15-Day Southern Tanzania Birding Tour
It’s a bucketlist birding destination with a bird list just under 1100 species.
Tanzania also boasts 21 endemics, 43 near-endemics and more than 800 residents. The beautiful country is home to several range-restricted species which is difficult to see anywhere else on the continent.
You can look forward to an unforgettable birding tour in Southern Tanzania where we will focus on Uluguru and Udzungwa Mountains, Ukaguru and the Uluti Forest.
Next Group Departure Date: To be confirmed
This tour can also be booked as a private guided birding tour
Full Itinerary – Southern Tanzania Birding
Arrival at Julius Nyerere Airport, Dar es Salaam
Welcome to Dar es Salaam and Tanzania! On arrival at Julius Nyerere Airport, you will be met by your Nature Travel Birding guide and our Southern Tanzania Birding adventure will begin. Our comfortable hotel is only a short drive away and you have the opportunity to freshen up and relax after your long flight.
Depending on what time your flight arrived there might be time to visit one or two birding spots or perhaps do a bit of birding around the hotel which will be the perfect opportunity to get to know some of the common species which might include Common and African Palm Swift, Pied Crow, Speckled Mousebird, Red-eyed and Laughing Dove, Collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Lilac-breasted Roller, Common Waxbill, African Pied Wagtail, African Paradise Flycatcher, Village Weaver and Cardinal Woodpecker.
Dar es Salaam, located on the Indian Ocean, is the business capital and largest city in Tanzania and the busiest of the country’s 3 ocean ports, handling 90% of the country’s cargo traffic. The city was originally called Mzizima meaning “healthy town” in Swahili and today it is known as Dar es Salaam which means “haven of peace” in Arabic, and it is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, if not the world.
From a tourism point of view Tanzania is best known for the world-famous great Wildebeest migration, parks such as Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire and off course Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. On this Southern Tanzania adventure, we have the opportunity to explore the bird rich Uluguru, Ukaguru and West Udzungwa Mountains as well as Mikumi National Park, all home to an incredible array of localised African avian specials.
This evening over our welcome dinner we will get to know one another, learn more about the country and the places we will visit over the next two weeks.
Dar es Salaam to Morogoro
After enjoying one of Tanzania’s delicious coffees and hearty breakfast we will be on road as we make our west to Morogoro. It will mostly be a travelling day, but we will include as many birding stops as possible including the marshes around the Ruvu River which originates in the Uluguru Mountains and empties into the Indian Ocean near Bagamoyo. We will try to find “Ruvu Weaver” which might be split into a unique species soon.
Some of the roadside species we might pick up today include Sombre Greenbul, Green-winged Pytilia, Half-collared Kingfisher, Brown-backed Honeybird, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Black-winged Kite, Lizard Buzzard, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Bohm’s Bee-eater, Bare-faced and Grey Go-away-birds, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Collared Palm Thrush, Little Bee-eater, Red-billed Quelea, Black-winged Red Bishop, Palm-nut Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Tawny Eagle and even African Hobby with a bit of luck.
We should arrive in Morogoro by late afternoon where we hope to be greeted by the resident Brown-breasted Barbet. This city with a population of just under a million people is the perfect base from which to explore the Ukaguru Mountains. We will stay in a comfortable hotel and prepare ourselves for what should be a very exciting birding day tomorrow.
We will be up early and on the road to the beautiful Ukaguru Mountains. Not many birding tours visit this wonderful but remote birding spot and besides our main targets often produces a surprise or two. These mountains lie in the rain-shadow of the taller Uluguru Mountains and forms part of the Eastern Arc Mountains which we will be exploring over the next few days.
Some of the key species we will try to find include Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Mountain Greenbul, Dark Batis, Spot-throat, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch, Bertram’s Weaver, Black-lored Cisticola, Chapin’s Apalis, Swahili Sparrow, Loveridge’s Sunbird, Rubeho’s Warbler, Rubeho’s Akalat, Southern (Uhehe) Fiscal just to mention a few. This exciting area is perfect for us to start our search for the endemic birds of Tanzania.
We will enjoy a picnic lunch and will be back at our hotel by late afternoon or early evening. While enjoying a refreshing drink we will update our checklists and discuss the plans for tomorrow as we head for Uluguru Mountains.
Day 4 & 5:
The next two days are all about the Uluguru Mountains. We will set up base at our centrally located camp and explore two different sections of the mountain on foot. On the first day our main focus will be to find the rare and localised Uluguru Bushshrike and on the second day the main targets will be the recently split Uluguru Greenbul and Winifred’s Warbler. These targets can take a lot of searching and patience to track down but luckily for us this gives us time to explore the beautiful intact parts of the forest and look for some of the other range restricted species found here.
On the more open areas lower down we hope to see Angola Swallow, Bertram’s Weaver and White-eared Barbet. In the main forest areas we will look for Fulleborn’s Boubou, Sharpe’s Akalat, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Green-headed Oriole, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, African Hill Babbler, Orange Ground Thrush, White-chested Alethe, White-starred Robin, Loveridge’s Sunbird, Usambara Weaver, Moustached Tinkerbird, Bar-tailed Trogon, White-winged Apalis and Livingstone’s Turaco.
We will explore some of the forest fringe areas where we hope to see Southern Citril, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Trilling Cisticola, Red-capped Forest Warbler, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Bar-throated Apalis and Variable Sunbird.
This part of Tanzania is very remote with very limited accommodation options so in order for us to be as close to the best sections of the forest we will be camping. Our support team will take of all the equipment and ensure that we are very comfortable and all we have to do is focus on the birding.
Mikumi National Park and Iringa
We will make our way down the Uluguru Mountains and head southwest towards Iringa, the base from which to explore the Udzungwa Mountains. Although we will return to Mikumi National Park later in the tour, we will spend a few hours driving through the park looking for species such as Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, White-crested Helmetshrike, Yellow-collared Lovebird, Grey-olive Greenbul, Purple-crested Turaco, Spot-flanked Barbet, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Black-collared Barbet, Meyer’s Parrot, Grey Kestrel, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Blue Waxbill and Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill to mention a few.
Mikumi is the fourth largest National Park in Tanzania covering an area of 3230 square km and border Selous Game Reserve, Udzungwa Mountains, and the Uluguru Mountains creating a massive tract of protected habitat. At 1290m above sea level the Malundwe Mountain is the highest point in the park and the open grassland areas of the Mkata River floodplains is often compared to the open plains of the Serengeti.
Since today is mostly a travelling day we have to leave the park by early afternoon to arrive in Iringa by late afternoon/early evening
We will spend the next six days exploring the Udzungwa Mountains protected by the Udzungwa National Park covering about 1900 square km and the highest point is 2579m above sea level. As this park does not have a big road network and most of the forests are inaccessible by vehicle we will be trekking up to the best patches of forest where we hope to find our target species. With the limited tourism infrastructure in the park, we will use a variety of accommodation varying from our guesthouse in Iringa to two different campsites where our team will take care of all our requirements.
Today we will visit the Uluti Forest where our main target is the special Rufous-winged Sunbird which was only discovered in 1983. Our team’s knowledge on where to find the right trees in flower will give us an excellent chance of seeing our target bird. Other species we will look for include Dapple-throat, Spot-throat, Iringa Akalat, Mountain Buzzard, White-winged Apalis, Swynnerton’s Robin, Orange Ground Thrush and Scarce Swift. Forest Double-collared Sunbird and Churring Cisticola are often found in nearby open areas.
We will return to our lodge by early evening enjoying a well-deserved dinner and good night’s rest.
Off to the West Udzungwa Mountains
We will be up early and while enjoying breakfast we will keep and eye open for Brimstone Canary and Miombo Double-collared Sunbird which we often see in the lodge gardens. Today we will make our way deeper into the Udzungwa Mountains towards the village of Udekwa and eventually into the Luala Valley. We will continue to stop for new roadside birds including Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Purple Indigobird, Trilling Cisticola, Jameson’s Firefinch, Miombo Rock Thrush, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Siffling Cisticola, Yellow-throated Petronia, Reichard’s Seedeater and Red-winged Warbler.
This part of the Udzungwa is famous amongst birders for a chance to see the elusive Udzungwa Forest Partridge which was accidentally discovered by researchers in 1991 when served this species as a meal. This species will be our main target for the next 3 days and due to its shy and secretive nature it does take a lot of patience and quite a bit of luck to see this very special bird.
We will drive as far into the valley as we can and from there hike to our campsite where we will spend the next two nights. Our staff will take care of the equipment and will take care of all our camping needs to ensure a very pleasant camping experience. On the way we will continue to bird and have a good chance to see Crowned Eagle, Mountain Buzzard, African Black Duck, Rufous-breast Sparrowhawk, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Baglfecht Weaver, Malachite Sunbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Brown Parisoma and Yellow-browed Seedeater.
This evening we will do a nocturnal excursion to look for Rwenzori Nightjar and if we are lucky perhaps a Grass Owl.
Day 9 & 10:
West Udzungwa Mountains
We now have two full days to explore this section of the Udzungwa and will the trail network to cover a variety of habitats. In the forest some of the targets, besides the Partridge of course, include Dapple-throat, Spot-throat, Sharpe’s Akalat, Loveridge’s Sunbird, Grey Cuckooshrike, Chapin and Black-headed Apalis, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Moustached Tinkerbird, Livingstone’s Turaco, Olive-flanked Robin-Chat, Orange Ground Thrush, Forest Batis, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellowbill, Lemon Dove, Green barbet, Mountain, Shelley’s, Yellow-streaked and Grey-olive Greenbul, Pallid Honeyguide, Olive Woodpecker and Black-and-white Shrike-Flycatcher to mention a few species.
In the slightly more open woodland areas we will look for Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, African Broadbill, Uhehe Fiscal, Green Tinkerbird, Purple-crested Turaco, Crested Guineafowl, Brown-headed and White-winged Apalis and Trilling Cisticola.
Whenever we get to a clearing in the forest we will scan for Mottled and Bohm’s Spinetail, Scarce Swift and Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle. At the forest edge we will look for Siffling and Black-lored Cisticola, Lesser Seedcracker, Waller’s Starling, Slender-billed Starling, Kipengere Seedeater, Yellow-crowned Canary, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Fawn-breasted Waxbill and African Firefinch. Nocturnal excursions could produce African Wood Owl, Ruwenzori, Square-tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjars.
Second camp in West Udzungwa Mountains
After using the first part of the morning to try and find any missing species we will gather our belongings and start to make our way further down the mountain, birding as we go. Our wonderful group of camp assistants will help break camp and move ahead to set up our next camp where we will spend one night. This elevation will give us a great chance to see Kipengere Seedeater as well as Dusky Turtle Dove, Marsh Tchagra, Brown Warbler, Singing Cisticola and Tropical Boubou.
We will enjoy our final night of camping in this very special part of Africa.
Down from the mountains
Today we will make our way out of the mountains, exit at Udekwa, and retrace some of our steps as we make our way to Sanje where we will spend the night. We will continue to do regular stops and bird along the way and have another very good chance to see Livingstone’s Flycatcher and Lesser Seedcracker.
We will get the chance to enjoy open woodland and savannah birding and can add species such as Mourning Collared Dove, Red-faced Crombec, Ashy Starling, Grey Kestrel, Lesser Masked Weaver, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Blue-naped Mousebird, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Spot-flanked and D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Purple Roller and Mottled Spinetail. We will also stop a beautiful group of Baobab trees.
We plan to arrive by late afternoon and although our team would have ensured that we are really comfortable, we will still enjoy a few cold beers and a hot shower after our days of camping.
Tomorrow we explore the lower lying areas of the Kilombero Swamp and Mikumi National Park.
Kilombero Swamp and off to Mikumi National Park
After an early breakfast we will make our way to the Kilombero Swamp, another birding spot home to a few very special birds. Our main targets here are Kilombero Cisticola, White-tailed Cisticola and Kilombero Weaver, all 3 birds only described in the late 1980s. Other interesting birds we hope to see include Grey-rumped Swallow, Red-headed Quelea, Siffling Cisticola, African Reed Warbler, Red-winged Warbler, Palm-nut Vulture, Magpie Mannikin, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Coppery-tailed Coucal, African Skimmer, Marsh Tchagra and Red-necked Falcon.
We should also add more widespread waterbirds to our list including Great White and Pink-backed Pelican, African Openbill, African Darter, White-crowned and African Wattled Lapwing, Black Heron, Giant Kingfisher, White-fronted Bee-eater, Spur-winged Goose, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Water Thick-knee and Glossy Ibis.
By mid-afternoon we will leave the Kilombero River Floodplains behind and make our way to Mikumi National Park. Once we arrive at our lodge and have settled, we could do some late afternoon birding if time allows.
Full day birding at Mikumi National Park
We have a full day to try and find any of the missing Miombo and Broad-leafed Woodland birds that we did not see on our drive through the park earlier in the tour. Some of the target species include Black-bellied Bustard, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Green-backed and Speckle-throated Woodpecker, Miombo Blue-eared and Ashy Starling, Brown-necked and Meyer’s Parrot, Shelley’s, Miombo Double-collared and Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Racket-tailed Roller, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Tanzania Red-billed and Pale-billed Hornbill, Black-headed Batis, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Cinnamon-breasted Tit, African Penduline Tit, Reichard’s Seedeater, Croaking Cisticola, Neddicky, White-winged Widowbird, Kurrichane Thrush, Black-winged Red Bishop, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Bearded Scrub Robin, Miombo Rock Thrush, Arnott’s Chat, Collared Pratincole, Jameson’s firefinch, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Familiar Chat, Northern Pied Babbler, Southern Ground Hornbill, Green-capped and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-collared Lovebird, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Orange-winged Pytilia, Purple Indigobird, Pale Flycatcher and Red-headed Weaver.
Mikumi National Park also offers great game viewing opportunities and a few of the mammals we might encounter include Lion, African Wild Dog, Honey-badger, Cape Buffalo, Hippo, Blue Wildebeest, Maasai Giraffe, Bohor Reedbuck, Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal and Bushy-tailed Mongoose. A spotlight excursion around our lodge might produce Small-eared Galago, Porcupine, African Civet and Miombo Genet. Nocturnal birds often seen in Mikumi include African scops Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Barred Owlet and Fiery-necked Nightjar.
We will enjoy our final night of the trip in a comfortable lodge.
Back to Dar es Salaam and departure flights
We have the opportunity to look for any missing species in Mikumi National Park before we have to be on the road back to Dar es Salaam. We will continue to stop for any new birds and should arrive by late afternoon or early evening in time for our final dinner together before our departure flights this evening. We will update our checklists one final time and plan our next adventure before making our way to the airport where our trip comes to an end.
*Please note that this trip can be combined with our popular Northern Tanzania tour, a Pemba Island extension, or our Kenya Birding Tour. Please ask us for more information.
Do you have a quick question about this birding tour? Speak to a specialist at