Kruger National Park's summer birds
Did you know?
The best places to spot the Kruger Park's many birds are often in the camps themselves.
Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned twitcher, the Kruger National Park in summer is a birdwatcher's delight as some of the most colourful birds in the world swap the northern winter for a summer holiday in South Africa.
One of the first raptors to arrive is the common Wahlburg's eagle, a stocky, brown eagle with baggy, feathered leggings. The Steppe eagle, the biggest of the brown eagles, also flies in from the Palaearctic regions. If you're staying close by a river, listen at night for the eerie screech of the resident ginger-brown Pel's fishing-owl – one of only three fishing owls in the world.
You'll be dazzled by several species of bee-eater. Look for holes tunnelled into dry banks and if you see bright crimson birds flying in and out, you've spotted the communal nests of the gorgeous, multi-coloured Southern carmine bee-eater.
You also can't mistake the yellow throat and chestnut crown of the European bee-eater. The loud, trilling song of the conspicuous turquoise blue woodland kingfisher will wake you up at dawn and follow you through the bush all day. If you're from Europe or the USA you'll easily recognise the ubiquitous Barn swallow, which amazingly takes only 3 weeks to fly from your home to the Kruger National Park.
If you're watching one of the larger animals, notice that yellow- or red-billed brown bird busily picking ticks off the rhino's hide, the buffalo's face or the giraffe's neck – that's the tireless resident oxpecker. It also acts as an early warning system, flying up noisily when a predator is approaching.
Arm yourself with a user-friendly bird field guide and start ticking – you've got a long way to go: in summer there are over 500 bird species to see in the Kruger National Park.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
SANParks Central Reservations
Tel: +27(0)12 428 9111
How to get here
Easiest is to fly to the nearby Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport and drive (or be driven) from there.
Best time to visit
Summer is when the migrant birds are here, and you'll also see lots of young animals. Be warned, however, that it can get very hot at this time of year.
Tours to do
Book a guided sunset or night drive. You'll see nocturnal animals and birds such as owls and nightjars, and your chances of seeing that elusive leopard are very good.
It's a good idea to rent a van or 4X4 because you sit higher up and will see more. Guided tours are also an option.
What will it cost
There are accommodations to suit all pockets, from cheap camping sites to luxury lodges. Be aware that there is a daily conservation fee.
What to pack
In summer you should take plenty of sunscreen along as well as a hat. Insect repellent would also be a good idea. And don't forget the binoculars, bird field guide and camera.