Shamwari is home to a vast array of birdlife, ranging from great birds of prey to tiny feathered friends. Avid bird watchers are sure to enjoy one of their life’s most memorable birding experiences during a stay at our private game and nature reserve. Read on to learn more about the beautiful and rare birds of South Africa found at Shamwari.

Bird watchers visiting the Eastern Cape in South Africa are in for a treat. In fact, it is described as a ‘delight for the eyes and ears’ by the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency. The province boasts diverse environments that range from savannah, grasslands and semi-desert to succulent thicket, coastal thicket, fynbos (coastal) and forest. Because the Eastern Cape landscape is so varied, a myriad of bird species calls it home.

From the Wild Coast to Storms River Mouth and the Tsitsikamma Forest located on the edge of the Garden Route, birders are spoilt for choice when it comes to prime bird-watching locations in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. 

Shamwari Private Game Reserve forms part of a natural extension of the world-renowned Garden Route. It is one of the locations in both the Eastern and Southern Cape with the largest concentrations of wildlife. This is not only because our nature reserve includes five of South Africa’s seven biomes but also due to our commitment to conservation and rehabilitation.

One of our greatest conservation success stories as a game and nature reserve is the reintroduction of the red-billed oxpecker. It is a common sight on rhinos, buffalos and giraffes once more.


Bird Sightings in the Eastern Cape Game and Nature Reserve

Guests at Shamwari have been known to experience numerous bird sightings during their stay. The fact that our game and nature reserve boasts various bodies of water, spread out across the grounds, is one of the reasons why Shamwari is ideal for spotting numerous unique bird species. Our knowledgeable rangers/guides are well-versed about the host of bird species that call the reserve home and they are happy to share their insights with interested guests.

The birdlife on our game and nature reserve is positively teeming as there are over 275 different species that currently call Shamwari home. Passionate bird watchers and ornithologists will be blown away by the wealth of birds found in the reserve’s borders.

Some of the most popular bird species to see on our Eastern Cape reserve include:

  • Red-billed oxpecker – This bird species only make their home where animals that play host to their preferred prey (i.e. insects like ticks) are found.
  • Greater double-collared sunbird – These birds have a diet consisting primarily of nectar, which they draw up from a flower’s corolla tube using their long, curved bill.
  • Speckled mousebird – The speckled mousebird normally looks for food in the middle to the upper canopy and often in groups of between 5-20 birds.
  • African paradise flycatcher – During mating season, the males boast two extremely long, central tail streamer feathers. This is how the species got its name: from its resemblance to the birds-of-paradise.
  • Ant-eating chat – Ant-eating chats make their nests by excavating a tunnel, usually in the roof of an aardvark’s burrow, and then adding roots and dry grass.
  • African spoonbill – It’s easy to see where this long-legged, wading bird got its name: from its distinct, spoon-shaped bill.
  • Bokmakierie – This little feathered friend is named for its musical call, usually sung from the treetops or a bush.
  • Knysna turaco – A turaco is the only known bird species to contain both the pigment turacovaden and turacan: the true green pigment.
  • Olive bushshrike (ruddy form) – This species forms part of the shrike family: a group of species that prefer open woodlands and shrubs.
  • Secretary bird – Secretary birds get their name from their crest of long feathers, which resemble the quills used by office workers.
  • Hamerkop – Another bird with a pretty self-explanatory name, the hamerkop’s head shape bears some resemblance to a hammer, thanks to the long bill and crest at the back.
  • Pale chanting goshawk – Pale chanting goshawks are stunning, medium-sized birds of prey. During mating season, you’ll hear the species’ dulcet whistling calls.
  • Martial eagle – The Martial eagle holds the title of the largest African eagle and is an unbelievably powerful raptor.

Enjoy an exceptional Eastern Cape birding experience unlike any other by spoiling yourself to a luxurious holiday at Shamwari Private Game and Nature Reserve.


Birds, Game Drives and Guided Bush Walks in the Eastern Cape

For the best chance to spot a variety of birds and other wildlife native to the Eastern Cape, you’ll want to go on the two daily game drives, as well as a guided bush walk, during your stay at Shamwari. The game drives take place in the morning around sunrise and then again in the afternoon around sunset. Our game viewing vehicles are safe, comfortable and open, ensuring you get a good look at the reserve and wildlife.

Birders are encouraged to inform their ranger/guide about their particular interests before leaving on a game drive. As there is an abundance of special birds that call our game and nature reserve home, our skilled guides are familiar with their habits and habitats and will do their best to get you that desired sighting in the bird’s natural environment.

You can also go on a professionally guided bush walk to enjoy a more up close and personal encounter with nature. During a walking safari in South Africa and the Eastern Cape, you will gain a new perspective of a region’s fauna and flora. Our guides will point out the birds in the area, animal tracks and dung, while also educating you about the area’s rich history.


Pack in the Birding Essentials

Bird watching is such a tranquil activity, whether you’re appreciating our feathered friends while on a guided walk, from the back of your game viewing vehicle or as you relax on your balcony. To get the most from your birding in the Eastern Cape experience, we recommend that you bring along:

  • Bird reference book
  • Personal notebook
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras and lenses
  • Warm clothes


Experience Eastern Cape Birding at Its Finest

Shamwari Private Game Reserve and its lodgings are conveniently located just under an hour’s drive away from Port Elizabeth and within driving distance of various other fantastic birding sites in the Cape, such as the aforementioned Storms River Mouth, Wild Coast, Tsitsikamma Forest and Garden Route. Why not make a bird-watching trip out of it and stay a few nights at Shamwari along the way?

If you or a loved one is an avid animal and bird watcher with an appreciation for the finer things in life, be sure to book your stay at one of our luxurious accommodation options. As part of COVID-19 precautions, only some of our lodgings are available for the time being. These are Long Lee Manor, Sarili Private Lodge and from April 2021, Sindile.


Get in touch with the Shamwari Reservations Desk if you have any questions, queries or would like to make a reservation. We look forward to giving you a warm, South African welcome to the Eastern Cape.