6 Day Best of Northeastern Tanzania & Usambara Mountains

This Tanzania birdwatching tour has been carefully crafted for you to experience the very best of Tanzania’s stunning North-eastern region

This beautiful region holds some of Tanzania’s finest birding spots. From the dry country specialist birds of Mererani Maasai Steppe to the endemic birds of Usambara Mountains, you’ll be spoilt for choice on this brief but impactful tour of the North East.

Starting our trip at the Mererani Maasai Steppe (not too far from Kilimanjaro International Airport) you’ll be treated to some dry country specialists that tend to be rather pleasing on the eye – with the Golden-breasted Starling being a highlight. We’ll then gradually make our way south, to both the West and East Usambara Mountains and stopping at Mkomazi National Park and the South Pare Mountains along the way.

It’s a lovely mix of different habitats and avifauna, from bushland to high-altitude tropical forest. Expect a large count of bird species, with the endemics being a true highlight for any birder. You can also expect a high number of large mammal species, found at Mkomazi National Park, with even a chance of seeing the rare and elusive African Wild Dog. Join us as we uncover the very best of Northeastern Tanzania!

Brief Tour Itinerary

Day 1

On our first day, we’ll meet at Kilimanjaro International Airport (or Arusha/Moshi) and then head to Mererani Maasai Steppe. A hidden gem of a birding spot, situated on the lower Maasai Steppe between Arusha and Manyara. Primarily dry Acacia thorn bushland with vernal pools occurring during the wet season which attract many wetland species. Many of the species found here are part of the Somalia-Masai Region and come in a wonderful array of colours and beauty, with the Golden-breasted Staring being a highlight, along with Hunter’s Sunbird, Black-bellied Sunbird & Tsavo Sunbird.

African Wild Dog

Day 2

On our second day, we’ll head to the wilds of Mkomazi National Park. Mkomazi National Park is an impressive wilderness with breath-taking views – to the northwest you’ll find Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Then with a dramatic backdrop to the south, you’ll see both the Pare and Usambara Mountains. Then as far as the eye can see to the north, you’ll see Kenya’s vast Tsavo National Park, which shares a border with Mkomazi, making common ground for migratory herds of Elephant, Besia Oryx and Zebra during the wet season. It’s also possible to see rare Africa Wild Dogs, which would be a highlight. Together with Tsavo, it forms one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems on earth. We’ll have a nice mix of birds and wildlife here as we take our time transecting this remarkable park.

Day 3

On Day 3, we’ll be taking a short drive to the beautiful South Pare Mountains, where we hope to find two endemic species – South Pare White-eye and Usambara Double-collared Sunbird. We’ll also be on the lookout for other regional species, with Bar-throated Apalis, Hunter’s Cisticola, Purple-banded Sunbird and East Coast Boubou being a few of them.

We’ll take our time here taking in the stunning scenery and racking up our now quite extensive checklist.

Day 4

Our fourth day takes us to the impressive Usambara Mountains, where we’ll start on the West Usambara range. This mountain range was formed 2 million years ago and are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, which stretch all the way into Kenya. They are one of the most important sites on the African mainland for the conservation of globally threatened birds holding and incredible 7 endemic species (Usambara Eagle-owl, Usambara Hyliota, Usambara Thrush, Usambara Weaver, Usamabara Akalat, Usambara Greenbul and Usambara Tailorbird) and 7 near endemics (Sokoke Scops Owl, Long-billed Tailorbird, Amani Sunbird, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Taveta Golden-Weaver, Spot-throat & Dapple-throat).

Expect scenic tropical rainforest paths and lots of fun!

Day 5

Our last day takes us to the East Usambara range, where we’ll be on the lookout for regional species such as: Usambara Hyliota, Usambara Tailorbird, 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 to name a few.

Day 6

The next morning, we’ll go on morning bird walk to look for any species we may have missed on the previous day and then by mid-morning, we’ll jump in the safari vehicle as we head back to Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha/Moshi whilst birding along the way with beaming smiles on our faces.

Key Bird Species

Popular species on this tour: Usambara Eagle-owl, Usambara Hyliota, Usambara Thrush, Usambara Weaver, Usamabara Akalat, Usambara Greenbul and Usambara Tailorbird

Below is a list of species likely to be encountered on this tour:

Acacia Tit, Somali Bunting, Pink-breasted Lark, Golden-breasted Starling, Black-bellied Sunbird, Hunter’s Sunbird, Tsavo Sunbird, Plain-backed Sunbird, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Pringle’s Puffback, Three-banded Courser, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Eastern Black-headed Batis, European Roller, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, Eastern Paradise Whydah, Pin-tailed Whydah, Steel-blue Whydah, Straw-tailed Whydah, Golden Pippit, Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Somali Bunting, Hunter’s Cisticola, East Coast Flycatcher, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Usambara Akalat, Usambara Thrush, Usambara Greenbul, Usambara Weaver, African Wood Owl, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-capped Warbler, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler and Evergreen Forest Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Dark-backed Weaver, Red-faced Crimsonwing, Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, Rameron Pigeon, Usambara Hyliota, Usambara Tailorbird, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle, Southern Banded Snake-eagle, Fischer’s Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Lowland Tiny Greenbul, Green Barbet, Sharpe’s Akalat, Half-collared Kingfisher, Gorgeous Bushshrike , Tanzanian Illadopsis, Green Malkoha, African Broadbill, Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike, African Stonechat, Shrike Flycatcher, Eastern Tinkerbird, Pale Batis, Glossy Ibis, Fischer’s Turaco

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