An 18-day epic birding and wildlife safari visiting Windhoek, Namib Grens, Swakopmund Erongo Mountains, Etosha, Rundu, Shakawe, Katima Mulilo and Victoria Falls.
After arriving in Windhoek around mid-day, and after getting everything packed into the vehicles, we’ll start making our way to our accommodation for the evening in order to get settled in. Along the way we’ll start encountering new birds such as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Black-chested Prinia and Namaqua Dove, and the property where we’ll be staying affords some wonderful birding on the grounds. After reaching our lodge, we’ll have a pleasant lunch with a bit of time to get to know each other and relax before setting out for a nice afternoon stroll to start adding to our list. A number of widespread yet interesting birds will be encountered, such as Red-eyed Bulbul, Acacia Pied Barbet, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler, Grey Go-Away-Bird and possibly even Rosy-faced Lovebird, whilst the skies above play host to Common Swift, Alpine Swift and the much sought after Bradfield’s Swift, with Windhoek itself being a good location to track down this species. Afterwards we’ll settle in for a filling dinner and a good nights rest before the birding start in earnest.
We’ll start our day off early with an outing to the nearby Avis Dam where a host of excellent species may be found, including Monteiro’s Hornbill, Damara Rockrunner, Dusky Sunbird, Scaly-feathered Finch and the exquisite Violet-eared Waxbill. Afterwards we’ll make our way back for breakfast before loading up the vehicle for the drive through to the west. Our route will take us across the incredibly scenic Hakos Mountains, with a plethora of fascinating species along the way, and we should find Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Mountain Wheatear, Pririt Batis, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Barred Wren-Warbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Red-billed Spurfowl. Of interest on the route will be the massive Sociable Weaver nests, whilst we may possibly encounter the diminutive Pygmy Falcon, a tiny raptor which associates very closely with Sociable Weavers and their nests. From here we’ll complete the short drive through to our lodge for the night, arriving in time for lunch, whilst later the afternoon we’ll spend some time exploring the immediate area where Karoo Scrub-Robin occurs at the northern limit of their range. Other species we’ll look for include Cape Bunting, Layard’s Warbler, Pririt Batis, Short-toed Rock Thrush and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.
We’ll start the day with a birding stroll around the grounds where we could add Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-faced Waxbill, Long-billed Crombec and Great Sparrow, before having breakfast and loading up the vehicle for the drive through to the coast via the incredibly scenic Spreetshoogte Pass. Here we’ll focus on searching for Herero Chat, a scarce species that is very easily overlooked due to its inconspicuous habits, and although Cinnamon-breasted Warbler occurs here, a great deal of luck will be needed to locate a pair of these beautiful little birds. The Spreetshoogte pass will also hopefully provide us with the chance to see a few interesting mammals, with Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra the most sought-after species, whilst Kudu, Klipspringer and Chacma Baboon also occur in the region. After crossing through the mountains we’ll drop down onto the coastal plain where the vegetation will become progressively more arid and sparse. This habitat change means we can start searching for a new range of species from this point on, and the sparse grasslands may turn up Starks Lark, Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Common Ostrich, whilst with a great deal of luck we may encounter the scarce and highly nomadic Burchell’s Courser. Eventually as we near the coast we’ll start to enter the true Namib Desert and it’s here that species such as Tractrac Chat and Gray’s Lark may be found. We’ll also keep an eye out for the fascinating Namaqua Chameleon Chamaeleo namaquensis, a fairly common inhabitant of these stark and barren plains. We should arrive at Swakopmund around mid-afternoon, and after getting settled in, we may opt to head out to the north of town for a short while to bird around the Mile 4 Salt Works where our wader list will increase significantly as we search for Chestnut-banded, Grey and Common Ringed Plover, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Little Stint, whilst large numbers of Terns also arrive here during the late afternoon and we should easily find Common, Arctic, Swift and Sandwich Terns. The site also has a reputation for turning up a few interesting species from time to time, with Common Redshank usually present, and Franklin’s Gull, American Golden Plover and Buff-breasted Sandpiper have all been found here over the years. We’ll return for a bit of time to relax, checking the open plains for Gray’s Lark along the way back, before heading out for a pleasant dinner in town.
Taking a packed breakfast with us, we’ll be out for a long morning as we head out to explore the region around Walvis Bay towards the south. Birding in the area is mostly confined to the coast, where a range of species occur, although our first stop will be at a guano platform along the way. As we’ll be there fairly early, we should encounter large numbers of Cormorants, with Cape Cormorant being by far the most common, whilst a bit of searching will be required to locate Crowned and Bank Cormorant amongst the hordes. Another very sought after species to search for here is Damara Tern, with this species occurring regularly but at low densities in the area, with the birds breeding along the base of dunes but can be seen flying to and from their feeding grounds. Our first aim for the morning will be to visit Rooibank, a small village roughly 20km’s inland along the edge of the Kuiseb River, where our target will be Namibia’s only true endemic species, Dune Lark, a rather attractive bird (for a Lark), with the birds being fairly common here although difficult to locate when not displaying. A walk through the dune fields will also allow us to observe a few of the fascinating species of ‘Tenebrionid’ or Darkling Beetles, with Onymacris unguicularis being fairly common, and the small but fast Zophosis triangulifera occurring higher up on the dunes. We’ll return to Walvis Bay from here, where we’ll again focus on coastal birding, and we’ll start off birding along the esplanade, where Lesser and Greater Flamingo occur alongside huge numbers of waders such as Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Whimbrel and possibly Eurasian Curlew. We’ll then visit the Walvis Bay Salt Works, where we may find Red-necked Phalarope, a regular vagrant to Southern Africa, whilst large rafts of Black-necked Grebe are also regularly seen here alongside more regular waders, and occasionally Black Tern. Time permitting we may quickly scan the ocean from the end of the Paaltjies road where Sooty Shearwater, White-chinned Petrel and Parasitic Jaeger may be seen. We’ll return to Walvis Bay for lunch along the esplanade, where Damara Tern may be seen alongside the more common Terns and Gulls such as Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull, Common Tern, Greater Crested, Sandwich and Caspian Tern. From here we’ll make our way back to Swakopmund, where we’ll have some time to relax before doing some birding nearby in the late afternoon to search for any species we may still be missing.
We’ll have a slightly more relaxed start today and after breakfast at the guest house we’ll leave the coast behind us and make our way into the desert where we’ll continue our exploration of this fascinating country. We’ll do some roadside birding, searching for species such as Tractrac Chat, Starks Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark and Chat Flycatcher, whilst a quick roadside stop may produce Rüppell’s Korhaan, Karoo Chat and Karoo Long-billed Lark, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and with luck, Karoo Eremomela. Along the way we’ll make a detour towards the spectacular Spitzkoppe, arguably Namibia’s most famous natural landmark, with the Granite massif domineering over the surrounding desert plains. The birding here is also excellent with a range of species to be seen, with the primary target being the range restricted Herero Chat, although a fair amount of luck and effort will be needed to locate this relatively unobtrusive species. Other birds we’ll look for are Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Common Scimitarbill, Monteiro’s Hornbill and Dusky Sunbird. At Spitzkoppe itself we’ll search for Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-tailed Shrike, Great Sparrow, Augur Buzzard, Bradfield’s Swift and Layard’s Titbabbler. Eventually we’ll continue along towards the Erongo Mountains, possibly stopping at a nearby hill along the way to search for Herero Chat should we still need this species, and aim to arrive at our accommodation early afternoon. After a bit of time to relax, we’ll have a short afternoon stroll along one of the footpaths, with a sundowner stop complete with fantastic view over the surrounding terrain to end off the day. Our stroll also gives us an opportunity to find a few of the specials, with Damara Rockrunner occurring at high densities here compared to most other places, whilst there is a chance of finding the much sought after Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. From here we’ll stroll back to camp, and after freshening up, we’ll meet for a lovely dinner, where the floodlit waterhole should also provide us with views of Freckled Nightjar, a species we should hear regularly during the evenings.
We’ll have a full day to explore the wonderful surroundings of the Erongo, and we’ll focus this morning on locating the shy and confiding Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. There are several resident pairs in the vicinity of the lodge and this site offers one of the best opportunities to locate this species, mainly due to the fact that they spend the early morning calling from exposed points. During the morning we should be able to locate a host of other interesting species, with White-tailed Shrike usually present as they actively hop around on the ground, whilst Carp’s Tit are regularly encountered in pairs, constantly foraging from one tree to the next. In addition, Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbills, Black-faced and Violet-eared Waxbills, Pririt Batis, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and Yellow-bellied Eremomela may be seen, and we may have views of the resident Verreaux’s Eagle pair. After a late brunch, we’ll head out to bird some of the surrounding areas where we hope to find birds such as Southern Pied Babbler, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Rüppell’s Parrot and possibly Peregrine Falcon. After some time to relax we’ll spend the late afternoon exploring the area on foot, searching for new species such as White-throated and Black-throated Canary, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.
We’ll have an easy start to the day, although if we missed Hartlaub’s Spurfowl the previous day we’ll have another early walk before returning for breakfast and making our way north to world renowned Etosha National Park. We’ll be based here for four nights, giving us ample time to explore the numerous small roads that cross this fascinating reserve. We’ll enter the park at Anderson Gate and make our way directly to our first camp, Okaukuejo, where we’ll be based for the next two nights. After getting settled in at the end of what would have been a fairly lengthy drive, we’ll spend a bit of time relaxing and having a stroll across to the waterhole alongside camp to see what’s around. Game viewing can be excellent, although after the first rains they do disperse a bit, even so, we could easily see a multitude of species such as Gemsbok, Springbok, Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest and the distinctive ‘Black-faced’ Impala. We’ll meet up again for a short drive late the afternoon in order to see what we can find before the end of the day with species such as Scaly-feathered Finch, Sociable Weaver, Violet-eared Waxbill, Crimson-breasted Shrike, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver being regularly seen, and hopefully a few additional raptors with Gabar Goshawk and Pygmy Falcon occurring in the vicinity. We’ll return for dinner, and for those who interested, a bit of time at the floodlit waterhole may turn up Rufous-cheeked Nightjar and Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl alongside some interesting mammals, with African Wild Cat and Black-backed Jackal being found here regularly, and with some luck Black Rhino could also be seen coming down for a drink.
We’ll be up early exploring the region towards the west of camp initially, where we hope to find Double-banded Courser, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Kori Bustard and Southern Ant-Eating Chat, while a host of larks will hopefully be added to our list. The thick-billed form of Sabota Lark, sometimes treated as a separate species, Bradfield’s Lark, may be seen alongside Spike-heeled, Eastern Clapper, Red-capped and possibly Pink-billed Larks. Raptors are also well represented, with Tawny Eagle, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Gabar Goshawk, Martial Eagle, White-backed, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vulture all being possible. Afterwards we’ll return for breakfast in camp before we pack up and start to make our way out towards the east for our next destination, the camp of Halali. The drive there will take us past various waterholes where, besides game viewing, we’ll have the opportunity to see species such as Lanner Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Teal, Grey-backed Sparrowlark and Northern Black Korhaan, whilst at one site along the way we’ll look for the isolated population of Rufous-eared Warblers that occur in Etosha. We’ll aim to arrive at Halali around the early afternoon for lunch, and allowing ourselves a bit of time to relax during the hottest part of the day, although a stroll through the camp may well turn up a few gems such as Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Scops Owl and White-faced Scops Owl. Late the afternoon a short drive up north could hopefully add Barred Wren-Warbler and Red-necked Falcon to our lists, before returning for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Depending on our luck the previous day, we’ll again start the day with a pleasant stroll through the camp where the main targets are undoubtedly Bare-cheeked Babbler and Violet Wood-Hoopoe, whilst Acacia Pied Barbet, Common Scimitarbill, Yellow-billed Kite, Groundscraper Thrush, Damara Red-billed Hornbill and White-crested Helmet-Shrike. After breakfast we’ll get the vehicle packed and make our way to the eastern most camp in the park, Namutoni, situated just south of the spit of land connecting Etosha Pan with Fischer’s Pan. We’ll once more aim to arrive around early afternoon with some time to settle in and relax, before taking an easy afternoon drive out to the south where Klein Namutoni Pan may turn up Little Stint, Cape Teal, Southern Pochard and Egyptian Goose, whilst with a bit of luck Blue Crane may also be found here. From here we’ll drive the nearby Dik-Dik drive where Black-faced Babbler occurs, whilst other species here include Gabar Goshawk, Acacia Pied Barbet, Chin-spot Batis and Kurrichane Thrush. Besides birds, the drive gets its name from the Damara Dik-Dik, a fascinating antelope species known as Kirk’s Dik-dik in East Africa, with this race being confined to the dry regions of Namibia and Southern Angola.
We’ll start the day with a drive in the vicinity of the camp where we have a chance to track down Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Tawny Eagle, Barred Wren-Warbler and Fawn-colored Lark before returning to camp for breakfast. Afterwards we’ll set off on another drive around Fischer’s Pan, and although the pan itself will likely not have any water in at this time of the year, the dry bushveld should still hold Red-headed Finch, Kori Bustard, Temminck’s Courser, Rufous-naped Lark, Chat Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Willow Warbler, Red-billed Quelea and hopefully Chestnut Weaver. After returning to camp for lunch we’ll spend some time relaxing during the hottest part of the day, before we set off for another afternoon drive to the north of camp aiming to visit the Andoni Plains situated in the far noerth-eastern corner of the park. Here the dense dry thickets give way to open grassland where species such as Eastern Clapper Lark, Pink-billed Lark, Rufous-naped Lark, Northern Black Korhaan, Lilac-breasted Roller, Burchell’s Courser and Magpie Shrike may all be seen, whilst Andoni Waterhole is often a good place to locate Blue Crane. Afterwards we’ll drive back to camp, arriving just before the gates close, and then settling in for a lovely dinner.
We’ll aim to not waste too much time along the way today as we leave Etosha behind and make our way north towards the Caprivi Strip, a narrow section of Namibia that juts out to the east between Zambia and Botswana. We may opt to spend some time birding along the way for the scarce Black-faced Babbler, along with other more widespread birds such as Acacia Pied Barbet, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Long-billed Crombec and Brubru, before eventually reaching Rundu at the end of what would have been predominantly a travelling day. Depending on time, we may opt to bird around the vicinity of the lodge, set on the banks of the Kavango River, where we may find Tropical Boubou, Senegal Coucal, Ashy Flycatcher, African Green Pigeon and Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, or perhaps drive to the nearby water treatment works where we have a chance to locate Great Reed Warbler, African Reed Warbler, Greater Painted Snipe, Eurasian Hobby, Collared Pratincole and possibly Slaty Egret and Rufous-bellied Heron, before returning to our lodge for an evening’s relaxation.
We’ll start off early with a visit to some woodland to the south of Rundu where we’ll spend time searching for Rufous-bellied Tit, Grey Penduline-Tit and, with a great deal of luck, Souza’s Shrike. The woodland here can seem devoid of life at times and the trick is to try and locate a bird party where Southern Black Tit, African Golden Oriole, Arnott’s Chat, Tinkling Cisticola, Stierling’s Wren Warbler and Green-capped Eremomela may be found. After returning for breakfast we’ll start the journey out to the east that will take most of the day, as we aim for our base for the next two nights, a lodge set along the Okavango Panhandle in adjacent Botswana. Along the way however we’ll aim to have a few birding stops in the woodland where Golden-breasted Bunting, Wood Pipit, Neddicky, Bradfield’s Hornbill and the scarce Racket-tailed Roller could be seen. Although scarce, we’ll search for Souza’s Shrike and Rufous-bellied Tit once more should we not have seen them earlier in the day, whilst a large dose of luck will be required to track down the nomadic Sharp-tailed Starling. We’ll arrive at our lodge late the afternoon and relax, whilst birding in the grounds may well turn up a few interesting species such as Swamp Boubou, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Luapula Cisticola, Chirping Cisticola and Green-winged Pytilia. On our full day here we’ll have the chance to search for a range of species such as Lesser Jacana, African Skimmer, White-backed Night Heron, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Greater Swamp Warbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver and perhaps the most sought after species in the region, Pel’s Fishing Owl. We’ll divide our time between birding from a boat where we’ll be able to explore the quiet back waters of the side channels, and birding on foot through the dense riverine woodlands, with this region also being superb for photography with several species being fairly approachable, especially around the lodge grounds.
We’ll start the morning with an early stroll around the lodge grounds before having breakfast and heading back into Namibia where we’ll spend the evening nearby along the banks of the Okavango River. After checking in and having a bit of time to relax we’ll spend the afternoon exploring the nearby Mahango Game Reserve where we stand a chance to locate several excellent species, with the marshy areas hopefully turning up Rufous-bellied, Grey, Striated and Goliath Heron, Slaty Egret, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Rosy-throated Longclaw and Wattled Crane, whilst the bushveld supports Meves’s, Violet-backed and Wattled Starling, Bennett’s, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Meyer’s Parrot and African Hawk Eagle. Afterwards we’ll return back to the lodge for a well earned dinner and rest, before continuing on our exploration as we head further east the next day.
We’ll have a relaxed start to the day with a short walk around the lodge before breakfast, after which we’ll get the vehicle loaded up and make our way further east along the Caprivi strip, with a brief stop in at some nearby rapids where we should find Rock Pratincole as they perch along the edge of the rocks, or hunting over the water similar to Swallows. From here we’ll have a fairly uneventful drive through to our lodge where we’ll be based for the next two nights, set on the banks of the Zambezi River. We’ll do some birding along the way there also, and a stop on the outskirts of Katima Mulilo will hopefully turn up Schalow’s Turaco, Copper Sunbird, Marico Sunbird and Red-faced and Luapula Cisticola. Once we reach the lodge we’ll settle in, with some late afternoon birding around the grounds possibly turning up African Skimmer, with Southern Carmine Bee-eaters also usually being present in fair numbers.
We’ll have a full day to explore the area surrounding the lodge where habitats include Woodland, Wetlands and seasonally flooded grassland, where a variety of species may be tracked down. We’ll spend some time on foot with the Zambezi River itself in front of the lodge being a good area to scan for African Skimmer, Wire-tailed Swallow, African Fish Eagle and Striated Heron along the fringes. Other marshy areas nearby may turn up African Snipe, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Black Coucal, Rufous-bellied Heron, Rosy-throated Longclaw and possibly some of the scarce Crakes such as African Crake and Corncrake. Around the camp and in the surrounding woodland we’ll search for Schalow’s Turaco, Grey-headed Parrot, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Tropical Boubou, and along the river, Swamp Boubou. The middle of the day will be spent at the lodge relaxing, whilst interesting species here also include the sought after and rare Shelley’s Sunbird, although care should be taken to differentiate this from the common Marico Sunbird, along with Copper Sunbird at times although this species can be very erratic. The afternoon we’ll continue birding in the vicinity of the lodge where we’ll take some time to visit the Southern Carmine Bee-eater colony situated a short distance upstream, and although the birds should all be done breeding at this time of year, we hope to still see a few individuals around the colony. We’ll search the area for anything else of interest, possibly including Little Sparrowhawk, Gabar Goshawk, African Goshawk and African Cuckoo Hawk, although the latter is fairly scarce.
We’ll aim to start the day fairly early again with a walk around the surrounding area where we may find Western Banded Snake-Eagle, White-bellied Sunbird, White-browed Robin-Chat, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Grey-headed Parrot. Afterwards we’ll have breakfast before packing up the vehicle and making our way through to Zimbabwe for the final two nights of the tour. The drive there will take much of the day as we’ll have two border crossing along the way, even so, we’ll have a chance to do some birding along the way, as we’ll pass through the renowned Chobe National Park where we hope to locate species such as Arnott’s Chat, Racket-tailed Roller and Wood Pipit along the roadside. We’ll stop in the town of Kasane for lunch where the waterside vegetation may also turn up Chirping and Luapula Cisticola, before we complete the last section of the drive through to Victoria Falls, arriving late the afternoon but with some time to perhaps bird the grounds of the lodge for species such as Gabar Goshawk, Golden-breasted Bunting, Village Weaver, Tawny-flanked Prinia and Meves’s Starling. We’ll have some time to relax before dinner at the end of a long day on the road.
Today we’ll have a full day to explore the area around Victoria Falls for a number of interesting species, and we’ll focus much of our time in the nearby Zambezi National Park to try and see Brown Firefinch, Collared Palm-Thrush, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Dickinson’s Kestrel, Brown-necked Parrot and possibly Orange-winged Pytillia. The areas along the river will also allow us the chance to possibly see African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, White-crowned Lapwing and Schalow’s Turaco. We’ll meet up again later the afternoon as we set out on a boat trip along the Zambezi River, hoping to find a number of interesting species, notably Giant, African Pied, Malachite and Half-collared Kingfisher, Western Banded Snake Eagle, African Fish Eagle and perhaps most importantly, African Finfoot and White-backed Night Heron.
On our final morning we’ll be up before breakfast to go and visit the mighty Victoria Falls, more appropriately called by its local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning ‘The smoke that thunders’. We’ll spend a bit of time here photographing the falls, but also looking for a few interesting bird species along the way, with Schalow’s Turaco being one of the most notable ones. Afterwards we’ll return for breakfast before getting everything packed for the short drive to the airport from where we’ll say our goodbyes at the end of a wonderful exploration of these three diverse countries.
What is included?
- All meals
- Ground transport
- Bottled water in Lawson’s vehicle whilst travelling
- Entrance fees
- Personalised checklists
- Specialist guide fees
What is not included?
- All airfares
- Travel and medical insurance
- All drinks
- Optional excursions where applicable
- Items of a personal nature
- Personal border fees
Lawson's has nearly three decades of experience in running dedicated natural history tours in Africa.
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|Tour Dates||Tour Availability||Price||Spaces Left|
|07/02/2020 - 25/02/2020||available||ZAR 86,125||