For the species lists
of birds, mammals and reptiles seen on tour, please click
This was a 14-day tour in March 2009, with focus on birds.
Areas visited: Namib Desert, Spitzkoppe, Etosha, Okavango Panhandle,
Mahango Game Reserve and Waterberg Plateau
Timing: this tour was held
during one of the wetter summers in northern Namibia. The Kavango
River was at its highest level in 40 years and many areas were flooded.
Number of bird species seen: 370 species (356 species on
average among the participants)
Number of mammal species
seen: 42 species
Number of reptile species
seen: 14 species
24 March 2009 - Windhoek and Daan Viljoen Game
On arrival at Windhoek Airport, the tour participants
were met by Birding Africa guide Joe Grosel and proceeded to our
accommodation. After lunch we drove to Daan Viljoen Game Reserve
for an afternoon of birding.
Highlights of the day: Monteiro's Hornbill, Bradfield's
Swift, Red-footed Falcon, Pale-winged Starling, Ashy Tit, Great
Reed Warbler, Rockrunner, Sabota Lark (herero sub-species), Mountain
Wheatear, Bearded Woodpecker, Violet-eared & Black-faced Waxbill
Mammals: Hartmann's Mountain Zebra.
Reptiles: Namibian Rock Agama
25 March Windhoek to Walvis Bay
After an early breakfast in Windhoek we drove
to Walvis Bay with a few birding stops along the way. After lunch,
we birded the estuary and salt works. We concluded the evening with
a splendid barbeque.
Highlights of the day: Carp's Tit, Icterine Warbler,
Yellow-bellied & Burnt-necked Eremomela, Chestnut Weaver, Damara
Tern (plus seven other tern species), Chestnut-banded Plover, Great
White Pelican, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling,
Common Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover and Peregrine
26 March Walvis Bay & Swakopmund
We started the day with a trip to Rooibank for
Dune Lark. Thereafter did a trip further into the desert to view
Welwitchia's. After a picnic lunch on the beach at Swakopmund, we
visited the local saltworks. Back in Walvis Bay we did some birding
along the promenade and ended the day with dune climbing and photography
at Dune 7. Dinnl?er was taken overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Highlights of the day: Dusky Sunbird, Black-necked
Grebe, Orange River White-eye, Dune Lark, Gray's Lark, Tractrac
Chat, Cape Gannet, White-backed Mousebird and Chat Flycatcher.
Mammals: Cape Fur Seal.
Reptiles: Shovel-snouted Lizard.
27 March Walvisbay to Omaruru via Spitzkoppe
Early departure for Spitzkoppe with several good
birding stops along the way. Unfortunately very hot conditions cut
short our aspirations of finding Herero Chat, although many other
good birds were seen. After Spitzkoppe we headed for Omaruru via
Karibib. After arriving at the our accommodation in Uis, we went
for a birding walk in the sandy Omaruru riverbed.
Highlights of the day: Augur Buzzard, Ludwig's
Bustard, Ruppell's Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rosy-faced Lovebird,
White-tailed Shrike, Bokmakierie, Rufous-eared Warbler, Karoo Chat,
Layard's Tit-babbler, Pririt Batis, Sociable Weaver, Little Sparrowhawk,
Karoo Long-billed, Monotonous and Stark's Lark, White-throated Canary
and Damara Hornbill.
Mammals: Klipspringer and Dassie Rat.
Reptiles: Giant Plated Lizard.
28 March Omaruru to Etosha National Park
We started with an early morning bird outing to
the nearby Erongo Mountains before a wonderful breakfast. We traveled
on to Etosha where we had lunch and settled into our accommodation.
The afternoon we birded along the western edge of the pan.
Highlights of the day: Rockrunner, Hartlaub's
Francolin (brief views), Damara Hornbill, Lappet-faced Vulture,
Tawny Eagle, Pygmy Falcl?on (in the camp), Ruppell's Parrot, Kori
Bustard, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Barred Wren-warbler,
Brubru, African Paradise Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed and Grey-backed
Sparrowlark, Green-winged Pytilia, and Crimson-breasted Shrike.
Mammals: Yellow Mongoose, Ground Squirrel, Black-faced Impala and
Reptiles: Flap-necked Chameleon.
29 March - Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo
We started with an early morning game drive,
then returned to camp for breakfast. We then drove on to Halali
Camp, birding along the way. Our late afternoon drive produced Black
Rhino. After dinner, we enjoyed a few hours at the floodlit waterhole
observing several large mammals..
Highlights of the day: Northern Black Korhaan,
Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Greater Kestrel, Ant-eating
Chat, Great-spotted Cuckoo, Double-banded Courser, Violet Woodhoopoe,
African & Southern White-faced Scops Owl, Spike-heeled, Pink-billed
and Red-capped Lark.
Mammals: Black Rhinoceros seen on the afternoon
drive and at the camp waterhole, as well as Spotted Hyaena.
30 March Etosha National Park (Halali Camp
Pre-breakfast walk around the camp. Drove on
to Namutoni via several waterholes and the southern edge of the
pan. Afternoon drive along the northern banks of Fisher's Pan (too
wet to do the entire loop). Our delicious meal and comfortable accommodation
was very welcome.
Highlights of the day: Secretarybird, Blue Crane,
Franklin's Gull (this vagrant was seen at Okerfontein on the edge
of the pan), Lesser Moorhen, Double-banded Sandgrouse, South African
Shelduck, Comb Duck and Sabota Lark (Weibeli).
Dikdik, Lion (two sightings) & African Elephant
31 March - Etosha National Park to Rundu at
the Kavango River
Early morning walk to look for Black-faced Babbler.
After breakfast, we departed for Rundu. Lunch was taken at a clean
roadside picnic site in good palm savanna habitat. We arrived at
our riverside lodge in Rundu and enjoyed a short walk along the
flooded Kavango River before nightfall. The good food, the accommodation
and the great views were a nice surprise.
Highlights of the day: Black-faced Babbler, Thick-billed
Weaver, White-backed Vulture, Martial Eagle, Striped & Grey-headed
Kingfisher, Grey-rumped Swallow, Marabou Stork and Black Cuckooshrike.
Mammals: Straw-coloured Fruit Bat.
Reptiles: Mozambique Spitting Cobra, Eastern Tiger
Snake and Marsh Terrapin.
01 April - Kavango River (Namibia) to Okavango
The day started with a pre-breakfast visit to
the Rundu sewage ponds and surrounding floodplain. After returning
for breakfast we drove to the Botswana border. The border crossing
was relatively hassle-free. Before dinner one of the guides offered
to take the guests out by boat to look for Pel's Fishing Owl at
a spot where he had seen it the previous night. This venture proved
successful as the second boat got to within 15 meters of the bird
sitting a few feet above the water.
Highlights of the day: Pel's Fishing-Owl, African
Rail, Purple Swamphen, Hottentot Teal, Mosque Swallow, African Mourning
Dove, Hartlaub's Babbler, Brown-throated Martin, Little Rush-Warbler,
Rufous-bellied Heron, White-browed Robin-Chat, African Quailfinch,
Dark Chanting Goshawk, Greater Blue-eared, Violet-backed, Burchell's
and Mevesl?'s Starling and African Openbill.
Mammals: African Elephant, Hippo and Slit-faced
Reptiles: Mole Snake.
02 April - Birding the Okavango Panhandle
by boat (Botswana)
After an early breakfast we boarded two boats
and headed upstream on a very high Okavango River. Along some stretches
one could even do some woodland birding by boat! The boat cruise
proved very popular with the clients, some of whom did another two
private trips while the rest were enjoying midday siestas. A long
afternoon walk into the surrounding woodlands produced a good variety
Highlights of the day: Malachite and Giant Kingfisher,
White-backed Night-Heron, Squacco Heron, African Golden Oriole,
Swamp Boubou, White-browed and Coppery-tailed Coucal, Wire-tailed
Swallow, African Marsh-Harrier, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Southern
Black Tit, White-crested Helmet-Shrike, Fan-tailed Widowbird and
Mammals: Sitatunga (only seen by three of the
group) and Hippo.
Reptiles: Stripe-(yellow) bellied Sand Snake
and Nile Crocodile.
03 April - Okavango Panhandle (Botswana)
An early morning walk into a relatively dry patch
of Acacia was followed by breakfast back at camp and another walk
into some good riparian terrain. With limited driving options and
exhausted walking trails we decided to take an afternoon boat ride
downstream to where (we were told) there would be better chances
of locating flooded grassland habitats. We did eventually get to
some flooded grassland É. two meters under water. After dinner the
clients were taken on a search for African Wood Owl in the nearby
Highlights of the day: Vil?llage Indigobird (Okavangoensis),
African Wood Owl, Southern Black Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Apalis,
Magpie Shrike, Montagu's Harrier, Allen's Gallinule, Little Bittern,
Chirping Cisticola, African Green-Pigeon, Retz's Helmet-Shrike,
Southern Pied Babbler, Greater Swamp-Warbler, Collared Sunbird,
Ashy Flycatcher, Meyer's Parrot, Terrestrial Brownbul & Brown
Mammals: Spotted-necked Otter.
Reptiles: Nile Monitor.
04 April Okavango Panhandle (Botswana) to
Mahango Game Reserve (Namibia)
After an early breakfast we headed back to Namibia.
The Mahango Game Reserve looked tempting so we explored several
side roads which looked dry enough to negotiate. Although only limited
access was gained, the reserve provided good mammal and bird sightings.
After a picnic lunch in the park we headed for our Safari Lodge.
The lodge itself was on dry land, but was surrounded by a flooded
lagoon. Vehicles had to be left on a bank while guests and luggage
were ferried across to the lodge by a small boat. With limited walking
options around the lodge, the lodge proprietor offered to take us
on a late afternoon boat cruise, which was duly accepted by all!
Highlights of the day: Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird,
Plain-backed Pipit, Bennett's Woodpecker, Woodland Kingfisher, Eurasian
Hobby, Luapula Cisticola, Pygmy Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, Blue-cheeked
Bee-eater, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Black-crowned Night-Heron and
Mammals: Red Lechwe, Bushbuck and Common Reedbuck.
05 April to Waterberg Plateau National Park.
While we were enjoying our early breakfast, all
the luggage was ferried across to the vehicles. We headed for a
long journey to the Waterberg plateau and arrived in the ll?ate
afternoon, allowing us time for walk among Damara Dikdik in stunning
Highlights of the day: Tawny Eagle, African Yellow
White-eye, Golden-breasted Bunting, Abdim's Stork, Swallow-tailed
Bee-eater, Amethyst Sunbird, Bradfield's and Alpine Swift.
Mammals: Lesser Bushbaby, Banded Mongoose and
06 April 2009 Waterberg Plateau National
Park to Windhoek.
The last day of the tour started with a walk
to the base of the cliffs in an attempt to get better views of Hartlaub's
Francolin. Although the francolin had the day off, many other good
birds were seen. It wasn't easy to leave after a first-class breakfast.
We set off for Windhoek, with a few stops for local crafts and luch
near Okahandja. Windhoek was reached mid afternoon for a timely
check-in for our return flight home.
Highlights of the day: Scarlet-chested Sunbird,
Freckled Nightjar, Shikra, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Lesser Honeyguide,
Bradfield's Hornbill and an out-of-range adult Ayre's Hawk Eagle.
For the species lists
of birds, mammals and reptiles seen on tour, please click
Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Joe
Many of the birding sites on this trip are described in detail in
the Southern African
Birdfinder which is widely available in South African bookshops
and on the internet. (e.g., www.netbooks.co.za
or www.wildsounds.co.uk). However
you're always welcome to contact
us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.