Best of Namibia Birding and Wildlife:
Okavango, Etosha NWR and Walvis Bay
August 7 – 28, 2018
Cost: TBA (approx. $7200 CAD) from Windhoek.
Costs include all accommodation, meals, transportation, two river cruises, Heavesides’s Dolphin excursion, park and guide fees from Aug 7th to Aug 28th (22 nights). Does not include international flights to Windhoek. Alcoholic drinks, gratuities and items of a personalized nature are not included. The tour is limited to six participants plus the two guides. We feel strongly in providing personalized service and sharing our knowledge with others. For those that prefer their own room or if a roommate is unavailable a single supplement fee is charged.
Single Supplement: $800 CAD Deposit: $700 at booking
Tour Duration: 22 days Tour Starts/Ends: Windhoek
Leaders: Thomas Plath, Wildlife Biologist, R.P. Bio; Dylan White, BSC
This is a must do tour offering the best scenery and wildlife viewing in the country world-renowned for it’s extraordinary nature viewing opportunities. From the dramatic Waterberg Plateau, north to the magnificent Mahango Game Reserve with outstanding big game viewing in a riverine paradise, then west to Etosha National Park, and finally to the flamingo-filled Walvis Bay, this is a tour not to be missed.
Be witness to one the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world. Considered by some as the “Rolls-Royce” of African game parks, Etosha NP offers unsurpassed wildlife viewing opportunities. The number of animals attending the waterholes at the end of the dry season is astounding. The Caprivi Strip and Mahango Game Reserve features Hippos, Buffalo, Sitatunga and Red Lechwe all along with 400+ birds including many Okavango specialties.
Central Namibia boasts huge mountain inselbergs with sculpted rock formations and world famous bushman petroglyphs, along with dry west specialties like Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Ruppell’s Korhan, Gray’s and Benguela Lark, White-tailed Shrike, Herero Chat and Rockrunner. Mammals include Rock Dassie, and Klipspringer. Walvis Bay is one of the top shore-birding areas in Southern Africa with thousands of palearctic migrants from August to March, tens of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, and hundreds of terns and pelicans including the breeding endemic Damara Tern. Also a tour for the sleek Heavesides’s Dolphin is included.
Our comfortable accommodations are all located in prime wildlife viewing sites and will vary from bush chalets to lodges. In Etosha NP, outside the Rest Camps wildlife viewing is done from our vehicle. Birding and wildlife viewing will be conducted along roadsides and good trails considered easy walking. Walks will be at a slow and leisurely pace that is best for locating birds and allowing nature study and photography. Optional pre-breakfast, lunchtime and evening (owling/game drives) ensure participants have downtime to relax and enjoy wildlife in the accommodation gardens.
Food will generally consist of a full breakfast, picnic lunches and a sit down dinner where participants go through the daily list and recount the day.
Aug 7th: Overnight Windhoek.
Aug 8 – 9 Waterberg Plateau Rest Camp: From Windhoek we travel to the rugged Waterberg Plateau NP where we spend the next two days birding the cliffs, talus slopes and acacia woodland from the comfort of our chalets. Many dry-west near- endemics and specialties can be found in the vicinity of our rest camp: localized Ruppells Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Violet Wood-Hoopoes, Damara, Bradfield’s and Monteiro’s Hornbills. Watching the impressive cliff face from our lodging should yield goodies like Augar Buzzard, African Hawk-Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, and Bradfield’s Swift. Trails leading from our accommodation host the two range restricted species Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and Rockrunner. Warthog, the diminutive antelope Damara Dik-Dik and Chacma Baboon graze on the lawns, along with flocks of Red-billed Spurfowl, hornbills, a few Groundscraper Thrush and Cape Starlings. At night the lesser bush baby is active.
Photos: Thomas Plath
Aug 10 – 11 Nkwazi Lodge: From Waterberg Plateau we travel northwards to Rundu situated in the Caprivi Strip. This biologically distinct part of Namibia is incredibly rich due to the presence of large river systems including the Okavango. Two nights will be spent along the river at Nkwazi Lodge enjoying local culture and searching for water-associated species. The bird-rich grounds have feeders attracting Holub’s and Southern Brown-throated Weavers, and gardens that boast Meyer’s Parrot, Senegal Coucal, White-browed Robin-Chat, and Swamp Boubou. The graceful Small-spotted Genet can be seen looking for dinner scraps. An evening boat ride offers a look into rural Namibian life and water birds like Yellow-billed and African Openbill Storks, Black and Rufous-bellied Heron, African and Lesser Jacana. The sewage ponds near town and mature broad-leaved woodland attract a number of northern specialties. We will visit these areas to search for the scarce African Pygmy-Goose, Dwarf Bittern, Lesser Jacana, Swamp Boubou, Hartlaub’s Babbler, Rufous-bellied Tit, Arnot’s Chat and Brown Firefinch.
Aug 12 – 14 Popa Falls Rest Camp: The Popa Falls Rest Camp along the Okavango River in the Caprivi Strip will be our base to explore the magnificent Mahango Game Reserve one of southern Africa’s premier birding spots. The next three days we will search the varied habitats for over 350 bird species that occur here including many Okavango specialties like Black and Rufous-bellied Herons, Wattled Crane, Coppery-tailed and Senegal Coucals, Greater Swamp Warbler, Luapala and Chirping Cisticolas. This impressive game reserve boasts the local swamp-dwelling ungulates Red Lechewe and Sitatunga in addition to Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Wild Dog and the rare woodland antelopes Roan and Sable.
The Popa Falls Rest Camp set in lush woodlands, has great riparian birding home to African Cuckoo-Hawk, White-browed Coucal, African Mourning Dove, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, White-browed Robin-Chat, Yellow-bellied and Terrestrial Bulbuls, Brown and Jameson’s Firefinch. African Finfoot, Giant Kingfisher and Small-clawed Otter can be found in the channel behind our chalets. The rapids are one of the best places in southern Africa for Rock Pratincole, and African Skimmer can be seen patrolling the river.
Aug 15 Roy’s Rest Camp: From the Caprivi Strip we head for Etosha NP stopping overnight at Roy’s Camp where one can find Black-faced Babbler, a specialty of the camp. A good selection of widespread thornveld species is found in the surrounding woodlands, and birdbaths offer great photographic opportunities of the many seedeaters that come to drink. En route we will bird Mopane woodland looking for Arnot’s Chat, Rufous-bellied Tit and many others.
Aug 16 – Aug 20 Etosha National Park: Namutoni Rest Camp (2 nights), Halali Rest Camp (1 night), Okaukueja Rest Camp (2 nights): The expansive plains of Etosha NP is one of the top wildlife viewing sites on the planet, with throngs of animals attending the various waterholes and springs at the end of the dry season. Its not just Elephants, Rhinos, Giraffes, antelope, Lions, Leopards, Hyenas and other game that concentrate at the water; the 400+ bird species all frequent the aquatic resource some by the thousands. The next five days will be spent at this exceptional park with our focus being the Big Seven and other significant wildlife while enjoying the exceptional birdlife.
We begin at the eastern section of the park at Namutoni located at an old German fort in acacia veld habitat, just south of the extensive Fisher’s Pan. Comfortable lodging and a waterhole at close hand allow participants to view wildlife in a relaxed manner. Barred Wren-Warbler, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Southern Pied Babbler, and Violet-eared Waxbill are just a few of the birds to look for around camp. White-backed, Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures along with Tawny and Bateleur Eagles ride thermals, and the grasslands north of camp are home to Kori Bustard, Blue Crane and Secretarybird. We’ll cruise the grasslands and visit key waterholes in search of the large number of plains game and predators around the pan.
Situated in Mopane woodland, Halali Camp (as with others) acts as an oasis, attracting birds like hornbills, Southern White-crowned Shrike, and Blue-eared Starling feeding on the lawns. The woodlands and acacia scrub hold near- endemics like Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Carp’s Tit and Bare-cheeked Babbler. The camp staff frequently knows the whereabouts of roosting African and White-faced Scops Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet. The camp waterhole attracts big herds of elephant and members of the other Big Five are frequently seen here. (Optional) Night visits to the waterhole might reward us with Leopard or Honey Badger.
The floodlit waterhole at Okaukuejo Camp is one of the most dynamic in the park attracting many mammals and birds throughout the day. Elephants are regular, Lions frequent and Black Rhinoceros are almost guaranteed in the dry season. Namaqua and Double-banded Sandgrouse frequent the waterhole in the evening and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl at night.
Aug 21 – 22 Brandberg Rest Camp: Known for its rock art including the world-famous White Lady petroglyph, Brandberg is Namibia’s highest mountain at 2,573 metres. Birding the surrounding plains and taking an easy trail to the petroglyph will give us many of the country’s near endemics which are difficult to observe elsewhere: Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppells Korhan, Double-banded Courser, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Mountain Wheatear and Stark’s and Gray’s Larks.
Aug 23 – 24 Walvis Bay: Two nights will be spent at Walvis Bay, southern Africa’s premier coastal birding site. An early morning visit to the Kuiseb River dunes should give us the endemic Dune Lark and specials such as the Orange River White-eye. An easy stroll along the town promenade overlooking Walvis Bay will reward us with huge numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Chestnut-banded and White-fronted Plovers, migrant waders, pelicans and the highly localized Damara Tern. The German beer is good.
Aug 25 – 26 Hohenstein Lodge: From Walvis Bay we travel inland to the superb Hohenstein Lodge located in the Erongo Mountains. Some of Namibia’s most spectacular scenery is found at Spitzkoppe, which also hosts an excellent selection of dry-west specials including the localized Herero Chat. A walk along the base of the inselberg through the dry woodland and jumbled boulders could give us this and many others like Monteiro’s Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Ashy Tit, Black-chested Prinia, Layard’s Tit-Babbler and Pale-winged Starling. Great photographic opportunities exist here at sunrise and sunset.
Aug 27 Windhoek: Numerous canaries, waxbills, weavers, and other birds, at the bird bath can be appreciated while munching on another hearty breakfast. Following breakfast we bird the beautiful acacia forest to seek out any birds that we might need. From Hohenstein Lodge we head to Windhoek for our final stay and dinner together at this amazing part of the world. Overnight Windhoek.
Aug 28: International flight home.
Interested participants must book prior to Jan 15, 2018 due to the very high demand for accommodation at some localities.
We have limited our trip to 6 participants in order to provide an intimate and personal experience. The trip itinerary has been sent to a group of individuals that have previously expressed interest in the trip. To reserve the trip we require a $1000 CAN per person deposit. The first 6 people we receive a deposit from will be advised and further trip specific information will be sent to them. The balance of payment is 150 days before your trip departure. Payments are accepted through personal cheque or money transfer.
Cancellation and Refund:
We receive your notice of cancellation more than 150 days prior to your trip departure: you will receive 100% of your refund; between 90-150 days you receive 50% of your final payment; after 90 days no refund.
Please note: Thomas Plath Environmental Services reserves the right to cancel your trip at any time, purchasing cancellation insurance on your flight is essential. This policy protects us from unforeseen emergency events i.e. sickness, death in family.