Most specialist birding safaris use lodges, hotels or B&Bs as bases from which to explore areas of interest for the day, or days, usually by vehicle but sometimes on foot. The vehicles have space for telescopes, long lenses and other paraphernalia carried by birders. Usually these safaris cater for small groups but personal guides for one or two people are available.
There are also photographers who guide specialist birding safaris.
Some operators also make use of local guides not only to compliment the skills of the specialist guide but also to help employment in rural areas which are often very poor.
A wide range of safaris are on offer. Some may focus on species endemic to a certain country or habitat, others on raptors and still others on water birds.
Some safari tours will also attempt to ensure birders are treated to sightings of a particularly unusual species, perhaps the Shoebill in the Lake Bangweulu region in Central Zambia, the Taita falcons in Tazania’s Usamburu Mountains or perhaps the Madagascar Fish Eagle.
A number of operators in South Africa offer boat excursions that take birders out to sea off Cape Town to record pelagic species that seldom, if ever, come inshore. The region is particularly rich in birdlife during the winter (April – August) when many species move into warmer southern African waters to escape the Antarctic winter. A variety of albatrosses, petrels, skuas, terns and other oceanic species are regularly spotted. Most tours are day excursions but longer trips are also offered.