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South Africa
What you need to know
Weekend Getaway
Bush Retreats

WWhether youre a first-timer or a seasoned twitcher, the Kruger National Park from November to March is a birdwatchers delight, because 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 Wahlburgs 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 youre staying close to a river, listen at night for the eerie screech of the resident ginger-brown Pel's fishing-owl – one of only 3 fishing owls in the world. 

Youll 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, youve spotted the communal nests of the gorgeous, multicoloured 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 youre from Europe or the USA youll easily recognise the ubiquitous barn swallow, which amazingly takes only 3 weeks to fly from your home to the Kruger National Park. 

If youre watching one of the larger animals, notice that yellow- or red-billed brown bird busily picking ticks off the rhinos hide, the buffalos face or the giraffes neck – that’s the tireless resident oxpecker. It also acts as an early warning system, flying up noisily when a predator is spotted. 

Arm yourself with a user-friendly bird field guide and start ticking – youve got a long way to go: in summer, there are more than 500 bird species to see in the Kruger National Park. 

Did You Know?

TTravel 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 (November to March) is when the migrant birds are here, and youll 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. 

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 dont forget the binoculars, bird field guide and camera. 


Related links 

South Africa on social media