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Birder Friendly tour operators

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Being a Birder Friendly tour operator

Tour operators are required to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for 'Birder Friendly' status:

  • The Operator and its Guides must be fully accredited tour operators/guides.
  • The Operator should be able to provide BirdLife Travel with itineraries for promotional purposes at local and international Trade Shows.
  • The Operator must commit to the use and support of BirdLife South Africa's "Birder-friendly" accommodation suppliers where ever possible.
  • The Operator must commit to the support of Community Bird Guides where possible.
  • The Operator must commit to practicing responsible tourism ethics.
The benefits

For an annual subscription of R1 200 (South African members) or R1 770 (non-South African members), BirdLife South Africa is committed to offering Tour Operators of the Birder Friendly scheme the following benefits:

  • Bot tuineA listing on the BirdLife South Africa website
  • Use of the 'Birder Friendly' logo and branding on marketing materials
  • Marketing at selected local and international trade shows
  • The opportunity to market products through the monthly e-newsletter
  • Listing of special offers on the BirdLife South Africa website and in the monthly e-newsletter
  • Marketing of selected itineraries through the BirdLife South Africa website
  • BirdLife South Africa membership, which includes:
  • Six issues of African BirdLife magazine
  • BirdLife South Africa supporters' card
  • BirdLife South Africa supporters' sticker
  • Invitations to BirdLife South Africa talks and events
Birder Friendly Application Process

Please send an email to to request the application form.

Other valuable documents:

For more information on how to register as a 'Birder Friendly Tour Operator", please contact Natasja Retief on +27 (0)84 815 5765 (mobile) or

Birder Friendly registered tour operators (listed alphabetically)

Absolute Birding


Absolute Birding Safaris and Tours – we are a small specialist birding company that puts our clients’ needs first. We cater for twitchers, listers or just the casual birder. We offer standard tours for groups or specialised tours custom crafted to our client’s specific needs. We prefer smaller groups so that we can give our clients individual attention. Check out our comprehensive website for additional info.

“It’s all about the birds !”

We offer a variety of options :

  • Birding to anywhere in South Africa.
  • Game reserve guided tours.
  • Namaqua spring flowers trips.
  • Pelagic trips including whale watching.
  • Historical trips with emphasis on military history.
  • Photographic safaris.

Contact Details

Sean de Nobrega

Address : PO Box 51565, West Beach, Cape Town, 7449, South Africa
Tel : +27 (0)82 490 9204
E-mail :
Website :


Birding Africa

logo birding-africaBirding Africa is a bird tour operator specialising in leading professionally guided bird tours for groups and private individuals to countries throughout Africa and Madagascar. We customise 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.

In addition we offer guided tours and self-drive birding holidays in Southern Africa, and guided birding day trips from most of the main city centres. We are based in Cape Town and therefore focus on guided day trips on the Cape Peninusla, Hottentots Holland and West Coast National Park and 2-day loops to the Tanqua Karoo and Overberg.

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.

Choose Birding Africa: 2500 bird species, 20 endemic bird families, the world record for bird species seen in a day and the most exhilarating primate and mammal watching on earth. We are bird guide authors and conservationists living in Africa, drawn together by a common passion: sharing our enthusiasm for Africa's birds with the world.

Contact DetailsGHANA PicathartesCCohen

Marje Hemp
Operations Manager: Southern Africa

Callan Cohen
Managing Director

Address: 4 Crassula Way, Pinelands 7405
Tel: +27 (0)21 531 9148 or +27 (0)21 531 6405.
Fax: +27 (0)86 734 5761
Mobile: +27 (0)83 256 0491
Read our Blog at:

Birding Ecotours


Birding Ecotours specializes in Small Group birding adventures world-wide. Typically, our maximum group size is 6 people in countries with primarily forest birding, or 8 people in more open countries where the birds are easier to see.

We like to do things differently. Our team is constantly innovating. For example, we offer some unique tours, including Bird Sound Recording tours, Owls of the World® Tours, tough mammal tours and more. We lead the way in the birding tour industry.

What is one of our typical birding tours like? Our main focus is of course on finding the important birds (especially the endemics and specials). Our trip lists are top-notch (we do encourage you to look at our trip lists and compare them with those of other companies). However, we understand that birding tours can be tiring, so we prefer to add a day or two, rather than to knock ourselves completely out by rushing all the way through. This gives us back-up-time in case some birds don't cooperate as expected, and also gives time to stop for mammals and other interesting things along the way.

We also run a lot of Birding Photo Tours, which need a different approach to a typical birding tour – more space in the vehicles for camera gear, the correct pace to get photos (not just visuals), angling the vehicle correctly (when not on foot) and loads of other considerations are important here.

We have three offices, one in the USA (headed up by Mike Nelson), another in Peru (led by Eduardo Ormaeche), and the final one in South Africa (with Chris Lotz and several others based there). Our Peru office is a real asset, with Eduardo and team being able to offer very high quality birding tours at competitive prices throughout the neo-tropical region, including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Central America and the Caribbean. Our US office is weakened by the fact that Mike spends a lot of his time in Africa and Asia! Overall, we have an extremely strong presence in Australia, Africa, South America, North America, Europe and Asia, and we sometimes arrange cruises to Antarctica and the Arctic.

We're always happy to arrange a custom trip, in addition to our wide array of Small Group set-departure trips. We can run any of our advertised tours any time by request. And, if you send us a wish-list, we'll revert to you with a custom itinerary fast – our team loves the challenge of finding difficult birds including flufftails, owls and other elusive species.

If you contact us, you'll find that we're spectacularly enthusiastic, and highly efficient at e-mailing detailed information to you. It's our contagious enthusiasm for birding, and the natural world as a whole, that spurs us on to give the outstanding service that might be surprising to you. Ask us a question and we'll answer you with gusto.

Please e-mail if you want to be added to our mailing list or if you have any questions about birding or of course about specific tours. And peruse our website,

Contact Details

Nadia Brooks

Mobile: +27 (0)72 211 9863
Fax: +27 (0)21 592 7438

Birds & Beyond

to logo-birds and beyond

Join Stuart McLean on a birding trip up the majestic Sani Pass, the only road to Lesotho from KwaZulu-Natal or visit the mistbelt grasslands and forests. Stuart is a Nature Conservator and spent time working in the Zululand game reserves. During this time he completed a bird ringing course ans was involved with the Caspian Tern and Grey Headed Gull studies at Lake St. Lucia. After farming for 12 years, Stuart qualified as a tour guide and has been guiding for the last 10 years. During this time he completed a rock art course, adding a new dimension to his tours.

Stuart is a passionate naturalist and offers natural history tours in the Southern Drakensberg area.

  • Birding up Sani Pass: All day trip up the Sani Pass in a 4x4 looking for Drakensberg Rockjumper, Sentinel Rockthrush, Drakensberg Siskin, Bush Blackcap and Mountain Pipit.
  • Mistbelt Tour: A half day to Bulwer - Hella Hella to spot Cape Parrots and the Blue Swallows.
  • Bushman Painting Hikes: A 5-6 hour hike into the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park to view the bushman paintings.
  • Game Drives: 1-2 hour drive on a private game farm to enjoy eland, zebra, red hartebeest and reedbuck in a beautiful setting.

Contact Details

Stuart Mclean

Address: PO Box 38, HIMEVILLE, Drakensberg, 3256
Tel: +27 (0)33 702 1761
Mobile: +27 (0)82 742 6981

Cape Eco-Tours


Cape Eco-Tours is a small, but dynamic tour operator based in Cape Town. We offer private and personalized tours designed specifically to suit the needs and interests of each individual client. We guarantee value for money tours with personal attention on all trips.

Trips to any destination in South Africa will be customized to include any one or more of the following:

  • Bird watching (whether you are a relaxed birder or a 'twitcher')
  • Botanical rambles (Fynbos, spring flowers etc)
  • Ecological walks and drives
  • Scenic country drives
  • Wine tours and tasting
  • Whale watching
  • Tours customised for keen to serious photographers

For Birding and Botanising in the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State, KZN & Gauteng

Contact Details

Mariana Delport

Tel: +27 (0)21 919 2282
Fax: +27 (0)86 698 8390
Mobile: +27 (0)82 460 4847

Cape Town Pelagics


See up to 10000 seabirds of 25 species on Cape Town Pelagics' seabird trips from Cape Town and Durban. Cape Town Pelagics is run on a non-profit basis and over the last 8 years, we've donated over R 60,000.00 to Albatross research and conservation. One of the projects we've supported recently has been Birdlife International's Save the Albatross Campaign, of which the Albatross Task force is a part.

We're glad that through our pelagic trips we've been able to play our small role in helping to save Albatrosses, not only by direct donations, but also by raising awareness (for example for the Leap School Bird Club) and providing an opportunity for people to see Albatrosses and becoming inspired for conservation. We also take out Albatross researchers for free on research trips. See trip schedules and reports on our website and blog.

Through our sister company, Birding Africa, we can also organise any of your land-based birding needs, such as accommodation, transport and expert guides.

Contact DetailsCTP Trawler12Feb2012 JonH

Callan Cohen
Managing Director

Address: 4 Crassula Way, Pinelands 7405
Tel: +27 (0)21 531 9148 or +27 (0)21 531 6405.
Fax: +27 (0)86 734 5761
Mobile: +27 (0)83 256 0491

Read our Blog at:

Lawson's Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris

Lawsons Logo - final res

Lawson's Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris started out in 1990 with some of the first dedicated birding safaris to South Africa, in the process pioneering some of the now popular routes and stakeouts. Since then we've grown into a specialised birding and wildlife safari company, offering first-class birding and wildlife trips to a range of countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. Our range of set-departures caters to both the casual birder and the more enthusiastic 'lister', as well as the general natural history enthusiast. For those who prefer not to join groups, or who have specific travel requirements, we are also the custom-safari specialists. Either way, we'll use our extensive knowledge and experience to create a fun, rewarding and memorable African experience for you.

Lawson's safaris comprise:

  • small groups of up to 12 participants (safaris for larger groups or private tours are available on request)
  • knowledgeable and experienced professional leaders
  • excellent accommodation with birds and wildlife on the doorstep
  • incredible wildlife destinations
  • comprehensive itineraries and species checklists

Take a look at our set-departure safaris or contact us to put together a custom-made itinerary to suit your needs, interests and budget.

We look forward to setting up the trip of a lifetime for you and to meeting you here on African soil!

"You'll want to return to Africa with us time and time again!"

Contact Details

Mavourneen Pearce

Address: PO Box 16849, West Acres, Nelspruit, 1211, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)13 741 2458
Fax: +27 (0)13 741 3689