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My Next Great Birding Adventure...

posted by Tim Avery at
on Monday, February 11, 2013 

Kenny Frisch's recent post about dream birding inspired me to post about my upcoming trip of a lifetime...

A little over a year ago when Sam and I were looking at places to go on vacation we decided on Peru. The birding, recognized by some as the best in the world, had nothing to do with the decision, but was an added bonus for me. In just 2 weeks I tallied over 300 species of bird. I had a professional birding guide for just 4 hours of the trip, and my stay in the Amazon although guided wasn't by bird guides. Looking back I felt that the number of birds I was able to see and hear on my own fitting birding in between tourist stops was a great success. I remember when I got my field guide for Peru and I thought there can be no better place in the world to look at birds, and what I will get to see in Peru will be top notch. And I would be lying if I didn't say that I felt it was top notch--but top notch as I have come to realize is far reaching. I missed out on the best birding Peru has to offer--that's a fact. Most of what I did was centered around tourist areas and not birding hot spots. This left we with two thoughts. One, is that I have to go back to Peru just to go birding. And two, Although Peru is definitely top notch, it has a companion at the top of the mountain.

Machu Picchu and Peru made for a top notch adventure

Shortly after we arrived back in Utah, we wondered what we could do next that could match what an excellent adventure Peru was. It was hard to imagine something on par with Machu Picchu. Sam was dead set on going to Europe--there is so much history and lots to see, but to be honest, Europe rings a bit boring to me--at least the northern portions. Don't judge. I wanted to go somewhere warmer, somewhere with lots of great outdoors, and wildlife. Something that could top Peru in that sense. Something like, Lions, and Elephants, and Ostrich--hell yeah! I had always wanted to go to Africa.

Lion by yaaaay

Now Africa wasn't Sam's first choice for sure--I would love to go spend a month in Tanzania or Kenya birding, but that wouldn't work for us. We needed to go somewhere with nice mix of the outdoors, nature, wildlife, culture, food, history, sightseeing, etc. Even with that there had to be something that Sam would really love to do. Sam had always told me she wanted to go to Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River and at the crossroads of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and that seemed like something I would enjoy.

Victoria Falls Photo by John Walker

I always wanted to go on Safari, and Sam love Elephants. Sam is fascinated and terrified by Great White Sharks--and Capetown, South Africa is known for its Great White Sharks. I like Penguins, and Capetown is known for its African Penguin colony. So we talked about it--what if we went to South Africa, via Paris, where we could spend a few days in between long haul flights? Sam would get some European culture, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. I would enjoy some pastries and tick off a handful of common French birds. Then we could go to Africa--and have a truly memorable adventure in one of the wildest places on Earth. She was sold.

Ostrich in Africa by Harvey Barrison

So this September we go to South Africa, where there will be Sharks, Penguins, Lions, Rhinos, Ostrich, Zebras, Giraffes, Flamingos, Bee-eaters, Hippos, Warthogs, Griffons, Buffalo, Sunbirds, and more. And we will end our trip at Victoria Falls, while it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest due to the amount of water that flows over it. A Great African Adventure, and a trip I have dreamt about since I was little--with a list of possible birds that make my brain spin.  I will have 500 species on my radar, but 25 of which I want to see more than any other. I'll introduce you to them in a few upcoming posts over the next few months--the Top 25 Species I want to see in South Africa.

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Blogger Oliver Hansen said...

Kilimanjaro is on my bucket list...I wouldn't mind a week long birding / Safari tour before or after climbing it. South Africa would be pretty spectacular. Also, my one day in Paris the Museum Worker's Union was on strike....no Louvre for me =(. I like the stopover idea. Good luck planning this one. Looking forward to seeing the top 25...how do you narrow it down!

February 11, 2013 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Oliver: Kilimanjaro would be amazing. Africa in general is pretty amazing. Luckily we have 3 days in Paris, so hopefully we can work around any issues that might arise.

As for the top 25, it was pretty difficult, I am still moving stuff around and changing some of the birds out. Stay tuned!

February 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Sounds just amazing! The African penguin is a target bird for me as well, and I have my fingers crossed that I just might have that target in my crosshairs this year. If not, I'll live vicariously through your adventures!

February 12, 2013 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger matthew pendleton said...

In 97 I did the safari thing for two weeks in Kenya and the rift valley. I have field guides to the birds of Kenya and a field guide to the animals as well. I studied and memorized all the animals before hand and a lot of the birds. Best adventure I have ever been on. I have amazing photographs and I added a ton of lifers in just a couple of weeks. You should hit that if you can.

February 12, 2013 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Melissa: African Penguins are amazing--although I prefer the name that the AOU currently uses, "Jackass Penguin", lol. Good luck with your target--I will share plenty of pictures so you can enjoy either way!

@Matthew: Sounds epic! I have always wanted to go to Tanzania just for birding, but I will take South Africa for now. One day though, I will make it to Kenya and Tanzania!

February 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Amy Haran said...

Africa is my dream destination--Zambia in particular--for both the birds and other wildlife. I have my lodges picked out. Now I just need to get my savings together and get it planned.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip and picking up some tips from you. (Your posts from Peru were hilarious. You really should be a travel writer.)

February 15, 2013 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Amy: Get to saving! Trip of a lifetime! I would love to travel full time and write about it... Too bad I'm not a millionaire!

February 20, 2013 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Jordan Hood said...

Africa is a great place to experience the heat of the sun! Though Sam’s first choice was to travel to Europe, I’m pretty glad that he still loved Africa. I bet you guys had a great time in your adventure in the wild and I think you can still go back there anytime. Well, maybe after you grant Sam’s desire to go to Europe.

-Jordan Hood-

May 10, 2013 at 9:33 AM  

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