DAY 1: Okonjima and the Africat Foundation
After meeting you in Windhoek we will depart for Okonjima Lodge near Otjiwarongo in central Namibia where we will spend our first evening. Okonjima Lodge is based at the famous Africat Foundation where you have the opportunity to learn more about Namibia’s population of free-roaming predators (lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and smaller species) and the way this foundation is trying to protect them living on private cattle farms. They also have a very interesting rehabilitation centre here where you can get close up views of these amazing animals. From a birding point of view this will be the perfect introduction to the Acacia savannah ecosystem of this part of the country and we might see Pied Babbler, Barred Wren-warbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Fork-tailed Drongo, Marico Flycatcher, Violet-eared, Blue and Black-faced Waxbills, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, White-backed Mousebird, White-browed Sparrow-weaver, Southern Masked Weaver to name a few of the more common species. This part of the country is also great for Vultures and we hope to see Lappet-faced, White-backed and the endangered Cape Vulture.
Accommodation: Okonjima Lodge
DAY 2: Rundu and the Okavango River
After an early morning walk around the lodge or perhaps an optional activity at Africat we make our way north to the rivers and mature woodland of the Caprivi Strip. We will look for Dark-chanting Goshawk, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, and spend the night at a lodge overlooking the Okavango River. We will spend the afternoon birding along the river which will be the perfect introduction to Okavango Delta and tropical and riverine woodland specials. Some of the specials we might find include Swamp Boubou, Golden Weaver, Rufous-bellied Heron, Brown-throated Weaver, Coppery-tailed and Senegal Coucals, Arrow-marked and Hartlaub’s Babblers, African Purple Swamphen, Lesser Jacana, Rock Pratincole, Water Thick-knee, Rufous-bellied Tit and Chirping, Levailant’s, Jacobin and Black Cuckoos, Grey-tit, Spotted, African Paradise and Ashy Flycatchers, Groundscraper Thrush and African Hoopoe. Rock Pratincole is often seen flying over late in the afternoon or early the morning.
Accommodation: Hakusembe River Lodge on the banks of the Okavango River
DAY 3: Mahango National Park
After breakfast we will explore the woodland between Rundu and Mahangu National Park and exciting possibilities along this section of road include Racket-tailed Roller, Rufous-bellied Tit, Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, Green-backed Honeybird and African Hobby, African Golden Oriole, African Hobby, Arnott’s Chat, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Bearded Scrub-robin, Green-capped Eremomela and Dickinson’s Kestrel. We will spend that afternoon and the following morning exploring Mahango National Park and the Okavango River. We will also search the riverine woodland and Acacia savannah for birds like Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, Meyer’s Parrot, Chinspot Batis, White-browed Robin-chat, White-browed Scrub-robin, Southern Pied Babbler, Cardinal, Bearded, Golden-tailed and Bennett’s Woodpecker, Grey-headed, Brown-hooded and Woodland Kingfishers, African Mourning and Red-eyed Doves, African Green Pigeon, Broad-billed Roller, Brown and Red-billed Firefinch, Diderick, Klaas’s, African, Common, Black, Jacobin and Levailant’s Cuckoos.
Mahangu National Park is home to a wide variety of mammals and we will look for Sable, Roan Antelope, Tsessebe, Reedbuck, Red Lechwe, Kudu, Giraffe, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Warthog, Vervet Monkey, Bushbuck, Zebra, Impala, Hippo, Grey Duiker, Steenbok, Lion, Leopard and Wild Dog if we are very lucky.
Accommodation: Mahango Safari Lodge
DAY 4: The Okavango Panhandle
After breakfast we will make our way across the border into Botswana where we will spend the night exploring the Okavango Panhandle. We will first spend most of the morning to further explore Mahangu National Park and besides looking for some of the specials mentioned in yesterday’s program we will also scan the floodplains for Wattled Crane, Spur-winged and Egyptian Goose, White-faced Duck, Slaty, Great White, Yellow-billed and Little Egret, Squacco and Black, Goliath, Purple Herons, African Spoonbill, African Sacred, Hadeda and Glossy Ibis, Long-toed and Wattled Lapwing and if we come across a herd of Buffalo or other big game we will look for Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers. After lunch and settling into our lodge for the night, we will depart for an afternoon boat cruise. The big special here is the highly sought after Pel’s Fishing Owl and this area must be one of the best spots in the world to find this beautiful bird. Other specials here include White-backed Night-heron, Brown Firefinch, African Skimmer, Luapula Cisticola, Chirping Cisticola, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-browed Coucal, Greater Swamp Warbler, Broad-billed Roller, Narina Trogon and Malachite, Half-collared, Pied and Giant Kingfishers.
Accommodation: Xaro Lodge or Drotsky’s Cabins
DAY 5 & 6: Eastern Etosha National Park
After a cup of coffee or tea we will start with an early morning walk in the woodland behind our lodge where we will look for Retz’s and White-crested Helmet Shrikes, Long-crested Eagle, Narina Trogon, African Barred Owlet, Bennet’s, Bearded, Golden-tailed and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Crested and Black-collared Barbets, Brown-throated, Spectacled and Holub’s Golden Weavers, Grey-backed Cameroptera, Chinspot Batis, Copper, Marico, Purple-banded, Collared, White-bellied and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Tawny-flanked Prinia and White-browed Robin-chat. On our boat transfer back to the vehicle we will keep an eye open for Brown-throated, Sand and Banded Martins, Lesser-striped, Pearl-breasted, Grey-rumped, Barn, Wire-tailed and Mosque Swallows.
From here we will cross back into Namibia and start to make our way back south stopping at a few spots along the way for Black-faced Babbler and for other specials that we might have missed. We will make our way to Etosha and should arrive by late afternoon and we have the full next day to explore the eastern section with bigger areas of woodland compared to the western section. Here we hope to find Black-faced Babbler, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Crested Francolin, White-browed Scrub-robin, Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Cape Glossy Starling, Double-banded Courser and Chat Flycatcher along the way. Our lodge just outside the park is surrounded by great Acacia Bushveld perfect for picking up any of the specials that we have missed. From a mammal point of view this area is perfect for finding the endemic Damara Dik-dik and we will also look for Elephant, Lion, Black Rhino, Giraffe, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Black-backed Jackal, Black-faced Impala (another endemic), Red Hartebeest, Oryx, Greater Kudu and Springbok during our stay in the park.
Accommodation: Mokuti Lodge
DAY 7: Central and Western Etosha National Park
We have a full day to make our way to the eastern section of the park and we will look for Monotonous and Rufous-naped Larks and we will keep an eye out for raptors which include Martial Eagle and Tawny Eagles, Black-chested and Brown Snake-eagles, Lanner, Peregrine and Red-necked Falcons and Pale-chanting and Gabar Goshawks.
We will enjoy lunch at Halali Resort which is a great birding spot and is known for sightings of Violet Woodhoopoe, Carp’s Black Tit, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Pied Babbler, White-crested Helmet-shrike, African Scops Owl and Southern White-faced Owlet. Etosha is also well known for vultures and we might see Lappet-faced, White-backed, White-headed and Hooded Vultures. We should arrive by mid-afternoon and after checking in we will spend the last couple daylight hours birding in the camp and scanning the famous flood-lit waterhole on the edge of the camp. We will try and find Dusky and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Acacia Pied Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Sociable Weaver, African Pygmy Falcon, Fork-tailed Drongo, Marico Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Pied Crow, Rock Martin, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Cape Glossy Starling, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler and Long-billed Crombec. At the waterhole tonight we will look for Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Barn Owl, Spotted Eagle-owl, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar and Double-banded Sandgrouse.
Etosha is one of Africa’s biggest and best National Parks and one of the main tourist attractions in Namibia. It is 22 912km2 in size of which the Etosha Pan, a shallow depression that only holds water after good rainy seasons, is 5000km2 in size. Etosha is known for its spectacular game viewing and the waterholes attract huge numbers of game in the dry season when all the open water has dried up. During the rainy season the park is transformed into a green oasis and this is the time you find young of various animal species in huge numbers. 114 Species of mammal are found in the park and it is the best place in the world to see Black Rhino. Other game include elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, giraffe, honey-badger, black-faced impala, kudu, eland, Damara Dik-dik, warthog and big herds of springbok, zebra, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and oryx.
Accommodation: Okaukuejo Resort inside Etosha National Park
DAY 8: Omaruru and the Erongo Mountains
We will use the first few hours of the day to explore the Okondeka Plains north of Okaukuejo and from a birding point of view we will look for Spike-heeled, Pink-billed, Eastern Clapper, Red-capped and Sabota Larks as well as Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark, Capped Wheatear, Double-banded Courser, Desert Cisticola and Rufous-eared Warbler. This area is good to try and find some of the smaller predators like Bat-eared Fox, Black-backed Jackal, Cape Fox and African Wild Cat.
From here we will make our way south to the Erongo Mountains which is the best spot for Hartlaub’s Francolin and we will be up early the next morning to try and find them. Besides the Francolin we will search for Ruppell’s Parrot, Carp’s Black Tit, Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Monteiro’s and Damara Hornbill, Violet Woodhoopoe, Pale-winged Staring, Red-billed Spurfowl, Augur Buzzard, Cinnamon-breasted, Golden-breasted, Cape and Lark-like Buntings. Our lodge is perfectly situated in the granite hills ideal for searching for Hartlaub’s Francolin. Greater Kudu, Damara Dik-dik, Chacma Baboon, Klipspringer and even leopard and caracal is frequently seen especially at the small flood-lit waterhole.
Accommodation: Erongo Wilderness Lodge
DAY 9: Walvis Bay and the Skeleton Coast
After an early morning walk and a great breakfast in the presence of Roy-faced Lovebirds, Cape Bunting, Dassie Rat and Namibian Rock Agama’s we will make our way to the Skeleton Coast where we will spend the night. Once we reach the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world we make our way across the plains we will look for Ruppell’s Korhaan, Double-banded Courser, Tractrac Chat, Stark’s Lark, Lark-like Bunting, Ludwig’s Bustard and Common Ostrich to name a few. After arriving in Walvis Bay or Swakopmund and settling into our Bed and Breakfast for the evening we will spend the afternoon at the Walvis Bay lagoon which has been declared a Ramsar site of global importance for thousands of waders that are found here. One of our main targets today will be the Damara Tern. Other birds we hope to find include Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Phalarope, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Swift, Common, Sandwich and Caspian Terns, Eurasian and African Black Oystercatchers, Common Ringed, Chestnut-banded, Grey and Three-banded Plovers and Greater and Lesser Flamingos. Cape Cormorants are usually spotted in huge flocks and we will also look for Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants and if we are lucky Bank Cormorant. The great thing about this area is that anything can pitch up so we have the possibilities to see a rarity or two. Pomarine Jaeger and Subantarctic Skua are sometimes seen from the shoreline.
Accommodation: Lagoon Lodge Bed and Breakfast in Walvis Bay.
DAY 10: Dune Lark and back to Windhoek
We will head out early after a cup of coffee and look for Dune, Namibia’s endemic bird amongst the sand dunes in the Kuiseb River. Other interesting birds in the area include the Desert form of the Trac Trac chat, Bokmakierie, White-backed Mousebird, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Sparrow, Dusky Sunbird and Common Waxbill
We will then return for breakfast and after checking out of the lodge we will have time to wrap up our coastal birding before we will make our to Windhoek where our safari comes to an end. If time allows we will spend time birding the scrub savannah around Windhoek.