Birding tours from Cape Town to Cameroon and Madagascar, with the only African Birding Specialist










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Mali Birding Tours

Mali offers an unusual combination of ancient history and productive birding in unique African landscapes. For those who like to regale their friends back home with stories of watching birds at the end of the earth, this is your chance.

Although its bird diversity may not rival that of equatorial countries, Mali has several alluring attributes. While our tour is very much bird-focussed, we will also be visiting some of the most famous cultural sites on the African continent.

Besides Timbuktu, you will see the unusual cliff villages built by the ancient Tellem, but now inhabited by the Dogon, after which the area is named. Add to this ancient cities along the languid Niger River, most notably Gao and Djenne with its impressive 13th century Mosque, the largest mud structure in the world.

From a birding perspective, Mali’s most notable species is its own endemic Mali Firefinch, which inhabits rocky areas in the Guinea woodland zone together with Stone Partridge, Fox Kestrel, Lavender Waxbill, Kemp’s Red-billed Hornbill, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Senegal Parrot, Western Grey Plantain-Eater, Bearded Barbet and Mocking Cliff-Chat.

The relative ease with which one can access the Sahel and Sahara may be Mali’s biggest draw card. Species seen on previous Birding Africa tours include Cream-coloured Courser, Desert Eagle Owl, Little Grey Woodpecker and Desert Lark .

Another focus is the Inner Niger Delta, with its many lakes. These, during the Boreal winter, attract tens to hundreds of thousands of wintering waterfowl, including thousands of Ferruginous Duck.

For more information on our Mali birding tour itineraries, please contact us.

Desert Eagle Owl on a Birding Africa Mali Tour © Callan Cohen,
Desert Eagle Owl on a Birding Africa Mali Tour © Callan Cohen

What participants say...

Please have a look at what participants say about our tours led by Callan Cohen ...

'Special thanks must be credited to Marje Hemp of Birding Africa who worked tirelessly in answering our many queries and requests and also to Callan Cohen for all the additional bird-finding help and advice so freely given; without Birding Africa's input the trip would surely not have been the smooth-running success which it turned out to be and we would urge anyone who follows in our footsteps to do so with the assistance of this first class company.' IM, Leicestershire

'Many thanks for such a comprehensive set of information... but then I'd expect nothing less after all of your previous hard work and attention to detail!

Tour Leader: Callan Cohen

Callan has had a life-long dedication to birds and founded Birding Africa when he was still a university student. Since then, he has led over 100 tours and expeditions to 23 African countries, both for Birding Africa and British and American bird tour companies. Callan has acted as a consultant for the BBC Natural History Unit and has even shown Bill Oddie some of the birds around Cape Town!

Callan has spent much of his life traveling to the remotest parts of Africa in search of birds, with his highlights being finding Congo Peafowl after 17 days on foot and canoe in Africa's largest rainforest, Warsangli Linnets in the Daalloo mountains of Somalia, and rediscovering Namuli Apalis in Mozambique, not seen since it was described to science in 1932.

He has co-authored two birding books, including the Southern African Birdfinder, a guide to finding over 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar (and was once the youngest person to have seen a landmark 800 species in southern Africa, a few years ago now!). Callan has served on the Birdlife South Africa Council as Chairman of the Cape Bird Club, and chaired the Western Cape Rarities Committee.

Callan is also a research associate of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, where he completed his doctorate on the evolution of African desert birds in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley. Some of his scientific publications are listed here. However, he's also a dedicated natural historian and has a passion for all things natural, including flora & trees, dragonflies, butterflies, mammals, frogs, reptiles, etc!

Bearded Barbet on a Birding Africa Mali Tour © Callan Cohen,

Bearded Barbet on a Birding Africa Mali Tour © Callan Cohen

Practical tour information

Focus For keen birders and mammal enthusiasts. Designed to see as many as possible endemic birds, but while on the walks we spend a lot of time looking for other aspects of wildlife such as mammals. We can also customise any itinerary to suit to the keen birder, the wildlife enthusiast or both.
Photography Many participants on our trips are amateur wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
Fitness No fitness is required. The few walks are generally in relatively flat areas with occasional small inclines.
Timing Please enquire.
Climate Warm to hot.
Comfort Basic to moderate comfort in local small hotes and guest houses.
Transport We travel by minibus or four wheel drive vehicle.
Group Size This depends on the specific tour. Please enquire.
Top birds Saharan and Sahelian birding; impressive numbers of Palaearctic migrants; the endemic Mali Firefinch; fascinating culture, including visits to Timbuktu, Dogon Country and Djenne.
Top mammals Please enquire.
Booking Your booking can be secured with a booking form and deposit of Euro 350. You will receive confirmation and our tour information pack with practical information on what to expect and how to prepare for the tour. The balance is due 3 months before the tour. Email us about availability.

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent. We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

For feedback from our guests, please see our Client Comments. Please also browse our Latest News and Trip Reports.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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[African Tailorbirding CC (CK2003/020710/23) trading as Birding Africa]
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