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Victoria Falls offers a variety of birding habitats and opportunities including the Rain forest next to the Falls itself, the Zambezi river, the gorges below the Falls, the woodland around the various hotels and the Zambezi National Park. Most of this area has large populations of Elephant and Buffalo as well as Lion and great care must be taken when walking in the woodland around the village. Over 470 species of birds are possible in the Victoria Falls area, with many being sought-after specials.

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Specials

Schalow's Turaco, Brown Firefinch, Collared Palm-Thrush, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Grey-headed Parrot, White-crowned Lapwing, Long-toed Lapwing, Racket-tailed Roller, Taita Falcon, Augur Buzzard, Red-necked Falcon, Bat Hawk, Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah, Orange-winged Pytilia, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow.

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Habitats

Riverine woodland along the Zambezi River, with sandbanks, rocks and rapids, fringing reedbeds, cliffs and gorges, teak and mopane woodland away from the river, and the Chamabonda Vlei in the south of the Zambezi National Park..

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Facilities

A network of access roads, walking trails, boat trips on the river, and a full range of accommodation from hotels to camping.

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Birding

1. Schalow's Turaco occurs in the Rain forest and along the river, but is difficult to find. Trumpeter Hornbill fly over the Falls calling loudly and African Black Swift and Rock Martin are common in the gorges. To get to the actual falls and the surrounding rain forest, take the main road through the town to the Zimbabwe/Zambia border. The entrance to the falls and rain forest are on the left side, about 500 meters before the customs and immigration offices. Within the rain forest there is a network of paved pathways to follow, offering birding opportunities and various vantage points to view the falls.

2. The river walk from the Big tree towards Elephant Hills Hotel can be very rewarding. Early morning is the best time to find Collared Palm-Thrush along the river as it calls from the tops of the palms. Bearded Scrub-Robin, Collared Sunbird and Brown Firefinch are thicket species that can be seen here. African Skimmer (April to December only) and Rock Pratincole (July to December only) are two specials to look for along this stretch of the river. Goliath Heron, Black Heron, Little Egret and Great Egret feed in the pools. Also look out for Half-collared Kingfisher. To find the Big Tree, take Parkway Drive heading toward the Elephant Hills Hotel from town, turn right as you pass Nyathi Campsite (after 1km) into Zambezi Drive and travel approximately 600 m where the Big Tree is on the right. You can park your vehicle there (Tourism Police normally on duty) and walk to the river where you can find a footpath and choose to go upstream for 2 km or downstream to the falls for 1.5 km

3. One of the best ways to bird along the Zambezi is by boat and specialised birding outings can be booked with several local operators. The boat guides know the best places to find African Finfoot and White-backed Night-Heron, as well as African Skimmer and Rock Pratincole. Other species to look out for on a boat trip include Rufous-bellied Heron, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Grey-headed Parrot, White-crowned Lapwing and Long-toed Lapwing and Osprey. To arrange a boat, contact Discover Safaris (details below).

4. The 3rd gorge viewpoints provide opportunity to view a number of raptors, and perhaps even a Taita Falcon. The birds used to breed in this area, but are no longer reported regularly. However Verreaux's Eagle, Augur Buzzard, and Peregrine Falcon can still be seen in the gorges close to the Falls.

To get to the 3rd gorge and viewpoints, leave the Victoria Falls Hotel looking toward the railway station, turn left away from town and follow the railway line for 200 meters until you get to a dirt track on the left. Follow this track until you get to the overhead power lines, then follow under these lines for approximately 500 meters down to the gorge and select a viewpoint. The best time of the day to do this is late in the afternoon. Keep an eye out for buffalo.

For more reliable opportunities to see Taita Falcon, contact Discover Safaris (details below).

5. The Zambezi National Park offers an excellent stretch of riverine woodland as well as teak and mopane woodland away from the river, but in the dry season in particular this can be this can be extensively damaged by the very large Elephant population. Nevertheless many of the above mentioned birds can be seen along the river. Other species to look out for include Red-necked Falcon, Bat Hawk, Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah, Orange-winged Pytilia and African Pygmy-Goose. There are two entrances to the Zambezi national Park. The main entrance is 6 km from town at the end of Parkway Drive, just past the crocodile farm. Use this entrance to access the riverine habitat. One can drive upstream for about forty kilometres. Along this route, there are 25 picnic sites and several fishing camps. There are a number of loop roads that venture inland through mopane and teak woodlands – four-wheel drive is a must.

To get to the second entrance, take the road to Bulawayo for four kilometres and just before the Masuwe River bridge, turn right onto a dirt road sign-posted Zambezi National Park. You will find the entrance to the Chamabonda game viewing vlei on the right after two kilometres. This drive follows the vlei for approximately 25 km, with a good chance to see Kori Bustard and Denham’s Bustard after early rains. The Zambezi National Park is open from 06:00 hrs until 18:00 hrs throughout the year, but the park may close during the rainy season (November to the end of March) due to impassable roads.

6. Racket-tailed Roller occurs in the teak woodland on the edge of the Village. The best place to look is between 1km to 2 km along the Kazungula Road, around the Victoria Falls Primary School. They can often be seen feeding in the school’s car park.

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General

By road Victoria Falls is 440km from Bulawayo, 760km from Beit Bridge and 875km from Harare. Regular air services are available from Harare to Victoria Falls.

A wide range of accommodation facilities is available in the area including chalets in the National Park and camping in town. There are several self catering and bed & breakfast facilities in the village as well as medium-budget and luxury hotels. Activities available to visitors include daily game/birding drives and walking safaris into the National Park as well as canoe trips down the river, which can also be good for birding.

The chalet accommodation in the Victoria Falls National Park is modest but attractively situated along the banks of the Zambezi river. Each chalet is fairly private and has a 'corridor' cut through the bush to the river bank. Contact National Parks Central Reservations tel+263-4-706077 or 706078, fax+263-4-726089 or 724914. e-mail .

Zimbabwe Parks Website

Camp sites are available along the river bank between town and the entrance to Victoria Falls National Park. There are two campsites currently operating – one is the Rest Camp situated right in the middle of town and the second is the Nyathi Campsite 1km from town on Parkway Drive, heading west.

Bird Guiding
For birding tours, game drives and boat tours, contact Discover Safaris Tel: + 263 13 45821 Cell: + 263 11 209 144, email: .





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