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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Zambia

Thursday 13 October to Wednesday 26 October 2022
with Ethan Kistler as leader
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Grimwood’s Longclaw Photo: Frank Willems

Zambia is a wonderfully scenic country in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa with numerous parks and safari areas.  It is also unusually diverse biologically, and—although under birded—has one of the largest bird lists in Africa, surpassing 750 species.  We’ll visit a range of habitats, each with its own set of species, beginning in the extreme northwest corner on the border of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This remote area, rarely visited by tourists, offers a chance to see many Congo Basin species normally inaccessible to birders. From here we’ll travel south towards Kafue National Park, one of the largest parks in Africa, with its extensive Miombo woodlands interspersed with grassy depressions called “Dambos.”  Here we may see the highly localized Black-cheeked Lovebird and very likely some of Africa’s iconic mammals. Continuing south we’ll stop near Choma for the endemic Chaplin’s Barbet, before spending the last couple nights in the Lower Zambezi Valley where we’ll target the iconic African Pitta, one of Africa’s most sought-after birds.

Our tour coincides with the best time of year for birding, and we should record a long list of species not typically found on other tours, with new species even for frequent travelers to Africa.

Day 1: The tour begins this evening in Lusaka, Zambia.

Day 2: We’ll catch an early morning flight to Solwezi, where our vehicle(s) and driver(s) will be waiting. We’ll spend the rest of the day working our way towards the Mwinilunga region and our base for the coming days. Night at Kalwelwa Bush Camp.

Days 3-5: Kalwelwa Bush Camp only opened in the last few years and has already proven to be one of Zambia’s prime birding destinations. The depression system combines one of Zambia’s largest wet evergreen forests with endless Kalahari sands grasslands and marshes, Marquesia dry evergeen forest and miombo woodlands.

Most of the western Zambia specialties are found in the North-West area near Mwinilunga. These include Black-collard Bulbul, Angola Lark, Bamboo Warbler, Forbes’s Plover, Grimwood’s Longclaw, Black-and-rufous Swallow, Laura’s Woodland-Warbler, and Margaret’s Batis. Many of the specials occur around camp while the plains complex is a few minutes driving away.

Using Kalwela Bush Camp as our base, we’ll also able to bird nearby areas including Luakara Forest, Chitunta Plain and the source of the Zambezi. Nights at Kalwela Bush Camp.

Day 6: Today we’ll retrace our steps back towards Solwezi and stay at a lodge outside the city where the Miombo woodlands host miombo specialties such as Bar-winged Weaver, Souza’s Shrike, Black-collared Eremomela, Boehm’s Flycatcher, and Anchieta’s Sunbird. Night at Mutanda Nature Camp.

Day 7: After breakfast, we’ll begin our journey south towards the Lunga-Luswishi Game Management Area and the Kafue River Lodge. Along the way we’ll keep an eye out for Chestnut-backed Sparrow-weaver, Böhm’s Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied Tit and Black-necked Eremomela. Near the lodge we’ll search for the highly localized Chaplin’s Barbet while the river may produce a Pel’s Fishing-Owl or African Finfoot. Night at Kafue River Lodge.

Day 8: After a leisurely morning birding around Kafue, we’ll load back up and head further south towards the Lower Zambezi Valley, where we’ll cut the journey in half at a birding lodge for the night. Night near Chisamba.

Day 9: Upon arrival to the valley, we’ll find another unique woodland habitat dominated by open-canopied mopane trees and crossed by the occasional streams lined with riparian vegetation. This woodland, much favored by Savanna Elephant, also hosts Meves’s Starling, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, and—with luck—Lillian’s Lovebirds. Night near Chirundu.

Day 10: Today we’ll concentrate on the marvelous birds that occur in this new habitat, including Barred and African Emerald Cuckoos, African Broadbill, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, and Bearded Scrub-Robin. In the evening we’ll take a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River straddling Zambia and Zimbabwe. Night near Chirundu.

Day 11: We’ll depart early and head to Choma, where we’ll be within the fig-tree savanna biome. Our lodge is located in the Nkanga Conservation Area, one of the most reliable sites for Chaplin’s Barbet. Other birds that will distract us include Lesser Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Allen’s Gallinule, and Cuckoo Finch on the flooded grasslands; Three-banded Courser in the savanna; and Narina Trogon and Schalow’s Turaco in riparian woodland. A night drive should produce African Barred Owlet and the stunning Pennant-winged Nightjar. Night near Choma.

Day 12: Today we will transfer to the town of Livingstone, which is only 15 minutes from the world’s largest waterfall. We’ll have the full day to revel in the remarkable Victoria Falls and bird the surrounding area. Plunging 300 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 have the chance to see Half-collared Kingfisher, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Collared Palm Thrush, Dusky Lark, Rock Pratincole, and African Finfoot. Night near Livingstone.

Day 13: With a packed breakfast, we will have an early departure to spend the day around the Machile Important Bird Area. This remote area of mopane forests provides an excellent chance to find the endemic Black-cheeked Lovebird along with several other dry land species we haven’t seen earlier in the trip. Night near Livingstone.

Day 14: The trip concludes today with transfers to the Livingstone airport. If time permits, we will bird the accommodation grounds or somewhere nearby.

Created: 17 November 2021

Prices

  • 2022 Tour Price Not Yet Known

Notes

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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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