This Tanzania birding tour has been meticulously designed to offer you an unparalleled experience in the breath-taking North-eastern region of Tanzania. This area boasts some of Tanzania’s most exceptional birding locations. From the specialised dry country birds of the Mererani Maasai Steppe to the unique endemic birds of the Usambara Mountains, this tour promises a high count of regional and endemic species over a brief period.
Starting the tour at the Mererani Maasai Steppe (situated not too far from Kilimanjaro International Airport), you will have the opportunity to marvel at the dry country specialists, many of which are visually stunning – among them, the Golden-breasted Starling stands out as a highlight. Continuing our route gradually southward, we will explore both the West and East Usambara Mountains, making stops at the wild Mkomazi National Park and the endemic-rich South Pare Mountains along the way.
This tour has a delightful mix of diverse habitats and bird species, ranging from bushland to high-altitude tropical forests. Anticipate a significant count of species, with the highlights being the endemics, which are well sought-after for any bird enthusiast. Moreover, the tour offers ample chances to encounter a wide variety of large mammal species within Mkomazi National Park, including the potential sighting of the rare and elusive African Painted Dog.
Join us as we uncover the absolute best of Northeastern Tanzania!
On our initial day, our rendezvous point will be at Kilimanjaro International Airport (or Arusha/Moshi) before we journey towards Mererani Maasai Steppe. Nestled within the lower Maasai Steppe between Arusha and Manyara, this spot is a concealed treasure for birdwatching. It primarily features dry Acacia thorn bushland, with vernal pools emerging during the wet season. Many of these species belong to the Somalia-Masai Region and exhibit a splendid spectrum of colours and beauty. Notably, the Golden-breasted Starling steals the spotlight alongside sightings of the Hunter’s Sunbird, Black-bellied Sunbird, and Tsavo Sunbird.
Where you will be staying: Rivertrees Country Inn
On our second day, we venture into the wilderness of Mkomazi National Park, an awe-inspiring expanse offering breathtaking vistas. To the northwest stands the majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, while to the south, the dramatic backdrop highlights both the Pare and Usambara Mountains. The northern horizon unfolds with Kenya’s expansive Tsavo National Park, sharing a border with Mkomazi, providing a shared territory for migratory herds of elephants, Besia Oryx, and Zebra during the wet season. This park also offers a rare opportunity to encounter the elusive African Wild Dogs, a potential highlight of our visit. Collaboratively with Tsavo, it creates one of the largest and most vital protected ecosystems globally.
Expect a delightful variety of birds and wildlife as we leisurely explore and transect this remarkable park.
Where you will be staying: Johnsons Villas
Our next destination is a short drive to the captivating South Pare Mountains, in pursuit of two endemic treasures—the South Pare White-eye and Usambara Double-collared Sunbird. Amidst our quest for these endemics, we will keep our eyes peeled for other regional specialties like the Bar-throated Apalis, Hunter’s Cisticola, Purple-banded Sunbird, and East Coast Boubou.
This scenic destination offers not just exciting bird targets but also breathtaking landscapes. We’ll savour our time here, absorbing the stunning scenery while enriching our already extensive bird checklist.
Where you will be staying: Johnsons Villas
On our fourth day, we venture into the awe-inspiring Usambara Mountains, starting our exploration from the West Usambara range. These mountains, formed around 2 million years ago, are integral parts of the Eastern Arc Mountains, extending into Kenya. Renowned as one of Africa’s crucial conservation sites for globally threatened birds, this area shelters an astounding diversity, boasting seven endemic species—Usambara Eagle-owl, Usambara Hyliota, Usambara Thrush, Usambara Weaver, Usambara Akalat, Usambara Greenbul, and Usambara Tailorbird. Additionally, it hosts seven near-endemics, including the Sokoke Scops Owl, Long-billed Tailorbird, Amani Sunbird, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Taveta Golden-Weaver, Spot-throat, and Dapple-throat.
Where you will be staying: Mullers Mountain Lodge
Over the next couple of days, we will be exploring the East Usambara range, including Amani Forest Reserve, where our focus will be on regional species. Among the species on our checklist are the Ayres’s Hawk-eagle, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Purple-banded Sunbird, Amani Sunbird, Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird, Green Barbet, Spotted Eagle-owl, Usambara Eagle-owl, Half-collared Kingfisher, Gorgeous Bushshrike, and more. Additionally, we will be in search of two endemic species of this region – Usambara Hyliota and Usambara Tailorbird.
Where you will be staying: Amani Forest Camp
Medium – this tour was designed to be impactful, gaining a large count of endemics within a brief time. Including an additional day at Mkomazi National Park and the West Usambara Mountains would certainly allow for a more relaxed pace.
Easy/Medium – on-foot birding at Mererani Maasai Steppe, South Pare Mountains, and West and East Usamabara Mountains but nothing overly strenuous. Walking boots are essential.
The above cost is based on a group of 6 people. This is not scheduled as a group tour. Please get in touch if you’d like us to arrange a private tailor made tour.
Best time of year to visit:
Prime birding season in Tanzania falls during the short rains of November and early December. This period highlights most species in vibrant breeding plumage, featuring captivating display behaviours of whydahs, widowbirds, and bishops. Additionally, it’s when numerous Palearctic migrants make their presence felt, so the count will be high.
It is worth noting that trekking paths in the Usambara Mountains become quite muddy during the rainy season which contradicts the above. So, if your focus is entirely on endemics, then the optimal period to visit is from June to October, following the rains when it is much dryer.
At Sustainable Birding, our goal is to ensure that every birding holiday we create contributes positively to bird conservation efforts and local communities. Our determination to promote sustainable travel led us to become founding members of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. As part of this commitment, we have established the world’s pioneering carbon scoring and offsetting framework for tailor-made holidays. Feel free to request us to carbon score your individual trip!
Bird species highlights:
Go birding in the best big game viewing parks in the world on this extraordinary 9 Day Tanzania birdwatching tour.
Embark on an extensive Tanzania birding tour in pursuit of the country’s extensive array of endemic species. Carefully crafted, this birdwatching trip is tailored to highlight the finest of Tanzania, with a special emphasis on its remarkable endemic birds.
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.