Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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I recently read an article providing tips for prospective safari goers in Africa. One of those tips was do not overlook the birds. Being a passionate birder, I did not need this tip, but others definitely do. I had been in Africa for almost a month and done safaris in Etosha and Kruger. I had seen some incredible birds, but both of those parks are a little dry, especially Etosha. With  a floodplain and a river as the main geographical feature, I hoped the birds in Chobe National Park would be just as cool as the big five.

Birds in Chobe National Park sacred ibis

Beautiful sacred ibis in Chobe National Park

Tell your guide you want to see birds in Chobe National Park

One reason why the tip about not forgetting about the birds is an important one has to do with your guides. You need to make sure they do not forget about the birds either. Most guides think that everyone is interested in the big five (lions, leopards, Cape buffalo, rhino, and elephant), so it is important to let your guides know that you also like birds. They will make an effort to point out birds that they may have passed by. I was really amazed and impressed by how knowledgeable all the guides I had in all the parks knew about the birds. They were happy to share this knowledge with their guests.

African fish eagle

Just as we were leaving the pier to start our tour, we experienced a fly over from this African fish eagle

Birdwatching enhances the safari and does not take away from the Big Five

If you think that if you bring this up you might annoy other guests who do not care about birds, I would not worry about this. The guides will show you birds, but not at the expense of seeing what everyone really is here for. During a safari, when hunting the big five, there is a lot of time between sightings, so birdwatching is a great way to fill those moments instead of just aimlessly driving around looking for the next lion. I think the other guests were happy that I told my guide I wanted to see birds as they seemed as enthused about seeing birds and knowing their names.

Chobe River tour

Our tour guide taking us out on the Chobe River

Boat tour gets you close to the birds in Chobe National Park

We boarded a boat in Kasane and started our Chobe National Park tour on the Chobe River. Immediately we saw elephants, hippos, Cape buffalo, and Nile crocodiles. We went from animal to animal and when we had enough pictures and time with these amazing animals, our tour operator slash boat captain began to make stops for birds. He did not have to go far as they were everywhere. An Africa fish eagle soared overhead, an African spoonbill was feeding amongst the elephants and Cape buffalo. Storks, herons, egrets, darters, geese, and kingfishers were just everywhere. We just drifted along the bank and out guide was point and name out the ever growing list of species.

Pied kingfisher

Beautiful Pied kingfishers along the Chobe River

Kingfishers take center stage

There was an island that had an impressive number of pied kingfishers. We probably saw 20 kingfishers flying everywhere along this stretch. Usually, kingfishers are extremely difficult to photograph, but they posed beautifully for us on the small trees along the shore. I asked our guide if the park featured any other kingfishers besides pied, and he said they also have malachite kingfishers. This last sentence is a literary technique known as foreshadowing.

Marabou stork Chobe

Marabou stork closes out my Ugly Five

Closing out my Ugly Five

I had learned from guides in Kruger National Park that besides the Big Five, there was also the Ugly Five. The Ugly Five consists of the warthog, wildebeest, hyena, vulture, and marabou stork. The only species missing from my Ugly Five was the marabou stork. When our guide pointed and said “marabou stork,” I was filled with a sense of ugliness. I was over uglied. What is the expression one uses when he is so happy to see so much ugliness. I am not sure, but I was pleased to have my Ugly Five stamp.

Roseatte spoonbill Florida Everglades

Roseatte spoonbill along the route to Flamingo

African spoonbill Chobe National Park

African spoonbill spooning the Chobe River bottom

African spoonbill is my second spooner

One of my favorite U.S. birds is the roseatte spoonbill. I have seen several during trips to the Everglades, other Florida rivers, and the Okefenokee Swamp. I was excited and hopeful to get a second spoonbill on my list because we all need more spooning. Chobe did not disappoint as we saw several Africa spoonbills.

Malachite kingfisher Botswana

Malachite Kingfisher Botswana

Malachite kingfisher is the perfect way to end the trip

I spent two days in Chobe with an overnight camping trip. The tour consisted of a boat trip in the morning and safari drives in the afternoon and evening. We then had a campfire, dinner, wine, and a leopard almost join our camp. The next day we did the same itinerary in reverse without the leopard. We enjoyed breakfast, had a morning safari drive, and finished with a boat tour on the Chobe River. Our guide was actually preparing to back up and go full speed back to pier, when he pointed and said malachite kingfisher. It was the perfect way to end our Chobe National Park adventure,

Birds in Chobe National Park photo gallery

Enough of my idle chit chat. Below is a photo gallery of the amazing birds in Chobe. You might also like this account of our guided trip which includes many of the Big Five and other African animals.

Related: Peeing with leopards in Chobe National Park

yellow-billed stork Botswana

Yellow-billed stork along the Chobe River

black winged stilt Chobe National Park

Birds in Chobe National Park – Black-winged stilt

Birds in Chobe National Park black winged stilt

Crazy legs of a black-winged stilt

African jacana Chobe National Park

African jacana – Birds in Chobe National Park

African jacana Birds in Chobe National Park

African jacana

Gray heron Chobe National Park

Gray heron

Great white egret Chobe National Park

Birds in Chobe National Park – Great white egret

Cattle egret hippo

Cattle egret hoping a ride on an uber hippo

African darter Chobe National Park

African darter – Birds in Chobe National Park

African darter Botswana

African darter

African openbill stork Birds in Chobe National Park

African openbill stork

white-breasted cormorant Botswana

White-breasted cormorant

African fish eagle Botswana

African fish eagle poses on the shore

African fish eagle Botswana

African fish eagle pondering take off

Squacco heron Birds in Chobe National Park

Squacco heron – Birds in Chobe National Park

Long-toed plover Botswana

Long-toed plover – Chobe National Park

White-faced whistling duck

White-faced whistling duck

African skimmer

African skimmer

Birds in Chobe National Park – inland species

lilac breasted roller Chobe

Beautiful lilac breasted roller

Swainson's spur fowl Chobe National Park

I love the patter of the feathers on this red-billed spurfowl

Crowned lapwing Chobe National Park

Crowned lapwing – Birds in Chobe National Park

Kori bustard Botswana

Kori bustard – the world’s largest flying bird

Swainson's spurfowl Chobe National Park

Swainson’s spurfowl

Capped wheatear Chobe

Capped wheatear – Chobe National Park

Birds in Chobe National Park little bee-eater

Little bee-eater – Birds in Chobe National Park

White-browed sparrow-weaver birds in Chobe National Park

White-browed sparrow-weaver – Birds in Chobe National Park

Southern red-billed hornbill Chobe National Park

Southern red-billed hornbill

Chobe National Park raptor

Unknown raptor – Perhaps a dark chanting goshawk?

Blue waxbill birds in Chobe National Park

Blue-waxbill – Chobe National Park

Cape wagtail Botswana

Cape wagtail – Chobe National Park

I booked this tour in Chobe National Park through Victoria Falls backpackers.

Adventure on!