Gone Birding in Southern Africa

Gray-crowned crane closeup (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

19 January 2024: Day 1, Fly to Johannesburg, South Africa — Road Scholar Southern Africa Birding Safari

Today I’m on my way to Road Scholar’s Southern Africa Birding Safari: From Zimbabwe to Zambia & Beyond. The tour begins tomorrow in Johannesburg, South Africa but it will take me 24 hours to get there.

Africa is huge — more than three times the size of the continental U.S. — so we will see only a small part of it. For most of the trip we’ll be inside the red circle (below) in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. All four countries meet at the only international quadripoint in the world, the Four Corners of Africa.

Map of Africa from Wikimedia Commons: X = Johannesburg, O = birding safari location and Four Corners of Africa

After Johannesburg we will fly to Victoria Falls to begin our regional tour of birding hotspots and national parks in safari vehicles, by boat and occasionally on foot. Late January is the rainy season and the height of summer with highs as much as 100°F and lows in the 60s.

Road Scholar map of Southern Africa Birding Safari, 2024

We hope to see the Big 5 mammals at Hwange, Chobe and Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Parks — elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and (maybe not) rhinoceros — plus assorted other critters on our travels. Here a just a few from my Wish List.

We’ll also see birds! Up to 400 species and nearly all of them Life Birds. Most are unique to Africa. Some have migrated from Europe or Asia to spend the winter. I hope to see the endangered gray-crowned crane (Balearica regulorum), at top, and the birds in this slideshow below plus many more.

Because of the 7-hour time zone difference and the on-the-go birding schedule I’ve written all 15 days of articles in advance. I’ll post to Facebook and X (Twitter) when I get a chance but I can’t guarantee it. If you don’t see me on social media, look for my latest posts here on the blog’s home page.

For the next two+ weeks I’ll be mostly off the grid.

UPDATE on 2 Feb: The only bird in the slideshow that I did not see was the white stork.

(photo and maps from Wikimedia Commons and Road Scholar. Click on the captions to see the originals.)

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