Day 1: Walvis Bay
Your guide will meet you at the airport and continue directly into the dunes in search of Namibia’s only true endemic, the Dune Lark. From there you will continue to the Walvis Bay lagoon and bird the remainder of the day along this spectacular lagoon.
Walvis Bay is blessed with a rich biodiversity which thrives in the scenic Namib Desert dunes and associated gravel plains, the Walvis Bay Lagoon, the ephemeral Kuiseb River Delta and other ecosystems.
The ideal time to visit Walvis Bay is from October to April, when the migrant birds have moved in from the northern hemisphere in their thousands. The sheer numbers of the birds around the lagoon are impressive and the area has the highest density of Chestnut-banded Plover in the world. The Lagoon happens to be one of Africa’s most important shorebird stopovers (it is a RAMSAR site), where you can see incredible numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos and some extremely localised species, such as the diminutive Damara Tern.
Some of the most abundant of the migratory species are Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpipers, Black necked (Eared) Grebe, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper. Whimbrel, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit occur in smaller numbers. This lagoon is one of the few sites in southern Africa where Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Red-necked Phalarope are fairly regular. This phenomenal wader spot also regularly attracts Greater and Mongolian (Lesser) Plover, Terek Sandpiper and birds that are much more typically found on the subtropical east coast of southern Africa. Resident birds of the lagoon include Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, White-fronted Plover, and the sought-after Chestnut-banded Plover.
Pelagic seabirds that can often be seen from Paaltjies: White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Cape Gannet, Pomarine and Skua.
Other birds we will look out for around Walvis Bay: Red-faced Mousebird, Dusky Sunbird, Orange River White-eye, Pale Chanting Goshawk and Bokmakierie.
Chestnut-banded Plover (Dayne Braine)
African Black Oystercatcher (Dayne Braine)
Day 2: Brandberg
After breakfast we depart Walvis Bay with lunch packs. En-route we will stop in at the Swakopmund salt works to look for another popular target bird, the Gray’s Lark. This pale coloured desert lark can be difficult to locate as it blends in perfectly to the expansive gravel plains which it frequents in the true Namib Desert.
From here we continue to Brandberg, Namibia’s largest mountain rising to 2573m above sea level. It comprises a large massive inselberg of granite and has numerous valleys and gorges which offer not only good reptiles and birding but also larger animals such as Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Oryx (Gemsbok), Springbok, Kudu, Klipspringer and Leopard. Desert-adapted Elephant also occur in the Ugab River at the foot of the northern section of the mountain.
Martial Eagle (Dayne Braine)
There is a rich diversity of reptiles, scorpions and plant life including Welwitschia plant, the only member in the family Welwitschiaceae and is one of the more bizarre plants on the planet, on the western foot of the mountain.
Birds are plentiful and raptors such as the African Black (Verreaux’s) Eagle, Martial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle as well as Lanner Falcon, Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrel are fairly common. The near endemic Herero Chat, Benguela Long-billed Lark and Rüppell’s Korhaan can also be encountered at the foot of the mountain, other species such as Mountain Wheatear, Familiar and Karoo Chat, Pale-winged Starling, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Red-faced and White-backed Mousebird, Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia and Sabota Lark are common and after good rainfall thousands of Namaqua Sandgrouse can be found drinking at the many seeps and springs that run off the mountain.
The key species which we will focus on while on this tour will be Herero Chat, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, Gray’s Lark, Stark’s Lark and the various birds of prey. The Brandberg area has a possible 134 species of birds, 35 species of mammals and many species of reptiles, the area also has the largest diversity of scorpions in Africa!
Violet Wood-Hoopoe (Dayne Braine) Rüppell’s Parrot (Dayne Braine)
Day 3 & 4: Erongo Mountains
Leaving behind the magnificent Brandberg we head to the Erongo Mountains. Birding here is very rewarding and supports many of the Namibian near-endemics such as Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Rüppell’s Parrot, White-tailed Shrike, Carp’s Tit in the river beds, Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and other specials like Freckled Nightjar and Rosy-faced Lovebird in the granite outcrops.
Other birds to look out for: Red-billed Spurfowl, Helmeted Guineafowl, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Rufous-naped and Monotonous Larks, Black-cheeked, and Violet-eared Waxbills, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Golden-tailed, Cardinal and Bearded Woodpeckers, Orange River Francolin, Chestnut Weaver(rain dependent), Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Spotted Eagle-owl, African Scops-Owl, Pearl-spotted Owl and Southern White-faced Scops-owl.
Rockrunner (Dayne Braine) White-tailed Shrike (Dayne Braine)
Day 5: Swakopmund
Today we head back to the coast via Spitzkoppe. The Spitzkoppe is one of a series of impressive granite inselbergs that rise steeply out of the desert plains. It is at this imposing Batholith where we have our best chance of finding Herero Chat, should we have missed out on this species at Brandberg. On the way we may also encounter the rare and declining Burchell’s Courser and many other sandy desert species like Stark’s Larkand other strategic species like Karoo Long-billed Lark. On the plains surrounding these hills we should see Rüppell’s Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Chat Flycatcher and Karoo Chat, Verreaux’s and Booted Eagle, Augur Buzzard, African Hawk-Eagle and Lanner Falcon also occur in the hills as do Rosy-faced Lovebird, Carp’s and Ashy Tit, White-throated Canary, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, White-tailed Shrike, Double-banded Courser, Starks, Sabota, Red-capped, Spike-heeled, Fawn-coloured and Rufous-naped Larks, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Mountain Wheatear, Pale-winged Starling, Bradfield’s Swift, Rockrunner, Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbill.
Closer to Swakopmund: The pale form of Tractrac Chat as well as Familiar Chat, Red-cappedLark and with luck Rufous-eared Warblers and Karoo Eremomela are other species that occur in this area. Interesting waders such as Kittlitz’s and Chestnut-banded Plovers as well as African Black Oystercatcher, White-breasted, Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants, Maccoa Duck, Cape Shoveler, Grey-headed Gull and Little Grebe (Dabchick) can also be found here.
Day 6: Depart
Depending on flight schedules we will continue birding around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay and try to find any species we may have dipped on so far.
Your guide will drop you off at the Walvis Bay airport for your onward flight.
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