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Africa Geographic Travel

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Harare and bird Harare Botanical Gardens

Participants will be met at Harare airport (afternoon) and/or met at a selected meeting point in Harare if self driving to Zimbabwe. You will then be taken to your guesthouse in Harare to unpack and get ready for an afternoon birding at the Harare Botanical Gardens where we will try locate a bundle of desirable such as  Whyte’s barbet, red-throated twinspot, Miombo double collared and variable sunbird, and with a bit of luck Bat and Cuckoo Hawks.

Overnight and dinner in Harare. 

Day 2: Miombo birding and  drop into the Zambezi Valley

We start our morning at sparrows birding some great Miombo woodland outside Harare and en route to the escarpment. As the morning progresses and the parties build up we hope to connect with one of them and locate flocking species such as Miombo starling, southern hyliota, red-faced crombec, green capped eremomela, spotted creeper, Miombo tit, eastern saw-wing, white-breasted cuckoo shrike, brown-backed honeybird, western violet backed sunbird, orange-winged pytilia and many others. We will also visit a few outcrops favoured by the melodious boulder chat.

Depending on rains stops en route may also yield grass owl and bittern.

The Zambezi escarpment is a stunning jagged backdrop of mountains where we hope to come across many raptors including peregrine and lanner falcon, Eurasian hobby, Eurasian honey buzzard, cuckoo hawk, Montagu’s harrier, and Wahlberg’s eagle.

Dropping into the valley, we traverse Mopani woodland where Arnot’s chat, rocket-tailed roller and Lillian’s lovebirds are known to occur. Driving through rural communities we will endeavour to catch up with northern grey-headed sparrows. Broad tailed paradise whydah (and therefore its host the orange-winged pytilia) have both also been spotted here. However these will only just be coming into breeding plumage and will likely not be sporting their breeding regalia.

A good chance to encounter several other indigobirds (in transitional plumage) requires a visit to the runway near the camp.  The majority of individuals found here will done white bills and pink legs, typical traits of the Zimbabwean form of purple indigobird, and a much smaller number of them will show the white bills and distinctly orange legs, unequivocal traits of Zambezi indigobird.

In wetter dambo areas we will keep a keen eye on croaking cisticola, red-breasted swallow, pied mannikin, copper sunbird, striped pipit and orange-breasted waxbill. With luck we may flush the rare and elusive grass owl, and as we reach denser gallery forests at the bottom of the valley, we will peel our ears for the distinct mechanical whirring of displaying African broadbills.

Time allowing, and as has been tradition in previous years, we hope to scout out our first African pitta soon after arrival at our camp deep in the Zambezi Valley

Overnight at a community run birding camp, in banda style A-frame cottages in the Zambezi Valley.

Days 3 – 5: Searching African Pitta and other goodies in the Zambezi Valley

We have three full days dedicated to find, enjoy and photograph African pitta, and this time of year, at this locality, finding several in one day is not unusual, several stakeout and calling perches are known and the nature of its call and topography allows us to track down any bird that calls in this lush area. Dawn and dusk being the best periods, this means that we will have four full mornings and possibly four full afternoons to locate one of this gems, a span of time that has proven ample in all previous trips run.

Whilst looking for pitta we will undoubtedly come across other awesome quarry such as western banded snake eagle, grey headed parrot, narina trogon, Lillian’s lovebird, mottled swifts, three-banded courser, collared palm-thrush, thick-billed cuckoo, Livingstone’s flycatcher, broad-tailed paradise whydah, grey-headed kingfisher, eastern nicator, mosque swallow, mottled and bohm’s spinetail, ground hornbill and displaying flappet larks.

Other species that may have also arrived to the valley with the first rains are thrush nightingale, river warbler, greater whitethroat, red-throated twinspot, and its parasite twinspot indigobird, striped crake, white-browed coucal, dwarf bittern, great reed warbler and European marsh warbler to mention some of the other enigmatic species we could locate.

© Andrew Linton
© Andrew Linton

You can be assured that we will work meticulously this precious and exciting habitat, covered in lush “gwashas” lining the Angwa river, oxbows, and “wadis” hoping to flush out the more secretive species that lurk about, and we’ll also work the nearby Mopani woodland for a suite of other surprises.

Ephemeral pans (if any water) and river edges can hold many a wader surprise, and these will certainly not be ignored.

At night we shall look out for heuglin’s and bronze-winged coursers, owls, square-tailed and pennant-winged nightjars all of which are common in the valley this time of year.

Overnight and meals at a community run birding camp, in banda style A-frame cottages in the Zambezi Valley.

Day 6: Return to Harare

After a final walk for any species we might still be needing, we will start our return drive, climbing out of the valley. Even though we are officially heading back to Harare, we will slug our way and stop along the Mazoe Valley, where huge granitic outcrops and fantastic Miombo woodlands hold good populations of  boulder chats and mocking cliff-chats, as well as miombo tit, cabanis’s bunting, spotted creeper, whyte’s barbet, wood and tree pipits.

A few raptors can be seen dashing amongst the trees including possibilities of cuckoo falcon, little sparrowhawk and Ovambo sparrowhawk. We will also make a concerted effort to locate other specials such as collared flycatcher, Mashona hyliota, brown-backed and green-backed honeybirds to mention a few.

Late arrival dinner and overnight at our B&B accommodation in Harare.

Day 7: Last minute birding and back home!!

This morning we will bird Monavale Vlei where Black Coucal, Croaking Cisticolas and Yellowmantled Widowbirds are common and Broad-tailed Warblers pop up occasionally. Orange-breasted Waxbills and Cuckoo Finch are often found in flocks. Pale-crowned Cisticola and Grey-rumped Swallows are ubiquitous whilst Corn Crakes, African Crakes and Marsh Owls may take a bit more work to see if the rains are late.

once we are done, and when required, we will transfer participants to Harare International Airport in good time for check in and departure flights back home.

End of services

© Andrew Linton
© Andrew Linton

Accommodation: Angwa Camp

We will be staying at a Campfire- Community run Camp set in the shade of Natal Mahogany trees and overlooking the Angwa River. Access is only possible by 4WD and the camp will be booked for the exclusive use of Africa Geographic Travel. There are three large thatched huts with bathrooms ( see images below) with en suite bathrooms and toilets, running cold water for showers and wash basins. Each A frame can accommodate two people in two separate beds, pillows, pillow cases, mattresses and sheets are provided. Please bring your own mosquito netting.

A separate kitchen complex and eating lapa will be available and used to cook all our meals. Cutlery, crockery and kitchen equipment for 10 guests is available. Africa Geographic will organise all food and drinks required for ours stay as well as a cook and kitchen hand to prepare and clean after all our meals. Drinking water will be supplied, cooking and cleaning water will be filtered water pumped from a nearby borehole. The huts, do not have solar powered lighting as yet. AGT will endeavour to procure candles and or paraffin lamps for the evening and early morning hours. However it is advisable to bring your own torches and lighting devices as well.

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accommodation

Additional Information

Climate: Temperatures in the Zambezi Valley during November can be high and hot. Expect cool morning and cooling afternoons, but temperatures will vary between (25C- 42C). Some rainfall could occur, however rain spells are generally afternoon affairs, normally short and loud but soon subsiding and kick-starting birding activity very efficiently.

Difficulty: This tour is not strenuous. There is a fair bit of driving involved on dirt and gravel roads.  Birding the woodlands and the valley is easy, even though a bit of heat may build up towards noon.

Price Includes:  All accommodation in Harare and at Angwa camp in the Zambezi Valley on a twin room sharing basis, all meals, soft drinks and beer, transport and fuel, access fees to all concessions and reserves visited. Two leaders, drivers and local guide fees. 24/7 office support.

Price Excludes:  International flights, spirits, wine, and branded alcoholic drinks, visas, items of personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, travel and medical insurance, tips, excess baggage charges, any activities not specified in the itinerary.

Booking and payment details.: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need to contact us for a booking form, which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc.  As our groups are small they fill up quickly.

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