Avifauna Namibia, the optimal birding tour
Guided birding trip with natural history specialities to the central and north-western birding hotspots of Namibia.
This trip is purely geared towards optimal bird watching, i.e. birding / twitching, and we have compiled this programme from the experience of the last 25 years. It was important to combine the key points of the habitats of the “Namibian Specials”, i.e. mainly endemics and rare birds, in a route so that you experience a perfect time / observation probability / distance ratio.
Right at the beginning of the trip many and also already very special bird species will be seen. Of course we want to bring you closer to the birds without stress and driving and strive to see the birds in the field on walks and short hikes throughout the tour.
The highest dunes on earth at Sossusvlei, home to the Dune Lark, the sought after endemic!
Near Welwitschia, a living fossil, we look for Karoo Eremomela and Namaqua Chameleon. Swakopmund offers good birding on mudflats, lots of history, jumping dolphins and possibly a moon fish or even a whale.
At Spitzkopje the rare Herero Chat will be photographed amidst overwhelming granite boulders. At Erongo and Hobatere, near-endemics will be sought and most certainly found!
The Kunene and Ovamboland provide the sought-after northern birds and the famous Etosha Park should offer plentiful larking, various raptors and other birds to watch.
At the Waterberg the last species of the wish list will be found before heading back home.
All lodges, guest farms and hotels on this trip offer you the necessary comfort of upper middle class – accommodation with “en suite” bathrooms. All accommodation is ideally situated for the benefit of good viewing and correct route logistics regarding Namibia’s long driving distances.
The first cliff swallow already?
- 1 night at the source of the Swakop Dry River at a lodge nestled amidst tall camel thorn acacias directly between the Otjihavera Mountains and their shale formations.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Birding in the acacia forest of the Otjihavera mountains
We leave the airport and take you directly into nature.
If you come in summer, a visit to a nearby reservoir would be worthwhile to see the rare cliff swallow.
The tree landscape at the lodge already provides the first encounters with noisy Red-billed Buffalo Weavers and Rosy-faced Lovebirds. Palm Swifts drop into flight from the palms and Bradfield’s Swifts can be seen alongside the other swallows and swifts.
We take a walk into the surrounding cliffs and hope to see the Orange River Francolin and often even Hartlaub’s Francolin. The first near-endemics, Rockrunner (Damara Rockjumper) and Rüppell’s Parrot, are sure to make an appearance and we search the tall trees for the Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl.
Day 2 & 3
A red coat…
- 2 nights at a lodge situated directly on the petrified dune formation of the dry riverbed Dieprivier.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- Game drive into the dunes around Dieprivier
Sossusvlei & the Dune Lark in the petrified dune landscapes
In the acacia savannah of the Namibian plateau, we discover, besides some African mammals, the semi-endemic Monteiro’s Hornbill, various Cisticola species and the common Crimson-breasted Shrike, which is well known in Africa. Birds such as Bradfield’s Swift, Ashy Tit, Black-faced-, Violet-eared- and Common Waxbill, Stark’s Lark, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Barred Wren-Warbler and possibly Orange River Francolin should be on our list soon.
We drive over the western Escarpment and experience breathtaking views. Of course, we keep stopping to investigate large Sociable Weaver nests, as Pygmy Falcons are also often seen here as nest-busters. If we are lucky, we will see Cinnamon-breasted Warblers in the granite of the Western Escarpment.
The Dune Lark is Namibia’s only true endemic and a wonderful observation target. Not only the rust-red brown-orange colour is fascinating, but also the breathtaking landscape in which this lark lives will delight any nature lover.
If there was rainfall…
- 2 nights’ accommodation at Nomtsas Farm, Leaflove Safari’s game reserve and conservancy, in very nice individually decorated guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms. (Overnight stay here is for Leaflove Safari clients only).
- Overnight stay
- supported self-catering (filled fridge)
Nomtsas Farm, the Leaflove Sanctuary
We have build 12 Dams on the Sanctuary, all shallow and rim-filled with shore- and waterbirds after the rains. Be clever and find out whether it has rained and spend a few days here in March… the Snipes, Sandpipers, Storks, Ducks and so much more will keep you busy!
“This farm is a lark’s paradise”, as Karoo Long-billed Lark, Sabota Lark, Sclater’s Lark, Stark’s Lark and Sparrow-larks are all easy to find all year round.
On the endless grasslands, various bustard species, Double-banded-, Temminck’s- and Burchell’s Coursers run around hunting termites.
The 20 000 ha game reserve is complemented by an economic part where nature-friendly cattle breeding is practised. In addition to bird watching, the aim is to show you giraffes and antelopes and to tell you something about increasing pasture fertility with cattle farming in Africa.
Day 4, 5 & 6
A little tern with good coffee….
- 3 nights in a small, simple hotel with North Sea character. (If you like a traditional breakfast and want to stay in midst of town yet close to the beach, this place is for you)
- 3 nights in a small, very neat and trendy Italian style Guesthouse close to the sea. (If you like good coffee, good wine, a lovely view, room and a friendly host, this place is for you)
- Bed and Breakfast (dinner is a la carte at the restaurant of your choice and is not included)
not inclusive, booked on request:
- Boat trip on the “Lagoon of Walfish Bay” (approx. 4 hours)
- Eco Living Desert Safari to the “Little Five of the Desert” (approx. 4 hours)
Leaflove Birding Tip:
We found a great spot to track down Karoo Eremomela, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Gray’s Lark and Rufous-eared Warbler amongst a few very rare plants and magnificent Geology.
Through the oldest desert to the Atlantic Ocean…
The Namibian coast offers a wealth of different habitats if you know how to “get to the birds”. We drive through the deceptively lifeless gravel plains of the Namib to find long-tailed Eremomela, Rufous-eared Warbler and Gray’s Lark.
Who would have thought to come across a plant that is almost as old as Ginko biloba and was discovered by an Austrian named Welwitsch in 1859. In the dunes of Kuiseb we want to find the somewhat lighter version of the endemic Dune Lark and the Gray’s Lark, next to Trac Trac Chat. The Lagoon of Walvis Bay shows quite a lot of different wading birds all around, which of course can be enjoyed in greater diversity in summer, i.e. October to March. We know the west side and sneak paths, which should give you good observations of Damara Tern, other terns and of course quite a few sandpipers, ducks and literally thousands of Flamingos.
In Swakopmund you will be able to have a good coffee under the palm trees, photograph the Orange River White-eye and search for ornithological literature in good bookshops.
Rocks and feathers…
- 1 night’s accommodation in a high-quality lodge near the Bushman’s Paradise in the midst of fantastic granite scenery.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
An expanse of geological beauty and sparsely vegetated pencil plants provides a habitat for a small population of “Karoo Eremomela”. These landscapes make Namibia uniquely beautiful!
Finding the Herero Chat is less easy, but the area of this bird is a breathtakingly impressive birding, geological and photographic destination. The Spitzkopje with Bushman’s Paradise offers numerous birding opportunities, klipspringers rush up the rock faces, thick-stemmed „Elephant’s Foot“ trees adorn the granite. Target birds, apart from the usual Short-toed Rock-Thrush and Mountain Wheatear, are the schlegelii subspecies of the Karoo Chat, Layard’s Warbler and the Black-backed Puffback with its red eye.
- 1 night in the middle of the northern Erongo on an idyllically situated high quality bush camp / bush lodge, where you often have the endemics “on your doorstep”.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
Interesting succulents of the vine, euphorbia and dog poison families grow between monstrous granite boulders. Various acacias (now Vachellia and Senegalia, because acacias have been renamed) and several species of grass provide an ideal habitat for a number of semi-desert birds.
Namibia takes many a guest’s breath away with its landscapes, so logically an area with semi-endemic bird, reptile and plant species becomes a longing destination for naturalists and especially birders looking for „Namibian specials”.
Even before dusk we listen to where the shy Hartlaub Francolin wants to spend its day and photograph Rockrunners next to the Cape- and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, the noisy Mountain Wheatear and Bokmakierie.
The inhospitable shrubs of the Namib Desert also host the much sought-after Herero Chat, which we would like to track down for you. The Layard’s Warbler, also known as Layard’s Tit-babbler, swims through the dense foliage of the “Resin Tree” and with luck you might even find an Anthia cinctipennis 🙂
On well laid out trails in the “back corners” of a private farm in the Erongo we know small bird paradises where we would like to track down the more difficult birds with you.
Day 9 & 10
Thrushes and owls in the heart leaf…
- 2 nights at the Hobatere Concession’s good lodge in the middle of the Mopane savannah, surrounded by semi-desert wildlife.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- 3x locally guided game drives
Leaflove Birding Tip:
It is possible to see all the Hobatere birds on other places as well and the lodge has undergone a change in ownership which does not really dig deep into birding as the previous owners, Steve and Louise Braine, did. Since the spot is famous for good birding we could visit it, but alternative birding is possible elsewhere…
The scenic gravel road takes us into the semi-desert of Damaraland, where we already want to observe the Rüppell’s Korhaan, the Burchell’s Courser and the Benguela Long-billed Lark on the way. On the concession area west of Etosha, Violet Wood Hoopoe and Bare-cheeked Babbler can be observed and photographed very well in the mopane trees. Rüppell’s Parrots and in summer even Olive Bee-eater can be observed comfortably in the “birdhide” and it is not uncommon to see Little Sparrowhawk hunting or a milky owl in the gigantic Ana trees very well. Very popular here are the special variant of the Damara Red-billed Hornbill and, of course, the Monteiro’s Hornbill.
Within the southern gorges, we strive for Kunene- and Hartlaub Francolin. On Night drives, Bronze-winged Courser and various Nightjars are a possible at certain times of the year.
The starlings in the lodge garden are Meves’s Starlings. The perfectly camouflaged African Scops Owls can be seen in the trees and it is not uncommon to see Verreaux’s Eagle Owl in daylight.
Day 11 & 12
A beautiful rump…
- 2 nights at a rustic lodge directly on the Kunene River at Ruacana.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- Locally guided expedition in search of Cave Chat and Cinderella Waxbill (Attention!) This trip requires some fitness as we scramble up the Zebra Mountains at 5:00am to find the Rötel… if you are less fit, we will concentrate on the Waxbill and take an additional boat trip to see shorebirds.
Cinderella Waxbill and tribe of the Ova-Himba
To find the rare Cinderella Waxbill and the mysterious Cave Chat, we have to go to the north-western border river of Namibia, the Kunene.
Besides the picturesque landscape through which the palm grove of the Kunene runs, we see some bird species that are only found “up here”.
Here we hope to see, for example, the Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush, the Red-necked Spurfowl ssp. afer, the Grey Kestrel (if we are very lucky), African Harrier Hawk and some bushveld birds.
If we wish, we could stop briefly in a Himba village to get an insight into the culture of this pastoral people.
Day 13, 14, 15, & 16
Vultures and co….
- 1 night on Namibia’s Little Serengeti, the Andoni Plain at an impressive lodge.
- 2 nights at a good lodge situated in the eastern dry Terminalia-forest, directly adjacent to the park.
- 1 night stay at a good lodge situated at the south-central Entrance to Etosha National Park
- Dinner, bed and breakfast
Our Land Cruisers, specially converted for game viewing, have wide window seats and the sunroof opens at the watering holes. This way you can comfortably take pictures sitting down or standing up.
Etosha National Park
The drive through Ovamboland reveals indigenous villages in the “oshanas” (flood plains) of the north.
In the majestic baobab trees we look out for Mosque Swallows and might even find some Angolan Swallows.
We pass through Andoni Plains, a great hide-out for Pink-billed and Eastern Clapper Lark. At the artesian fountain an array of wetland waders and water related birds like Whiskered Tern can be observed.
“Great White Place”, Etosha National Park, is over 22 000 km/2 in size and one of the most wildlife-rich parks in Africa. Spotting a lion by the roadside or encountering a herd of elephants is exciting, but you should be aware that you will find a very barren landscape here, where the wildlife has to endure very hard times. The Etosha Agama and the Blue Crane arouse our interest, as do the impressive Termite mounts serving as territorial call-out points for Rufous-naped Larks. Amongst dense vegetation very small Damara Dik Dik Antelopes can be observed.
Grasslands, dry forests, floodplains and dens acacia scrub…the alternating habitat leads to an extensive biodiversity… So you will not only see many, but also many different birds and animals in this national park!
- 1 overnight stay at the semi-state chalets in Waterberg National Park
- Dinner, bed and breakfast
If you are wondering what is always jumping from tree to tree, catching your eye and yet not being seen… because the animal is just too fast… these are Southern Lesser Galagos, a wonderful mammal species that definitely deserves your attention.
Also, the adorable little Damara Dik-Dik antelopes can be seen between the trails.
Beware. Close your windows… baboons are a nuisance here!
In the afternoon we reach the Waterberg. The five vegetation levels of this striking sandstone plateau offer varied habitats and thus quite a lot of bird species.
Birders love the Waterberg, since Rüppell’s Parrot and Bradfield’s Hornbill can be seen in spectacular scenery amongst the backdrop of red sandstone cliffs.
We have also seen Meyer’s Parrots here, but this is rather the exception. On the well marked trails we look out for White-browed Scrub-Robin, Long-billed Crombec, various Woodpeckers and Cuckoos, some Francolin and many a Swift. We have regularly seen Wahlbergs Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Verreaux’s Eagle and Booted Eagle soaring on the beautiful red sandstone slopes. At night the chances of seeing Nightjars and African Scops Owlet are quite good. If you have the opportunity, you can book a locally guided game drive up the plateau to a vulture restaurant, where Cape Vultures can sometimes be seen alongside Lappet-faced- and White-backed Vultures.
no matter the weather…
unfortunately time for goodbyes…
We will bring you to the International Airport on time and very much hope to have given you the observations you wanted and a real good natural time.
Departing today or tomorrow or planning some more…?!
There are many night flights to Europe. So many of our guests decide to combine the last leg with the airport transfer and check in in the afternoon. However, as others would like to get to know the city better or take the stress factor out of the last day, we are happy to book another overnight stay within Windhoek or a stylish accommodation close to the airport.
Some guests book another component, such as a fly-in to the Caprivi, the Okavango Delta or a few days in Cape Town.
Prices for 2024
|Participants per vehicle||per Person|
|1 Person||14'852.00 U$|
|2 Persons||9'339.00 U$|
|3 Persons||7'501.00 U$|
|4 Persons||6'582.00 U$|
|5 Persons||6'031.00 U$|
|6 Persons||5'663.00 U$|
|7 Persons||5'401.00 U$|
|Single Room Supplement||661.00 U$|
Services not included
We are happy to answer frequently asked questions in advance
This trip can be successfully carried out at any time of the year. However, we do not recommend coming in the months of June to August, but rather before when migratory birds are still present, or after when they arrive again.
You can fly via Cape Town to Walvis Bay, where the trip could start and end in a different way. We would also be happy to guide them at the Cape… because it is worth it.
When would this trip be most fruitful ornithologically?
Certainly February to April would be the best time for this trip. Migratory birds can be seen and very many birds breed in the “green” period. We even go to photograph golden snipes in southern Namibia in March.
Definitely! You will have to change trains once, but you will gain a lot of time on connecting routes and will be overwhelmed by the birdlife at the World Heritage Site of the lagoon immediately after arrival. We strongly encourage you to start all your trips in Walvis Bay, as this is stress-free and safer.
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This Safari was last updated on 4. October 2023 @ 17:55.