Although relatively small, Malawi has a large bird list of around 650 recorded species, thanks to its geographical diversity and position in south-central Africa, where the southern African and central African bird communities converge. Although poor in terms of endemics, with only one true endemic, the Yellow-throated Apalis, Malawi’s mountain and plateaus offer good chances of seeing some of Central Africa’s range-restricted and difficult to access montane specials. Moreover, the biologically rich sub-tropical lowlands offer bulk to be combined with the specials of the highlands to create an unforgettable African birding experience.
In birding terms, Malawi can be divided into Northern and Southern regions.
Northern Malawi, the region north of Lilongwe, includes the bulk of Malawi’s prime birding spots. These include the highlands such as Nyika Plateau, Viphya Plateau and Misuku Hills, as well as prime lowland regions such as Vwaza Marsh and Kasungu National Park and the important forests of Dzalanyama. Most tours will kick off from Lilongwe and head north to explore these rich birding areas before heading back to Lilongwe for a stopover before tackling the south of the country, or vice versa.
Significant Birding Spots: Dzalanyama Forest Reserve; Viphya Plateau; Kasungu National Park; Nyika National park; Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve; Misuku Hills.
A few significant species: White-winged Babbling Starling; Olive-headed Weaver; Shelly’s Sunbird; Orange-winged Pytilia; Souza’s Shrike; Lesser Seedcracker; Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl; Stierling’s Woodpecker; Rwenzori Nightjar; White-chested Alethe; African Hill Babbler; Bertrand’s Weaver; Ludwig’s Double-collared Sunbird; Blue Swallow; Wattled Crane; Olive-flanked Robin Chat; Mountain Illiadopsis; Oriole Finch.
Malawi south of Lilongwe encompasses a smaller area than the north but, as with the northern section of the country, it also holds much in the way of diversity both physical and biological. Heading southwards from Lilongwe one will reach the southern end of Lake Malawi and the regional city of Blantyre as one heads down towards the Zambezi River not far across the border in neighboring Mozambique.
Significant Birding Spots: Mount Soche; Mount Thyolo; Mount Mulanje; Zomba Plateau; Lengwe National Park; Liwonde National Park.
A few significant species: Thylo Alethe; Green-headed Oriole; White-winged Apalis; Yellow-throated Apalis; Malawi Batis; Bar-tailed Trogon; Brown-breasted Barbet; Southern Citril; Spotted Ground Thrush; Southern Mountain Greenbul; Speckle-throated Woodpecker.