From Condors to birds of paradise and puffins to penguins, the best bird watching vacation destinations in the world will leave you breathless. If you want to put together a bird watching vacation careful planning is a must. You should choose where you want to go based on the species of birds you want to sight. Proper planning will give you the ability to choose the most interesting birding spots in the world. You should also base your decision on the time of year you plan on taking a vacation. If during the migratory season you may miss out on, or catch a glimpse of birds you didn’t expect to sight.

For birding, timing is everything. Do your research, take advantage of online resources that can point you in the right direction and recommend places and times of year to make your visit and keep your budget in mind. With some careful planning and a little research, you can put together the type of bird watching vacation the whole family will enjoy.

Below, you’ll find an extensive list of the top destinations spots for birding found all over the world. These destinations offer a variety of hundreds of different birding species ranging from raptors to songbirds to tropical birds. These amazing birding destinations will allow you to check off the rarest birds on your list and give you the opportunity to enjoy sighting some of the rarest birds in the world.

Costa Rica

Welcome to a tropical paradise that’s home to hundreds of species of tropical birds. But aside from your birding adventure, you’ll love the warm tropical weather, amazing food, and local culture.

Toucan sitting

It’s no secret that Costa Rica is famous with birdwatchers. This country has nature reserves and hundreds of species that inhabit them. Because of this, it’s easy to find and sight beautiful birds wherever you go. You’ll catch sight of beautiful hummingbirds, toucans, and parrots. The Wilson botanical gardens is one of the top places to spot the rarest birds and it’s located in the south of Costa Rica with more than 300 bird species recorded. Here, you’ll sight trogons and motmots. Antarctica

In Antarctica, you will find South Georgia island, which is home to one of the largest penguin colonies in the world. There are very few places that are able to rival the massive numbers that inhabit South Georgia. King penguins are found here by the hundreds of thousands, milling around on St. Andrews Bay. Here they create one of the most iconic bird-watching sites in the southern hemisphere.

You can literally walk among them, which makes this one of the most magical once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the avid birder. While the king penguin is the main draw here there are still millions of other species of birds that can be spotted including the albatross in addition to sea birds and gulls. You’ll also get a peek at other species of penguins including gentoo, chinstrap, and macaroni.

Peru

The Andeon Condor is considered one of the world’s largest species of birds that is able to fly. It has a wingspan that measures in at 3 feet. While this species is endangered and elusive, it can still be sighted in Peru where it chooses to stay in mostly coastal or mountainous areas. In these places, they can use the wind in order to remain in the air. This species of condor is also known to inhabit a few different countries, but Peru is by far the most popular for sightings. Visitors are almost guaranteed to catch a side of these rare birds flying through the valley especially in Cruz Del Condor, a local birding hotspot.

South Africa

Kruger National Park is considered one of the most popular and top wildlife destinations in the world. It’s located in South Africa and features a diverse range of bird species. To date, there are over 200 migrant species that will arrive here between November and March, when the rain begins to fall and plants start to flourish. Birders will want to keep an eye out for the big six, which is the name that has been given to the six most popular sightings at Kruger National Park. This includes the southern ground hornbill, saddle billed stork, pel’s fishing owl, lappet-faced vulture, the martial eagle, and the kori bustard. Australia’s birds are very easy to sight, with the exception of the fishing owl which can be very tricky because it is nocturnal. To learn more click here to view my nocturnal birds list.

Iceland

From March to September every year, the Atlantic puffin will migrate from the sea to shore to form a breeding Colony. Over 50% of the world’s population of puffins will choose Iceland for the spring and summer months, turning Iceland into a major birding hotspot.

Norfolk, UK

If you’re heading to Britain for some birding, then you won’t find a better place than Norfolk. The dunes and marshlands here tend to attract a wide variety of species all year long including rare birds such as the marsh Harrier. You’ll also find no shortage of the top bird reserves in this area.

Kenya

Flamingos
Flamingos near Bogoria Lake, Kenya

Flamingos are some of the most colorful, graceful, and beautiful birds in the world and most of them call Kenya their home.

If you’ve ever seen a photograph of a flamingo, then there’s a big possibility that it was taken in Rift Valley in Kenya. Kenya is home to over four million flamingos that stick around for most of the year. Richie Valli is an area that’s recognized as one of the most important foraging sights for these birds.

The flamingos move from lake to lake and graze for food found in the shallow waters. One of the biggest spectacles is watching a large flock launch into the air. These are among the most magnificent birds to sight on the planet

New Guinea

In Papau New Guinea you’ll see some of the most unique birds of paradise on the planet. There is a wide variety of curious-looking and colorful birds found here that will take your breath away. The best time of year is usually the dry season between May and November. But you’ll be sure to sight some rare and colorful birds any time of the year.

The nation’s national bird, the raggiana is one of the most famous species in the country. Like many other birds of paradise that called this country their home, the raggiana features beautiful vivid plumage in addition to an impressive courtship dance.

Colombia

Columbia is considered one of the most progressive countries in the world featuring almost 2,000 species. Because of the vast population of exotic birds, Columbia is quickly attracting the attention of avid birders who are eager to win a big year bird award for the most birds sighted in a year. To learn more click here to read my article on big year birding rules.

Guatemala

From the pheasant cuckoo to the little blue heron and the Acer crowned hummingbird, this country features over 700 exotic bird species. The highlands of Scenic Lake at Atitlan offer the perfect place for birds to roost. The region that surrounds the lake is a protected national park which makes it a great place to roost. Here you’ll catch a glimpse of the pink-headed warbler and the endangered Azura rumped tanager.

Mexico

Mexico offers the most biodiverse regions for birds to call home. Fortunately, Mexico’s government has carefully planned local tourist development with conservation in mind. Because of this, you can enjoy all the comforts of home and set out on a lavish wilderness adventure sighting hundreds of different bird species and vast stretches of preserves.

Bhutan

Eurasian nuthatch
Eurasian nuthatch sitting on a branch

This country is located in the eastern Himalayas. Unlike other countries that you will find in the Himalaya, Bhutan features large areas of protected forests which is where many bird species have thrived. The forests are diverse and rich high in the mountains, but you’ll find subtropical forests at the foot of the hills. In the forests, you’ll find species of birds that are considered critically endangered, such as the nuthatch and the rufous-necked hornbill, in addition to the emerald cuckoos. Sightings of the chestnut breasted partridge also make this a birdwatching hotspot. Higher up at the peak of the mountain you’ll find the hoary-throated barwing, the ward’s trogons, and Blyth’s tragopan.

The Gambia

The Gambia River in Gambia flows through the heart of the country and is lined with beautiful mangrove trees where you can spot terns and pelicans. You can also sight more elusive species including Pel’s fishing owl, and the African blue flycatcher. Coco National Park is the country’s first natural reserve and it features a rich diverse species of birds. With over 300 species that inhabit it, you’ll catch sight of weaver birds, Kingfishers, paradise flycatchers, purple glossy starlings, and yellow-breasted apalis.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is another one of Africa’s birding hotspots and it features over 800 species of birds. Over 20 of the species are endemic, such as the yellow fronted parrot, Hardwood’s francolin, and the blue-winged goose. Located in southeast Ethiopia are the Bale mountains which are formed out of volcanic rock. These mountains are dissected by streams and rivers that have cut severe gorges over millions of years. This has resulted in wide variety of stunning waterfalls. These mountains are home to several species of birds that you won’t find anywhere else. This includes the Abyssinian longclaw and the black-headed siskin. You’ll also find birds of prey including the lanner and kestrel falcons, and the Eastern Imperial Eagle.

The Harina Forest is situated in the south of the Bale Mountains National Park. It’s considered one of the few remaining forests in this country where you can find that colorful sunbird and yellow-bellied swee. They’re also wetlands that can be found in the park that are home to the northern shovelers, African black ducks, and the Egyptian goose.

A journey to the veil Mountains will allow you to enjoy the rich culture and history in addition to Ethiopia’s natural beauty.

North America

There are no shortage of amazing birding destinations in North America, however the two mentioned below are among the most popular and widely visited.

The Aleutian Islands

In North America, you’ll find the Aleutian islands, which is home to over 40 million birds during the summer months. These islands include 14 large volcanic islands. Unalaska is home to a variety of kittiwakes, guillemots, and puffins, in addition to the whiskered auklet. There are also a variety of songbirds found here including snow buntings and red poles, in addition to the American Dipper.

Yellowstone National Park, U.S.

The Northern American Bald Eagle is an unmissable sight for any avid birder. One of the most iconic places to capture a view of one of these majestic birds happens to be Yellowstone National Park. Here, you’ll find over 20 nests within the boundaries of the park. When you’re trying to glimpse one of these nests make sure you head toward the lakes and rivers. Bald eagles tend to primarily feed on fish and will make their nests close to bodies of water in order to easily find them. Bald eagles can easily be identified by their white tails and heads as well as their large dark brown bodies.

bearded vulture
The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), also known as the lammergeier

Spain

Aside from the breath-taking sights and mouth-watering food, Spain is also considered the birdwatcher’s paradise.

Spain is Europe’s second-largest country and it offers a hugely diverse landscape. Because of the varied habitats found throughout the country you’ll find an impressive range of bird species. You can find lammergeiers flying over mountain ranges, or little and great bustards exploring unending plains. You can also catch glimpses of storks and migrating raptors or large flocks of flamingos making their way across the coastal salt pan.

There’s no doubt that there are a large variety of colorful and exotic bird species that can be seen on other continents including South America or Asia, however, there are still many popular locations in Spain where you can sight a variety of tropical birds.

Andalusia is an important bird watching hotspot that’s home to thousands of birds as they migrated between Africa and Europe with impressive flocks of Raptors and storks including honey buzzards, and white storks.

Making your way to the Fuente de Piedra salt Lagoon will make your trip here complete. This place is famous for its colony of flamingos. It’s also home to Red Crested pochards, black-winged stilts, and avocets.

India

Nicobar Islands is a picturesque islands that are situated in the Bay of Bengal. They consist of 572 Islands in total and because of their isolated population, these islands are home to several species of endemic birds. Unfortunately, these islands are currently off-limits to tourists due to the tribal population that has no contact with the outside world. Because of this, a bird-watching expedition would only be able to take part on some of the Andaman Islands.

A tropical evergreen forest located near Port Blair called Mount Harriet National Park is the big hot spot of these islands and it’s home to a total of 7 threatened species such as the Andaman drongo, Andaman cracked and the wood pigeon. Here you’ll also have a chance to spot some beautiful sunbirds, parakeets, and Kingfishers.

Located in the south of Mount Harriet National Park is Sippighat. Here you’ll find many water and wading birds. These birds include the white-bellied sea eagle, and Amon Hawk Owl, and the Oriental scops-owl.

The Perfect Trip

If you play your cards right, bring along the right gear like Vortex Optics Glasspak, which is considered the best binocular harness, on the market, make a list of where you want to go and ensure the birds you want to sight will be in the area at the time you make your trip, you can enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed my extensive guide on the best bird watching vacation destinations. If you have your heart set on traveling abroad then each of these places feature several species of birds, in addition to beautiful scenery interesting cultures and tons of scenic beauty to explore. If you don’t want to travel abroad and want to enjoy a birdwatching adventure close to home then click here to read my guide on the best bird-watching destinations in the USA.

Before you plan your trip, do your research and take into consideration what types of birds you’re hoping to sight. Compile a list of your choices and put in the time to research which birds each country has to offer in order to get the most out of your next vacation. With the right planning and good timing, you’ll be able to get the most out of your next vacation and enjoy the bird watching experience of a lifetime.