Trip report: Tanzania, Birding Among the Beasts (March 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken Behrens. A Tropical Birding set departure.

Northern Tanzania is a special place. There is no other country on the continent that comes closer to realizing the Africa of most people’s dreams and imaginations. Here are sweeping savannah landscapes, beautiful skies, seemingly endless herds of wildebeest and zebra, abundant big predators, and conspicuous and colorful birds aplenty. Actually there is even more here than the Africa of stereotypes… there is dry thornscrub full of jewel-like birds, lush montane forests tromped by African Buffalo and Elephants, and even fever tree woodland, like some absurd dream of a Nordic barbarian grown weary of snow and pine trees. If someone wanted to make one trip to Africa and really experience the essence of the continent, at least its best parts, I would have to recommend this tour.

This tour was a success by any measure. We racked up 458 species of birds and 52 mammals. The bird total is among the highest ever recorded on this itinerary. We saw all the possible Tanzanian endemics and near-endemics, plus other highlights that included Secretarybird, five species of Bustards, Schalow’s and Hartlaub’s Turacos, 43 species of raptors, 10 species of cisticola, Golden-winged and Tacazze Sunbirds, 28 members of the classically African weaver family, Gray-headed Silverbill, and four species of whydahs. Mammals were exceptional as well. There is no better place in Africa to experience its megafauna. There were 100s of 1000s of migrating Wildebeest, a whole range of antelope, African Elephants, Lions galore, amazing experiences with a family of Cheetahs, a gorgeous Leopard, and a superb night drive that featured Aardvark, White-tailed Mongoose, East African Springhare, and African Civet. Perhaps more important than anything else, we really soaked in this amazing part of Africa, savoring each sunset, each afternoon thunderstorm, and each brilliant dawn. It is a privilege simply to be alive in this part of the world!

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