16 DAY – NIGHT BIRDING TRIP
This is one of the most popular regional birding safaris. Besides covering most of central Namibia and finding the endemics and near endemic birds we will also cover the tropical woodlands of the Caprivi/Zambezi strip where our focus will be on finding the Okavango Specials.
We will start off in Windhoek and then continue through the Namib Desert towards the coastal town of Walvis Bay. From here we will continue northwards and after birding in the Erongo region which is a Namibian birding hotspot, we will spend three days in Etosha National Park. From here we leave the drier areas behind us as we drive north into the mature woodlands of the Caprivi Strip and northern Botswana. We will spend a night on the Okavango River between crossing the border the border into Botswana. We will spend one more night in the Divundu area before continuing eastwards towards Katima Mulilo where we will spend two days. From here we recommend our Southern Zambia, Chaplin’s Barbet and Black-cheeked Lovebird extension in southern Zambia or even spend a few days in Botswana’s Chobe National Park.
Single supplement: £149
Location: Namibia – Caprivi – Botswana
Date: 3rd – 18th Nov 2017
Tour leader: Nick Buys
Group size: 6
DAY 2 Windhoek and surrounds
Arrival at Windhoek Airport where you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your accommodation. We will start of our birding safari at a couple of birding spots close to Windhoek. We will visit Avis Dam and Daan Viljoen Game Reserve looking for Rockrunner, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Barred Wren-warbler, Damara Hornbill, White-tailed Shrike, Carp’s Black Tit, Bradfield’s Swift, African Palm Swift, Kalahari Scrub-robin, Common Swift, Rock Martin, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, African Pipit, Long-billed Pipit, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Acacia Pied Barbet, Orange River Francolin, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Cape Penduline tit, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Rock Kestrel, Mountain Wheat-ear, Violet-eared, Blue and Black-faced Waxbills to name a few.
Accommodation: Belvedere Boutique Hotel or similar guesthouse in Windhoek
DAY 3: The Namib Desert and the coast
With an early start we will quickly round up our Windhoek birding if we did not have enough time yesterday. We will drive through the Khomas Hochland birding along the way and make our way to escarpment on the edge of the Namib Desert. On the way and during our afternoon birding walk we will look for Orange River Francolin, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Chat, Verreaux’s Eagle, Cape Penduline-tit, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, White-throated, Black-throated and Yellow Canary, Grey-backed Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia, White-backed Mousebird, Rock Martin, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Pririt Batis, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Red-eyed Bulbul and Fork-tailed Drongo. At night we will listen for Fiery-necked Nightjar, Barn Owl, Pear-spotted Owlet and Spotted Thick-knee.
Accommodation: Namibgrens Guest Farm
DAY 4 Herero Chat, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and its waders
After breakfast we will slowly make our way down the escarpment looking for one of Namibia’s most difficult near-endemics, the Herero Chat and we hope to see similar birds that was on the list for yesterday. Once we reach the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world we make our way across the plains we will look for Ruppell’s Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, Tractrac Chat, Stark’s Lark, Lark-like Bunting, Ludwig’s Bustard and Common Ostrich to name a few. After arriving in Walvis Bay or Swakopmund and settling into our Bed and Breakfast for the evening we will spend the afternoon at the Walvis Bay lagoon which has been declared a Ramsar site of global importance for thousands of waders that are found here. One of our main targets today will be the Damara Tern. Other birds we hope to find include Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Phalarope, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Swift, Common, Sandwich and Caspian Terns, Eurasian and African Black Oystercatchers, Common Ringed, Chestnut-banded, Grey and Three-banded Plovers and Greater and Lesser Flamingos. Cape Cormorants are usually spotted in huge flocks and we will also look for Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants and if we are lucky Bank Cormorant. The great thing about this area is that anything can pitch up so we have the possibilities to see a rarity or two. Pomarine Jaeger and Subantarctic Skua are sometimes seen from the shoreline.
Accommodation: Lagoon Lodge Bed and Breakfast in Walvis Bay.
DAY 5 & 6 Dune Lark, Omaruru and the Erongo Mountains
We will head out early after a cup of coffee and look for Dune, Namibia’s endemic bird amongst the sand dunes in the Kuiseb River. Other interesting birds in the area include the Desert form of the Trac Trac chat, Bokmakierie, White-backed Mousebird, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Sparrow, Dusky Sunbird and Common Waxbill. We will then return for breakfast and after checking out of the lodge we will have time to wrap up our coastal birding before we will make our way inland towards the Erongo Mountains where we will spend the next two nights. The Erongo Mountains and surrounds are the best spot for Hartlaub’s Francolin and we will be up early the next morning to try and find them. Besides the Francolin we will search for Ruppell’s Parrot, Carp’s Black Tit, Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Monteiro’s and Damara Hornbill, Violet Woodhoopoe, Pale-winged Staring, Red-billed Spurfowl, Augur Buzzard, Cinnamon-breasted, Golden-breasted, Cape and Lark-like Buntings. Our lodge will be close to the small town of Omaruru or Khorixas and is perfectly situated for searching for Hartlaub’s Francolin.
Accommodation: Erongo Wilderness Lodge
DAY 7 Damaraland and Etosha National Park
After a quick birding session trying to find the Erongo region’s missing specials we will continue the safari in a northerly direction towards Etosha National Park travelling past Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg along the way. Our main target in Damaraland will be the recently split Benguela Long-billed Lark found along the base of this impressive mountain. We will another chance to look for Herero Chat, Bokmakierie, Ruppell’s Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Karoo Chat, Stark’s Lark and Augur Buzzard. After lunch we will make our way to Etosha and after checking in we will spend a couple of hours birding in the camp before heading out to find some of the specials in the park. We will try and find Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Acacia Pied Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Marico Flycatcher, Chat Flycatcher, Rattling Cisticola, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Ostrich, Kori Bustard, Northern Black and Red-crested Korhaan and Great Sparrow to name a few. We will scan on top of all the huge Sociable Weaver nests for Pygmy Falcon. At the waterhole tonight we will look for Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Barn Owl and Spotted Eagle-owl.
Accommodation: Okaukuejo Resort inside Etosha National Park or Etosha Safari Lodge just outside the park
DAY 8 Central Etosha National Park
Today will be dedicated exploring the vast Etosha National Park. We will start birding on the Okondeka plains north of the camp and look for Spike-heeled, Pink-billed, Eastern Clapper, Red-capped and Sabota Larks as well as Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark, Capped Wheatear, Double-banded Courser, Desert Cisticola and Rufous-eared Warbler. As we make our way towards Halali camp which will be our Resort for tonight we will look for Monotonous and Rufous-naped Larks and we will keep an eye out for Etosha’s raptors. They include Martial Eagle and Tawny Eagles, Black-chested and Brown Snake-eagles, Lanner, Peregrine and Red-necked Falcons and Pale-chanting and Gabar Goshawks. Halali Resort is known for sightings of Violet Woodhoopoe, Carp’s Black Tit, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Pied Babbler, White-crested Helmet-shrike, African Scops Owl and Southern White-faced Owlet. Etosha is also well known for vultures and we might see Lappet-faced, White-backed, White-headed and Hooded Vultures.
Accommodation: Halali Resort in side Etosha National Park
DAY 9 Eastern Etosha National Park
Today we will slowly make our way towards the eastern section with bigger areas of woodland. Here we hope to find Blue Crane, Black-faced Babbler, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Crested Francolin, White-browed Robin-chat, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Cape Glossy Starling, Double-banded Courser and Chat Flycatcher along the way. If the Etosha pan is full of water it is transformed into a water bird spectacle with huge numbers of Pelican, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Caspian Plover, Red-billed and Cape Teals, Chestnut-banded Plover, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilts and Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes. As with Walvis Bay any number of rarities might be present. We will stay at a lodge just outside the park. It is surrounded by great Acacia Bushveld perfect for picking up any of the specials that we have missed. From a mammal point of view this area is perfect for finding the endemic Damara Dik-dik. Etosha is one of the best game viewing parks in Africa and we hope to see Elephant, Lion, Black Rhino, Giraffe, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Black-backed Jackal, Black-faced Impala (another endemic), Red Hartebeest, Oryx, Greater Kudu and Springbok during our stay in the park.
Accommodation: Mokuti or Mushara Lodges
DAY 10 Rundu and the Okavango River
With an early start we will leave the drier parts of the country behind us as we make our way north to the rivers and mature woodland of the Caprivi Strip. We will stop for lunch and look for Black-faced Babbler if we missed them yesterday and look for Dark-chanting Goshawk, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, and spend the night at a lodge overlooking the Okavango River. We will spend the afternoon birding along the river which will be the perfect introduction to Okavango Delta and tropical and riverine woodland specials. Some of the specials we might find include Swamp Boubou, Golden Weaver, Brown-throated Weaver, Coppery-tailed and Senegal Coucals, Arrow-marked and Hartlaub’s Babblers, Water Thick-knee, Rufous-bellied Tit and Chirping Cisticola to name a few.
Accommodation: Hakusembe River Lodge on the banks of the Okavango River
DAY 11 The Okavango Panhandle
After a few hours birding in the vicinity of Rundu and along the way we will move across into Botswana. Exciting possibilities along this section of road include Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-bellied Tit, Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, Green-backed Honeybird and African Hobby to name a few. After lunch and settling into our lodge for the night, we will depart for an afternoon boat cruise. The big special here is the highly sought after Pel’s Fishing Owl and this area must be one of the best spots in the world to find this beautiful bird. Other specials here include White-backed Night-heron, Brown Firefinch, African Skimmer, Luapula Cisticola, Chirping Cisticola, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-browed Coucal, Greater Swamp Warbler, Broad-billed Roller, Narina Trogon and Malachite, Half-collared, Pied and Giant Kingfishers.
Accommodation: Xaro Lodge or Drotsky’s Cabins
DAY 12 Mahango National Park
We will move back into Namibia and spend the rest of the day birding in Mahango National Park and the Okavango River. Here we will try and find the missing specials for the Okavango region like Rufous-bellied Heron, Slaty Egret, Lesser Jacana, Grey-headed Parrot, Rock Pratincole, African Yellow White-eye, White-browed Coucal, Wattled Crane, Long-toed Lapwing and African Hobby to name a few. We will also search the riverine woodland and Acacia savannah for birds like Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, Meyer’s Parrot, Chinspot Batis, White-browed Robin-chat, White-browed Scrub-robin, Southern Pied Babbler, Cardinal, Bearded, Golden-tailed and Bennett’s Woodpecker. Our lodge for the night will be on the Okavango River.
Accommodation: Mahango Safari Lodge or Nunda River Lodge
DAY 13 Eastern Caprivi
Today we will make our way across the Caprivi Strip towards Katima Mulilo with various birding stops along the way. The Riverine, Teak and Mopane Woodland around Katima Mulilo and along the way will give us the opportunity to catch up with species like African Golden Oriole, African Hobby, Arnott’s Chat, Bearded Scrub-robin, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Brown-throated Weaver, Copper Sunbird, African Mourning Dove, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow and Bradfield’s Hornbill to name a few. Our lodge for tonight will be on the banks of the Zambezi River.
Accommodation: Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge
DAY 14 Katima Mulilo and surrounds
We will spend the whole day birding along the Zambezi River with the main habitats consisting of floodplains and Lilly-covered pans. We will try to find Western Banded Snake-eagle, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Schalow’s Turaco, Shelley’s Sunbird, White-crowned Lapwing, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, African Pygmy-geese, African Skimmer, Trumpeter Hornbill, Golden Weaver, Tropical Boubou, African Finfoot, African Wood-owl and Square-tailed Nightjar. We will again stay at the same lodge close to Katima Mulilo.
Accommodation: Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge
Internal Flight to Windhoek. Depart Windhoek
This will be the official end of our birding safari and from here you have the option of flying back to Windhoek from Katima Mulilo, continue to Livingstone and visit the mighty Victoria Falls, spend an extra day exploring the famous Chobe National Park in Botswana or continue with us on our Southern Zambia extension.
Namibia is an incredible country with landscapes including the world famous Namibia Desert and Kalahari Desert, coastal towns like Swakopmund, Namibia is 318,261 square miles, receiving over 300 days of sunshine, Holidays to Namibia are beautiful, with Animals such as the iconic Giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, 9 national parks and countless species for your viewing pleasure Namibia is Incredible, my personal favourite.
Botswana, the name alone brings images of incredible landscapes and wildlife. Botswana is a wildlife paradise and leaves you speechless in awe. The Okavango Delta’s rich selection of wetlands and various ecosystems hosts beautiful species of Africa and has an incredible array. Lion, elephant, buffalo, hippo, leopard and cheetah are just a small selection of wildlife for your viewing pleasure, with the introduction of rhino wildlife holidays to Botswana should be on any wildlife enthusiasts list.
Zambia is another fantastic African country renowned for incredible game viewing guides sure to get you close to your wildlife, incredible landscapes including Victoria falls with Victoria falls bridge for incredible viewing, Livingstone and diverse national parks such as south Luangwa make Zambia wildlife holidays some of the best. Wildlife including the leopard and elusive cheetah, lions and elephants there is always something to see.