Namibia April 2023

Intro

Located in southwestern Africa, Namibia boasts a well-developed infrastructure, some of the best tourist facilities in Africa, and an impressive list of breathtaking natural wonders. Visitors can explore the capital of Windhoek and discover the lovely coastal town of Swakopmund boasting remnants of the country’s German influence, reflected in the architecture, culture, cuisine and the annual Oktoberfest celebrations. To properly appreciate this extraordinary country, you will have to venture out of the cities to explore the remarkable natural landscapes Namibia has to offer. These include: the impressive Fish River Canyon; the vast Etosha National Park teeming with abundant wildlife, such as lions, desert-adapted elephants and the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra; the hauntingly beautiful Kalahari Desert; and of course the Namib Desert stretching for over 2000 km along the magnificent Atlantic Coast. Namibia is an ideal destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness.

Overview

  • 08 April 2023: Morning arrival (before noon) in Windhoek
  • 09 April 2023: Sossusvlei
  • 10 April 2023: Swakopmund
  • 11 April 2023: Swakopmund
  • 12 April 2023: Erongo Mountains
  • 13 April 2023: Etosha South
  • 14 April 2023: Etosha South
  • 15 April 2023: Etosha National Park
  • 16 April 2023: Etosha East
  • 17 April 2023: Etosha East
  • 18 April 2023: Waterberg
  • 19 April 2023: Waterberg
  • 20 April 2023: Departure on afternoon (after 4pm) flight from Windhoek

Group & guides

  • Group size: min. 10 – max. 19 (and max. 10 participants per vehicle with a guide and driver)
  • Guides: Sean, Dayne and/or Steve Braine (any or all, depending on final group size)

Focus & pace

  • Focus:
    • Birds
    • Mammals
    • Landscapes
    • Culture
    • Conservation
  • Birding pace:
    • High
  • Photography opportunities:
    • High
  • Physical difficulty:
    • Low

Highlights

  • Specialty birds: 
    • Rosy-faced Lovebird
    • Dune Lark
    • Gray’s Lark
    • Herero Chat
    • Rüppell’s Parrot
    • Cape Vulture
    • Ashy Tit
    • Southern Pied Babbler
    • Kalahari and Karoo scrub-robins
    • Herero Chat
    • Hartlaub’s Spurfowl
  • Mammals: 
    • Big five
  • Conservation: 
    • Waterberg Cheetah Conservation Fund
  • Culture: 
    • San
    • Bushman (rock paintings)
    • Herero (music & dance)
  • Scenery: 
    • Namib red sand dunes
    • Erongo mountains
    • Waterberg petrified sand dunes
    • Etosha savannah
    • Skeleton coast
  • Etc.

When: 

  • April 8–20, 2023

Where: 

  • Start: Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), Windhoek, Namibia
  • Finish: Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), Windhoek, Namibia

Price:

  • $5,450 USD per person in shared (double or twin) room
  • $600 USD single supplement

Included:

  • Accommodation: 12 hotel nights
  • Meals/drinks: 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 until lunch until day 13. Including non-alcoholic beverages during meals.
  • Transportation: All in-country private transportation to and from sites visited. Transportation from airport to hotel on day 1 and from hotel to airport on day 13.
  • Guiding fees: All guiding fees for tour leaders and local guides.
  • Entrance fees: All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Activities: All non-optional activities as described in the itinerary.

Not included:

  • Meals/drinks: Alcoholic beverages.
  • Transportation: Transportation to and from start/end point of the tour (Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), Windhoek, Namibia).
  • Personal purchases: Items such as (but not limited to) calls, laundry, souvenirs etc.
  • Insurance.
  • Tips: Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service.

Terms & Conditions >>

8 April 2023: Greater Windhoek

Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, lies at the heart of the country, encircled by magnificent mountains, expansive valleys, and fertile farmlands. The landscape of the Greater Windhoek area surrounding this bustling city is characterized by vast valleys, thick scrub, rocky hills, and covered in golden savannah. Visitors can explore the dry river beds and mountainous scrublands, as well as enjoy birding, leopard-spotting and view large quantities of wildlife in the north; visit the more arid eastern part with its olive, potato, and date plantations; explore the rolling hills of the Khomas Hochland Mountains in the west of the Greater Windhoek area and soak up the epic views along a number of scenic passes leading off the high plateau, including Bosua Pass, Gamsberg Pass, and Spreetshoogte Pass.

Upon arriving at Hosea Kutako International Airport, you will be met by your guide. If you arrive by noon, you can join this afternoon’s birding. We will be staying on the outskirts of Windhoek from where we will be exploring the sparsely wooded hills and valleys surrounding the city.  Rocky slopes should yield Short-toed Thrush, White-tailed Shrike, Barred Warbler and with luck Rockrunner. At Avis Dam you should see Bradfield’s and Palm swift, Rock Martin, Greater striped and Pearl-breasted swallow.  Wetland birds are also abundant and South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveller and Red-billed Teal are usually present.  In the shrub-lands surrounding the dam Desert Cisticola, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Black-chested Prinia, Orange River Francolin as well as a variety of seed-eaters.

9 April 2023: Sossusvlei

After an early breakfast we will continue birding the surrounding areas before continuing South. Species you can expect to encounter today along the way  include the pretty, near-endemic Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-tailed Shrike, Buffy Pipit  and a number of Southern African near-endemics such as Ashy Tit, Southern Pied Babbler, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Mountain Wheatear, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Kalahari and Karoo Scrub-Robins, Black-chested Prinia, Marico and Chat Flycatchers, Pririt Batis, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Cape Glossy and Pale-winged Starling, Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Great Sparrow, Sociable Weaver, Scaly-feathered Finch, Lark-like Bunting, Groundscraper Thrush and Rockrunner. We will also keep an eye out for raptors such as Martial, Booted, Tawny and African Hawk-Eagles. Pale-chanting Goshawks and Rock Kestrels are abundant over the Spreetshoogte pass, a spectacular pass overlooking the vast Namib Desert plains and inselbergs.  It is here where we will stop for our picnic lunch while looking out for Rufous-eared Warbler, White-throated Canary, Karoo Eremomela, Chestnut-vented and Layard’s Warbler and a number of lark species including the Karoo Long-billed Lark.  Large game is common on the farms here and you could see Oryx, Springbok, Mountain (Hartmann’s) Zebra, Greater Kudu and Klipspringer on the pass.

Located in the scenic Namib-Naukluft National Park, Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red dunes to make this one of the most scenic natural wonders of Africa and a photographer’s heaven. This awe-inspiring destination is possibly Namibia’s premier attraction, with its unique dunes rising to almost 400 meters – making them some of the highest in the world. These iconic dunes come alive in morning and evening light and draw photography enthusiasts from around the globe. Sossusvlei is home to a variety of desert wildlife including oryx, springbok, ostrich and a variety of reptiles. 

10 April 2023: Swakopmund

A pre-dawn start is necessary if we want to reach the dunes by first light. We will spend the first few morning hours admiring the beautiful landscapes and climbing some of the highest dunes in the world. From here we will continue to the coast where the cold Benguela current from the Atlantic Ocean brings in dense coastal fogs.

Birds to look out for today include Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Sociable Weaver, Pygmy Falcon, Burchell’s Courser and Double-banded Courser. The dry river beds and drainage lines are relatively well wooded and you should see species such as Dusky Sunbird, Rosy-faced Lovebird and Scaly-feathered Finch along the way. Further into the open gravel plains you may also encounter Gray’s Lark which blends in well with the pale gravel surrounds. There is also a good chance of encountering Lappet-faced Vultures and a few other species of raptor such as Greater Kestrel, Lanner Falcon and Black-chested Snake-Eagle.

Upon arrival in Swakopmund we will check-in at our hotel, freshen up and head out to dinner.    

11 April 2023: Swakopmund

Set along Namibia’s spectacularly scenic coast, the seaside town of Swakopmund is known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture, and its surrounding otherworldly desert terrain. Founded in 1892 as the main harbor for German South-West Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. Now a seaside resort town, Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area and has plenty to keep visitors happy. The quirky mix of German and Namibian influences, adventure options, laid-back atmosphere and cool sea breeze make it a very popular Namibian destination. 

Today we spend most of the morning birding around the Walvis Bay lagoon and if we have not   located the Dune Lark the day before we will do a concerted effort to find it today.  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 we will see incredible numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos and some extremely localized species, such as the diminutive Damara Tern.

Some of the most abundant of the migratory species are Common Greenshank, Marsh and Wood 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 Sandplover, 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 Sandplover, and the sought-after Chestnut-banded Sandplover.

Our target bird around Swakopmund is 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. If time allows, we can stop in at an area to see the enigmatic Welwitschia mirabilis, a weird desert adapted plant distantly related to the conifers of Europe, some of these plants are estimated to be 300 – 550 years old, the oldest determined age was 920 years.  The pale form of Tractrac Chat as well as Familiar Chat, Red-capped Lark and with luck Rufous-eared Warblers are other species that we will be looking for.  Once we have located the Gray’s Lark we will work our way back to the salt works at Swakopmund and scope for any 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, Gray-headed Gull, and Little Grebe (Dabchick).

12 April 2023: Erongo Mountains

Leaving behind the coastal region we head inland towards the Erongo Mountains. Conveniently located only a few hours’ drive from Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek, the Erongo Mountain Range stretches across the plains between the towns of Omaruru and Karibib, and is home to a remarkably rich natural heritage. This expanse of rugged wilderness serves as one of Namibia’s most popular tourist drawcards, attracting visitors with its spectacularly scenic landscapes, magnificent caves and rock painting sites, and its impressive array of wildlife species. These include, among others: rhino, elephant, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, wildebeest, impala, blesbok, waterbuck, kudu, warthog, mountain zebra, oryx, eland, springbok and over 200 species of birds.

En-route we will drive past Spitzkoppe, which 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. On the way we may also encounter the rare and declining Burchell’s Courser and many other sandy desert species like Stark’s Lark and 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.

We will also have the opportunity today to view various thousand years-old bushman paintings.

This afternoon we will embark on a sundowner walk.

13 April 2023: Etosha South

We will embark on a pre-dawn walk and look for the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl. After breakfast we will head to Etosha National Park.  Located just south of the boundary of Etosha National Park in northwestern Namibia, Etosha South makes up the southern region of this wild paradise. Ongava Private Game Reserve shares the southern boundary with Etosha National Park and offers an array of luxury lodges overlooking picturesque landscapes dotted with abundant wildlife. The national park can be accessed via the southern entrance at Andersson’s Gate. Visitors can catch a glimpse of a variety of wildlife including: lion, giraffe, elephant, white and black rhino, and a multitude of plains game. Popular activities include: game drives, tracking rhinos on foot, guided nature walks, or watching the sunset over the magnificent African landscape.

Depending on time of arrival we may head into the park to see if we can find anything interesting. Once in the park we have our first opportunity to see four of the big five and an abundance of antelope, giraffe and other game. The Park is the flagship of Namibia’s conservation areas, teeming with large game and boasting about 380 species of birds.  We will be based around the park for the next 5 days and we will spend time visiting a range of habitats. 

We will meet for pre-dinner drinks in the courtyard where The Etosha Boys strum guitars and sing lively local songs.

14 April 2023: Etosha South

We will head into the park bright and early and spend the day in the park in search of birds and mammals. The key bird species we will look for in this area include Secretarybird, Kori and Ludwig’s bustard, Northern Black and Red-crested korhaan, Glossy Starling, Yellow-bellied and Burnt-necked eremomela, Fork-tailed Drongo, Blue Crane, Burchell’s and Double-banded sandgrouse, Rüppell’s and Meyer’s parrots (the east only), Alpine Swift, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck, Green-winged Pytilia,  Sociable Weaver, Pygmy Falcon, Southern Pied Babbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-headed Finches, Marsh and Barn owls and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar around the lights, Shaft-tailed and Pin-Tailed Whydah, Grey-backed and Chestnut-backed sparrow-larks, Red-capped, Spike-heeled, Rufous-naped and Pink-billed lark, Capped Wheatear, Scaly-feathered Finch, Red-necked and Lanner falcons, Lappet-faced, White headed and White-backed vultures, Double-banded and Temminck’s courser, Cardinal Woodpecker, Brubru, Crowned Lapwing, Ashy tit, Red-billed Quelea, Rufous-eared Warbler, Red-breasted Swallow, Greater Kestrel, Desert Cisticola, Water Thick-knee, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Pied and Black crow, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Martial and Tawny eagle, Southern Yellow-billed and Grey hornbill.

15 April 2023: Etosha National Park 

Today we start making our way towards the eastern side of the park. We will overnight halfway at Halali Camp. Situated in northern Namibia, the Etosha National Park offers a premier game viewing experience. The park’s diverse vegetation ranges from dense bush to open plains attracting a variety of wildlife. Located in the heart of the park is the Etosha Pan — a shallow depression that covers an area of 5000 square kilometers. Dry and shimmering for most of the year, the pans fill up with water after seasonal rains, making it the perfect habitat for wildlife. In the dry season, the wildlife is attracted to the perennial springs and waterholes that make for excellent game viewing. 

The key bird species to look out for include Crimson-breasted Shrike, Great Sparrow, Violet-eared Waxbill, Southern Pied Babbler, Red-headed Finch, Kori Bustard, Scaly-feathered Finch, Marico Flycatcher, Namaqua Dove, Blue Crane, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Pallid and Montagu’s harrier, Little Sparrowhawk, Gabar Goshawk, Bateleur, White-crested Helmet Shrike, Southern White-crowned, Lesser Gray and Red-backed shrike, Golden Breasted Bunting, Ground Scraper Thrush, Lanner Falcon, African  and Southern White-faced scops-owl, Lilac-breasted and Purple rollers, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Long-billed Crombec, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher,  Gray-backed Camaroptera,  Martial Eagle, Mosque Swallow, Crested Francolin, Red headed Weaver, Carp’s Tit, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, Rüppell’s Parrot, Burchell’s Starling, and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.

This evening we will walk up to the waterhole where you can spend the evening watching wildlife come and go.

16 April 2023: Etosha East

After breakfast we will continue exploring the park. Etosha East is a protected sanctuary in the eastern part of the world-renowned Etosha National Park, known as one of the most accessible game reserves in Southern Africa. Etosha East boasts vast open plains scattered with semi-arid savannah grasslands dotted with watering holes and secluded bush camps. An impressive 5000-square-kilometer Etosha salt pan makes up a large area of the eastern side of the park and can even be seen from space. This remote area teems with abundant wildlife such as lions, elephants, black rhinos and giraffes, as well as a variety of birdlife featuring flamingos, ostriches, eagles, hornbills, and owls.

We will slowly amble from waterhole to waterhole and enjoy all the wildlife this park has to offer. The key species in the Namutoni area include Blue Crane, Temminck’s and Double-banded Courser, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Eastern Clapper and Dusky Lark, Black-faced and Southern Pied Babbler, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Tawny Eagle, Rattling Cisticola, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Egyptian Geese, Marico Flycatcher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Banded and Sand Martin, Red-billed Hornbill, Marico, White-bellied and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Fawn-coloured Lark, Kurrichane Button-Quail, African Harrier-hawk, Violet and Black-cheeked Waxbill, African Golden Oriole, Gabar Goshawk, European Roller, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Southern White-crowned Shrike, African Paradise Flycatcher, Meyer’s Parrot, Violet-backed Starling, Crested Spurfowl, Caspian Plover, Emerald Spotted Wood dove, White -browed Scrub Robin and African Palm-Swift.

17 April 2023: Etosha East 

Today, we continue exploring the eastern parts of the park. Leopards, dikdik, elephants, spotted hyenas and cheetahs are also regularly seen on this side of the park. The evening can be spent at the waterhole.

18 April 2023: Waterberg Plateau National Park 

After one last game drive we leave the park and head to the Cheetah Conservation Fund where we will visit the center and museum and have lunch. From here, we will continue on a short drive to our final destination, Waterberg Plateau National Park. This park was created as a sanctuary for the rare and endangered species of the Caprivi. 

Situated in north central Namibia and named for the springs that emanate from its foothills, the Waterberg Plateau National Park is a fascinating geological site featuring compressed sandstone crags, 200 million-year-old dinosaur footprints, and petrified sand dunes. The area’s natural water sources make it far more fertile than its environs, and the park is blessed with a plethora of plant and animal species, including leopards, rhinoceros, vultures, cheetahs, bush babies, ferns and fig trees. The high diversity of birdlife in this semi-arid region is due to the location of the Waterberg at the meeting point of broad-leaved woodland on northern Kalahari sandveld on top of the plateau and mixed thorn bush savannah below. A third habitat is provided by the cliffs and scree slopes.

The Acacia savanna and woodland here is one of the best sights in the country to see near-endemics such as  Rüppell’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Violet Woodhoopoe, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Carp’s Tit and Rockrunner.  Hartlaub’s Spurfowl occurs on the boulder-strewn slopes above the camp and an early start will offer a reasonable chance at seeing this difficult endemic.  Other exciting endemics that you might encounter during your stay include Bradfield’s, Alpine, African Palm, Little, Common and White-rumped Swifts, Freckled Nightjar, Red-billed and Swainson’s Francolin, Bradfield’s, Southern Yellow-billed, African Grey and Red-billed Hornbills. The Waterberg is also home to the last remaining population of Cape Vulture in Namibia which breed on the northern side of the plateau.  With luck you will see some of these magnificent birds as well as other raptors including African Hawk Eagle, Booted Eagle, Peregrine and Augur Buzzard. We will embark on several walks in search of the local birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. And we may get a chance to learn more about the local Herero culture. 

19 April 2023: Waterberg Plateau National Park

We will spend the day catching up on any species we may have dipped on so far. Birding will mostly be done on foot. After dinner the guides will do a short night walk in search of Lesser Bushbabies

20 April 2023: End of itinerary

After breakfast we will embark on our drive to the airport for your departure. Please be sure to book flights departing after 4pm.