Birds of Namibia 13-Day Tour
Travel Style: Comfortable
Cost: US $3,500 ex flights per person
Single Occupancy: US $250
When: November 10 - 22, 2019
Where: Central & Northern Namibia
Length: 13 days, 12 nights
Physical Rating: Moderately active, walking, long days.
Right For: Adults with some birding experience.
Group Size: Maximum 6 guests
Accommodation: Comfortable lodges.
Why You Will Love This Trip
1. An amazing diversity of scene and species. Explore Namibia’s northern regions from the Namib desert to the Atlantic shoreline and through the amazing, lush tropical woodlands of the Caprivi strip.
2. Surprising drinking partners: The waterholes near our lodges are meccas for Lanner falcons and lions, ruffous-cheeked nightjars and rhinos, Verreaux’s eagle-owl and elephants and other feathered and furred species.
3. Extraordinary Endings: Recap your day’s sightings of elusive Namibian endemics and near-endemics by the unforgettable glow of an incomparable African sunset.
4. Tranquility Abounds: You have not seen Africa if you have not experienced Namibia. Enjoy scouting over 670 bird species in one of the continents most friendly, tranquil, and beautiful countries.
Is This Trip Right For Me ?
This is a birdwatching tour, that means early mornings and, in some areas, lots of walking or standing. This experience is best for (moderately) active adults with (some) birdwatching experience. Namibia is an “easy” country, peaceful, clean, and friendly. The days will be warm but nights cool off and there is little humidity. The country is suffering drought now, so water conservation is paramount, but that will also bring heavy activity at the water holes. Lodging is in comfortable lodges,
Your Guide: Marc Cronje
Note from the Destination: Wildlife Team: We met Marc many years ago when he guided for our first African safari. He quickly became a good friend.
We know few if any wildlife or birding guides that are equal to Marc Cronje. His enthusiasm and passion for wildlife is contagious. For Marc, sharing his beloved wildlife and their secrets with you is the best thing in life. A tour with Marc is an unforgettable treat not to be missed.
Marc’s life-long passion for wildlife developed as young boy in South Africa where his dad started the first chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa, Chimp Eden, now affiliated with the Jane Goodall Institute.
When Marc is not leading birding or wildlife safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, Madagascar, and worldwide, his lives in Nelspruit, South Africa where Kruger National Park is his second home. Marc has a Degree in Nature Conservation and is a THEATA/FGASA Level 2 Guide, he is also part of the Birdlife Lowveld Committee. He is actively involved in wildlife research and conservation projects.
Marc is also a keen wildlife photographer. Learn more about Marc in our interview.
DAY 1: ARRIVE WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA. (IF TIME PERMITS) BIRDING OUTSIDE THE CITY
Depending on what time your flight arrives at Windhoek International Airport we hope to spend a few hours birding around Avis just outside Windhoek. This great birding spot is known to produce sightings of Rockrunner, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Barred Wren-warbler, Rock Kestrel, White-tailed Shrike, Carp’s Black Tit, Bradfield’s Swift, Violet-eared Waxbill, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Acacia Pied Barbet, Southern Red Bishop, Orange River Francolin, Alpine Swift, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Cape Penduline tit, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Black-faced Waxbill.
Windhoek Guesthouse, Windhoek
DAY 2: Daan Vijioen Game Reserve and SWAKOPMUND
With an early start we will bird in Daan Viljoen Game Reserve not far from Windhoek where we hope to find Orange-river francolin, Long-billed Pipit, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Rockrunner, Damara Hornbill, Black Cuckoo, Diderick Cuckoo, White-backed Mousebird, Mountain Wheatear, Pririt Batis, Cape Penduline Tit, Red-headed Finch, Shaft-tailed Whydah, White-rumped Swift, Red-breasted and Greater Striped Swallow, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Ashy Tit, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and Black-throated Canary.
The reserve also contains good numbers of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Oryx, Springbok, Kudu, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Giraffe and Eland. We have even spotted Leopard here on a previous trip.
From here we make our way down the escarpment and across the desert plains keeping an eye out for Karoo Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, Tractrac Chat, Stark’s Lark, Lark-like Bunting, Ludwig’s Bustard, Black-chested Snake-eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, Greater Kestrel, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Common Ostrich.
We should arrive at our Guesthouse in Swakopmund by late afternoon and we will enjoy a well-deserved dinner in one of the well-known seafood restaurants in town.
Driftwood Guesthouse, Swakopmund
DAY 3: SWAKOPMUND AND WALVIS BAY
We will be up early as we spend the first few hours of the day in the Namib Desert looking for Namibia’s true endemic, the Dune Lark.
After enjoying the larks against the beautiful sand dunes as a background we will make our way to Walvis Bay to spend of the morning enjoying some of the best wader watching in Southern Africa. The tidal lagoon holds great numbers of Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Pied Avocet, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover, White-fronted Plover, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Swift Tern, Caspian tern and Black-necked Grebe. Common Ringed Plover, Chestnut-banded Plover, Ruff, Damara Tern, African Black Oystercatcher, Whimbrel and Black-winged Stilts are present in good numbers as well.
This area has produced a lot of rarities over the last few years including Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Terek Sandpiper, Pacific and American Golden Plovers and Pectoral Sandpiper.
After lunch, we will spend the afternoon around the salt works and gravel plains just north of Swakopmund looking to find Damara Tern, Gray’s Lark, Tractrac Chat and general shorebirds like Cape, Crested and White-breasted Cormorants, Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull. Orange River White-eye is fairly common in the town gardens and we will keep an eye open for them. We will again stay in the same guesthouse.
Driftwood Guesthouse, Swakopmund
DAYS 4: DAMARALAND
We will have an early start to ensure that we arrive at the Spitzkoppe Mountains around first light. Early morning is the best time to look for the most difficult to find of Namibia’s near-endemic birds, the Herero Chat. Other interesting birds that we can find around here include Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Korhaan, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Great Sparrow, Chat Flycatcher, White-tailed Shrike, Rock Kestrel, Bokmakierie, Cinnamon-breasted and Cape Bunting, Damara Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s Black Tit, Pale-winged Starling and White-throated Canary.
From here we will make our way to the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain. The surrounding plains are home to Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser, Ruppell’s Korhaan and Benguela Long-billed Lark.
We should arrive at our lodge situated on the Huab River by late afternoon and we will spend the next night here. We will be welcomed by Olive Bee-eater which nests around the lodge.
After dinner we will look for Southern White-faced Scops-owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Freckled and Rufous-cheeked Nightjars. The Desert-adapted Elephants of Damaraland often visit the water points and we might be lucky enough to encounter them during our stay in this beautiful part of the country.
Brandberg White Lady Lodge, Brandberg
DAY 5: ETOSHA SOUTH
This morning we will depart for Etosha National Park where will spend the next 2 nights. We will continue our journey to the park after breakfast. Depending on the amount of birding and game viewing along the way we plan to be in the park and Okaukuejo Resort, our lodge for the next 2 nights by mid-afternoon.
The resort area is a very productive birding spot and we hope to find African Pygmy Falcon, Acacia Pied Barbet, Barred Wren-warbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Long-billed Crombec, Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Rock Martin, Little Swift, Marico and Chat Flycatcher, Common House Martin, White-throated Canary, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Yellow-billed, Red-billed and African Grey Hornbills, Green-winged Pytilia, Bearded, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers. Lanner Falcon often hunts around the waterhole and there are huge Sociable Weaver nests all over.
The floodlit waterhole at the edge of the camp is very productive at night, both in terms of birds and other wildlife. Double-banded Sandgrouse drink about 25 minutes after sunset and we will keep an eye open for Pearl-spotted Owlet, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Fiery-necked and Rufous-cheeked Nightjars.
Elephant, Black Rhino, Spotted Hyena and Lion are regular visitors to the waterhole at night.
Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha South
DAY 6: ETOSHA SOUTH
With an early start we will out on the plains surrounding Okaukuejo where we hope to find Spike-heeled, Sabota, Pink-billed, Red-capped, Rufous-naped, Fawn-collared and Eastern Clapper Larks, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, Capped Wheatear, Desert Cisticola, Rufous-eared Warbler, Northern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard, Lark-like Bunting, Double-banded Courser, Secretary Bird, Ostrich, Namaqua and Burchell’s Sandgrouse and Red-billed Quelea. Greater Kestrel, Red-necked and Peregrine Falcon are present in good numbers as well.
The plains are also home to big herds of Oryx, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and their predators who are never far behind.
Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha South
DAY 7: ETOSHA EAST
Early morning we will make our way to Halali Resort where we will enjoy lunch. As we srive the plains will give way to scrub and we will start seeing Monotonous Lark, Kalahari Scrub-robin, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrike, Common Fiscal, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Sparrow, Yellow Canary, Violet-eared and Blue Waxbills. Grey-Go-Away Bird, Lilac-breasted Roller and Cape Turtle Doves are always present in big numbers. Halali Camp is situated in Mopane Woodland and is an excellent place to see Bare-cheeked Babbler, Violet Woodhoopoe, Carp’s Black Tit, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Southern White-faced Scops Owl, Scops Owl and Barn Owl. Elephant, Black Rhino and Leopard are often seen at the waterhole.
After lunch, we will slowly make our way towards Etosha's eastern section with bigger areas of woodland. We hope to find Blue Crane, Black-faced and Bare-cheeked Babblers, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Temminck’s Courser and Chat Flycatcher along the way.
Etosha is brilliant for raptors and we should see Martial and Tawny Eagle, Bateleur, Black-chested and Brown Snake-eagles, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Yellow-billed Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Greater Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Steppe Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk, African Harrier-hawk, Red-footed Falcon and Eurasian Hobby. Lappet-faced, White-backed, Cape, White-headed and Hooded Vultures are present in impressive numbers as well.
If the Etosha pan is full of water it is transformed into a water bird spectacle. Huge numbers of Great White Pelican, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Caspian Plover, Red-billed and Cape Teals, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilts, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes gather here. As with Walvis Bay, any number of rarities might be present.
All of the waterholes at Etosha's camp are flood lit at night providing a wonderful opportunity to watch mammals large and small come to drink.
Namutoni Resort, Etosha East
DAY 8: MAHANGU NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast and a morning game drive in Etosha, we will depart for the Caprivi, one of Namibia’s hidden secrets. The Caprivi with its lush green woodland and big rivers are completely different from what we experienced in Etosha. If time allows our afternoon will be dedicated to exploring the productive Mahangu National Park which offers an incredible number of species for a small park. We hope to see Wattled Crane, Long-toed Lapwing, Slaty Egret, Collared Pratincole, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Violet-eared Waxbill, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Crested Francolin, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, Long-billed Crombec, Grey-tit Flycatcher, Broad-billed Roller, African Cuckoo-hawk, Ayre’s Hawk-eagle and smaller raptors like Lizzard Buzzard, Little Sparrowhawk, Ovambo Sparrowhawk and Shikra.
Mahangu offers excellent game viewing as well and we hope to see Sable, Roan, Tsessebe, Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo, red Lechwe, Kudu, Impala and even Lion or Leopard if we are lucky.
Mahangu Safari Lodge, Mahango Game Reserve
DAY 9: MAHANGU NATIONAL PARK
We will start with a pre-breakfast birding walk around the lodge. We should see Black Cuckoo, African Mourning and Red-eyed Doves, African Green-pigeon, Meve’s Starling, Brown Firefinch, Woodland Kingfisher, Thick-billed Weaver, Violet-backed Starling, Swamp Boubou, Meyer’s Parrot, Hartlaub’s Babbler, White-browed Robin-chat and African Yellow White-eye.
We will join the lodge for an afternoon boat cruise hoping to see the resident avian species as well as hippos, crocodiles, and perhaps tessabee, cape Buffalo, kudu, giraffe, elephant and others around the lodge area.
Mahangu Safari Lodge, Mahango Game Reserve
DAY 10: MIOMBO BIRDING
Today we make our way back west and will spend the morning birding the woodland between Divundu and Rundu. We will have the chance to see some of the Miombo or Broadleaf specialists normally found further north in Zambia. These include Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-bellied Tit, Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, Green-backed Honeybird and African Hobby. Other more common birds found here include Pale and Black Flycatchers, Green-capped Eremomela, Southern Black Tit, Striped Kingfisher, Meyer’s Parrot, Fork-tailed Drongo, Tinkling Cisticola, Neddicky, Coqui Francolin and Dark Chanting Goshawk.
Tambuti Lodge, Namibia, Rundu
DAY 11: OTAVI
After breakfast and a walk around the lodge area, we will make our way to Roy’s Camp where the habitat is dry scrub. A couple of walking trails allow for birding on the site. The main attraction is Black-faced Babbler, which we hope to see on our late afternoon walk around the camp.
Roy’s Rest Camp, Otavi Mountain Region
DAY 12: WATERBERG PLATEAU NATIONAL PARK
We will make our way south towards the Waterberg Plateau National Park after breakfast. Our resort for the night is situated below the beautiful sandstone cliffs. This area is a hotspot for several Namibian specials and endemics. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on the endemics that we might have missed on the trip. Some of the birding specials found here include Ruppell’s Parrot, Damara and Bradfield’s Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s Black Tit, Rockrunner, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-billed Spurfowl, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Cape Vulture, Freckled Nightjar, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Black-faced Waxbill, Ashy Tit, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black and Brown-crowned Tchagra, Cinnamon-breasted, Golden-breasted and Cape Bunting, Pririt Batis, Green-winged Pytilia, White-tailed Shrike, Martial and Tawny Eagle, Little Sparrowhawk and African Hawk-eagle to name a few.
Waterberg Camp NWR, Waterberg Plateau National Park
DAY 13: WINDHOEK AND DEPARTURE
After an early morning birding walk looking for any birds we might have missed and breakfast we will depart for Windhoek as our safari come to an end. We should arrive at Windhoek about 3pm.
What to Expect
2019 Dates: November 10 - 22
2020 Dates: TBD
Cost: US $3,500 per person ex flights
Single Supplement: US $250
Group Size: 6-7 guests plus your experienced, professional guide.
Included: All accommodation, all meals (except dinner in Swakopmund and Windhoek), refillable water bottles, vehicle, fuel, pick up from hotel on day one, park and entry fees, full-time services of a personal guide and driver.
Excluded: • International or local flights and airport transfers, accommodation in Windhoek, items of a personal nature, all drinks except water in the vehicle, gift, souvenirs, and tips or other items not mentioned as included.
► Physical Activity: You need to be relatively fit to do this safari, some days you will be walking while birding and other days birding will be from the car. We can adjust according to the client’s fitness level, but most bird watchers are used to longer days outside due to the nature of the activity.
►Weather and Temperature Changes : Early morning and late afternoon can be cool in Namibia, (16°C / 61° F) but daytime temperatures in November can be very warm ( 30°C / 86°) so best to dress in layers.
►Malaria or Other: Visiting Etosha National Park and the Caprivi Area in summer time (especially after rain), carries a risk of malaria. We recommend that all clients visit their travel clinic beforehand to discuss the appropriate prophylaxis. Wearing long sleeved shirts and using insect repellent is also highly advisable. No other inoculations etc. are applicable for Namibia.
►Drinking water: Your tour provider will supply refillable water containers (stainless steel) to our guests. Drinking water is refilled by the guide. Note: In 2017, the Namibian government passed a law prohibiting the use of single use plastic bags in all the national parks.
►Packing: Layers, including warm clothing for nights and early mornings are imperative and full general packing will be supplied. Along with your clothing, the basics include: Camera, Binoculars, Hat and sunscreen, and insect repellent.
►Safety Factor: Namibia is a very safe country to travel in, the people are warn and welcoming, the atmosphere is calm and relaxing. As always when in large cities and airports be aware of your surroundings and take normal precautions.
►Wildlife: The camps are usually fenced, There is no concern for safety (animals) on this safari, but it is advised to always follow the instructions of your professional guide.
►Travel insurance: Travel insurance is recommended for every regardless of the destination trip.
Accommodation in all areas is en-suite, comfortable mid-range lodges or bed and breakfast establishments. Where applicable you will stay in lodges that are community owned or run, but to provide our guests with the best possible birding experience, we choose the accommodation best situated in the ideal areas for birding.
There will be no tented accommodation on this tour (except if the client chooses to stay in a permanent structured tent at Brandberg White Lady – a fantastic experience)
Lodges and B&B’s supply all bedding, towels, and soap (usually eco-friendly).
Meals: Our breakfasts will either be a packed or enjoyed at the lodge after the first bird watching outing. As early morning is one of the best times to do birding, breakfast is usually enjoyed “on the go.” We typically have a picnic bag with us to make tea and coffee along the way.
Lunch will also be either packed or at the lodge, depending on how much birding gets done and how far we have to travel to the next area.
We will enjoy dinners at the lodge/resort except in Swakopmund and Windhoek where we have a choice of local restaurants
Wildlife You May See
Wildlife: Etosha National Park, Mahangu and Waterberg Wilderness Park has a variety of animals which includes savannah elephant, African lion, cheetah, leopard, rhino (black and white), painted wild dog, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, tsessebe, kudu, klipspringer, steenbok, springbok, Damara Dik Dik, and other various antelope, and other mammals. Hartmann’s mountain zebra, oryx, The Damaraland Area is also home to desert adapted animals.
Birds: There are over 670 known bird species in Namibia. We will search out Namibia's true endemic, the dune lark. Namibia's near-endemics including violet wood-hoopoe, Carp's tit, white-tailed shrike, Ruppell's Parrot, the rockrunner, the Gray's lark, Ruppell's Korhaan, the Monteiro's and Damara hornbill, the Herero chat, the Damara tern, and the bare-cheeked babbler will all be high on our list and usually found in our areas of exploration.
We also stand a chance of seeing rarities such as common redshank, Eurasian oystercatcher, red-necked phalarope, Terek sandpiper, the American golden plover, and pectoral sandpiper. When the pans at Etosha are filled they gather myriads of waders such as greater and lesser flamingo, chestnut-banded, white-fronted and Grey's plover, African black oyster-catcher, stilts, avocets and more.
Moreover, don't forget the raptors. As your guide, Marc Cronje says, "Etosha is brilliant for raptors, and we should see Martial and tawny Eagle, Bateleur, black-chested and brown snake-eagles, pale chanting goshawk, yellow-billed kite, black-shouldered kite, greater kestrel, peregrine falcon, steppe buzzard, Gabar goshawk, African harrier-hawk, red-footed falcon and Eurasian hobby. Lappet-faced, white-backed, Cape, white-headed and hooded vultures are present in impressive numbers as well.
See the itinerary for a myriad of other species that we may find.
How This Trip Makes a Difference
Wildlife, the Environment, and the Community
Protected by the Constitution: Namibia was the first country on the planet to incorporate conservation into its constitution. But, intent alone cannot protect its biodiversity and natural resources. The people’s basic need for food and shelter, education, health care, and opportunity are all economically dependent. Your visit to the national parks and local conservancies brings economic benefit to the people and value to nature and wildlife.
Citizen Science: Our guide electronically logs any wildlife, birds and reptiles seen on this tour– this is submitted to a database that keeps track of the sightings
Community Benefit: Where applicable, local birding guides will join the tour. When possible, locally owned lodges will be used. Lunches and dinners not provided by the lodge will be in locally owned restaurants during lunch stops. You are encouraged to make sure any purchased souvenirs are produced by the local community.