I met the group at Huseo Kutako International Airport, 40km outside Windhoek, after their long-haul flight from Europe. We headed off through Windhoek to the Daan Viljoen Game Park. This small conservation area, situated just west of Windhoek, boasts numerous bird and several larger mammal species.
Namibian Rock Agama seen in Windhoek during a Birding Africa Namibia Tour.
As soon as we entered the park we started picking up the more common bird species that we were to encounter later on our journey: Fork-tailed Drongo, Laughing Dove and Cape Turtle Dove were about, with elegant Palm Swifts circling the palm trees around the park headquarters. We took a game drive route and picked up some Eland, Greater Kudu, Red Hartebeest and Giraffe, with Red-billed Spurfowl and Grey Go-Away Birds common en route.
Before stopping for lunch, we passed a small dam which supported a small puddle of water after the dry season. We picked up several waterbird species: African Darter, African Reed Cormorant, African Spoonbill as well as Common Waxbill. We also found Common Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper, Palearctic migrants which had arrived for the summer. A colourful Lilac-breasted Roller swooped in from a nearby tree to hunt, whilst Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters were knocking about.
On our return to Windhoek, we took a roundabout route through the city, stopping off at the Parliamentary Buildings where we found a colony of Namibian Rock Agama (Agama planiceps) with the absurdly decorated dominant male showing off well as he came up to us to see who was intruding into his territory. A couple of Rosy-faced Lovebirds appeared along with a flock of Pale-winged Starlings. In the late afternoon we headed back to our lodging and once evening fell we had supper at a restaurant set on a hill above the lights of Windhoek.
Day 2 : Windhoek - Khomas Highland - Namib-Naukluft National Park
We set off after breakfast, with a flock of Rosy-faced Lovebirds and White-backed Mousebirds in the parking area as we loaded our vehicle. We drove south, passing through the town of Rehoboth and picking up Pale-chanting Goshawk along the way. We turned off the tarred road on to well kept gravel roads. Most of Namibia was in the midst of a drought and the veld was very dry with little bird activity as we passed through the ever changing landscape. During the course of the day we gradually travelled down from the escarpment, but soon found ourselves on higher ground again and stopped on a mountain pass to have lunch.
Here we found Dusky Sunbird, Mountain Wheatear and Acacia Pied Barbet in a gorge. Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer looked down on us from the cliffs, whilst Rüppell's Korhaan was found on the side of the road. We continued downhill until we saw the coastal dunes of the Namib's vast sea of sand and arrived at our guest farm, where we were to spend the next two nights. We had a short swim to cool off and then used the last few hours of sunlight to explore the farm, finding Pygmy Falcon and flocks of Sociable Weavers with their enormous communal nests.
Social Weaver at the communal nest; and a Southern Giraffe.
Day 3 : Namib-Naukluft National Park
After an early start, we set off for the Namib-Naukluft National Park to arrive at sunrise and watch the red dunes change colour while Black-backed Jackal and Southern Oryx passed in front of us. Burchell's Courser appeared and Common Ostrich passed the huge sand dunes.
We enjoyed breakfast under a group of camelthorn trees, with Rufous-vented Warbler calling from the trees and Laughing Doves scattering as a Red-necked Falcon flew overhead. The land continued to change colour as the sun rose higher and we moved on to Dune 45; a tall dune which we climbed. This was more difficult than it first appeared as the dune was steep with a false summit near the top. Our slow journey up the dune was followed by beetles that ran frantically over the sand to find the smallest particles of plant matter that blew up with the wind. The spectacular view from the top revealed an endless horizon of sculpted sand dunes which we knew extended for hundreds of kilometers; how birds and animals survive in this sea of dry sand is a mystery since one dune was challenging enough!
Sunrise - with views of Southern Oryx and red sand dunes of the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert.
Once down the dune we found a pair of nesting Greater Kestrels keenly watched by Pied Crows that wisely took shelter in the shadow of our car. We drove to the end of the tar road before slowly making our way back to the gate, stopping every now and again to get a photo of an Oryx or Springbok silhouetted against a giant dune.
On the way back we found Black-headed Heron and Oryx nearby. At the park entrance we had a cool refreshing drink and ate our lunch in one of the picnic sites, surrounded by Sociable Weavers and Pale-winged Starlings, who also wanted their share. We travelled back to the guest farm in time for a refreshing swim during the hottest part of the day before setting off for a short drive. We found more Rüppells Korhaan, Bokmakierie, Scaly-feathered Finch and Chat Flycatcher. At a small windmill we watched as Oryx cautiously came down to drink near us, disturbing thirsty Helmeted Guineafowl as they clustered around the trough. Back at the guest farm we watched the sun drop over the horizon as a variety of small birds came into the waterhole to drink. Supper was an excellent affair as we toasted the sightings of the day.
Day 4 : Namib-Naukluft National Park - Walvis Bay
In the morning we watched while about 200 Namaqua Sandgrouse dropped out of the sky to drink at a nearby water point. On the gravel plain, these birds blended in well with the small stones until they moved to drink. No sooner had they arrived than they departed again in small groups flying off in different directions.
Day 4 took us toward Walvis Bay. As we drove across the Namib's gravel plains, we stopped a couple of times to pick up on some birds or to look at the changing views. In the Guab River gorge we found a few bird species as well as Striped Racing Beetle - a strikingly marked desert-adapted insect.
Greater Flamingo seen at Walvis Bay
We arrived in Walvis Bay in the late afternoon and observed Greater Flamingos and Hartlaub's Gulls within a few metres of the waterfront, but they showed little interest in our presence. Afterwards we drove to the lagoon, where we found fine flocks of both Greater and Lesser Flamingo next to the road. There were numerous waders too, with Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Stint and Greenshank about, whilst White-fronted, Grey and Chestnut-banded Plovers added to the collection. We had these birds at close range as we travelled through the salt pans, coming out on the sandy beach fringing the Atlantic Ocean. Here we found a group of Cape Fur Seals and had distant views of White-chinned Petrels offshore.
Day 5 : Walvis Bay - Namib Desert plains - Walvis Bay
After breakfast we boarded a boat in the harbour for a Seal and Dolphin Tour. We had not gone out far before we had Great White Pelican and Kelp Gulls on the boat. A very tame Cape Fur Seal then climbed onto the vessel and was only persuaded to leave after some fish were thrown in its direction. We found Cape and Bank Cormorants, both Benguela Current endemics, as well Hartlaub's Gull. As we sailed into the lagoon we soon had a dozen Common Bottlenose Dolphins jumping out of the water and somersaulting through the air. These beautiful creatures came up behind the boat and rode in our wake, coming in close.
Common or Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin on a Birding Africa tour of Namibia.
Soon after these dolphins left, we had a black and white Benguela Dolphin ride the bow wave in front, jumping out of the water just ahead and below the bow. These small dolphins (sometimes called Heaviside's dolphin), are found only in the cold marine waters off the coast of Namibia and the West Coast of South Africa. Along the coast we passed large seal colonies with thousands of animals crowded together and then enjoyed a light snack washed down with champagne and fresh oysters. Flamingos and waders crowded along the lagoon shore and we had a last glimpse of a Great White Pelican on our boat as we returned.
After the boat trip we picked up our lunch packs and a permit before heading out to the desolate, arid "Moonscape" north of Swakopmund. We stopped off in a dry river valley and at a small farm found Scarlet-chested Sunbird and had brief views of African Peregrine as it hurtled down the rocky valley. Here on the bare gravel plains we made acquaintance with Welwitschia mirabilis, a living fossil plant that is an ancient cone-bearing desert-adapted species. We found the endemic bug that lives only on these plants hiding under the leaves before a small flock of Gray's Lark came foraging past us.
The sun was setting as we headed back toward Walvis Bay, hidden behind a row of massive coastal dunes. The sky clouded over and we experienced rain, albeit it very light rain, in the Namib Desert! Back in Walvis Bay we strolled down to a restaurant jutting out into the sea, where we enjoyed supper overlooking the waters of the lagoon.
Day 6 : Walvis Bay - Erongo Mountains
We were in no great rush to leave the next morning, so we stopped off for some leisurely birding along the coast to Swakopmund, picking up Damara Tern, with good views of birds close in shore. African Black Oystercatcher made an appearance before we set off through the town of Swakopmund and then headed north-eastwards towards the impressive Spitzkoppe, impressive solid granite spires rising out of the earth for hundreds of metres. At the base of these magnificent peaks we found Short-toed Rock Thrush and Bokmakierie before moving on to the scenic Erongo Mountains.
We had lunch in a dry river bed and had good views of our first Crimson-breasted Shrikes, which were vividly coloured and stood out in the otherwise drab, dry bush.
When we arrived at our lodging we were immediately greeted by the sight of a group of Warthog foraging on the lawn amongst Great Sparrow, and we had Common Scimitarbill in the trees. In the cooler part of the afternoon we headed along a trail through the granite outcrops behind the lodge. Rock Hyrax was common amongst the boulders and we saw a number of overhanging rocks with San rock art and recognized some of the animals in them, including Giraffe and Red Hartebeest. We came across Rock Kestrel and had great views of an African Hawk Eagle, which glared at us from atop a boulder. It had just killed and eaten a guineafowl and had a huge bulging crop. The curious endemic White-tailed Shrike were around the lodge as we returned in time for a swim and sundowners whilst we avoided the warthogs to get to the best seats. Freckled Nightjar filled the night with its calls and occasionally flitted through the lights that illuminated the giant boulders scattered around the lodge.
Day 7 : Erongo Mountains - Brandberg
On an early morning bird walk we picked up the endemic Monteiro's Hornbill and a beautiful male Marico Sunbird. After a late breakfast we set off and had not gone far when we saw a pair of Verreaux's Eagle, which landed on a granite outcrop, allowing us to put a scope on them.
We headed toward the town of Uis, an old mining town on the road to Brandberg. In a dry river bed near the town of Okambahe we found Pearl-spotted Owlet, Violet Woodhoope and the endemic Damara Hornbill. Meave's Glossy Starling came through in a flock before we headed for our lunch stop which we had at a small café in the town.
Near the Brandberg Mountain, the highest mountain in Namibia, we picked up Tractrac Chat and a pair of Benguela Long-billed Larks sitting in the shade of a bush. We saw fresh tracks of desert-adapted elephants, which were particularly large. Once the day had cooled off, we walked down the nearby dry riverbed, finding more elephant tracks and Green-backed Camaroptera.
At our lodging, the evening was again filled with the calls of Freckled Nightjars that occasionally flicked past the lights and over the swimming pool.
Day 8 : Brandberg - Kamanjab
An early morning bird walk added Cape Bunting and Willow Warbler before we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.
The drive today took us through the town of Kamanjab to a small dam. Here amongst the water birds we found Red-billed Teal, South Africa Shelduck, Ruff and a flock of Starke's Lark. Our first Yellow-billed Hornbills appeared and soon after White-crowned Shrike and a Brown Snake-eagle that allowed for a close approach. A road detour finally brought us to our accommodation for the night, but not before we found Crowned Lapwing and Namaqua Dove along the roadside.
White-crowned Shrike seen near Kamanjab on a Birding Africa tour of Namibia.
Before setting off on the night drive, we relaxed at our lodgings with sundowners; and watched the sunset with Monteiro's Hornbill and Meave's Glossy Starlings about. On the night drive we found Red-crested Korhaan, numerous Steenbok and Greater Kudu and had good views of Aardwolf.
Day 9 : Kamanjab - Etosha National Park
The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and close views of a number of species as they came in to the bird feeder outside the dining room window. Red-billed Hornbill, Damara Hornbill, Black-eared Waxbill and Cape Turtle Dove were common visitors.
Afterwards we took a walk on the limestone hills and found a singing male Rockrunner who showed himself well. These limestone hills were very dry as rain had not yet reached this region yet, and as a result they were fairly quiet.
We set off again and stopped off at a Himba Village near Kamanjab where the daily life of these proud nomadic people was explained to everyone.
In the early afternoon we arrived on the outskirts of Etosha National Park and enjoyed a cooling swim before taking a short walk around the lodge grounds, where we found Ruppell's Parrot feeding off buds in the trees and Violet-eared Waxbill. A Golden-tailed Woodpecker made an appearance amongst Red-faced Mousebirds as a very tame Damara Hornbill walked on the lawns.
Day 10 : Etosha National Park / Okaukuejo-Halali
After an early start we were at the Etosha gate by 7:30. The first waterhole we encountered was almost dry, so we carried on to Okaukuejo. This waterhole was alive with streams of Springbok, Impala, Greater Kudu, Southern Oryx and Plains Zebra coming in to drink. We spent over an hour watching the endless parade of thirsty animals in front of us. A large bull elephant proceeded to hose himself down with water and mud to keep cool. He was having a wonderful time, though a herd of smaller Springbok kept a respectful distance from him.
Desert-adapted African Savannah Elephant.
Lion had been seen earlier at the Okaukuejo waterhole, but given the dry conditions of the area we decided to push 20km north to the Okondeka waterhole. On the way we passed an airfield and found Red-capped, Spike-heeled and Pink-billed Larks and at the waterhole found a lone Marabou Stork. The waterhole is over looked by three low trees; the only vegetation for kilometers around. We carefully scanned the trees and were rewarded by the sight of a male lion and three lionesses sleeping in the shade. This waterhole was also very busy with streams of Springbok, Plains Zebra and Blue Wildebeest that had trekked in long lines far across the dry plains to quench their thirst. It was clear as to why the lions had set up shop here!
We came across a herd of male elephants that reached a waterhole at the same time as us and proceeded to bath and spray themselves with mud much to our delight. A single male lion lay down next to the road in the shade of a tree and looked up briefly before getting on with the important business of sleeping.
We arrived at Halali rest camp in the late afternoon and enjoyed a beer while watching the sun set over the waterhole. Flocks of Namaqua and Double-banded Sandgrouse dropped out of the evening twilight; merging with the ground to look like small rocks as they took up their positions for their turn to drink. A number of antelope species also arrived and finally we were rewarded with a Black Rhino and her calf. This pair was followed by another large rhino that waded through the water, ending up with a dusty grey back and a dark belly where the water had washed it clean. A leopard was heard grunting near the edge of the hill and this spooked a number of the animals. They were very cautious, skirting the waterhole a number of times before drinking.
With night approaching, we reluctanty left this productive waterhole and enjoyed our evening meal under the warm desert sky with sounds of Scop's Owls calling in the distance.
A magnificient Black Rhinoceros photographed at the Halali waterhole, Etosha.
Day 11 : Etosha National Park/ Halali - Namutoni
We had an early start back at the Halali waterhole and picked up a variety of smaller species such as Blue Waxbill, Lark-like and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting. A Gabar Goshawk swooped in for a kill, but only succeeded in scattering large numbers of birds!
After breakfast we headed off, travelling from waterhole to waterhole as we made our way to the edge of Etosha Pan itself. Passing more elephants and giraffe, we came across large herds of springbok and impala. We travelled a few kilometers down the pan road to reach the parking area and climbed out to get a sense of the vast expanse of the dusty white salt pan that extended as far as the eye could see, with not a plant or animal in sight.
We travelled on to Namutoni, finding Kori Bustard before having lunch in the camp and then going on to the Klein Namutoni waterhole. Here White-backed Vultures were about along with a tree covered in Grey Go-away-birds.
With the sun dropping we made plans to depart, but before leaving Etosha we completed the Dik-dik drive circuit and found three of these tiny antelope that allowed us to park the vehicle right next to them.
Damara Dik-dik are one of the smallest species of antelope.
At our evening accommodation we again enjoyed sundowners from the deck whilst watching the sunset turn the sky into a glorious orange colour. A Golden-tailed Woodpecker on a nest in the tree next to our restaurant rounded off the day.
Day 12 : Etosha National Park - Waterberg Plateau Park
We were in no rush to leave and took a leisurely breakfast next to the pool whilst watching the woodpecker make forays to its nest. African Palm Swift and gorgeously coloured Red-breasted and Lesser Swallows flew around us.
There was time for a last swim in the pool before we headed southwards, picking up Purple Roller before stopping at the Camel Inn for lunch; sadly the camel was out for the day. Approaching the Waterberg we experienced a dramatic thunderstorm; these were some of the first rains to reach this region. The dark sky was filled with heavy clouds and lightning struck the dry plains. A roadside stop showed how the behaviour of the birds instantly changed with the arrival of rain, with many birds actively calling from tree tops and bushes.
We arrived in the Waterberg in a downpour and took in an evening drink with the rain settling down. There is always something special about rain in Africa. Flocks of African Black Swift were hanging against the Waterberg cliffs behind us and Rosy-faced Lovebirds were calling amongst the trees. After a great meal on the porch, we retired to our rooms for our final night in Namibia.
Day 13 : Waterberg Plateau Park - Windhoek
Next morning we woke early to bird in the rain-soaked bush. The campsite at the bottom of the hill was alive with birdsong. Green-backed Camaroptera and Crimson-breasted Shrike called from bushes, as flocks of Rosy-faced Lovebirds and Ruppells Parrot came through. Yellow-billed Hornbills and Burchell's Starling mixed with Southern Masked Weaver and White-throated Canary. The burst of birding activity clearly demonstrated what a bit of rain can do to this arid landscape.
We returned for breakfast, finding a very tame family of Banded Mongoose that milled around as they waited for the sun to warm them up before setting off. Indeed half way through breakfast this pack of 20 or so mongoose made an appearance into the breakfast area with much squealing from the diners!
After breakfast we reluctantly setting off for Windhoek, stopping at the obligatory Okahandja craft market en route. Our trip back was fairly uneventful and in no time at all we were travelling through Windhoek and on to the airport, ending a fantastic tour of this arid yet amazing country!
For a full list of species from this trip, please
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detailed information about our upcoming tours to Botswana.
For keen birders and mammal
enthusiasts. The tour focuses on most of Namibia's endemic birds
and wildlife, including unique desert-adapted species. The extension
to the Okavango Panhandle offers specials such as Pel's Fishing
Owl, Slaty Egret and White-backed Night Heron and involves an
Okavango River boat trip. While the tour is designed to see
as many endemic birds as possible, we are also able to spend
a lot of time looking for other aspects of wildlife such as
mammals, chameleons, geckos, butterflies and interesting desert-adapted
plants, such as Welwitschia and Hoodia. We can also customise
any guided or self-drive itinerary to suit to the keen birder,
the wildlife enthusiast or both.
Many participants on our trips are amateur
wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a
bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing
it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority
of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or
bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the
next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are
very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody
who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
No fitness is required. The few walks
are generally in relatively flat areas with occasional small
Good year round. At Etosha, birding
is best in summer, but game viewing is easiest in winter. September
to November may be best for birding in the Okavango panhandle
region as Afritropical and Palaearctic migrants begin to arrive.
However, late summer is equally interesting.
Hot, especially in summer.
A good standard of accommodation in
guest houses, lodges and rest camps.
We travel by minibus or four wheel drive
vehicle. The tour starts and ends in Windhoek.
This depends on the specific tour. Please
Namibia: One endemic and almost 20 near-endemics
in a spectacular setting; Herero Chat, White-tailed Shrike,
Carp's Tit, Monteiro's Hornbill, Rockrunner, Rosy-faced Lovebird,
Rueppell's Parrot, Hartlaub's Francolin, Dune Lark, Blue Crane,
Secretarybird, Ludwig's Bustard, Southern Ground Hornbill, Burchell's
Courser, Rosy-breasted Longclaw.
African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros,
Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Springbok, Damara Dik-dik, Klipspringer,
Gemsbok (Southern Oryx), Burchell's Zebra, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Hartebeest,
Black-faced Impala, Meerkat, Dassie Rat. In the Okavango Panhandle,
there is a chance of seeing Sitatunga and Hippopotamus.
Birding Africa Birding Africa is a specialist birding
tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed
holiday birders. We combine interests in mammals, butterflies,
dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide
you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations.
Our guides' knowledge of African
birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we
have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the
birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent.
We've even written two acclaimed guide
books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best
birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and
we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled
with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997,
we've run bird watching tours
in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders,
small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've
run Conservation Tours
in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult
for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC
Natural History Unit.