The Erongo area of central Namibia is one my favourite birding spots in the country. The landscape is dominated by rugged granite outcrops standing tall over the surrounding arid plains. This region is named after Mount Erongo, a well-known and often photographed landmark. It has excellent accommodation options and is only a short drive away from Windhoek.
Many rare, endemic, and special species of bird, animal, invertebrates, reptiles and plant life thrive here, making this one of Namibia’s most diverse and wildlife-rich areas. The region is one of the 19 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated by BirdLife International in Namibia.
Erongo is the best area in the country to search for the very secretive Hartlaub’s Spurfowl Pternistis hartlaubi. This species is almost entirely confined to granite and sandstone outcrops surrounded by grassy shrubland in northern Namibia and southern Angola. It is the smallest of the southern African spurfowl, but makes up for that with a complex, high-pitched synchronised call that, due to its ventriloquial character, makes it difficult to locate the bird. Unless calling, they are almost impossible to find. However, I have sat sipping my morning coffee at a lodge in the Erongo area only for a small family group to casually saunter past seemingly oblivious to my presence!
The other very special bird found in the Erongo area is the Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius, also known as the Damara Rock-jumper. It is a fairly common but localised species, occurring from the north-central and western escarpment regions of Namibia northwards to southern Angola. It occurs on hillsides and rocky outcrops, and has the odd habit of hopping, running or flying from boulder to boulder, as its name suggests. I have spent many early hours clambering over boulders trying to catch up with one of them for a photo!
Other fantastic birds that occur in the Erongo area include Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbills, Ruppell’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-tailed Shrike, Barred Wren-Warbler, Carp’s Tit and Short-toed Rock-Thrush.
The Erongo area is not just famous for it’s wonderful birds. I have been very lucky to see leopard a few times whilst birding in the area. An early morning bush walk started off with following a flying Peregrine Falcon through my binoculars, when I saw a big male leopard staring at me from the rocky outcrops. A fantastic bonus and big treat! Erongo really should be on your must-see list when you visit Namibia.