Tailormade Namibia Birding and Wildlife Tour
30 September– 16 October 2022
Text and images by Sean Braine
Participants: Colin, Marianne, Warren and Janet
Guide: Sean Braine
This tour started in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, continued to the coast and onward to the Erongo Mountains, Etosha National Park, Kavango, Caprivi Strip and ended in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. It was a successful and enjoyable trip looking at all biodiversity with a focus on birding. We saw many good mammal and reptile species including a few unexpected finds. We didn’t target certain species as the group had spent a week in South Africa prior to the tour where they saw several species already. 387 birds and 43 Mammal species were recorded on this trip.
Day 1: Arrival in Windhoek
Arrival in Windhoek and an afternoon walk around the lodge outside Windhoek.
Key Birds: Rosy-faced Lovebird, Short-toed Rock-thrush, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Pririt Batis, White-tailed Shrike, Rufous-vented Warbler, Scarlet-Chested Sunbird, Green-winged Pytilia, Golden-breasted and Cape Bunting, Pearl-spotted Owlet.
Key Species: Oryx Antelope
Day 2: Windhoek – Swakopmund via the Us Pass
This morning started with a pre-breakfast walk around Avis Dam. After breakfast we departed toward the coast along the Us Pass through the Namib Naukluft Park via Walvis Bay to Swakopmund. A few roadside stops and some birding around the Bird Paradise near Walvis Bay.
Key Birds: Rockrunner, Crimson-breasted Shrike (Gonolek), Barred Wren-warbler, Grey Go-away Bird, Wattled and Pale-winged Starlings, African Hoopoe, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Purple Roller, Karoo Chat, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Ashy Tit, Black-faced and Blue Waxbill, Cape Sparrow, Ludwig’s Bustard, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Gray’s and Stark’s Lark , Bradfield’s Swift, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Cape and Crowned Cormorant, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Cape Shoveler, Blue-billed, Red-billed and Cape Teal, Maccoa Duck, White-backed Vulture, Pale-chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Chestnut banded, White-fronted, Kittlitz’s and Common ringed Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Pearl-breasted, Greater striped, Grey-rumped, Barn and South African Cliff Swallows, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Hartlaub’s Gull.
Key Species: Chacma Baboon, Warthog, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Steenbok.
Day 3: Full day coastal desert birding
We spent a full day birding in the Kuiseb Delta, Walvis Bay Lagoon, saltworks and Pelican Point before heading back to Swakopmund for lunch. After lunch we spent time in the coastal dune belt and the Mile 4 saltworks.
Key Birds: Dune Lark, Southern Fiscal, Damara Tern, Sooty Shearwater, Cape Gannet, Glossy Ibis, African Oystercatcher, Damara Tern, Tractrac Chat, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Stint, Sanderling, Ruff and Common Greenshank.
Key Species: Cape Fur Seal, Peringuey’s Adder and Shovel-snouted Lizard.
Day 4: Swakopmund to Erongo Mountains via Spitzkoppe
Departed the coast via the Swakop River Valley and visited the Welwitschia plants before heading toward the Erongo Mountains via Spitzkoppe.
Key Birds: Lappet-faced Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle, Red-crested and Northern Black Korhaans, Burchell’s Courser, Western Barn Owl, Freckled Nightjar, White-backed Mousebird, Monteiro’s, Damara, African Grey and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills, Acacia Pied Barbet, Karoo long-billed Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Layard’s Warbler, Karoo and Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Chat and Maricao Flycatcher, Rockrunner, Dusky Sunbird, Orange River White-eye, Bokmakierie, Lark-like Bunting, White-throated Canary and Great Sparrow.
Key Species: Small-spotted Genet, Rock Hyrax, Black-faced Impala, Greater Kudu, Dassie Rat, Ground and Namibian Rock Agamas, Plain Sand Lizard, African Flat Gecko, Barnard’s Namib Day Gecko.
Day 5: Erongo Mountains to Etosha National Park
We started the day with a pre-breakfast walk with one target needed: the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. We did not have to go too far to find two families calling to each other on the granites above us. We departed the Erongo Mountains toward Etosha via the Brandberg Mountain (Namibia’s highest mountain) and Khorixas to Okaukuejo in Etosha National Park. The afternoon was spent at the waterhole at camp.
Key Birds: Herero Chat, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Carp’s Tit, Rüppell’s Parrot, Violet Woodhoopoe, Hartlaub’s and Red-billed Spurfowl, Rockrunner, Ludwig’s and Kori Bustard, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow.
Key Species: South African Ground, Damara Ground and Striped Tree Squirrels, Lion, Black-backed Jackal, Black Rhinoceros, Angolan Giraffe, Anchieta’s Agama, Turner’s Gecko.
Day 6: Full day birding and wildlife drive in Etosha
We spent the entire morning driving in the park visiting several waterholes.
We found a pride of Lions at Okondeka and another at Ozonjuitji M’bari, where a large congregation of species were observed including four Black Rhinos. After lunch we spent the afternoon in a different area of the park. Another pride of Lions was observed at Olifantsbad waterhole as well as a few good raptor species seen hunting passerines around the waterholes. We ended the day at Nebrownii waterhole where we saw more Lions and a Black Rhino drinking.
Key Birds: Red-necked Falcon, Bateleur, Gabar Goshawk, Tawny Eagle, Secretarybird, Spotted Thick-knee, Double-banded and Burchell’s Coursers, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Spike-heeled and Pink-billed Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark, Red-breasted Swallow, Ground-scraper Thrush, Sociable Weaver, Red-headed Finch, Violet-eared Waxbill, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah.
Key Species: Scrub Hare, Lion, Spotted Hyena, Yellow and Banded Mongoose, African Elephant, Eland, Kalahari Tree Skink.
Day 7: Full day birding and wildlife drive from southern to eastern Etosha
Today we travelled from the southern to the eastern side of the park via Halali Camp and onward to Namutoni Camp for lunch. We visited several waterholes and detours on our way including Homob, Salvadora and Rietfontein waterholes. Some time was spent walking around Halali Camp where we discovered a nesting Southern White-faced Scops Owl and the local Bare-cheeked Babblers. En-route to Namutoni we visited Goas waterhole where there were more mating Lions. After settling into our rooms, we spent the afternoon on a game drive through the park, ending the day at Klein Namutoni with a surprise pair of Three-banded Coursers attempting to breed next to the road.
Key Birds: Bare-cheeked Babbler, African Spoonbill, Black-chested Snake-eagle, African Hawk-eagle, Shikra, Black Crake, Three-banded and Temminck’s Courser, Three-banded Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Southern White-faced Scops and Pearl-spotted owl, European Bee-eater, Rufous-eared Warbler, Willow warbler, White Helmet-shrike, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Burchell’s Starling, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Southern Red-billed Hornbill, White-browed Scrub-robin and Emerald-spotted Wood dove.
Key Species: Lion, Smith’s Bush Squirrel, Spotted Hyena, Damara Dik-dik, Black Rhinoceros, African Elephant, Western Rock Skink.
Day 8: Full day birding and wildlife drive in Etosha
We started the day with a sunrise drive to Andoni Plains on the northern border of Etosha, visiting Klein Okevi and Tsumcor waterholes en-route. Blue Cranes as well as more Spotted Hyena were observed at Andoni waterhole.
On the way back to Namutoni we had pair of mating Lions at the roadside. From here we followed the pan’s edge back to Namutoni. After lunch we took a drive out to Chudop waterhole and ended at Klein Namutoni waterhole where the Three-banded Coursers were still present. A few Spotted Hyena and a large herd of Elephant arrived for a drink and a dust bath.
Key Birds: Blue Crane, Eastern Clapper and Pink-billed Lark, Three-banded Courser, Burchell’s Sandgrouse, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Grey-backed Cameroptera, Southern Pied Babbler, Black-backed Puffback and Yellow Canary.
Key Species: Slender Mongoose, Etosha Agama, Lion, Spotted Hyena, African Elephant.
Day 9: Etosha National Park to Kavango River
Today was a travel day leaving Etosha to Rundu. A stop at Klein Namutoni waterhole, on the way out, produced a large pride of Lions finishing an Oryx carcass with surrounding Spotted Hyenas and Jackals in the fray. A last Rhino greeted just before leaving the park.
We did a lunch stop at Roy’s Camp and this provided the resident group of Black-faced Babbler for our trip list. An exceptionally windy day prevented much roadside birding. We arrived at Taranga Safari Lodge in the early afternoon and proceeded to find the Ross’s Turaco which has been present there for the last few years now.
Key Birds: Black-faced Babbler, Ross’s Turaco, Reed Cormorant, African Open-billed Stork, Marabou Stork, Crested Francolin, African Jacana, Three-banded Courser, African Red-eyed Dove, Meyer’s Parrot, Square tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjar, Lilac-breasted Roller, Black-collared Barbet, Dark-capped Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Kurrichane Thrush, Ashy Flycatcher, White-browed Robin-Chat, Marico and White-breasted Sunbird, Brubru, Violet-backed Starling,
Key Species: Lion, Spotted Hyena, Black Rhinoceros, Wahlberg’s Skink and Common Duiker.
Day 10: Kavango River to Okavango Panhandle
We departed Rundu before dawn to get into the woodlands before the heat of the day and before the wind picks up. A walk in the brachystegia woodland proved very fruitful with a pair of Souza’s Shrike with a pair of fledged chicks. We then took a drive through Mahangu Gasme Park before crossing the border into Botswana to meet our boat transfer to our next camp.
Key Birds: Souza’s Shrike, Pink-backed Pelican, Wattled Crane, African Skimmer, Bradfield’s Hornbill, White-headed, Hooded, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Yellow-billed Kite, Dark-chanting Goshawk, Southern Carmine, White-fronted and Little Bee-eaters, Goliath Heron, Magpie Shrike, African Darter, Long-toed Lapwing, White-faced Whistling Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Rock and Collared Pratincole, White-winged and Whiskered Tern, African Green Pigeon, African Cuckoo, African Barred Owlet, Giant, Pied and Striped Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Green Woodhoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Lesser Honeyguide, Golden-tailed and Cardinal Woodpecker, Plain Martin, Lesser-striped and Wire-tailed Swallows, Tinkling and Rattling Cisticola, Southern Black and Ale Flycatchers, Arrow-marked and Hartlaub’s Babbler, Shelley’s Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Swamp Boubou, Meve’s Glossy Starling, Yellow and Red-billed Oxpeckers, Great White and Intermediate Egret, Yellow-billed Stork, Hadeda Ibis, Water Thick-knee, Hamerkop and Village Weaver.
Key Species: Vervet Monkey, Hippopotamus, Red Lechwe, Common Reedbuck, Roan Antelope, Chapman’s Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Chobe Dwarf Gecko and Nile Crocodile.
Day 11: Full day birding along the Okavango Panhandle
We did a morning boat cruise upstream on the Okavango River followed by brunch and an island walk around the campgrounds in search of Pel’s Fishing Owl.
After lunch we did a boat cruise downstream to some floodplains to search for Slaty Egret and other floodplain species.
Key Birds: Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, African Skimmer, Black, Purple, Goliath, Squacco, Striated and Rufous-bellied Herons, White-backed and Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Chirping Cisticola, Greater Swamp, Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warbler, African Mourning Dove, African Pygmy Goose, African Marsh Harrier, Little Sparrowhawk, African Harrier-Hawk, African Snipe, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Malachite Kingfisher, Banded Martin, Grey-rumped Swallow, Plain-backed Pipit, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Purple-banded Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Spectacled Weaver, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Brown Firefinch.
Key Species: Chobe Bushbuck, Sitatunga (Guide View), Elephant, Peter’s Epauletted Fruit Bat, Slit Faced Bat and Nile Monitor.
Day 12: Okavango Panhandle to Kwando River
A pre-breakfast walk on the island gave us some more views of the Pel’s Fishing Owl. After breakfast we crossed back into Namibia and travelled to the Kwando River.
Key Birds: Sharp-tailed and Greater Blue-eared Starling, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Western Banded Snake-eagle, Common Buzzard, Swainson’s Spurfowl, African Wattled Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, African Skimmer, African Wood Owl, Crested Barbet, Bennet’s Woodpecker, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, African Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Black Tit, Copper Sunbird, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Holub’s golden Weaver, Cut-throat Finch and Brown Firefinch.
Key Species: Sable Antelope.
Day 13: Full day birding and wildlife along the Kwando River
We did a morning drive into Kwando Core Area in Bwabwata National Park in search of Racket-tailed Roller and Leopard. We were successful in both endeavors. We returned to camp for lunch. In the afternoon we did a boat cruise on the Kwando River and visited a large Southern Carmine Bee-eater colony at sunset.
Key Birds: Racket-tailed Roller, Wahlberg’s Eagle on a nest, Western Banded Snake-eagle, Wattled Crane, Coppery-tailed Coucal, African Wood Owl, African Pied Wagtail, Chinspot Batis, Amethyst, Collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Grey-headed and Orange-breasted Bushshrike, White and Retz’s Helmetshrike, Yellow-throated Bushsparrow and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
Key Species: Leopard, Waterbuck and Sable Antelope.
Day 14: Kwando River to Zambezi River via Mudumu National Park
We started the morning with a walk around the campgrounds adding a few new species before visiting the nearby Mudumo National Park where we would search for Arnot’s Chat and some game species. Several large herds of Elephant were observed drinking at the river. We then proceeded to Katima Mulilo where we spent the next two nights.
Key Birds: Schalow’s Turaco, Arnot’s Chat, White-browed Coucal, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Rufous-naped and Fawn-coloured Larks, Buffy Pipit, African Stonechat, Red-billed Firefinch, Black-crowned Tchagra, Orange-breasted and Grey-headed Bushshrike and Slaty Egret.
Key Species: South African Rock Python, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Chapman’s Zebra and Common Impala.
Day 15: Full day birding along the Zambezi River and eastern Floodplains
After breakfast we took a drive to some nearby Malapos (seasonal drainage lines and floodplains) in search of Lesser Jacana. We then proceeded onto the eastern floodplains of the Zambezi/Chobe Rivers to look for Rosy-throated Longclaw. We returned to camp for lunch and did an afternoon boat cruise on the Zambezi River.
Key Birds: Lesser Jacana, Lesser Moorhen, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Luapula Cisticola, Brown Snake-eagle, African Marsh Harrier, African Snipe, White-crowned Lapwing, Grey-headed Gull, African Skimmer, Saddle-billed Stork, African Spoon bill, Whiskered and White-winged Terns, Spur-winged Goose, Rufous-bellied, Purple and Grey Herons, African Scops Owlet, Zitting Cisticola, Capped Wheatear and Jameson’s Firefinch.
Day 16: Zambezi River to Victoria Falls
We did a pre-breakfast walk around the campgrounds and then departed toward Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, via Botswana and Chobe National Park.
Key Birds: Red-winged Starling, Jameson’s Firefinch, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow.
Key Species: African Elephant, Sable Antelope, Cape Buffalo and Angolan Giraffe.
Day 17: Visit to the falls and departure
Before breakfast we did a sunrise visit to the Victoria Falls. Birding was good and produced a few new species. After breakfast we departed to the airport for departure.
Key Birds: Trumpeter Hornbill, Red-faced Cisticola, Schalow’s Turaco, Tropical Boubou, African Goshawk, Rock Pratincole, African Black Swift, Purple banded, Scarlet-chested, Amethyst and Copper Sunbird, Cut-throat Finch and Jameson’s Firefinch.