AT A GLANCE
Finding the true Namibia Endemics is the focus of our personalised 13-Day birding tour. This expert-guided tour covers most of central Namibia, the central Coastline, Etosha National Park as well as Kaokoland and the Kunene River. Besides brilliant birding opportunities, we will enjoy excellent game viewing and great scenery in one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
Start of tour in Windhoek, birding at Avis Dam
Our exciting Namibia Endemics birding tour starts today in Windhoek, the capital city of this great country. Get ready for an amazing experience!
After meeting you at Hosea Kutako International Airport outside of Windhoek, we will pack your luggage into our comfortable, airconditioned vehicle and drive westwards to the city.
Depending on what time your flight arrives we hope to spend a few hours birding at Avis Dam just outside Windhoek. We will walk along the trails that traverse the flatter areas around the dam and tick the first species of many on our trip list. This great birding spot is known to produce sightings of the beautiful, babbler-like Rockrunner, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Barred Wren-warbler, Rock Kestrel, White-tailed Shrike, Carp’s Tit, Bradfield’s Swift, Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Acacia Pied Barbet, Southern Red Bishop, Desert Cisticola, Cape Penduline Tit, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Mountain Wheatear. If there is water in the dam itself we could also see South African Shelduck, Red-billed Teal or other waders and warblers.
We will then drive the short distance to our hotel or guesthouse in the city and check in. Although you won’t see a lot of Windhoek today, it is still a fascinating city that we are very proud of! It is encircled by magnificent mountains, expansive valleys and fertile farmlands. It sits at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area between the Auas and Eros mountain ranges. It is home to about 400,000 people at a low density of only 63 people per square kilometre and has over 300 sunny days per year. It boasts an eclectic mix of South African, Namibian and German influences when it comes to culture, cuisine and architecture.
After some time to settle in and freshen up we will have our welcome dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants in Windhoek. We will get to know each other a bit and make sure everyone sets their targets out for the trip. After dinner we drive back to our accommodation for a good night’s sleep; tomorrow the trip starts in earnest!
Birding at Daan Viljoen, drive across the Namib desert to Swakopmund
We will start this morning with an early breakfast and then we will check out, pack the bags in our vehicle and set off westwards.
Our first stop will be at Daan Viljoen Game Reserve. It is a 4,000 hectare reserve on the western side of Windhoek that provides excellent dry-country birding. It hosts over 300 species of plants, along with some 200 species of birds and about 30 mammal species.
We will drive along some of the tourist roads in the hilly reserve, and also stretch our legs at one of the picnic spots. Here we hope to find Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle, Carp’s Tit, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Orange River Francolin, White-tailed Shrike, the seemingly out-of-place Rosy-faced Lovebird, Barred Wren-warbler, White-backed Mousebird, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbill, Mountain Wheatear, Pririt Batis, Cape Penduline Tit, Red-headed Finch, Shaft-tailed Whydah, White-rumped Swift, Red-breasted and Greater Striped Swallow, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and Black-throated Canary.
The reserve also contains good numbers of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Giraffe and Common Eland. We have even spotted Leopard here on a previous trip!
From here we make our way down the escarpment (remember Windhoek is at 1,700 metres above sea level) and across the spectacular plains of the Namib Desert (this is part of the much larger UNESCO World Heritage Site of Namib’s “Sand Sea”), keeping an eye out for Rüppell’s Korhaan, Burchell’s and 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 and Common Ostrich.
We should arrive at our guesthouse in the town of Swakopmund by late afternoon and check in. This will be our home for the next two nights.
Swakopmund has made a name for itself as the activity and sport capital of Namibia, but this town offers so much more. Sandwiched between the hot, arid desert and the cold waters of the Atlantic, Swakop (as the locals call it) is one of the most fascinating colonial towns in all of Africa. It is a heady mix of South African, Namibian and German cultures, architecture, languages and cuisine. For the adventurous there is lots to do, including quadbiking, sandboarding, kitesurfing, skydiving, angling, mountain biking, scenic flights over the coastline and much more. It is the most popular holiday destination in the country, with both locals and foreigners loving the laid-back atmosphere, good restaurants, top coffee shops, many activities and the temperate climate.
We will enjoy a well-deserved dinner in one of the well-known seafood restaurants in town, and afterwards go back to our guesthouse for a good night’s sleep.
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.
Swakopmund and Walvis Bay
We will be up early as we spend the first few hours of the day in Namib Desert looking for Namibia’s only true endemic, the handsome Dune Lark.
We will spend time in the scenic Kuiseb riverbed searching for this special bird, as its range falls almost entirely within the protected area of the Namib-Naukluft Park, between the Kuiseb River at Swakopmund/Walvis Bay and the Koichab River, inland of Luderitz, in the oldest desert in the world, the Namib.
This sandy coloured lark survives in this harsh environment without any water, instead getting everything it needs to survive from seeds and insects found in the sparsely vegetated areas between the dunes in the desert. In fact there are no known records of it ever drinking even a drop of water!
After hopefully finding the lark and most of us ticking it as a lifer, we will make our way to Walvis Bay to spend of the morning enjoying some of the best wader watching in Southern Africa. The lagoon (one of five Ramsar wetland sites of importance in Namibia) and salt pans are regarded as the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa, as over 150,000 migrant birds spend the summer months here. Over 150 different bird species have been recorded in this region. One of our main targets here will be the beautiful but Vulnerable (IUCN Red List of 2016) Damara Tern. Other birds we hope to find include Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Phalarope, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Swift, Common, Sandwich and Caspian Tern, African Oystercatcher, Common Ringed, Chestnut-banded, Grey and Three-banded Plover and Greater and Lesser Flamingo (there should be thousands of the latter two, creating an incredible pink-tinged scene). Cape Cormorant are usually spotted in huge flocks and we will also look for Crowned and White-breasted Cormorant and if we are lucky, even Bank Cormorant. Birding here is mostly done from the vehicle, but we can get out and walk in order to get some good photos or to get closer to some of the avian inhabitants here.
The great thing about this area is that any rarity can pitch up so we have the possibility to see one or two special species. Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Terek and Pectoral Sandpiper, and Pacific and American Golden Plover have all turned up in recent years, so keep those eyes peeled. Even Pomarine Jaeger and Subantarctic Skua are sometimes seen from the shoreline, so anything is possible!
After an excellent lunch back in town we will spend the afternoon around the famous Mile 4 salt works and gravel plains just north of Swakopmund, looking to find Gray’s Lark, Tractrac Chat and general shorebirds like Cape, Crested and White-breasted Cormorant, and Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull.
Once back in town in the late afternoon, check the gardens for Orange River White-eye, as they are fairly common.
We will return to our lodge to freshen up (remember to look out over the Atlantic at the stunning sunset) and then we will have dinner at one of the many good quality establishments in town. We will chat some more about the upcoming days of our exciting trip, as well as update our trip lists. We will then return to our lodge for a good night’s rest.
Swakopmund to Damaraland (Spitzkoppe & Brandberg)
We will enjoy a quick cup of coffee this morning, then check out of our guesthouse and hit the road early.
We are heading north and want to get to the area around the famous Spitzkoppe at first light, as this is the best time to look for the most difficult-to-find near-endemic bird of Namibia, the Herero Chat. This taxonomically challenging species prefers sparsely vegetated rocky hills, mountains and escarpment areas in a hot and dry environment, so this area is perfect the habitat for it!
Spitzkoppe (“sharp head”) whose shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”, was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike. But we won’t be climbing, we will be ticking lifers!
Other interesting birds that we can find around here include Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Korhaan, Layard’s Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Great Sparrow, Chat Flycatcher, White-tailed Shrike, Rock Kestrel, Bokmakierie, Cinnamon-breasted and Cape Bunting, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Carp’s Tit, Pale-winged Starling and White-throated Canary.
You will see that Damaraland is a visually dramatic area, with rugged rocks, prehistoric water courses, open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies (boulder-like hills) and deep gorges. Get your cameras ready!
This region is home to an assortment of scientifically important desert-adapted wildlife such as African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and Lion, which somehow survive and thrive in this near-barren landscape. If we are lucky we might see some of these special animals. The area is, in addition to the desert adapted wildlife, also famous for the incredible collection of ancient rock art at Twyfelfontein, another Namibian UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We should arrive at our lodge situated on the Huab River by late afternoon. It is close to the Brandberg (literally meaning “fire mountain”), Namibia’s highest mountain. The peak, the Königstein (German for ‘King’s Stone’), stands at 2,573 m (8,442 ft) above sea level and can be seen from a huge distance away. We will check in and have some time in our rooms. This beautiful lodge is our home for the next two nights.
We will then get together to update our lists and enjoy a fantastic dinner. We might chat about some upcoming birding trips to other exciting countries around the world we might have planned…
When going back to our rooms we will do a quick scan for Southern White-faced Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, and Freckled and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar. Then it’s time for a good night’s sleep under the millions of stars of the African night sky.
Damaraland (Huab river and surrounds)
After a quick cup of coffee early this morning we will depart with first light to try and locate another Namibian avian superstar, the elusive Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. They tend to call from the top of boulders very early in the morning after which it becomes increasingly difficult to see them.
We could encounter Rockrunner on this excursion as well, as they inhabit the same rocky environment as the spurfowl.
We will return to the lodge for breakfast while keeping an eye open for Bare-cheeked Babblers as they are often seen around the lodge. There are also several large pythons that live around the main lounge area and we might see one sunning itself early in the morning.
From here we will use the rest of the day to explore the Huab River and surrounding Mopane woodland which is home to several of the Namibian near endemics and other special species. We will try and find the iridescent Violet Wood Hoopoe and how-can-it-be-here-in-the-desert Rüppel’s Parrot, two of the more colourful birds of Namibia.
Other interesting birds in the area include Bearded, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Purple Roller, White-backed Mousebird, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Groundscraper Thrush, Familiar Chat, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Great Spotted Cuckoo.
Raptors are present in good numbers in this area, so remember to look skyward every now and again for and Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk and the extremely cute Pygmy Falcon.
We will return to the lodge for a late lunch or enjoy a picnic version somewhere with a great view. If there is time today we could also go and admire the “petrified forest” rock formation, believed to be more than 200 million years old, the “organ pipes” arrangement (a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion) and the much-photographed “burnt mountain” (a flat-topped mountain that derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base). Here we will also look for the Namib Desert’s weird-looking living fossil plant, the Welwitschia, the longest living plant on earth.
Besides hopefully seeing some of the desert adapted African Elephants today, we might see Gemsbok, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Common Rock Hyrax (the Verreaux’s Eagle’s favourite snack), Common Warthog and Black-backed Jackal.
After watching probably one of the most spectacular sunsets you have ever seen, we will gather for our final dinner here in dramatic Damaraland. Tomorrow we head north on the next exciting chapter of our Namibian trip.
Damaraland to the Kunene region
After a quick birding walk around the lodge and breakfast this morning we will start making our way north.
Today is basically a driving day, but the landscape will keep us all intrigued. It is said that Namibia is the “land that God made in anger”, and nowhere is that description more apt than the seemingly inhospitable mountainous Kunene region of the northwestern corner of the country.
The area is one of the wildest, most remote and least populated areas in all of southern Africa, with a population density of only one person every 2 km². The most represented ethnic group of the region is the fascinating, ochre-painted Himba people, who we might encounter on our travels here. Although the official political name of the region is Kunene, most people call the area Kaokoland, as it is in the Kaokoveld ecoregion.
We should arrive at our base for the next two nights, the Kunene River Lodge, by late afternoon. It is a beautiful, birder-friendly property situated right on the perennial Kunene river and is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area for the main birding specials: Cinderella Waxbill, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Red-necked Spurfowl, Angola Cave Chat and Grey Kestrel.
If there is time we will take a quick birding walk around the lodge gardens and riverfront, and we could see Meves’s Starling, Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush, Woodland Kingfisher, Olive Bee-eater, Red-billed Spurfowl, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, African Paradise Flycatcher and Black-backed Puffback. Some great new ticks for our lists!
We will then freshen up and enjoy a great local dinner while overlooking the beautiful Kunene, hoping to see the crepuscular Bat Hawk hunting over the river.
After dinner we will look for Pearl-spotted Owlet, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Freckled and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar in the gardens before settling in for the night.
Kunene river and surrounds (including boat cruise)
We will start today with coffee and a morning birding walk along the river looking for some fantastic birds, including some new ones for the trip like Bare-cheeked Babbler, Woodland, Grey-headed and Brown-hooded Kingfisher, White-browed Coucal, Red-necked Spurfowl (afer subspecies), capricorni subspecies of Bennett’s Woodpecker, African Golden Oriole, Swamp Boubou, Violet-backed Starling, Common Scimitarbill, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and Ashy Flycatcher.
We will then have breakfast on the deck overlooking the river, and after that we will make our way up one of the small riverbed valleys to look for our main target bird in this area, the beautiful and localised Cinderella Waxbill. They tend to go out feeding early in the morning before returning to have a drink and then spend some time relaxing in one of the thickets in the valley. And this is where we hope to find a few of these fantastically-named waxbills.
We will again return for lunch at the lodge and a short siesta. By mid-afternoon we will depart for one of the most exciting excursions of the entire trip, a boat cruise on the Kunene river. It is a special feeling being on the boat and watching the dramatic landscape lazily passing by without a care in the world and a drink in hand. Don’t get too carried away though, as we will also do some birding! On the cruise we will be looking for species we might not get to see elsewhere during our time in Namibia, including Goliath, Striated and Purple Heron, Olive and White-fronted Bee-eater, Giant and Pied Kingfisher, Black Crake, Black-crowned Night Heron and White-browed Coucal. Every now and again something really special turns up, and in the past we have seen White-backed Night Heron, Slaty Egret and even Saddle-billed Stork during the cruise.
Depending on recent sightings we might opt for an earlier cruise to allow ourselves enough time to look for Grey Kestrel around dusk at one of its favourite roosting spots, but this special raptor is by no means a guarantee.
*Please note: Angola Cave Chats were recently discovered in the Zebra Mountains not far from the lodge and although we don’t include a trip to see them this can be arranged for those interested in seeing them. It will require an early start and a fairly steep climb to see them. Please let us know in advance if you might be interested but we will have to assess the road conditions as recent rain will make the track leading to the mountains inaccessible.
Kunene to Etosha National Park (western section)
After a quick birding walk (looking for any specials that we might have missed yesterday) and breakfast we will make our way back south again towards the recently opened western section of Etosha National Park.
During our drive down we will be on the lookout for raptors commonly seen in this area of the country, which include African Hawk-eagle, Martial and Verreaux’s Eagle, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, Rock Kestrel, Little Sparrowhawk, Pale Chanting Goshawk, African Harrier-hawk, Augur and Steppe Buzzard and even Booted Eagle.
We hope to arrive at the new Galton entrance gate to Etosha by early to mid-afternoon which will give us a few hours of birding and game viewing along the way to camp. Welcome to Etosha! Over the next few days you will see why it ranks proudly among the top wildlife reserves in Africa and the world. It is a magical wonderland of wide flat expanses filled with fauna and flora that will amaze you!
The vegetation of Etosha is primarily arid savanna, shrub and thorn scrub in the west, tending towards tree-savanna and broadleaved woodland in the east. Acacia woodland is found throughout the region. Patches of Mopane and Combretum woodland are also characteristic of the park, especially in the eastern broadleaved savanna belt.
Birds we can expect in the area on the way to our first camp include Common Ostrich, Lark-like Bunting, Stark’s, Sabota and Eastern Clapper Lark, Common Scimitarbill, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Violet-eared Waxbill, Bradfield’s and Common Swift, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Burchell’s Courser, Monteiro’s and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, Carp’s Tit, Greater Striped Swallow, Ant-eating Chat, Desert and Rattling Cisticola, Brown-crowned Tchagra and Scaly-feathered Finch.
From a mammal point of view the area is rich in waterholes that attract African Elephant, rhinos, Leopard, Lion, Springbok, Gemsbok and Red Hartebeest. Etosha is a unique park in that there are many natural waterholes scattered throughout the landscape, with many of the tourist roads and camps built close to them. In the dry season this is the only source of water for the animals and birds, and they congregate at these waterholes. It is an unforgettable experience sitting in the vehicle at a waterhole and witnessing mammal and avian species come to drink and then wander off, one after the other.
We will reach the newly built Dolomite camp late in the afternoon after a first game drive in Etosha. As the name suggests, the camp nestles in the dolomite outcrops of western Etosha and offers an intimate experience in one of the most scenic areas of the park, and was the first lodge to be built in this section of the park.
We will get together for socialising, updating our lists and dinner on the beautiful deck (with phenomenal views) before settling in for our first night in wonderful Etosha. Tomorrow we head east into the heart of the park.
Etosha National Park (southern section)
We will be up before the sun this morning to scan the rocky outcrop on which the camp is built for hopefully our second view of the elusive and secretive Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. Rock Martin and Lanner Falcon are also often seen around the lodge, so remember to look up every now and again!
After a nice breakfast we will pack our bags, check out and continue our journey eastward through the park.
The huge (22,300 km2 (8,620 sq mi) Etosha is undoubtedly Namibia’s most famous game park, and the subject of many wildlife documentaries over the years. The park home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare, including several threatened and endangered species. The mammal list is at over 110 species, including four of the famed Big Five. Etosha has no African Buffalo, but excitingly there is currently a conservation program on the go to reintroduce African Wild Dogs.
The “great white place” that is the actual pan covers almost a quarter of the entire park, is visible from space, and remains totally dry except in years of exceptional rainfall. Then it is transformed into a barely believable green wonderland with sometimes thousands of pink flamingos; a surreal but wonderful scene indeed!
More than 350 bird species have been recorded in the park, and the arid woodlands of the park and the grassy plains around the pan itself is home to a variety of northern Namibian specials. Summer is of course the best time to visit, as the resident species are then complemented by intra-African and Palearctic migrants.
Depending on the amount of birding and game viewing along the way today, we plan to be at Okaukuejo resort, our home for tonight by mid-afternoon. The camp is located only 17 km (11 mi) from the southern entrance of the Etosha Park, the Andersson gate, and is at the western end of the Etosha pan. It is the oldest tourist camp in Etosha and the administrative centre of the park.
The camp grounds is a very productive birding spot, and it might be a good idea to go for a stroll in the camp to stretch our legs. Here we could add some nice birds to our trip lists, including the unbelievably red Crimson-breasted Shrike, along with Groundscraper Thrush, Pririt Batis, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Red-headed Finch, Acacia Pied Barbet, Long-billed Crombec, Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Rock and Common House Martin, Little Swift, Marico and Chat Flycatcher, White-throated Canary, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Southern Yellow-billed and African Grey Hornbill, Green-winged Pytilia, and Bearded, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpecker. There are also huge Sociable Weaver nests all over the camp, and many South African Ground Squirrels on the lawns around the swimming pool complex.
We will enjoy a scrumptious dinner in the camp restaurant and update our lists, and then walk to the famous floodlit waterhole at the edge of the camp. We will sit quietly with a drink in hand and we look for Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Western Barn Owl and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, and we could even see Black Rhinoceros come for a drink. There might also be African Elephant, Giraffe, Gemsbok, Greater Kudu, Springbok, Common Warthog and many other animals. Sitting here will make you realise why Etosha is such a special place…
Etosha National Park (central section)
With an early start we will out on the plains surrounding Okaukuejo on a road we like to call “lark road”, where we hope to find Spike-heeled, Sabota, Pink-billed, Red-capped, Rufous-naped, Fawn-collared and Eastern Clapper Lark, and Grey-backed Sparrow-lark.
This area will also see us ticking Capped Wheatear, Desert Cisticola, Rufous-eared Warbler, Northern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard, Lark-like Bunting, Double-banded Courser, Secretarybird, Common 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 Gemsbok, Common Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Springbok, Red Hartebeest and their predators are never far behind.
We will return to camp for a late breakfast and then check out and head for our next camp. As we make our way east to Halali camp the plains give way to scrubland, and we will start seeing Monotonous Lark, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrike, Southern Fiscal, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Sparrow, Yellow Canary, Violet-eared and Blue Waxbills, while Grey-Go-away-bird, Lilac-breasted Roller and Ring-necked Dove are always present in big numbers.
We will stop at most of the waterholes during our drive, as this is where the mammals congregate, especially in the dry months, and also where many avian species to come to quench their thirst. And always keep your cameras at the ready, as Etosha is a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, colour and textures particularly dramatic. Many a guest’s “lifer shots” of African animal and bird species were taken in this park.
We will reach Halali camp in time for a late lunch in the restaurant, and quickly see why it is many people’s favourite camp in Etosha. The restaurant has a view of a small patch of glistening green grass with some beautiful trees next to it, and it’s easy to just sit and chill here for an hour or two. It is an excellent place to see Bare-cheeked Babbler, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Carp’s Tit, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Southern White-faced Owl and Western Barn Owl.
We will check in to our rooms and have some time to relax before we head out into the park in the late afternoon again for another game drive. The area around Halali could produce some great birds for us to add to our lists, including Greater Blue-eared Starling, African and Common Cuckoo, Shikra, Little Sparrowhawk, Purple Roller, Bateleur and African Hawk-eagle. It is also a good area for Cheetah, and over the years we have seen many beautiful snake species around Halali, including Anchieta’s and Western Barred Cobra, Black Mamba, Puff Adder and Southern African Python.
We will return to camp and take a walk to the fantastic floodlit waterhole at the edge of the camp. This really a magical spot, and the sunsets from the viewing deck are some of the best in all of Africa. Furthermore, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and even Leopard are often seen drinking at the water’s edge, while tenacious Honey Badgers visit the camp grounds almost every night.
We will enjoy a nice dinner in the restaurant, or we could even do a proper southern African barbeque (“braai” in Afrikaans) at one of our bungalows tonight. Either way, it is always a good idea to take a nightcap and a flashlight and walk to the waterhole again before going to bed; you never know what might turn up.
Etosha National Park (eastern section)
We will start our day with a hearty breakfast and maybe another short walk to see if there is anything interesting at the waterhole.
Then we will pack our bags and check out. Today we will slowly make our way towards the eastern section of Etosha, with even bigger areas of woodland.
Once again, during our drive we will stop at all of the waterholes along the way, as well as if we see anything noteworthy next to the road. In this area we hope to find some good birds to add to our lists, like Blue Crane (South Africa’s national bird), Secretarybird, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Meyer’s Parrot, Dusky Lark, Temminck’s Courser and Chat Flycatcher along the way.
We will have lunch either at the Namutoni camp in the eastern section of the park, or at our lodge just outside the park’s Von Lindequist gate.
Etosha’s wide open spaces is naturally brilliant for raptors and we should see Martial and Tawny Eagle, Bateleur, Black-chested and Brown Snake Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Yellow-billed and Black-winged Kite, Greater Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Steppe Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk, African Harrier-hawk, Red-footed Falcon and Eurasian Hobby during our drive. Lappet-faced, White-backed, Cape, White-headed and Hooded Vultures are present in impressive numbers as well.
If the Etosha pan (that we will see in all its glory today during the drive) is full of water it is transformed into a water bird spectacle with huge numbers of Great White Pelican, Lesser and Greater Flamingo, Caspian Plover, Red-billed and Cape Teal, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, and Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe.
As with Walvis Bay, Etosha has over the years produced some fantastic rarities, so we’ll see if we can add something like Egyptian Vulture, Slaty Egret or Striped Crake to our lists.
Our accommodation for tonight (that we will reach after an afternoon drive) is right on the eastern doorstep of Etosha, situated in the mopane woodland of the region. Classic African safari style thatched buildings are dotted around the vast indigenous gardens, allowing for some good birding from your own room, and the localized Black-faced Babbler has been recorded here in the past! The lodge is on its own 4,000 hectare private nature reserve that shares a border with Etosha, so you could even see some interesting mammals.
The staff are very proud of their cuisine here and after checking in we will settle in for a good meal. After more than a week together it might be a good idea to start chatting about future trips we could plan for to another exotic location somewhere around the globe. Then we are off to bed for a good night’s sleep; tomorrow a different adventure (and park) awaits us.
Etosha National Park to Waterberg Plateau National Park
We will start today with a birding walk around the lodge gardens and after breakfast we will check out and start our drive south.
It is a journey of about 4 and a half hours to our next destination, and we will go through the town of Tsumeb, known as the “gateway to the north”, before stopping to stretch our legs in the town of Grootfontein, where nearby the largest meteorite in the world, the Hoba meteorite, lies in all its 60 tonne nickel-iron glory.
We should reach our destination, the Waterberg Plateau National Park, in time for a late lunch. The plateau and the national park (405 km2 (156 sq mi)) are named after the prominent table-like sandstone mountain that rises 200 metres (660 feet) from the plateau, the Waterberg (literally means “water mountain” in Afrikaans). The plateau is largely inaccessible, and therefore became a park where several of Namibia’s endangered species were relocated to in the early 1970s to protect them from predators and poaching. The programme was very successful and the park now supplies other Namibian parks with many rare and endangered animals.
Our accommodation for our final night is situated below the beautifully rugged cliffs and this area is a hotspot for a number of Namibian specials, due to the different habitats; broad-leafed woodland on top of the plateau and thornbush savanna below. We will have a game drive in the park after lunch and look for some of these special species. These include Rüppell’s Parrot, Damara Red-billed and Bradfield’s Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s and Ashy Tit, Rockrunner, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-billed Spurfowl, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Black-faced Waxbill, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black-crowned and Brown-crowned Tchagra, Cinnamon-breasted, Golden-breasted and Cape Bunting, Pririt Batis, Green-winged Pytilia, White-tailed Shrike, Martial, Booted and Tawny Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Little Sparrowhawk and African Hawk-eagle to name a few. The rare yellow form of the Crimson-breasted Shrike has even been seen in the park in the past!
From a mammal point of view, we could see some special species, like Black and White Rhinoceros, Giraffe and maybe even a predator or two. However, the stars of the park are the rare antelope, and we could see Roan and Sable Antelope, Common Eland, Tsessebe and the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik.
We will get together after the game drive for our final dinner together on this awesome tour. You can be assured that friends-for-life and incredible memories will have been made. We will chat long into the night and then tuck ourselves in for a final sleep in wonderful Namibia.
*Please note: We can look at the option of staying at a nearby luxury Private Game Reserve with great general bushveld birding and brilliant game viewing. This is a great option if you would like to treat yourselves on the final evening. Please enquire about more information on this option.
Waterberg Plateau National Park to Windhoek and Departure
Our final morning will start with an early cup of coffee and then we will go on a guided game drive in the park.
This drive will go to the top of the plateau which will be the only opportunity to see African Buffalo on this safari. Hopefully this will then wrap up our Big Five list! From a birding perspective this drive will also be a highlight, as we will visit the vulture “restaurant” where Cape, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures congregate and sometimes allow for some excellent photographic opportunities.
After our drive we will pack our bags, check out and drive south towards the Hosea Kutako International Airport east of Windhoek. It will take about 4 hours, so please remember to not book your flights before 14h00 to allow us enough time to get you to the airport.
Unfortunately our time together will come at an end at the airport, as you leave on your onward or homeward flights after an unforgettable Namibian birding safari.
*Please note that this Birding Trip can easily be combined with a birding extension to the Caprivi Strip, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe or South Africa. Don’t hesitate to ask for our help, we will gladly assist.
Want to join us to find the endemic birds of Namibia? Speak to a specialist at