Bird Safari Board Game

Southern Africa birding in a box

Review by Johan Rothmann – 18 March 2020

I have reviewed several birding books in the past. Always with the hope in the back of my mind, that my direct family, children and grand-children, will also improve their birding knowledge by reading these books. With the review of the Bird Safari Board Game, I know they will - and they will have real fun in doing so.

Bird Safari is a simple board game played by two or more teams of two people.

Like most board games, the goal is to move your pawn (in this case a small 4x4 toy vehicle) by the throw of a dice along a start-to-finish path filled with landing circles. The first team that reaches the finish line is the winner.

Along the way, teams have to identify birds that are depicted with high quality photos on 300 different cards, each representing one bird from Southern Africa. Three types of identification are possible, depending on what type of circle you land on the start-to-finish path:
1. Identify by looking at the photo of the bird
2. Identify according to the description of the bird from your team mate
3. Identify by listening to the bird sound played by your teammate from a smartphone app (not included in the game).

The bird cards are categorised into 4 levels: level 1 is for novices and includes birds such as Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Hadeda Ibis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape Crow. Level 4 is aimed at more experienced birders and includes birds such as Karoo Korhaan, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Thrush Nightingale, Sand Martin, Caspian Plover. You can decide to play the game with a specific level only, or you can mix all levels together.
The bird names are in both English and Afrikaans on the back of the bird cards, correctly according to BirdLife South Africa’s Checklist of Birds in South Africa. Threatened and endemic species are indicated with a special mark on the front of the card.

There are two types of landing circles with a twist-in-the-tale as can be expected from most board games: landing on a circle with a group of people icon, means all teams compete to identify the same bird as quickly as possible. Landing on a circle with a tent icon, means no bird needs to be identified, but rather your position on the start-to-finish path is advanced or reversed.
The game itself is simple and flexible. It allows you to adjust the rules to suit the participants. For example: decide how scientifically correct the answers must be; should answers be in both English and Afrikaans; award points based on the level of the bird card; are team members allowed to consult a bird guide book; and so on.
The goal of the game is to improve knowledge of birds for all participants in a fun way. I saw the enthusiasm of my family members when they played the game, and witnessed the improvement in their bird knowledge.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the game: the 300 birds on the cards are not all that easy. It may take a while before the winners reach the finish line. You only advance with correct answers.
Highly recommended for beginners from age 8 to 80+, but also a fun way for twitchers to showcase their birding knowledge with like-minded friends. It is a chance for family and friends to have a fun time while learning about Southern Africa’s most beautiful birds.

Bird Safari is endorsed by BirdLife South Africa and a portion of the price is going towards bird conservation.
An interesting aspect of the board game is how it originated. A 14-year old girl was so inspired by the movie “The Big Year” in which birders accepted a personal challenge to identify as many bird species as possible by sight or sound in one calendar year, that she started her own Big Year with her South African friends and family. After the excitement of their Big Year, the children, some still in primary school, decided to put their bird knowledge and energy into the making of this board game in the hope that more people will also be inspired to become birders. The children played a major role in the planning and development of the game.
The game can be ordered from the Bird Safari website:
It will be dispatched from Pretoria and the delivery will be an additional cost.

For people in the Gauteng area, the game is also available at BirdLife South Africa’s “Shop for the Birds” in Johannesburg:

At the time of writing this review, plans are in progress to make it available through, one of South Africa’s leading e-commerce retailers:

Contents inside the square carton box:
One game board; 300 bird cards; six 4x4 pawns; one dice; English and Afrikaans rules leaflet; two card holders.

Contact details:
Bird Safari website:
Watch review video on Youtube at:

Price at the time of this review (March 2020): R499 including VAT