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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Birdwatching

Some 500 species of bird have been recorded in Eswatini (Swaziland). This puts it roughly on a par with France (517) or, more locally, the Kruger National Park (505), and is a remarkable tally for such a tiny, landlocked country. According to the Southern African Birdfinder, 21% of the 150 most sought after Southern African birds can be found in the country. These high numbers come from its diversity of habitats, with several very different bird communities occurring side-by-side. For sheer number of species, the lowveld is the richest region, with Hlane or Mlawula easily offering up to 100 species in a day to a keen birder – especially during summer, when all the migrants are around. You can also find the highest density of nesting white back vultures in Africa in the Hlane Royal National Park. The highveld has fewer species but is home to many rarities that are more elusive elsewhere. Malolotja is one of the top birding destinations in southern Africa.

Eswatini is home to 52 southern African endemics and is one of the only breeding sites for the blue swallow, one of Africa’s rarest breeding birds. Other A-listers for keen birders include the narina trogon, southern bald ibis, pink-throated twinspot and crowned eagle. For non-birders the most popular is the purple-crested turaco – the royal national emblem (ligwalagwala) and very pretty.

The best birdwatching is to be had in the protected reserves, sanctuaries and national parks, where the natural habitats are better preserved. But, of course, the birds are not confined to reserves and can be seen throughout the country. Hotspots & highlights include the following:

MalolotjaHighveld specials: blue swallow, southern bald ibis, malachite sunbird, gurney’s sugarbird, ground woodpecker, crowned eagle

PhophonyaneMiddlveld and forest birds: narina trogon, African wood owl, red-breasted sparrowhawk, crowned eagle, pink-throated twinspot, Eastern nicator,

HlaneLowveld birds and raptors: white-backed vulture, marabou stork, bateleur eagle

MbuluziLowveld birds and waterbirds: white-backed vulture, bateleur eagle, African finfoot

MlawulaLowveld birds and Lubombo specials: vultures, raptors, waterbirds, African Broadbill

MkhayaLowveld birds: crested guineafowl, narina trogon, purple-crested turaco, pink-throated twinspot

Mahamba Gorge:  Highveld specials: Southern bald ibis, Verreaux’s eagle

MlilwaneMiddleveld birds and waterbirds: Verreaux’s eagle, purple-crested turaco, white-fronted bee-eater, waterbirds

NiselaBroad selection of lowveld birds and waterbirds

Dombeya:  Lower-middleveld transition area with savannah grassland favourite for pink-throated twin spot, yellow-throated longclaw, black-chested snake eagle

You can find out more information about the different species of birds that live in Eswatini on the ENTC website. The list provides a full and comprehensive database of all the birds you can see, as well as more specific databases covering the different areas. There is also a range of images, as well as more specific maps of Eswatini showing the exact locations in which the species can be found.

Places offering Birdwatching
A privately run game reserve with two luxury lodges north east of Manzini.
A picturesque and privately owned nature reserve.
Eswatini's most exclusive safari retreat. Home to 4 of the big 5 including Black Rhino.
One of a kind in Eswatini, with lush fairways, luxury accommodation and an array of activities.
Stunning scenery surrounds this settlement with a royal past, holding a special meet between King Sobhuza II and King George VI.
A picturesque rocky valley with Eswatini's first church, and the furthest settlement in the South West.
An untouched wilderness ready to be explored, along with community run accommodation.
One of Swaziland’s earliest colonial settlements, and today offers a handful of accommodation options for travellers.
Set at the top of the Lubambos, this reserve is home to the Shewula Mountain Camp.
A wild reserve waiting to be discovered with a great biodiversity on offer.
Privately owned reserve with plentiful giraffe offering walking and cycling tours
A wild and beautiful landscape, with rare flora and fauna found nowhere else in Eswatini.
This project is made up of 4 of Eswatini's nature reserves teeming with flora and fauna.
Eswatini's largest protected park with 4 of the Big 5.
A National Conservancy holding swaziland's largest collection of plants.
A town set among the Usuthu forestry plantations with beautiful scenery.
One of southern Africa's most impressive geological features.
One of Eswatini's highest peaks with a notorious history.
Best known nature reserve and Eswatini's birthplace of conservation.
Unspoilt woodlands with a traditional cultural village experience
One of the very best highland reserves in Southern Africa.
Large settlement in the North West with Swaziland's most scenic handicraft outlet.
A private nature reserve home to the tumbling Phophonyane River and Falls.
Eswatini's tourism hub with an abundance of hotels, lodges and activities
Similar Activities
The Big 5 can be found in Eswatini's game reserves, with rhino safaris one of the best in Africa.