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Cape Birding Tour

Namaqualand Birds & Flowers

Top birds

•  Cape Eagle-Owl  
•  Ludwig's Bustard
•  Damara Tern
•  Cape Long-billed Lark
•  Karoo Lark
•  Barlow's Lark (Port Nolloth)
•  Fairy Flycatcher
•  Southern Grey Tit
•  Cinnamon-breasted Warbler
•  Ground Woodpecker
•  Layard's Tit-Babbler
•  Dusky Sunbird
•  Black-headed Canary
•  Damara Canary

Tour description

Namaqualand forms the largest portion of the succulent Karoo Biome, the only desert biodiversity hotspot on Earth!

From giant aloes to minute stone plants, it hosts the world's greatest diversity of succulent plants. Spectacular floral carpets of daisies and arid-adapted plants cover the region in spring. More than a 1 000 of its estimated 3 500 plant species are found nowhere else on earth.

Ludwig's Bustard, Cape Eagle-Owl and the endemic Barlow's Lark are best seen here.

In this winter-rainfall region, August and September offer the most prolific wildflower displays and the best birding opportunities, as the birds are likely to be breeding this time of year.

It is impractical to cover all great birding spots in Namaqualand in a few days, so we usually suggest that the area is explored over at least five or six days.

Our tours to this region are usually linked with a Tanqua Karoo and perhaps Bushmanland visit, hence, we sometimes approach the area from the south via Ceres and the Tanqua. Otherwise, we drive along the West Coast from Cape Town towards Kamieskroon and Springbok, visiting Rocher Pan, Verlorenvlei and Lambert's Bay en route.

Budget Namaqualand Tour
8 days
15-22 August 2010 (please enquire for other dates)

This itinerary is designed to complement birds with flowers.

Namaqualand is perhaps best known for its spectacular spring floral displays in August and early September. Birds also become more active at this time of year and a total list of 200-220 bird species (many of them Cape endemics) can be expected.

Our journey starts and ends in Cape Town and offers birding in Strandveld and some freshwater pans along the West Coast, and in Namaqualand in mainly Renosterveld and farmlands. Climbing the escarpment up Vanrhyns Pass, the habitat changes to protea-rich Fynbos, before gradually transforming into more arid Karooveld. The gravel plains of the Tanqua's Succulent Karoo holds some unique flora and birdlife, as well as offering wide open vistas for those who enjoy getting away from it all.

This tour also offers some mammal encounters, mainly in the Goegap Nature Reserve and Tanqua Karoo National Park: Springbok, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Common Duiker, Red Hartebeest, Gemsbok (Oryx), Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Cape Mountain Zebra, Cape Hare, Springhare, Porcupine, Blackbacked jackal, Bat-eared Fox and African Wild Cat.

We'll explore:
- Velddrif, Rocherpan and Verlorenvlei for Grey Tit, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, African Rail, Greybacked Cisticola, Southern Pochard, Cape Clapper Lark and Karoo Lark.
- Eland's Bay, Lambert's Bay Bird Island, Vanrhynsdorp, Garies and Kamieskroon: Cape Gannet, Crowned Cormorant and several species of tern; Cape Long-billed and Cape Clapper Lark, Verreaux's Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Protea Canary, Pale-winged Starling, Cape Siskin, Mountain Wheatear and Greater Kestrel. Also Martial Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Black-headed Canary, Spike-heeled and Large-billed Lark, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler and Chat Flycatcher.
- Springbok: Goegap Nature Reserve known for Karoo Eremomela, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Korhaan, Dusky Sunbird and Ground Woodpecker. Nababeep and Spektakelberg for Layard's Titbabbler, Mountain Wheatear, Verreaux's Eagle and Ludwig's Bustard.
- Namaqua National Park and Kamieskroon: Cape Penduline Tit, Damara Canary, Karoo Lark, Cape Long-billed Lark, Orange River White-eye, Cape Clapper Lark, Grey-backed Cisticola and White-throated Canary. (Floral displays here will be at their best when the sun reaches its zenith).
- Nieuwoudtville Waterfall and Nature Reserve: Booted Eagle, Layard's Titbabbler and Grey-winged Francolin, African Stonechat, different larks and Pale Chanting Goshawk.
- Tanqua Karoo National Park: beautiful scenery and birds like Ludwig's Bustard, Karoo Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Burchell's Courser, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Lark, Fairy Flycatcher, Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler, Rufous-eared Warbler, Sickle-winged Chat, Dusky Sunbird, Black-headed and Damara Canary.
- Karoopoort and Ceres: We'll look for the nomadic Grey-backed and Black-eared Sparrowlark, elusive Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and lots of Karoo Chats.

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler photographed by Callan Cohen. See this Cape endemic bird on a Birding Africa trip from Cape Town See Cinnamon-breasted Warbler on a Namaqualand, Cape Endemics, Tanqua Karoo or Bushmanland Birding Tour with Birding Africa © Callan Cohen

Pincushion flowers on a Cape Birds & Flowers trip © Callan Cohen.
'Pincushionson' flowers of the Protea family, Leucospermum genus on a Cape Birds & Flowers tour © Callan Cohen.

Karoo Korhaan on a Birding Africa tour © Callan Cohen.

Orchids and lillies on a Cape Birds & Flowers tour © Callan Cohen

Ground Woodpecker on a Birding Africa tour © Callan Cohen.

Cape Sugarbird on a Cape Birds & Flowers tour © Callan Cohen.
Cape Sugarbird on 'pincushion' flowers on a Cape Birds & Flowers tour © Callan Cohen.

About 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.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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