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










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Socotra Birding Tours

The iconic island of Socotra is a bucket-list destination for many nature and outdoor enthusiasts. With more than 10 endemic birds on offer, the island is of special interest to birders - although it's impressive landscapes and unusual plant life are the main draw-card.

We ran our first trip to Socotra in 2021, and a resounding success it was. We logged just over 100 species in the week, including numerous local rarities (vagrants), although seeing the endemics and local breeding species was our main mission. We enjoyed excellent views of all breeding land-birds, a feat which has probably never been achieved by a visiting birding group.

The eleven strict endemics - Socotra Buzzard, Scops Owl, Grey Shrike, Cisticola, Warbler, White-eye, Starling, Sunbird, Sparrow, Golden-winged Grosbeak and Bunting were the undoubted highlights. Special mention should also be made of the local population of Egyptian Vultures, Socotra is a very important stronghold for this declining species.

The pleasant weather, distinctive vegetation and varied and rugged mountain scenery make Socotra a fantastic destination for a short nature-focused trip

Featured Leader: Michael Mills

Michael Mills grew up "in the bush" in the Kalahari and Kruger National Parks where his parents were carnivore researchers. His incredible focus, dedication and ability to locate and show people Africa's toughest birds is probably unequalled on the continent.

Michael has led dozens of tours in Southern, East, Central, West and North Africa and his experience in locating birds on just the softest of calls or briefest of views impresses those who have travelled with him.

There is seldom a tour where Michael doesn't make an interesting discovery such as finding a new species for a country or record an undescribed bird call (and he has published these in the scientific literature).

Not only is Michael one of our principal leaders, but he also helps extensively with scouting and planning our most challenging itineraries.

2024 Tours

Tour name Dates in Country Days Leaflet Tour report
Socotra Island (BA2416)
19 - 26 March  8 Leaflet USD December 2021

2026 Tours

Tour name Dates in Country Days Leaflet Tour report
Socotra Island (BA2616)
17 - 24 March  8 Leaflet USD December 2021

Socotra Bunting Michael Mills

Socotra Scops Owl Michael Mills

Egyptian Vulture Michael Mills

Socotra Starling Michael Mills

Dragon's Blood Tree Michael Mills

Practical tour information

Focus Although this tour has a strong bird focus, the relatively low avian diversity means that there is plenty of time to look at the other interesting animal- and plant-life. The scenery is spectacular too, and there will be good chances for photography.
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 These tours require a moderate degree of fitness. Most walks will be easy and last no more than three hours. In some areas the terrain is steeper and rockier. Please note that we will be taking one pelagic trip, weather permitting.
Timing The tour is timed to coincide with the peak time for wildlife; spring, and the end of the rains. The weather will vary from warm to hot along the coast, to cooler in the highlands, with some rain expected.
Climate Hot in the lowlands, cool at night in the highlands.
Flights There is only one flight per week to Socotra that doesn't go through warn-torn Yemen, and that is a weekly flight from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. You should arrive in Abu Dhabi by the night before this flight, and can depart from the night of the return flight. Please note that the exact tour dates are currently preliminary, as they are linked to these weekly flights, and the firm dates for the flights will only be confirmed closer to the time.
Comfort We will stay in the same hotel each night of the tour, and do day trips to various parts of the island. Accommodation is of international standard, with private ablutions and air conditioning. Meals are more basic, with a strong seafood component. Please advise if you are vegetarian and what foods you enjoy, so that we can cater for you. Water is not safe to drink so we supply complimentary bottled water.
Transport We travel by minibus or four wheel drive vehicle.
Group Size Maximum 9 participants.
Top birds Socotra Buzzard, Scops Owl, Grey Shrike, Cisticola, Warbler, White-eye, Starling, Sunbird, Sparrow, Golden-winged Grosbeak and Bunting.
Booking Your booking can be secured with a booking form and deposit. 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 150 days before the tour. Contact us to enquire 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.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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