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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2018 (81) > 10 spots for BIRDERS

10 spots for BIRDERS

For a relatively small country, Malawi harbours some impressive avian riches. Dominic Couzens reveals the best places to go
Malawi is rich in waterbirds. A greenbacked heron feeds along the shore of Lake Malawi

Malawi is a small country that punches well above its weight as a birdwatching destination. Part of the reason is the sheer, delightful practicality: distances are manageable, there is some excellent accommodation, the people are famously friendly, it is very safe and, above all, it has eclectic birdlife. The country is like a supermarket. While many of the species are well-known brands, throughout the store are a range of very rare and localised specials that are as easily available as the more routine fare. The specials are found in all the main habitats, but particularly the evergreen forest in the far north and south. With more than 650 species found in a country half the size of the UK, the possibilities for birding are many. However, here are the best sites:

1 Senga Bay

Lake Malawi is about 580km long from north to south, so it seems only appropriate to include at least one spot on its shores. The best for birds is probably Senga Bay, just to the east of Lilongwe and easily reached. The scarce Böhm’s bee-eater is arguably the highlight, but in a nearby marshland the uncommon rufous-bellied heron occurs, along with occasional ducks such as the white-backed duck and African pygmy goose (yes, it’s a duck). Otherwise, there is a decent range of typical species and, of course, you can enjoy seeing the lake’s truly incredible variety of fish while snorkelling.

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