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.