NAMIBIA

giant sand dunes, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park

 

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"the leader always put his clients first, organising rooms, meals, keys, bags, - he made it so easy for us from the early starts to late at night.

While we rested, he would be out looking for birds for us when we turned up; a real professional"..............Mr S, Nottingham.

 

 

 

 

click here for a pdf version of this destination write-up  -  easier to print  -  no photos

 

Made popular by Phil’s successful lecture    programme    at    the    British Birdwatching Fair, our Namibia trip has consistently been voted one of the best holidays our clients have ever been on. Since our first visit, when it was an unknown birding destination, we have watched Namibia develop into a leading African hot spot. Our knowledge of the birds here is second to none, and Phil has even trained local guides! We are very proud of the fine-tuned itinerary that we have developed, and feel that our tour here cannot be bettered.

 

Namibia provides many examples of the best that Africa has to offer; from abundant and approachable big game in Etosha, plenty of endemic birds to target, the highest dunes in the world, and the harsh beauty of the Skeleton Coast. Needless to say, it offers fantastic photographic opportunities.

 

Namibia is still a relatively unknown and sparsely populated country that is politically stable, having achieved independence from South Africa in 1990. The infrastructure is first class, with good quality accommodation and transport. In Etosha the game watching is unrivalled, without the attendant crowds experienced in some parts of East Africa.

 

The key to finding wildlife here is knowing their ecology and habits, as unpredictable rainfall determines where and when vegetation will grow. Many species are nomadic, and our experience of what a bird’s habitat requirements are (rather than relying on sites where a species was seen ‘last year’) pays dividends time and again. Each trip brings new surprises; one year it was a wild cat extravaganza with four Leopards, several Lions, two African Wildcats and a gorgeous Caracal.

 

On arrival we will recharge our batteries with one night in Windhoek. The next day we drive south-west to the famous Sossusvlei dunes for two nights, before heading to the Skeleton Coast, for a stay of two nights. On day seven we pick up some localised species on our way north towards Etosha, breaking the journey with one night in the picturesque Erongo mountains. Etosha National Park merits the greatest share of our time, and we shall spend a total of five nights at game lodges here. On day 13 we will head south to the dramatic Waterberg Plateau, for the final night. From Waterberg there is a relatively short drive back to Windhoek, in time for our flight home.

 


 

ITINERARY

 

THE NAMIB NAUKLUFT DESERT

Arriving at Windhoek on an overnight flight, we transfer straight to a pleasant guesthouse, for the first night. Relaxing after our flight, we are not in a rush to leave. Many birds visit the gardens, such as our first Yellow-billed Hornbill, White-backed Mousebird and Grey Lourie. A visit to a nearby wetland should yield African Darter, Red Bishop, Hottentot Teal, White-throated Swallow and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.

 

The next day we enter the Namib Naukluft Desert birdwatching en route. This ‘travelling day’ has developed into one of the highlights, as there are so many new birds to see. There may be a nesting Black Eagle or endemic Bradfield’s Swift, and if we are lucky, a party of Meercats.

 

An early start into the superb Sossusvlei dunes the next day allows us to search for Dune Lark and Burchell’s Courser before it gets too hot. Dune Lark is the only bird that can eke out a living from the red sands. It is located using knowledge of its critical habitat requirements. The dunes are the largest and most spectacular in the world. Rising to over 1000 feet above the surrounding plains, they hold transient mammals including Oryx and Springbok, with Ostrich striding, statesman-like, across the horizon.

 

WALVIS BAY

The next day we cross the Kuiseb Canyon en-route to the coast. With two nights in Walvis Bay, we explore the Skeleton Coast. The climate is remarkably cool, a result of the cold Benguela Current which flows all the way from Antarctica. Thousands of Lesser and Greater Flamingos form a pink backdrop to the masses of waders and terns. Specialities include Chestnut-banded Plover and the endemic Damara Tern. Thousands of Cape Cormorants nest on specially constructed guano platforms and Cape Fur Seals will be pupping. Pelicans, Cape Gannets and White-chinned Petrels can be found during a boat trip in the bay, when we also have a chance of seeing Jackass Penguin. We are usually successful in locating the rare and localised Benguela Dolphin – sometimes right under the bow!

 

ERONGO

On day seven we return inland via the impressive granite outcrop of Spitzkoppe, watching for Mountain Zebras en route. We hope to find the endemic Gray’s Lark and the elusive Herero Chat. The pale wheatear-like Karoo and Tractrac Chats perch on boulders and we should find many of the lark species for which Namibia is famous.

 

Our lodge is situated among the spectacular granite domes of the Erongo Mountains. Birdwatching is excellent with Verreaux’s Eagle, Black-chested Snake-eagle, Hartlaub’s Francolin, Pririt Batis, Melba Finch, Freckled Nightjar, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Kalahari Robin and the endemic White-tailed Shrike all possible.

 

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

Etosha, 'The Great White Plain' as it is known in bushman language, has been made famous by numerous TV documentaries. A vast salt pan is surrounded by a mixture of bush, woodland and savannah with three camps inside the park. Each one has a waterhole to attract animals and we will spend a total of five nights here.

 

Only with experience can one find the star birds and mammals along the many winding trails which connect the springs and waterholes. Elephants, the largest in Africa, dominate the waterholes, driving off other game such as Zebra and Giraffe. The many Lions wait for Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, the regionally endemic Black-faced Impala, and the appealing Damara Dik Dik. At the time of our visit, towards the end of the dry austral winter, game should be concentrated around the few remaining pools. Double-banded Coursers feed precariously amongst the feet of big game. Secretarybird and Kori Bustard strut by. Although rare here, we have always located the beautiful Blue Crane, arguably the most elegant crane in the world. Owls feature too. We saw African Scops, White-faced Scops, Spotted Eagle Owl, Giant Eagle Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet and African Marsh Owl on one visit!

 

After dinner, we shall wait in anticipation at the camp waterholes for the arrival of Elephant, both White and Black Rhinos or Lion. Hundreds of Double-banded Sandgrouse congregate to drink. As the light fades Rufous-cheeked Nightjars take moths around the floodlights.

 

WATERBERG PLATEAU

Driving south on day 13 takes us to the Waterberg Plateau. This impressive feature dominates the landscape. Specialities such as Monteiro's and Damara Red-billed Hornbills, Damara Rockrunner, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Ruppell’s Parrot occur, and Lesser Bushbaby may show up at night.

 

On our last day we will make our way back to the capital, Windhoek, in good time for our evening flight home.

 

PACE

The cooler morning temperatures and peak in wildlife activity mean that we must rise early to make the most of the opportunities available. The pattern in Namibia involves early morning and late afternoon excursions, resting and relaxing, or travelling, between these times. Basic fitness is all that is required. Walking will be at a sensible pace. There will be a little uphill walking in the Waterberg Plateau and at Erongo. Away from the coast temperatures can be high, but you can take things easy during the heat of the day.

 

ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD

Full-board accommodation is provided in excellent hotels, lodges and camps. We shall spend one night at the Palmquell Guesthouse, Windhoek, two nights at the Namib Naukluft Lodge near Sossusvlei, two nights at the Hotel Langholm, Walvis Bay, one night at Erongo Wilderness Lodge, five nights in Etosha (at Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni Rest Camps) and one night at the Waterberg Rest Camp. All accommodation has private facilities en suite.

 

PRICE INCLUDES …..

All birdwatching excursions with expert leader and local driver/guide, full-board accommodation (starting with lunch on 24th, ending with lunch on 6th), soft drinks at meal times, local transport, boat trip, park entrance fees, international flights and airport taxes.

 

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED

Travel insurance. Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry.

 

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

Return flight from London Heathrow to Windhoek (via Johannesburg) using the scheduled services of South African. Outbound flight departs mid-evening, return flight arrives back early morning. Domestic flights from Manchester and other UK airports are available on this tour. See booking form for details.

 

 

 

14 nights including

two overnight flights:

                               

Principal leader:

 

Maximum group size:

 

Cost with discount

(if you book before

10th August 2012):

 

Full Cost:

 

 

 

 

Single supplement:

 

Deposit:

 

 

           

23rd Nov. to 7th Dec. 2012

 

Phil Palmer

 

12 clients with one leader

and a local driver/guide

 

 

£4280 per person sharing

 

£4430 per person sharing

 

A ground only price is available. Please contact our office

 

£350

 

£600

 

 

 

For a full tour, we take a large vehicle. You can see that this has extra height for birding, as well as 2 roof-top openings.

The massive windows can open allowing excellent photographic opportunities.

 

 

This is typical room in the re-vamped campgrounds in Etosha. The upper shot is at Namutoni & the lower is at Halali.

 

 

 

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new photographs have been added to a Namibia & Caprivi web page

click here to view

 

 

 

Photos from previous tours

 

 

this Leopard was one of 3 sightings in 2009. This one was caught drinking at night in Etosha.

 

 

Gemsbok in the Namib Desert

 

 

The Meercat is a very difficult creature to spot. They are not found in Etosha so must be looked for on private farmland in the south. Most tourists are happy to believe that the ground squirrels they see are Meercats. In reality, the Meercat is very wary and one of the most difficult mammals to find. This group were watching us in 2006.

 

This Chameleon was at the Waterburg Plateau on our visit in 2005

 

The endemic White-tailed Shrike was part of a research project on one of our visits.

 

The Secretary bird is usually sighted on private farmland amid Kalahari sands, with others in Etosha.

 

African Scops Owl in Etosha

 

The Herero Chat is endemic to the country and along with Grays Lark, probably the hardest birds to find. This was one of a pair we found in 2006.

 

Zebra at an Etosha waterhole

 

 

Springbok migrate to follow the rains

 

 

'Waiting for cake'

This pair of Ruppell's Korhaans are a highlight of our time spent in the desert. They have visited us each year for tiffin.

In seven visits, they have only brought 2 chicks to see us. In 2006, both 'kids' had already become habituated to eating cake provided at teatime, so the legacy of this amazing pair goes on. We look forward to feeding them each year as this must be the only place in the world where one can hand feed a wild bustard.

 

 

The Pink-billed Lark is one of the most difficult of this nomadic family to find. Knowledge of their habitat requirements mean that we often have a feel for where to locate them.

 

 

Pallid Harriers arrive with the rains.

 

 

This Quiver Tree is one of several species adapted to survive the harshest of climates.

 

 

These two Lions were having a lover's tiff before continuing their love-making in Etosha.

 

Probably the hardest of the cats to see in Namibia, this is one of five Leopards, we have found. The other four were all seen on the same day!

 

 

The Kori Bustard displays when the first rains arrive.

 

Gemsbok - possibly the most graceful of antelope?

 

 

Three old bulls on the edge of the Etosha Pan.

Namibia's Elephants are the largest in Africa.

 

Two Cape Fox cubs fight over an old Ostrich feather.

 

 

The Blue Crane has been reduced to just a handful in Namibia. We have been fortunate to locate them on every trip.

 

The Black Korhaan calls to attract a mate before starting a flying display.

 

A Pygmy Falcon watches for lizards.

 

Black Oystercatchers on the Skeleton Coast.

 

Greater Flamingo, Walvis Bay

 

The Pennant-winged Nightjar is probably the strangest night-flying bird in the world - spooky!

This one was only the second record for Etosha, found on our 2006 tour.

Our leaders are known for their persistence in tracking down the unusual. We were extremely lucky to find this female Cheetah in the Namib Desert.

Not only was it amazing to watch her, but she also had 4 babies tucked away in the grass!

 

 

 

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Birding Namibia, Birdwatching Namibia, Namibia safari, Namibia Bird Tour, Etosha safari, Birding Etosha, Dune Lark, Gray's Lark, Herero Chat, Cheetah, Leopard, Black Rhino, Walvis Bay, Skeleton Coast, Namib Desert. Expert leaders who can find all the endemics.