive Guinea Turacos move between the treetops. The impressive Great Blue Turaco occurs in the area as well and never fails to impress us. Angola’s national bird, the endemic, Red-crested Turaco, occurs as well but is uncommon here and best searched for elsewhere on the trip.
Another special bird from the area is the beautiful Black Bee-eater and the highly prized Chocolate-backed Kingfisher which we will work on finding in the northern escarpment forest. Piping and African Pied Hornbills are often heard before being seen, and this is very much the case with the many Barbets occurring here, such as Naked-faced, Bristle-nosed, Hairybreasted, and Yellow-billed, along with Speckled and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds. Several Starlings occur in these forests, and we’ll be on the lookout for Splendid, Chestnut-winged, and Narrow-tailed, all regularly attending fruiting trees.
Sunbirds are plentiful with Little Green, Grey-chinned, Collared, Green-headed, Blue-throated Brown, Olive, Olive-bellied, and the beautiful Superb all occurring. Other species found in the area include Tambourine Dove, African Emerald Cuckoo, Blue Malkoha, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Angolan Batis, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Bocage’s Bushshrike, Tropical Boubou, Pink-footed Puffback, Mackinnon’s Shrike, Black-winged Oriole, Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatcher, Petit’s and Purple-throated Cuckooshrikes, Velvet-mantled Drongo and Yellow-throated Nicator. The Bulbul species are well represented and we will be looking for Swamp Palm Bulbul, Simple, Slender-billed, Little, Plain, and Yellow-whiskered Greenbuls. Other great avian gems we have a chance of picking up on are Red-tailed Bristlebill, Black-throated Apalis, Banded and White-chinned Prinia’s, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Brown Illadopsis, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush, Forest Scrub Robin, Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher, Vieillot’s Black and Yellow-mantled Weavers, Crested and Red-headed Malimbes.
Rolling grassy hills around the forest are home to other interesting species, with the main target being the unique, Black-collared Bulbul. Other targets are Northern Fiscal, Brown-backed Scrub Robin, Chattering Cisticola, Moustached Grass Warbler, African Yellow Warbler, Black-winged Red Bishop, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Red-headed Quelea, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Black-and-white Mannikin, Landana Firefinch, and the neat looking Brown Twinspot.
Some of the rarer and uncommon birds include Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Shrike-flycatcher, Forest Swallow, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Pale-fronted Nigrita, and the poorly known Woodhouse’s Antpecker.
Transfer from Uige to Kalandula
We will begin the morning with our last venture into the northern escarpment forests to target any species we might be missing before heading to the greater Kalandula area. The drive will take a good part of the day. We will be making various birding stops along the route and will take in some fantastic scenery on route.
This Kalandula region is home to one of Angola’s greatest natural wonders, the spectacular Kalandula Falls, which we will visit in the afternoon and enjoy this spectacular wonder. Our night will be at our comfortable hotel within view of the falls.
Birding around Kalandula and Kinjila
Another exciting day is ahead of us as we explore the swamp forests near Kalandula. Here we have one main target in mind the sought-after White-headed Robin-Chat. This rare, localized, poorly known, yet spectacular bird is another one of the major avian attractions of the tour. For a long time, the species was thought to be extinct, and was only rediscovered as recently as in the 1990s. While this will be our main target, there are quite a few other good birds to connect with, some of the birds we hope to see are the diminutive White-spotted Flufftail which loves swamp habitat. The stunning Ross’s Turaco is also common in the area.
Transfer from Kalandula to N’dalatando
Before departing for our next birding spot, we will bird the greater Kalandula area and target any birds we may still need for the area. Our next stop is N’dalatando, where we are spending the night. On route we will make a few birding stops, one being for Rock Pratincole and should arrive in the early afternoon. We may have some down time before heading off to the nearby Tombingo Forest, birding for the afternoon. The habitat is like that of the northern escarpment forest, and we have the chance to clean up on any species we may need from this habitat.
We will be on the lookout for the scarce Cassin’s Honeybird here, along with Brown-eared Woodpecker, while the forest is a great place to catch up with Chestnut Wattle-eye, Black-winged Oriole, African Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-whiskered and Honeyguide Greenbuls, Red-tailed Bristlebill, and Rufous-crowned Eremomela. Green Hylia’s soft call rings out continuously, but the bird can be tricky to spot, while Sooty Flycatcher usually perches atop the highest branches of the canopy.
Birding Tombingo Forest and transfer to Kumbira Forest
Our morning will be set aside to bird the area around Tombingo Forest, searching for any of the above-mentioned species we may be still looking for. The shy forest species require time and patience to lay eyes on so having a morning spare to target all the species is essential.
After a very successful and enjoyable birding visit to this avian rich area we will move onto the Kumbira Forest. The drive will take a good part of the day and we should arrive in the late afternoon at our accommodation near Conda. We will of course be on the look our for any roadside birds on the drive.
Birding Kumbira Forest
The next two days will be used to bird and explore Kumbira Forest. This forest hots three Endangered central-scarp endemics, namely Pulitzer’s Longbill, Gabela Bushshrike and Gabela Akalat. Unfortunately, slash-and-burn farming has caused major population declines in all three species, although the Akalat is still common and the Longbill is normally not too hard to find. The Bushshrike has become very difficult at this site, but we search for the species at another location. While looking for the above birds a few other species can be seen, and we will be looking for Red-crested Turaco, Southern Hyliota, Dusky Tit, Yellow-throated Nicator, Yellow-necked Greenbul, Pale-olive Greenbul, Brown Illadopsis, Hartert’s Camaroptera, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Forest Scrub Robin, Gorgeous Bushshrike, African Broadbill, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Black-faced Canary, Pink-footed Puffback, Angolan Naked-faced Barbet, Trumpeter Hornbill and Grey Waxbill.
Transfer from Kumbira Forest to Mount Moco
It’s sad leaving the Kumbira Forest after two days of some excellent birding but we need to keep moving to target a few more special birds. An early start will be on the cards to get the most out of the day and maximize our time around Mount Moco, Angola’s highest mountain. The drive will take some time and we plan to arrive in the early afternoon. The habitat is extremely varied at Mount Moco, and the lower slopes see us transiting through grassy floodplains and fragmented miombo woodland patches before reaching a montane grassland plateau that then takes us to the actual base of this impressive mountain.
We will likely concentrate our efforts this afternoon on the lower slopes, exploring the rank, grassy floodplains/depressions and miombo woodland patches. Our main targets here will be the poorly known Brazza’s Martin and the incredibly localized Bocage’s Sunbird and Bocage’s Weaver. We will also search these areas for other sought-after species like Black-collared Bulbul, Marsh Widowbird, and the scarce Dusky Twinspot, while other species possible here include the likes of Coppery-tailed Coucal, Little Bee-eater, Croaking Cisticola, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Sooty Chat, Brown Firefinch, Fawn-breasted and Orange-breasted Waxbills, and Fülleborn’s Longclaw. Venturing into the miombo, we will keep an ear open for the excited calls heralding the arrival of a bird party, species joining the mixed bird parties include Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Chinspot Batis, Brubru, White-crested Helmetshrike, Black Cuckooshrike, Green-capped Eremomela, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellowthroated Petronia, Red-headed Weaver, and Golden-breasted Bunting. As we follow these parties through the woodland we’ll also be searching for more specials, such as Anchieta’s Barbet, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Red-capped Crombec, Miombo Wren-Warbler, Rufous-bellied Tit, Salvadori’s and the spectacular Black-necked Eremomelas, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, African Spotted Creeper, Miombo Scrub Robin, Miombo Rock Thrush, Anchieta’sand Western Violet-backed Sunbirds, Orange-winged Pytilia, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, and Wood Pipit.
After an exciting day of birding, we will retire to our comfortable accommodation in Huambo, where we’ll spend the night and enjoy some great local food.
Birding Mount Moco and surroundings
Our full day of birding at this important birding sight will be a busy and productive one with us making an early start to Mount Moco, heading for the Afromontane forests and montane grasslands at the top of the mountain. The forest on the mountain supports diminishing populations of Swierstra’s Francolin, Ludwig’s Double-collared Sunbird, Bocage’s Akalat, Schalow’s Turaco, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Thick-billed Seedeater, Grey Apalis, African Hill Babbler, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Olive Woodpecker, Western Green Tinkerbird and Western Black-backed Barbet. The Forest edge supports Huambo Cisticola, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Dusky Twinspot, Angolan Swee Waxbill, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Oustalet’s Sunbird, Bronzy Sunbird, African Spotted Creeper, Red-throated Wryneck and Black-chinned Weaver. The surrounding grasslands and rocky areas hold an endemic race of Mountain Wheatear, Horus Swift, Striped Pipit, Capped Wheatear, Black-collared Bulbul, Angola Lark, Broad-tailed Warbler, Wing-snapping Cisticola and the very difficult Finsch’s Francolin. We will also embark on a hike to search for Margaret’s Batis in the largest remaining patch of Afromontane Forest on the mountain.
Transfer from Mount Moco to Benguela
This morning we shall spend time birding the lower reaches of Mount Moco, targeting any species we may have missed from the previous day, we don’t have too much of a long drive today so we will enjoy the last of our time in this wonderfully diverse area.
On our drive to the town of Benguela we will bird salt pans and lagoons looking for the many waterbirds calling the area home. Our main targets here will be Lesser Flamingo and Chestnut-banded Plover. Other expected species include Cape Teal, Black-necked Grebe, African Spoonbill, Great White Pelican, Reed, White-breasted, and Cape Cormorants, various other waders and shorebirds. The odd rarity can pop up here so we will check the birds thoroughly.
Transfer from Benguela to Lubango
An early start will be on the cards for us as we head for the arid savanna and rocky hillsides some inland from Benguela. This area forms the northerly part of Namibian Escarpment and here we will be they typical Namibian specials in the area. Some of the specials we hope to connect with on our morning will be Hartlaub’s Spurfowl that call from the exposed rocks in the morning, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rüppell’s Parrot, White-tailed Shrike, Cape Penduline Tit, Carp’s Tit, Pririt Batis and Monteiro’s Hornbill.
We will make our way to the city of Lubango, the drive is a long one, but passes some wonderful scenery and should arrive at our comfortable lodge on the late afternoon.
Birding Tundavala and Namibe
Over the next two days we will be making birding visits to the spectacular southern escarpment which is best seen from Tundavala and then the Humpata Plateau, that starts at around 2300 m above sea level and drops down the spectacular Leba Pass to the lowlands below.
Our first day of birding will be in the Tundavala area. The main birding habitat here consists of rocky grasslands, The rocky area susprisanly also rewards us with a variety of grassland, escarpment and forest birds. Our main target in this area is the highly sought after and localised Angola Cave Chat- this species is best seen hopping along the massive boulders. Other birds in the area include Angola Slaty Flycatcher, the rare Swierstra’s Francolin, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Angolan Swee Waxbill, Freckled Nightjar, Bradfield’s Swift, Rockrunner, Tinkling Cisticola, Wailing Cisticola, Buffy Pipit, Striped Pipit, Oustalet’s Sunbird and Ansorge’s Firefinch- a recent split from Jameson’s Firefinch. Another special bird we will search for in the area is the recently rediscovered, White-bellied Barbet.
Our second full day in the area will be used to transfer down the escarpment to the dry coastal plain via the incredibly beautiful Leba Pass. We will likely have a few birding stops as we descend this magnificent road.
At the base of the escarpment, we will spend some time looking for the stunning Cinderella Waxbill-another special form the area. Other exciting birds along the pass are Hartlaub’s Babbler, Bennett’s Woodpecker and Benguela Long-tailed Starling. As we drive towards the coast the habitat will get more arid and drier and we will be seeing birds such as Dusky Sunbird, Karoo Chat and Chat Flycatcher. Once we reach the dry desert plains the main target bird will be the Benguela Long-billed Lark and Rüppell’s Korhaan- both these species thrive on these dry deescalate plains. Other possibilities to look out for will be Ludwig’s Bustard, Double-banded Courser, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Pale-winged Starling, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark and Stark’s Lark.
Departure from Lubango
Unfortunately, our great birding adventure in Angola ends today. We would have explored one of Africa’s top birding destinations that not too many birders visit. With many lifers in the bag and lists updated. We will enjoy our final breakfast before heading to the airport in Lubango, from where we’ll fly back home or continue to Namibia for the next part of your birding adventure.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed.
To go birding in Angola with us, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org