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Songs of summer, best birding in the Kruger

The popularity of birdwatching across generations continues to surge globally. As people increasingly seek ways to connect with nature, birdwatching stands out as a contemplative, immersive and highly rewarding pastime.

With a focus on unobtrusively observing wildlife in natural habitats, birdwatching perfectly aligns with the modern trend towards eco-friendly and sustainable activities.

The birds of the Kruger National Park are a particular draw for local and international travellers. There are almost 500 bird species recorded in the Park, an extraordinary diversity that includes both residents and migrants. There’s no doubt that a Kruger safari is greatly enhanced when you go beyond the narrow confines of just spotting Big 5 game and include the brilliant array of birds.

Best time to visit Kruger National Park for birding

Some say that the best time to visit Kruger National Park for birding is the hot, wet season stretching from late November to mid-March when the European, Asian and intra-African migrants are present, and most species are breeding and raising their broods. It’s true that Summer brings an abundance of bird activity. The profusion of insects, flowers, seeds and fruits support the bird breeding season. But it has to be said that Kruger is so abundant in birdlife that anytime of year is good for birding and ticking rare birds. A special feature of birding in the Park is that altitudinal migrants such as the Green Twinspot, White-starred Robin and Grey Cuckooshrike come down from the escarpment for a winter retreat.

February, though is generally regarded as a peak month for birds of the Kruger National Park because so many species are more active and conspicuous. Whether you are a novice or seasoned twitcher, birdwatching adds a special dimension to your Kruger safari experience. At Kruger Gate Hotel, situated less than a minute’s drive from the Paul Kruger Gate, our daily morning, all-day and afternoon guided Kruger safari experiences offer plenty of opportunities to encounter South African birds.

Big birds in South Africa

With its mosaic of habitats, Kruger is home to an exceptional array of charming water birds, fierce raptors, enigmatic owls, stand-out songsters, colourful beauties and bushveld specials such as the iconic Lilac-breasted Roller and the Yellow-billed hornbill, famous for a starring role in Disney’s Lion King movie.

The birding version of the Big 5 is the Big 6 iconic species that you may have a chance of seeing during a Kruger safari holiday. Big birds in South Africa that you may spot on a Kruger safari with us include the mighty Martial Eagle, Lappet-faced Vulture, Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, Ground Hornbill and the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl, a rare bird that frequents the Sabie riverine woodland.

It’s easy to get into the joys of birding. You will need binoculars and a field guide in the form of a book or app. Birdwatching enhances your understanding of ecosystems and fills you with awe at the intricacies of the natural world. You can also connect and share your sightings with birding groups all over the world via social media. It all starts with getting out into the wilds of Kruger.