• Overview
  • Trip Outline
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes

Southern Mozambique

12 day trip : 17 to 28 June 2023


This promises to be a truly memorable trip.

Our trip covers several birding hotspots from north of Maputo to the Save River and includes the Incomati and Limpopo River floodplains, the woodlands and wetlands surrounding Panda, the spectacular Dovela dunes, the mudflats of Vilanculos and the woodlands and wetlands near Inhassoro. This area boasts three of the most sought-after Mozambique “specials” ie Olive-headed Weaver, Crab Plover and Olive Bee-eater. Whilst a fourth special ie Green Tinkerbird, occurs throughout the year in suitable habitat, it is very difficult to locate outside of its breeding season (January to April).The rapidly dwindling area of miombo woodland, close to the town of Panda, is the only locality in Southern Africa where the Olive-headed Weaver has been seen since 1960. Crab Plover and Saunders’s Tern can be found in the sanctuary area of the San Sebastion Peninsula near Vilanculos.

In addition to these specials, we have the possibility of encountering three rare winter visitors  ie Mascarene Martin,  Malagasy Pond-Heron and Saunders’s Tern. 

Some previous visits have produced excellent sightings of the rare and elusive Eurasian Bittern, and our chances of encountering this very special bird are good if water levels in the floodplains are suitable.


The Destinations 


The Macaneta area lies in the Incomati River estuary in northern Maputo Bay, Southern Mozambique.

A total of nearly 300 species have been identified in the area, second only to the species count of Gorongosa National Park. Macaneta offers a very rich biodiversity with many interesting habitats in relatively small area, including beach, mangroves, estuary, tidal marshes, dune forest and grasslands.

The summer months see a huge influx of migrating birds from the northern hemisphere and Macaneta forms part of their travel route within Africa and from Madagascar. Flooded areas hold good numbers of migrant waders such as Common Whimbrel, Wood, Curlew and Common Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Ruff, Little Stint, Common Ringed, Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plovers.

The floodplain plays host to one of the largest concentrations of waterbirds in the region, including many specials not regularly seen elsewhere. In seasons of good rains, the floodplain becomes a vast tract of waterways, flooded dambos and extensive lush grasslands in amongst patches of cultivation.

Limpopo River floodplain

The Limpopo River floodplain has produced very exciting birding over the past few years. Huge flat areas of grassland, when flooded, provide very productive birding habitat. Coastal forests near the towns of Macia and Xai Xai hold numerous species normally associated with northern Kwa Zulu Natal. The surrounding areas consist of long, uninterrupted stretches of white sandy beaches, high primary sand dunes, coastal forests, inland flood plains, and numerous lakes and accompanying marshlands.


The town of Panda is a short way inland from the southern Mozambique coast, close to a relict and a dwindling patch of miombo woodland, which is presently the only site south of the Zambezi for a localised miombo specialist, the Olive-headed Weaver (Ploceus olivaceiceps).

The road from Inharrime to Panda provides some excellent birding, passing through extensive grassy wetland areas, palm savanna, and mixed acacia woodland.

Dovela dunes

Situated between the sea and an inland lake, the Dovela dunes are a diverse and unique environment. The inland lake is a habitat favoured by birds that can be spotted on foot, from the bird hides or from a canoe on the lagoon. The coastal forest is full of life: small mammals, birds, butterflies, insects, trees, and flowers. The beach is pristine and deserted and a rocky barrier forms a tidal pool where one can swim protected from the waves.

Terns and Crab Plovers
Terns and Crab Plovers

Our accommodation is nestled in a pristine coastal forest, 15 km north of Praia da Zavora and 90km south of Inhambane. Built on 80 hectares, the priority has been to combine the site’s beauty and calm to provide one with a peaceful and comfortable stay. The chalets are well spaced and have been integrated into the surrounding vegetation to preserve the ecosystem.


Some areas to the west of the EN 1 en route to Vilanculos include rather fragmented patches of coastal evergreen thicket, about five to six metres tall, with occasional taller emergent trees. These patches of forest are the remnants of what had been a more widespread habitat before being replaced by subsistence agriculture.


Roadside woodland birding

Situated on the San Sebastian Peninsula, the 30,000ha Sanctuary covers both the sea and land and incorporates the southernmost portion of the Bazaruto Archipelago. It is a biodiversity hotspot, incorporating many different types of habitat, including mangrove swamps, coral reefs, freshwater lakes, tidal mudflats, wetlands, estuary and coastal dunes.

The Sanctuary hosts some 300 bird species and provides safe breeding grounds for 5 marine turtle species and other marine life. It also boasts growing populations of large mammals, including Eland, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe and Sable Antelope.


The village of Inhassoro lies 50 km north of Vilanculos along the coast.

The surrounding area is dotted with a network of pretty lily-covered pans and the Govuro River runs north from Vilanculos, past Inhassoro, entering the sea at Bartholomew Diaz point.

Using Inhassoro as our base we explore the surrounding wetlands, woodlands and grasslands. Habitats vary from open savanna in the south, through baobab woodland, to dense woodland in the north.

Birding Attractions 

Incomati and Limpopo floodplains

Dickinson’s Kestrel, Rufous-bellied Heron, African Pygmy-Goose, Brown Scrub-Robin, Eastern Nicator, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Rudd’s Apalis, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Grey Waxbill, Grey Sunbird, Rufous-winged Cisticola.

Inharrime to Panda

Dickinson’s Kestrel, Eurasian Bittern (if pans are flooded), African Wood-Owl, Red-necked Spurfowl, Shelley’s Francolin, Rufous-bellied Heron, Lesser Jacana, Dwarf Bittern, Little Bittern, Eastern Nicator, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Rudd’s Apalis, Neergard’s Sunbird, Lemon-breasted Canary.

Panda woodlands

African Cuckoo Hawk, Olive-headed Weaver, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Southern Hyliota, Brown-backed Honeybird, Racket-tailed Roller, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Pale Batis, Red-faced Crombec, Grey Penduline-Tit.


African Hobby, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Livingstone’s Turaco, Eastern Nicator, Green Malkoha, Black-bellied Starling, Plain-backed Sunbird, Woodward’s Batis, Black-headed Apalis, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary.

Vilanculos and en route

Mottled Spinetail, Bohm’s Spinetail, Mosque Swallow,

Green Malkoha, Plain-backed Sunbird, Bar-tailed Godwit, Crab Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Lesser Crested Tern, Little Tern, Mangrove Kingfisher, Olive Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Magpie Mannikin, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Collared Palm-Thrush, Grey-Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Lemon-breasted Canary.

Inhassoro and surrounding areas

Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Olive Bee-eater, Grey-headed Parrot, Green Tinkerbird, Chestnut-fronted Helmet-Shrike, Livingstone’s Turaco, Green Malkoha, Green-capped Eremomela, Pale Batis, Red-winged Warbler, Magpie Mannikin, Lemon-breasted Canary.

This 12-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive Microbus.


Day 1

Date : June 17, 2023


Depart bright and early and enter Mozambique through Komatipoort border post.
Travel to Macaneta in the Incomati River estuary, arriving in the early afternoon.
Afternoon birding and overnight at Macaneta.

Day 2

Date : June 18, 2023


Early morning birding in wetlands around Macanetai.
Travel via Limpopo River floodplain to lodge near Chizavane.
Arrive at destination mid- afternoon and overnight.

Day 3

Date : June 19, 2023

Chizavane-Panda area

Early morning birding around lodge.
Depart after brunch.
Bird en route and arrive at destination mid-afternoon.
Overnight at lodge on the banks of the Inharrime River.

Day 4

Date : June 20, 2023

Panda area

Day spent birding in woodlands and wetlands.
Overnight at lodge.

Day 5

Date : June 21, 2023

Panda area

Another day spent birding in woodlands and wetlands.
Overnight at lodge.

Day 6

Date : June 22, 2023

Panda area-Dovela

Morning birding around camp.
Depart after brunch and head for Dovela.
Afternoon forest birding and overnight at Dunes de Dovela Lodge.

Day 7

Date : June 23, 2023


Day spent birding around Dovela.
Overnight at Dunes de Dovela Lodge.

Day 8

Date : June 24, 2023


Early morning birding around lodge.
Depart after breakfast for Inhassoro.
Rest of day spent birding en route.
Overnight at Inhassoro.

Day 9

Date : June 25, 2023


Days spent birding in woodlands and wetlands.
Overnight at Inhassoro.

Day 10

Date : June 26, 2023


Early morning birding around Inhassoro.
Depart after brunch for Vilanculos.
Afternoon birding and overnight at beachfront lodge in Vilanculos.

Day 11

Date : June 27, 2023


Boat trip to Sanctuary on San Sebastion Peninsula for day of birding.
Rest of day spent birding on San Sebastion Peninsula.
Overnight at Vilanculos.

Day 12

Date : June 28, 2023


Morning birding on intertidal flats and woodlands around Vilanculos.
Depart on early afternoon flight to Johannesburg.


Flight from Vilanculos to Johannesburg, ground transport, all meals and accommodation, guiding ,entrance fees and specified activities.


Alcoholic beverages, gratuities, and items of a personal nature.