Mwinilunga, North-West Zambia including West Lunga, Upper Zambezi and Upper Kafue Rivers

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For more information on the Tour click on the link :   North-West Birding Tour


North of Lusaka close to Mpongwe, the Kafue River flows past Lake Kashiba, in the Machiya-Fungulwe Game Management area, on its way south towards the Kafue National Park. This lake is an interesting sink hole and   Imanda Mushitu is located a few kilometres away. This area is a perfect introduction to Miombo birding, alongside Wet Evergreen Forest (Mushitu), giving you the opportunity to find a good selection of both waterbirds, Miombo specials and forest birds.

Lake Kashiba near Kafue Lodge – Photo : Rory McDougall

Below is an extract of some of the specials from the area list:

Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Wood Owl, Barred Owl (Ngami), Scops Owl, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Crowned Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Bateleur, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Black-breasted Snake Eagle, Ayre’s Hawk Eagle, African Harrier Hawk, African Marsh Harrier, African Goshawk, Little Sparrow Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, African Cuckoo Hawk, Bat Hawk,  Dark Chanting Goshawk, Saddle-Billed Stork, Rufus-Bellied Heron, Yellow Bellied Stork, Wooly-necked Stork, African Finfoot, Reed Cormorant, African Darter, Black Crowned Night Heron, Green-backed Heron,  Grey Heron, Hamerkop, Spur-winged goose, Yellow-billed Duck, Black Crake, African Jacana, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher  

African Stonechat, White-winged Black Tit, African Broadbill,  Grey-olive Greenbul, Cabanis’s Greenbul, Little Greenbul,  Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Schalow’s Turaco, Ross’s Turaco,     West African Thrush, Kurrichane Thrush, Amethyst Sunbird,  Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Collared Sunbird, White-bellied Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Shelley’ Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird,  Black-collared Barbet, Black-backed Barbet, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honeyguide, Eastern Least Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide,  White-crested Helmet-shrike, Retz’s Helmet-shrike, Eastern Black-headed Oriole, African Golden Oriole, Böhm’s Bee-eater, Bushveld Pipit, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Weaver, Arnott’s Chat, Miombo Tit, Rufus-bellied Tit, Miombo Blue-eared Starling, Splendid Glossy Starling, Bocage’s Akalat, White-browed Robin Chat, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Green Pigeon, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Tambourine Dove, Cinnamon Dove, Namaqua Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Turtle Dove, African Cuckoo, Red Chested Cuckoo, Green Wood-hoopoe, Crowned Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill,  Pale-billed Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Red-faced Mousebird, Speckled Mousebird,  Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Little–spotted Woodpecker, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Wagtail, African Pied Wagtail, Plain-backed Pipit, Buffy Pipit,.

Luapula Cisticola, Short-winged Cisticola, Laura’s Warbler, African Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Evergreen Forest Warbler, African Moustached Warbler, Grey Apalis, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Long-billed Crombec, Margaret’s Batis, Böhm’s Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Hyliota, Southern Black Flycatcher, Pale Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Grey Tit Flycatcher, Blue-mantled Flycatcher, African Yellow White-eye, Southern Fiscal, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Many Coloured Bush Shrike, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Black-backed Puffback, Tropical Boubou, Brubru, Marsh Tchagra, Fork-tailed Drongo, Square-tailed Drongo, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, White -breasted Cuckooshrike, Bar-winged Weaver, Yellow-throated Petronia, Red-headed Weaver, Golden Weaver, Village Weaver, Chestnut Mantled Sparrow-Weaver, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Black-winged Bishop, Black tailed Grey Waxbill, Red-throated Twinspot, Blue-billed Firefinch, Red-billed Firefinch, Bronze Mannikin,  Red-backed Mannikin, Magpie Mannikin, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Zebra Waxbill, Black-eared Seedeater, Bully Canary, Yellow-fronted Canary, Golden-breasted Bunting


There are currently over ten species of antelope including Sable, Eland; Kudu and The Plains Zebra.

On The Road To Mwinilunga

Road stops along the way in search of Red-throated Cliff Swallow, Black Saw-wing Bamboo Warbler* (very difficult unless called up) Black-faced Canary, Sharp-tailed Starling

Bridge stop – Photo : Paul Grobler


West Lunga River – Photo : Paul Grobler


In the most north-west corner of Zambia, near the borders of Angola and the Congo, this town has some extensive Miombo areas, but is heavily settled.  Travelling south, towards the Lukwakwa GMA, there is a very interesting ecotone – The Mavunda or The Cryptosepalum Forest on the West Lunga River. This extremely thick, short and spiky dry evergreen forest is characterised by the tree Cryptosepalum maraviense, with its own thicket understory.

This is the home of a few very special birds, such as Perrin’s Bush Shrike and Margarets Batis, it is also  the place where the only specimen of the tinkerbird which was found in 1964  (only one ever specimen of The White Chested Tinkerbird Pogoniulus makawi ) It is now believed by some to be an aberrant Golden Rumped Tinkerbird, but birders keep up the search.

North of Mwinilunga is the Chitunta Plain which is a “treeless water-logged grass plain” part of the Chitunta/Sakeji watershed  is home to Grimwood’s Longclaw, Angola Lark, Black-and-Rufous Swallow and Bocage’s Weaver.

The source of the Zambezi, is approximately 50km north of Mwinilunga, this Riverine swamp Forest follows the drainage line, surrounded by Miombo woodland. This  is a perfect  location for Grey–Winged Robin and Buff-throated Apalis.

Just before the Zambezi River enters Angola, about 50km away are the Zambezi Rapids which is the seasonal home to Forbes’ Plover and Cassin’s Grey Fly-catcher on the granitic mounds surrounding the area.


Black-collared Bulbul, Angola Lark, Forbes Plover, Grimwood’s Longclaw, Bocage’s Weaver, Black-and-rufous swallow, Laura’s Woodland Warbler, Perrin’s Bush-Shrike, Margaret’s Batis, Bar-Winged Weaver,  Bannerman’s Sunbird, Anchieta’s Sunbird, Bates’ Sunbird, Grey-winged Robin Chat,   Black-necked Eremomela, Casim’s Fly-catcher, Black-tailed Cisticola  (Dambo Cisticola), Bamboo Warbler, Ross’s Turaco, Anchieta’s Barbet,  Black-backed Barbet

In the remote “Jimbe Drainage” area, Brown-eared Woodpecker, Chestnut Wattle-eye and White-bellied Kingfisher can be located.

Below is an extract  of a few mouth-watering possibilities from the list in these areas based on their habitat.


Chitunta Plain – Photo : Paul Grobler

                                                                        Chitunta Plain has a very rich Grassland Avifauna

African Cuckoo Hawk, Denham’s Bustard, Angola Lark, Blue-breasted Bee-eater (White-cheeked), Hartlaub’s Babbler,  Black-Tailed  Cisticola (Dambo Cisticola), Grimwood’s Longclaw, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Short-tailed Pipit, Fulleborn’s longclaw, Stout Cisticola, Lesser Black-backed Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Bocage’s Weaver, Locust Finch, Black-chinned Quailfinch, Blue Quail, Kurrichane Buttonquail, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Great Snipe, Lesser Jacana, Sharp-tailed Starling, Black-and-Rufous Swallow, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Angola Swallow, Natal Nightjar, Sooty Chat, Red-throated Wryneck

LUAKERA FOREST (mature Miombo)

Luakera Forest – Photo : Paul Grobler


Spotted Creeper, White-browed Scrub Robin, Grey-backed Camaroptera, African Dusky Flycatcher, Mosque Swallow, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Black-necked Eremomela, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Groundscraper Thrush, Black Saw-wing, Red-Capped Crombec, Pallid Honeyguide, European Bee-eater, Red-necked Falcon, Grey-headed Parrot, Meyer’s Parrot, Barred Owlet, Black Cuckooshrike, Whistling Cisticola, Green-capped Eremomela, Salvadori’s Eremomela, Bar-winged Weaver, Long-tailed Cisticola, Short-tailed Pipit, Red-chested Cuckoo, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo

Travelling south of Mwinilunga town is the :

LUKWAKWA GMA  (Forest ) / MAYAU (plain)

Consists of Cryptosephalum Forest. A spiny deciduous forest


Perrin’s (Gorgeous) Bush-shrike, Margaret’s Batis, Crested Guinea Fowl (sub-species kathleenae), Bar-winged Weaver, Red-capped Crombec, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Western Least Honyguide

Search for the White-breasted Tinkerbird  !!!!!


North of Mwinilunga town is the Nkwaji / Hillwood region.   The Jimbe Drainage area is north of Hillwood on the Congo Border .

( Note: Acess to “The Jimbe Drainage” is not always possible on a structured tour)

Due North and North East of Mwinilunga Town, is Nchila Wildlife Conservation Area (Hillwood Farm) and Nkwaji Farm respectively. This fascinating area, which is in fact part of the Guineo-Congolian Forest zone, is home to a host of bird species, including Central African specials which are not found anywhere else in Zambia due to the particular habitat. Open Dambos & Mushitu are characteristic of the area, with some good Miombo, where annual rainfall exceeds 1250 millimeters.


Marsh Owl, Grass Owl, Palmnut Vulture, Fülleborn’s Longclaw, Rosey-breasted Longclaw, White Bellied Bustard, Denham’s Bustard, Corncrake, African Crake, Great Snipe, Swamp Nightjar, Blue-breasted bee-eater (White-cheeked), Little Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Ross’s Turaco, Angola Lark, Flappet Lark, Red-capped Lark, Angola Lark, Flappet Lark, Red-capped Lark, Grey-winged Robin Chat, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Afep Pigeon, Western Bronze Naped Pigeon, Black-collared Bulbul, Bannerman’s Sunbird, Bate’s Sunbird, Orange-tufted Sunbird, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Little Grebe, Woolley-necked Stork, Lanner Falcon, African Wattled Lapwing, Splendid Glossy Starling, Tambourine Dove.

Bamboo Warbler, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Spotted Thrush Babbler (rare), Whistling Cisticola, Dambo Cisticola, Stout Cisticola, Broad-tailed Warbler, Moustached Grass Warbler,  Laura’s Woodland Warbler, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Buff Throated Apalis, White-chinned Prinia,           Blue-spotted Wood Dove, African Emerald Cuckoo, Thick-billed Cuckoo,  Banded Martin, Red-breasted Swallow, Common House Martin, Woodland Pipit, Short-tailed Pipit, Sooty Chat, West African Thrush, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Fawn Breasted Waxbill, Black-tailed Grey Waxbill, Red-backed Mannikin, Black-throated Canary, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Green Malkoha, Fraser’s Rufous Ant-Thrush, Anchieta’s Tchagra, Western Honeyguide, Pallid Honeyguide, Honeyguide Greenbul, Little Greenbul, Cabanis’s Greenbul, White Spotted Flufftail (Wet season only), Red Throated Wryneck, Narina Trogon, African Pygmy Kingfisher,  Blue-breasted Kingfisher,  African Broadbill, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Red-headed Quelea, Hartlaub’s Marsh Widow-bird, Locust finch, Black-chinned Quailfinch


Source of the Zambezi River - Photo : Paul Grobler

Source of the Zambezi – Photo : Paul Grobler

The Source of the Zambezi is right on the Congo Border  Congo Entry Point                      Photo : Paul Grobler


Palm-nut Vulture, Afep Pigeon, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Splendid Glossy Starling, Violet-backed Starling, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Bates’s Sunbird, Coppery Sunbird, Miombo Double-collared Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Bannerman’s Sunbird, Violet-backed Sunbird, Many-coloured Bush Shrike, Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, Sousa’s Shrike,  Anchieta’s Barbet (possible), Red-capped Robin Chat, Grey-winged Robin, Spotted Creeper, Golden Rumped Tinkerbird, Rufous-bellied Tit, White-winged Black Tit, Miombo Grey Tit, Bohm’s Flycatcher, Lead-coloured Flycatcher (Grey-tit / Fan-tailed Flycatcher), Sooty Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Southern Black Flycatcher, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Paradise Flycatcher, Blue-mantled Flycatcher, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Grey Apalis, Buff-throated Apalis, White-chinned Prinia, Whisling Cisticola, Short-winged Cisticola, Long-tailed Neddicky, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Southern Hyliota, Red Capped Crombec, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black-colared Eremomela, Green-capped Eremomela, Bamboo Warbler, Laura’s Woodland Warbler, Black-faced Canary, Black-eared Seedeater, Striped-breasted Seedeater (Reichard’s), Red-capped Lark, Dark-backed Weaver, Golden-breasted Bunting, Cabanis’s Bunting, Common Waxbill, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Black-tailed Grey Waxbill, Blue-billed Firefinch, Orange-winged Pytilia.

Source of the Zambezi – Photo : Paul Grobler


Zambezi Rapids – Photo : Rory McDougall

This is the first hydro-electric scheme on the Upper Zambezi River, only recently installed in 2007, the river drops over a series of rock-falls, as the river makes it way towards the Angolan border.

The riverine area is bordered by open miombo


Forbes’s Plover, Anchieta’s Barbet (possible), Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Red-capped Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting


The Copperbelt region has large tracts of Miombo woodland, South of Ndola, offers exciting Miombo specials in stands of mature Miombo and some Waterbirds

This area gives the opportunity to fill in the gaps in the Miombo bird list

This privately owned woodland game ranch – Nsobe  –  boasts of some lovely little Dams and fish ponds, which attract birds such as the Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Fish Eagle, along with waders, Ibis and various Kingfishers.

Wildlife has been re introduced to this Game ranch, making this a very special location, and Blue Duiker can be located.

With a birding list of  330 plus species, including some exciting specials such as

Marabou Stork, Hooded Vulture, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Wood owl, African Fish Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Ayres’ Hawk Eagle, Osprey, Dickenson’s Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon, Blue Quail, Denham’s Bustard, Coqui Francolin, Temminck’s Courser, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, White-Breasted Cormorant, Coppery-Tailed Coucal, White-browed Coucal, African Black Coucal, Hadeda Ibis, Comb Duck, Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, Blue Spotted Wood Dove, Green Pigeon, Ross’s Turaco, Schalow’s Turaco, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Emerald Cuckoo, Anchieta’s Barbet, Baillon’s Crake, Red-chested Flufftail, Purple Gallinule, Allens’ Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, Common Moorhen, Lesser Jacana, Painted Snipe, Three-banded Plover, GreenshankRuff, Curlew Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Woodsandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Little Stint, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Lake Tern, Pale Billed Hornbill, Giant Kingfisher, Miombo Scrub Robin (Central Bearded), Cabanis’s bunting, Miombo Rock Thrush, Chestnut-backed  Sparrow Weaver, Bar-winged Weaver, Grey-Olive Greenbul, Red–throated Twinspot, Square Tailed Drongo, Arnot’s Chat, Sooty Chat, Little Rush Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Chirping Cisticola, Pin–tailed Whydah, Brown Firefinch


Chisamba area is 40km north of Lusaka, which is one of the prime areas for locating Zambia’s only true endemic the Zambian Barbet (Chaplin’s) this commercial farming region provides relative stability to the population.


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