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NAMIBIA & OKAVANGO

A feast of endemics and near-endemics, scenery and wildlife

Namibia Birding Tours: our Namibia bird watching tour, which also includes the Okavango in northern Botswana, is a special African bird watching and wildlife journey that features a spectacular feast of special, restricted-range birds, not to mention some magnificent scenery and splendid mammals. Our Namibia and Botswana birding tour takes in the edge of the Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park and the famous Okavango River, as well as several equally good but less well-known areas.

Thursday 24th September — Tuesday 6th October 2020
(13 days)


Leaders: Julien Mazenauer and Steve Braine

Group Size Limit: 10

Tour Category: Easy walking and comfortable accommodations

The near-endemic Hartlaub's Francolin poses on a rock in the early morning sunshine (Pete Morris)

The near-endemic Hartlaub's Francolin poses on a rock in the early morning sunshine (Pete Morris)

The southwestern corner of Africa not only contains some of Africa’s most magnificent scenery but also the greatest concentration of endemic birds on the continent. This part of Africa offers superb, easy, very enjoyable birding (almost entirely in open country) with many endemic, near-endemic or restricted-range specialities, some of the best mammal watching on the continent, wonderful scenery, amazingly good roads, and good accommodations and food.

Namibia, once the German colony of South West Africa, is one of the last great wildernesses in Africa and, in many areas still almost empty of people, provides the visitor with a birding experience that is hard to match. Washed by the cold, nutrient-rich Benguela Current that flows northwards from the Antarctic, the coastline itself is a bleak area of endless dunes and expanses of gravel – the stark Namib Desert that gives the country its name. This remote, fog-bound coastline, famous as the Skeleton Coast, a graveyard for ships, is nonetheless a scenically impressive area that possesses some of the largest concentrations of coastal seabirds and shorebirds in Africa.

Further inland the plains of the Namib give way slowly to the mountainous central uplands and progressively richer vegetation. From thin scrub one passes through dense bushveld and mopane woodland before the landscape again becomes more arid and less vegetated as one reaches the Kalahari Desert that stretches onwards across Botswana to the borders of Zimbabwe.

In striking contrast to the rest of the country, the northeastern part of Namibia has a tropical feel about it and enjoys a much higher rainfall. Here the waters draining from the highlands of Angola join to form the Okavango River that flows on towards the southeast and ultimately creates the famous Okavango Delta in Botswana.

This is a truly wonderful birding itinerary, specially targeted towards seeing every major Namibian endemic and near-endemic, in a fantastic part of the world. We will be in the region during one of the very best times of year to visit Namibia and neighbouring Botswana.

During this marvellous journey through Africa’s newest democracy, which is surely one of the friendliest and most modern states in Africa, we shall first explore Namibia’s Atlantic coast at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, where the myriads of waterbirds contrast so strikingly with the paucity of birds in the deserts inland. Nonetheless the local landbird fauna is very high quality, including such specialities as the endemic Dune Lark and such near-endemics as Rüppell’s Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Stark’s, Gray’s and Benguela Long-billed Larks, and Orange River White-eye.

From the Skeleton Coast we turn inland as we head for the dramatic Spitzkoppe, home to the near-endemic Herero Chat.

Working our way further north, we reach Huab Lodge in the Khorixas region of Damaraland, home to a fabulous selection of Namibian endemics or near-endemics including Hartlaub’s Francolin, Rüppell’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Monteiro’s and Damara Red-billed Hornbills, Carp’s Black Tit, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rockrunner and the strange White-tailed Shrike (now known to be related to the batis family), not to mention such as Southern African specialities as Red-billed Francolin, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill.

Next we explore the wilderness of Etosha National Park. This world famous sanctuary, centred on the dried-out Etosha Pan, offers some of the most exciting birding and wildlife experiences to be found in Africa. Here, Lions, African Elephants, Southern Giraffes, handsome Gemsboks (or Southern Oryx), Springboks, Black Rhinoceros and many other mammals will compete for our attention with huge Kori Bustards and elegant Double-banded Coursers, not to mention the smart Red-necked Falcon, the near-endemic Black-faced Babbler and such Southern African specialities as the stately Blue Crane, the smart Northern Black Korhaan, Double-banded (and perhaps Burchell’s) Sandgrouse, Pink-billed and Spike-heeled Larks, Rufous-eared Warbler and Southern White-crowned Shrike.

From Etosha we journey northeastwards to the curiously-shaped Caprivi Strip, a quirk of late 19th century colonial diplomacy. Here the Okavango (or Kavango) River flows out of Angola and crosses Namibia on its way into Botswana and its eventual dissipation in the sprawling Okavango Delta.

A visit to this remarkable area, a meeting point between the avifaunas of the arid southwest and the moister regions of Central Africa, provides an opportunity to see yet more specialities, including the rare Slaty Egret, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Souza’s Shrike, Rufous-bellied Tit, and Chirping and Luapula Cisticolas, and perhaps Sharp-tailed Starling. We should also find Pel's Fishing Owl, White-backed Night Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, the stunning Southern Carmine Bee-eater and many other wonderful birds.

Finally, to complete this wonderful journey through southwest Africa, we will enjoy the beauty of the Waterberg National Park, where we have the chance to catch up on many of Namibia’s near-endemics should we need to.

Birdquest has operated tours to Namibia and Botswana since 1987.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good standard throughout. Road transport is mostly by minibus/passenger van, but during our excursions at Etosha National Park we will be using a special safari vehicle with open sides and excellent visibility for observation and photography. Roads are mostly of good quality (even the untarred roads in Namibia are well graded).

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout.

Climate: Rather variable. In interior Namibia and Botswana most days will be hot, dry and sunny, but overcast conditions are not uncommon and it may well rain in the north. In coastal Namibia conditions range from warm to rather cool during the frequent periods of sea-fog, but rain is unlikely.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are very good.

NAMIBIA & OKAVANGO BIRDING TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all tipping. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately US$140.

£3790, $5120, €4340 Walvis Bay/Windhoek. Deposit: 10%.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Single Room Supplement: £330, $450, €380.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters nest in the banks of the Okavango River (Pete Morris)

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters nest in the banks of the Okavango River (Pete Morris)

African Skimmers are fairly common on the sandbars in the Okavango (Pete Morris)

African Skimmers are fairly common on the sandbars in the Okavango (Pete Morris)

The elusive Rufous-bellied Tit may be found in the dry mopane forests in the north of the country (Pete Morris)

The elusive Rufous-bellied Tit may be found in the dry mopane forests in the north of the country (Pete Morris)

The diminutive Damara Tern is always a favourite (Pete Morris)

The diminutive Damara Tern is always a favourite (Pete Morris)

Other localized or endemic species include the near-endemic Herero Chat (Pete Morris)

Other localized or endemic species include the near-endemic Herero Chat (Pete Morris)

... the near-endemic Bare-cheeked Babbler (Pete Morris)

... the near-endemic Bare-cheeked Babbler (Pete Morris)

... and the near-endemic Damara Red-billed Hornbill (Pete Morris)

... and the near-endemic Damara Red-billed Hornbill (Pete Morris)

Many of the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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