Short Namibia Endemics

Namibia Endemics

AT A GLANCE
On this 4-Day Namibia Endemics birding tour we focus on finding as many of the 15 Namibian near-endemics and the one true endemic. Besides the brilliant birding opportunities with a bird list of almost 700 species we will enjoy great game viewing and great scenery in one of the most beautiful countries on earth.

NEXT TOUR: Booked on request
ITINERARY – 4 DAY NAMIBIA ENDEMICS BIRDING TOUR
DAY 1:
Start of tour in Windhoek, birding in Windhoek, drive to Walvis Bay and birding in Walvis Bay

Welcome to Namibia! Our blitz endemic birding tour will start this morning at your hotel or guesthouse. We will meet up and pack your bags into the comfortable, airconditioned vehicle and set off. We will get to know each other during the drive, making sure of everyone’s target birds for the trip and some general information will be exchanged.

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 Hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle, Rockrunner, Carp’s Tit, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Orange River Francolin, White-tailed Shrike, 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, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Common Ostrich.

We will arrive in Walvis Bay in the late afternoon. After settling into our perfectly situated accommodation for the evening we will get together for some afternoon birdwatching. Orange-river White-eye, Cape Sparrow and Common Waxbill are all present in the lodge’s gardens, so keep an eye out before we get into the vehicle.
We will spend the late afternoon at the famous Walvis Bay lagoon, which has been declared a Ramsar site of global importance. The lagoon 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. The famous Mile 4 Saltworks just north of Swakopmund support similar species. Over 150 different bird species have been recorded in this region. One of our main targets here will be the 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.

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. Pomarine Jaeger, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Subantarctic Skua are sometimes seen from the shoreline, so keep those eyes open!

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.

DAY 2:
Swakopmund birding, drive to Damaraland

After an early breakfast this morning at our lodge we will focus on finding Dune Lark, Namibia’s only true endemic and a great bird to have on any serious birder’s list.

We will spend time in the scenic Kuiseb riverbed searching for this special bird at the base of some of the impressive dunes that form a beautiful backdrop to our exploration. The Dune Lark’s 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 ticking the Dune Lark, we will spend some time 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 Cormorant, and Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull.

From here we will make our way north to Damaraland, driving past one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks in the distance, the Spitzkoppe (“sharp head”). Its shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”, but the similarities begin and end with its sharp peak. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike. 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!

The plains of Damaraland are home to Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser, Ludwig’s Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rüppell’s Korhaan and Benguela Long-billed Lark. This region is also 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.

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 at 2,573 metres above sea level. There area is, in addition to the desert adapted wildlife, also famous for the incredible rock art at Twyfelfontein, another Namibian UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our accommodation for tonight is a beautiful lodge, with stunning views and usually some Olive Bee-eaters to welcome us! We will check in and have some time in our rooms.

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.

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.

DAY 3:
Damaraland to Erongo Mountains

After coffee and an early breakfast we will use the morning to explore the Huab River and surrounding Mopane woodland, home to several of the Namibian near endemics and other important species.

We will try and find Violet Wood Hoopoe, Rüppel’s Parrot, Carp’s Black Tit, Damara Red-billed Hornbill and White-tailed Shrike. Other interesting birds in the area include colourful Rosy-faced Lovebird, Short-toed Rock Thrush, 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 even Great Spotted Cuckoo. Raptors are present in good numbers and we hope to see Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk and Pygmy Falcon.
Besides the desert elephants we might see Gemsbok, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Common Rock Hyrax, Common Warthog, Chacma Baboon and Black-backed Jackal.

We will then have lunch and continue southeast to the incredible rocky topography of the Erongo area. The landscape is dominated by rugged granite outcrops standing tall over the surrounding arid plains. The region is one of the 19 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated by BirdLife International in Namibia. It is the best area in the country to search for the very secretive Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, and although probably better to search for this special species tomorrow morning, we will have a quick walk among the boulders to try our luck.

The lodge where we are staying is a stunner, with luxury tents set in the rocks, all of them with stunning views, top quality amenities and linen, and for many visitors the cherry on top; half-open bathroom facilities! The main dining and relaxation area is stunning, inspiring memories of an African safari, with the staff an absolute highlight. The food is also top notch, and from a birding perspective you will not be disappointed either!

We will have dinner and update our lists, and perhaps sit on the deck and enjoy the incredible views. Remember to glance at the floodlit waterhole too, as Leopard and Caracal drink there every now and again. We will also look for Southern White-faced Owl and Freckled Nightjar before we retire to our tents and enjoy a good night’s sleep; tomorrow morning we have some big targets!

DAY 4:Erongo Mountains, drive to Windhoek, and End of Tour
The Erongo Mountains and surrounds are a real near-endemic hotspot and we will focus on finding any of those that we might have missed.

We will start the day with an early walk among the boulders around the lodge. The granite hills surrounding the lodge are especially famous for Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and Rockrunner. Besides these two specials we can look for Rüppell’s Parrot, Carp’s Tit, White-tailed Shrike, Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Red-billed Spurfowl, Augur Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Cinnamon-breasted, Golden-breasted, Cape and Lark-like Bunting, and Great Spotted Cuckoo.

We will also wrap up on the general scrub savannah birds like White-throated, Yellow and Black-throated Canary, Green-winged Pytilia, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Violet-eared, Black-cheeked and Blue Waxbill, Barred Wren-warbler, Rattling Cisticola, Pririt Batis, Shaft-tailed Whydah, African Red-eyed Bulbul, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Starling and Mountain Wheatear.

We will return to the dining area for a late breakfast, and at this time the massive numbers of Rosy-faced Lovebird should be busy with their morning foraging. It is special sipping your coffee with hundreds of these colourful (and luckily wild) lovebirds around you! Also look for Pale-winged Starling around the dining area, as well as Klipspringer, Dassie Rat and Common Rock Hyrax.

After our exciting morning of birding we will pack up our bags, check out and drive back to Windhoek. It is a drive of about 2 and a half hours to the southeast back to the capital.

Once in the city we will either take you to the Hosea Kutako International Airport, or back to your hotel or guesthouse if you are staying over, or we could swing by one of the other birding hotspots around town if you are only flying onward later in the evening.
East of the city is Avis Dam, a spot that should see us add Shaft-tailed Whydah, Violet-eared Waxbill, Rock Kestrel, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Desert Cisticola to our list. If there is water in the dam we could also see South African Shelduck, Red-billed Teal or other waders and warblers. The sewage works in the city is, as always, a productive if somewhat strange spot to visit. Only a birder would understand! Here we should see Maccoa Duck, Purple Heron, Common Moorhen or even Black-necked Grebe and Baillon’s Crake if we are lucky. Another good spot is the area around the odd “ice cream cone” structure on the hill in the city centre. This is a good spot for White-tailed Shrike, Pririt Batis, Rosy-faced Lovebird and Chestnut Weaver.

When we drop you off at your chosen point we will say our goodbyes after a short but amazing birding trip.

*Please note: Extensions to Etosha National Park, the Caprivi Strip, Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls or any attraction even further afield can easily be arranged. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Do you have a quick question about this birding tour? Speak to a specialist at
info@naturetravelbirding.com