David and Deborah – December 2018
This is a belated review of a private 14 day nature trip of Northern Namibia in December 2018 that was led by Marc Cronje of Nature Birding Travel, who served as our superlative and indefatigable host, guide, driver, fixer and companion throughout.
Beginning with an airport pick-up at Livingstone in Southern Zambia, the tour encompassed a brief stop in Zimbabwe to visit Victoria Falls; two days in Zambia to bird the Zambezi River; two days in Botswana to bird the Zambezi floodplains and Okavango River, and the remainder of the time in Namibia, with a route that took us through the Okavango to Etosha for 4 days; a day in the spectacular, other-worldly Damaraland region; two days in the Erongo Mountains, where we stayed at the amazing Erongo Widerness Lodge; and a final morning of coastal birding in Walvis Bay.
We are experienced, well-travelled birders with an equally strong interest in all other forms of wildlife, as well as in natural landscapes and ecosystems, so our hope for this tour — which was fully realized — was to experience a wide range of Southern African flora, fauna and avian life at an unhurried pace that would allow for full immersion. As this is a review rather than a trip report, we do not provide here a detailed account of species sighted, but the birding and wildlife experience was richly rewarding and exceeded expectations, with nearly 350 species of birds sighted, 40 species of mammals (including no fewer than ten separate encounters with lions), and one exciting sighting of a Black Mamba on the first morning of the trip.
The itinerary of the trip was exceptionally well designed, with consideration given to keeping daily travel distances manageable in order to allow time for leisurely enjoyment of all wildlife. The well-chosen lodges were (other than in Etosha NP) small, privately run establishments with individual character and charm, allowing for varied experiences while delivering a uniformly high standard of service.
Marc Cronje proved to be a world-class guide, whose deep knowledge and appreciation of wildlife, landscape, and birds is matched by his superb wildlife spotting and identification skills and by his infectious enthusiasm and passion for his job. He worked tirelessly on our behalf, from first light until night fall, and even then he was always eager to go owling.
Beyond his skills as a nature guide, Marc is a great communicator with a robust sense of humor. His patience, politeness and respect for others was a pleasure to behold and a real asset when dealing with border officials, a necessity on a trip that encompassed four countries.
We could not recommend Marc and Nature Birding Travel more highly and look forward to arranging our next nature safari adventure with him.
S & F – October 2019
This birds and mammals trip in Southern Africa was our second trip with Nick Buys. We have been already with him in Namibia 4 years ago in a very succesfull trip.
We visited South of Zambia (Nkanga River Conservation Area, South Kafue and Livingstone surroundings), the Caprivi Strip (Kwando River and Mahango Game Reserve) and Northern Botswana (Okavango Panhandle and northern Chobe).
The places we visited were wonderfull. We felt the privilege to be the only ones in the middle of the bush and his fauna in the very preserved Nanzhila Plains-Kafue National Park. We had excellent boat trips on Zambezi, Chobe, Okavango and Kwando Rivers. Sunsets were stunning !
We stayed in very comfortable and peacefull lodgings were we could appreciate the magic of wild Africa.
This trip was focused on a list of possible life’s firsts, for both birds and mammals. The lists was not so long, as we already have been in various trips in eastern and southern Africa. It consisted most of all in specialities and endemics, as Black-cheeked Lovebird, Schalow’s Turaco, Pel’s Fishing-owl, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Chaplin’s Barbet, African Broadbill, Miombo Tit, Copper Sunbird, Black-eared Seed-eater…
We managed to see more than 300 bird species, and almost all the possible species on our list that occurs in the area.
We only failed for 3 species of Miombo forest, certainly because of the severe drought that occured this year. Actually forests were very quite, and Nick had to work hard to find us some dificult birds in that conditions. On the other hand, and certainly because of the drought, this trip was very successful for small raptors as African Cuckoo-hawk, Lizard Buzzard, Western Banded Snake Eagle, African Goshawk, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Little Sparrohawk, Eurasian Hobby, Dickinson’s Kestrel… We had excellent sightings of a Lanner hunting a Cape Turtle Dove, a Dickinson’s Kestrel drinking at a water hole and a pair of Little Sparrohawks breeding.
Mammals sightings were also great, with 45 species.
The best was the day spent with a troup of 21 Wild Dogs in Kafue (10 adults and 11 puppies) : they spent the day lying and playing at the side of a water hole in the company of many herbivores (surprisingly very relaxed) and birds who came to drink, including Black-cheeked Lovebirds. At the end of the afternoon, we could follow them one hour hunting in the bush. At the end, we didn’t see them catching anything, but a pair of breeding leopards managed to catch an impala that was running away from the Wild Dogs !
Thanks to some night drives and night walks, we also had a good selection of nocturnal mammals, with 2 species of Galago, Common Genet, African Civet, Bush Pig, South African Porcupine…
We want to thank Nick warmly for this trip. Again we really appreciated his qualities as a guide, his professionalism, his excellent knowings in the species and the habitats, his sens of respect of nature, his organisation, his patience and his excellent sense of humor.
We hope to come back soon in Africa for another such succesfull trip with him.
GBannk – October 2019
This morning the four of us went on a half day birding tour at Avis Dam with Nature Travel Namibia. Previous, our guide, was outstanding. He was well prepared and very knowledgeable. He waited to make sure we each saw the bird, asked if we were okay, didn’t rush and did his best to show us a photograph of the bird. I highly recommend Previous.
Andrew – May 2019
Having birded around the world I can confidently say that Nature Travel Namibia put together one of the best safaris I have ever enjoyed. Everything was perfect – the pre-trip information, the organization, the quality of the accommodation and food, but most of all the professionalism and friendliness of the guide Marc who managed to find nearly every one of the specials that I’d gone to see. Will definitely use them again.
Adrian – January 2019
I embarked on my trip to Namibia in Jan ’19 having previously used Nick and Nature Travel Birding for an excellent trip to Ghana.
The trip started in the Caprivi on the border with Botswana and continued throughout much of the rest of Namibia. There was fantastic birding to be had with excellent views and photo opportunities throughout the trip. Etosha was excellent and a highlight with great mammals as well as birds.
Nick was a tremendous guide, extremely knowledgeable and really made sure the trip went well. There was a general flexibility and genial atmosphere to the whole trip with Nick being patient and accommodating to get those extra couple of photos. The accommodation, food and itinerary were spot on.
I wouldn’t hesitate to reconsider Nature Travel Birding and continue to plan future trips with Nick and team.
Glenn from Ohio – March 2019
Dear adventuresome birders,
I have finished a 13 day birding tour with Nature Travel Birding. The organization of the administrative details by personal guide Nick Buys exceeded expectations. The tour to NE India was jam packed with opportunity.
My personal exposure to a 5 hour drive through construction dust overwhelmed my 68 year old lungs. Nick and the other participants tolerated my slowing up the pace magnanimously. The elevation at 6,500 + was revealing that my “wind” endurance was less than the demand. Yet, I saw or heard no complaints from the leader, extra guides nor the two couples with us. I am grateful for their kindness.
I’m taking time in this review to drive a very positive point. This group was professional, courteous and kind with determination to help me enjoy the tour. After six nights of coughing harshly I was driven five hours to a hospital. Antibiotics were prescribed and I spent two days resting with one of the extra tour assistants who waited for me to make a decision to return. I elected to return to finish the last four nights of the tour. I will add that my hearing handicap had me continuously asking for names to be repeated. I had become a high-maintenance participant.
To the point: sometimes an experience can go wrong during a tour. You would like to know that your guide has your safety as the priority, that you will be taken care of in a professional, caring manner. Nick Buys was thorough and efficient in this endeavor. Thank you sir.
I strongly recommend this company’s services.
Liz – November 2018
Nick takes care of every angle of a birding safari from the areas visited to the lodges we stayed in.
Nick communicated by email and sent an itinerary of the places we would visit and the lodges we would stay in. (That way we could look up the lodges ahead of time). I had birded with Nick before so I knew he would take care of all the details. The lodges were great-usually by a river or waterhole.
I was very excited when one night a hippo came up beside our tent to eat!
Nick will stop whenever you want to take pictures. That was great. Everybody had a window seat as he only takes six people on a tour.
Everything was great.
Jackie Bone-George – November 2018
Thanks so much for the most amazing trip with all the targets sighted. Marc and Steve were superb as guides, they treated us like royalty, nothing was too much trouble and their excitement when a target sighting was achieved was infectious. The gorillas and chimps were just spectacular. The birds were super special with hundreds of species spotted.
“Best adventure ever!”
BeLinda – 14 November 2017
Everything about Nature Travel Namibia was top notch. The itinerary was perfect – great birding and game sightings, excellent lodges and food. Nick is a world class guide who is entertaining, organized and a pro. Arranging the safari was easy from payment to pick up at the airport to travel help. I highly recommend this company to those wanting a once in a lifetime experience
“Uganda Birding and Gorilla Trekking Trip with Nature Travel Birding”
Kristi – 27 August 2017
We are very pleased with our trip August 2017 to Uganda with Nick Buys of Nature Travel Birding. Our pre-trip expectations were high and Nick delivered! Logistically Uganda is not an “easy” trip but Nick handled the challenges on the ground with ease and expertise. Lodging and food were adequate although WIFI was very spotty. The main focus of the trip was birding and gorilla trekking. Nick is very astute of quickly assessing your bird list and pursuing additions to the list as well as focusing on endemics species. Many daily excursions were conducted with the assistance of local guides with great knowledge of local birding hotspots. The net effect was a very focused search of species with minimal down time. Nick never loses sight of his clients needs and has the expertise and experience to assist in the location of the bird. Gorilla and Chimp trekking was as advertised; wonderful and astonishing!
This trip was primarily forest birding with a lots of time spent looking up at the canopy. Usual days were up before sunrise and back at sunset. Roads are not the best, mostly gravel, and we drove many kms to maximize out experience. Our 14 day trip brought a closeness to trip participants (including locals) which proved to be fun and rewarding.
We saw upwards of 400 species of birds, probably over 50% new additions to our bird list. We had three sightings of the shoebill, one for 20 minutes within 10 meters of us. Other birding highlights included spectacular visuals of the Green Breasted Pitta and African Green Broadbill. Our gorilla trekking had us spend over 1 hour with a family again meters away from us. Chimps were high in the forest canopy but provided entertainment by raining down projectiles at us!
Overall a great trip and wonderful experience. Nick is passionate about his guiding and love of birding and mammals. We are already in discussion with Nick on our next trip.
“Amazing birding trip to Kenya!”
Anne-Marie – 1 February 2017
My husband and I just returned from a private birding tour with this wonderful company. We can’t say enough about this amazing trip – the itinerary was perfect. This is the second time we’ve used this company for travel in Africa and we would absolutely use them again in the future. The trip exceeded our expectations with 450+ birds in 11 days, 47 mammal species including the big 5. Our guide, Nick Buys, is among one of the best bird guides we have had the pleasure of working with. He truly makes every effort possible to find the specialties of each region.
“The best birding trip of my life”
Alan Melton – 6 December 2016
From the 1st communication to the last the service was excellent. The safari itself was far more than I ever expected, the guide was superb his knowledge was 2nd to none he was able to find all the species I asked for and more. I would have no hesitation in recommending this guide and this tour.
“Caprivi and Okavango Birding Safari – 6 Days/5 Nights”
Margaret – 16 October 2016
This safari was excellent in every respect. Our guide, Nick, began by asking us about our main goals for the trip. Nick, a Namibian vet, has a vast knowledge of birds and wildlife, as well as the flora, of the region. He was generous in sharing that knowledge, never tiring of answering questions. It was a pleasure to have Nick as our guide.
The lodges chosen by Nature Travel Namibia (NTN) were situated on three great African rivers: the Zambezi, the Kwando, and the Okavango. Accommodations were comfortable with gorgeous views and the food was good.
The safari was well-planned by NTN, with every detail thought of in advance. There was a nice balance of intensive birding and relaxation during the hot hours of the day if we so chose. Otherwise, it was out for more birding in the bush or garden, or out on the river.
We loved this safari and would highly recommend NTN to any traveller interested in nature and in this wondrous area of the world.
“Birding trip to the Erongo Mountains in search of Namibia endemics”
Kristi – 11 April 2016
My husband and I joined Nick of Nature Travel Namibia for a short birding trip to the Erongo Mountains. This location was chosen for the many endemics we might see and the spectacular granitic Erongo Mountains. Nick took care of all the arrangements from our arrival in Windhoek, including booking us into a guest house that provided good birding in their garden and better birding a short walk away at Avis Dam. We stayed at the Erongo Wilderness Lodge where we enjoyed comfortable tented accommodations, great meals and friendly service from the lodge staff. Our morning and afternoon walks netted us over 50 birds and 7 of the 8 anticipated endemics along with some antelope. As geologists we really enjoyed this setting and Nick found a fabulous minerals shop in nearby Omaruru that we visited before returning to Windhoek. We hope to return soon and join Nick for another birding trip in Namibia.
“Nature Travel Namibia rocks!”
Anne-Marie – 17 March 2016
My husband and I have recently returned from a 16-day birding safari to Namibia, Caprivi, Botswana and Zambia organized by Nature Travel Namibia. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this company. If I could give it a 6 star rating I would! Nick, our guide was enthusiastic, professional and very knowledgeable. From the moment we made contact with him, he helped us organize and tailor the trip to the last detail. I should also mention that he is probably the best bird guide we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. His passion for the birds and all the wildlife made it seem as if he was also seeing them for the first time. He definitely gave us 100%. We would not hesitate to use Nick and this company again and would highly recommend them to anyone thinking of visiting southern Africa.
“Superb Namibian introduction trip”
Nicci – 27 June 2015
We enjoyed a short, 5-day trip with Nick from Nature Travel Namibia earlier this month. We were interested in an introductory tour of Namibia, to see some of the countryside, but moreover, to see the country’s incredibly rich birdlife.
Nick organised everything from the trip itinerary, to accommodation and extra excursions. In our wildest dreams could we not have imagined that Namibia would creep into our hearts so quickly! The pleasant people, the multi-coloured countryside, the incredible desert vistas, the untamed animal life and of course the diverse bird species all impressed us immensely.
Nick was the star of the show, being friendly and professional at the same time. He quickly became a friend for life and we will definitely make use of his expertise in the future.
“A perfect trip with a perfect guide”
Sebastien – 12 March 2015
We wanted a 15 days trip in Namibia focused on birds and nocturnal mammals. We are extremely satisfied to choose to do it with Nature Travel Namibia. Nick is not only an excellent guide with huge knowledge in nature, birds and animals, he is also a fantastic trip organizer with an excellent communication and great human qualities. Always attentive to our needs, he knew how to adapt the trip so that it correspond exactly to our needs. The lodgings, the itinerary and all the details were perfectly chosen in function of what we wanted. We travelled in a comfortable and spacious car.
Nick succeed to show us all the endemic birds, even the most difficult, and a great panel of animals and nocturnal mammals, very hard to see.
Everything was simply perfect and we strongly recommend Nature Travel Namibia to those who want an excellent personalized safari.