Larks & Deserts, Birding the southern Namibian Deserts
Guided Birding Tour as an Individual Trip in the Theme of Ornithology & Nature Photography to the South of Namibia
Please take binoculars, wide angle, zoom and preferably a second camera. Southern Namibia expects you to open your eyes and enjoy the less obvious features.
Larks are the theme, but agamas, rock shrikes and eremomelas can also be found amidst the fascinating quiver tree forests. In the linear dunes, look out for snakes as well as the mass-breeding Sociable Weavers. In the deep Kalahari we find tiny Pygmy Falcons and whistling rats, while cheetahs and lions are also thought to be present. Where the Orange River plunges into the depths we look for Namaqua- and Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. The earth gapes open between red aloes and poisonous euphorbias at the Fishriver, Sclater’s Lark?
Besides the wild horses of the Namib, we want to find at least two subspecies of the Barlow’s Lark in arid-beautiful desert landscape and admire the majestic arched rock with its African Oystercatcher. On a boat tour, we will photograph African Penguins and get to know Bank Cormorants.
The highest dunes on earth at Sossusvlei are home to the Dune Lark, the true Namibian endemic species we are looking for! Of course, we will also learn about the gardens of the dune ant and experience the famous sun rise over the desert.
Near the Welwitschia, a living fossil, we look for Karoo Eremomela and Namaqua Chameleon.
Swakopmund offers a guarantee of wading birds, lots of history, jumping dolphins and possibly a moon fish or even a whale.
At Spitzkopje, the rare Herero Chat should be photographed amidst overwhelming granite boulders. The area is simply awesome!
A trip for those who want to experience the very special Namibian deserts… “pictures you can NOT take anywhere else in Africa”…
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.
we might find Bennet…
- 1 night in a lovely bungalow-style lodge within linear dunes. We chose this lodge because it is small and not disturbing in the nature of this habitat. Instead of cutting down the trees, they have built around them – that’s pleasing!
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- Game drive into the dunes in the afternoon, a so-called “sundowner drive”.
Birding in Acacia Forest and Red Dunes
This trip is nature oriented, we leave the capital immediately to get you into the wild as soon as possible.
We drive into the Kalahari…
On the way we stop regularly to look under the gigantic nests of Sociable Weavers. With a bit of luck we find a Cape cobra, which as a nest predator is very fond of these nests. Pygmy Falcons and Rosy-faced Lovebirds often breed in them too.
Apart from the fact that the red dunes of the Kalahari with their valleys of camel thorn trees are scenically beautiful, especially the early morning nature walks are always very “fruitful”. We are expecting a few woodpeckers, cuckoos and the photogenic Ant-eating Chat.
Day 2, 3 & 4
the Kalahari is not a real desert…
- 1 night at a “Game Lodge” with a very large Private Wildlife Protectorate, which also offers game drives to the lions on the premises.
- 2 nights deep in the dune world of the Kalahari at a very comfortable wilderness lodge
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- Locally guided activities in the form of game drives and night game drives.
Leaflove Birding Tip:
Raptors love the Kalahari. Lots of Pygmy Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Shikra and Snake Eagles.
Fawn-coloured Lark running on roads, Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures breed in wintertime.
Birding in the waves of the dunes!
White-backed Vultures on ancient camel thorn acacias, Rosy-faced Lovebirds in Sociable Weaver’s nests, maybe a tortoise… the Kalahari holds many surprises besides the Fawn-coloured Lark often “sitting in the car lane”.
Particularly attractive is the varied wildlife, often black-maned lions, cheetahs or even a leopard in the red dune landscape. We see quite a few antelopes and enjoy the numerous predators (snake eagles, Secretarybird and Pale Chanting Goshawk) of the avifauna. “There is always something to discover in the Kalahari”, even if it is a whistling rat in the dune sand.
On the night game drive we want to show you aardvarks, genet cats and porcupines! Depending on the time of year, the birdlife on the night stalk may also delight you with nightjars.
Day 5 & 6
- 2 nights in a bungalow in the Augrabies Falls National Park.
- Dinner, bed and breakfast
Augrabies Falls & National Park
Augrabies: “The Place of Noise”. The Augrabies Falls were formed as the Orange River, bordering South Africa with Namibia, cut 60m deep through high granite landscapes and formed a large step in the granitic erosion gorge. The roar of the falls and the cries of the Hadeda Ibis create an urge to discover this fascinating place! The spherical granite landscape is changeable and very impressive. Namaqua Warblers and various “bushbirds” linger in the small green oases fringed by bare granite. Very photogenic is the blue-red Augrabies Flat Lizard and the loving eyes of the numerous Hyraxes sunning themselves on smooth rock.
On the steep slopes of the Augrabies Gorge Verreaux’s Eagles and Jackal Buzzard are often seen.
If you want to photograph baboons, this is the right place 🙂
Day 7 & 8
succulent wonders growing everywhere…
- 2 nights lodging east of the canyon, literally walled in amidst fabulous granite spheres.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
second largest on earth
Beautiful browns and reds of the Karoo Long-billed Lark, the hunt for Sclater’s Lark, the odd gurgle of the Karoo Korhaan and rarely a Karoo Eremomela show up in the rocky artwork of geology.
Deep red aloes, extremely poisonous but beautiful spurges, fabulously camouflaged stone creepers and wonderful light fascinate our visitors in this canyon where “something terrible must have happened to the earth many years ago” – answered a little boy when asked for directions to the canyon.
Fishriver Canyon is absolutely stunning, both geologically and scenically, with its breathtakingly striking deposits, erosion valleys and impressive depth.
Look out for Grey Tit!
Sunset brilliant all year round…
- 1 overnight stay where the winter rains sometimes fall and it rarely snows even in Namibia. The rustic lodge is situated on the edge of the Namib Desert and offers fantastic views..
- Dinner, bed and breakfast
Half-Man, Cape Robin-Chats & Wild Horses
As the south seems very barren and rather hostile to life, the Orange River enlivens the area like a linear oasis. The colourful rock is overgrown by various aloes and other succulents – many of them often with beautiful flowers. Particularly rare is the so-called “half-man”, the Pachypodium namaquanum, which we are allowed to admire after a short climb… but first have to find it.
In the “Jacket Plums”, which partly line the banks of the Oranje, we can find the Cape Robin-Chat and, with a bit of luck, the Grey-backed Cisticola in the sparse mountain vegetation.
Besides the normal quiver trees Aloidendron dichotomum and A.pilansii, the Aloidendron ramosissimum, the so-called “maiden quiver tree”, is also interesting and very photogenic here.
The origin of the wild horses in the Namib Desert is left to open debate. Trustworthy research suspects a German-Boer origin from troubled times during the First World War.
Whether the wild horses have a raison d’être or not, it is wonderful to be able to observe the animals in their freedom. Perhaps you will be able to find the photo of fighting stallions you are looking for…
Day 10 & 11
get ready for some wind folks…
- 2 nights in a comfortable guesthouse / pension / hotel
Bed and Breakfast
- Boat trip to Halifax Island. Here you can see the rare spectacled African Penguins and often get to see Heaviside’s Dolphins – a really crisp refreshing experience.
- Day trip into the completely untouched wilderness of the Sperrgebiet to the Elisabeth Bay Mine.
Lüderitz Bay, Larks & Penguins
In the early morning, the Cinnamon-breasted Warbler is to be photographed on red rocks… at least this endeavour lures us into the beautiful morning light.
The Euphorbia dregeana at Haalenberg is to be the first “Barlow Stop” in this fairytale expanse. The Barlow’s Lark is divided into 3 subspecies, each associated with variable landscapes and interesting destinations.
Calendulauda barlowi barlowi is found in the landscape near Lüderitz,
C.b.cavei a little further south of Aus on the gravel plains, and
C.b.patae south of Lüderitz, often on the Bogenfels.
On the long way to the Atlantic, colonial history makes itself felt alongside the overwhelming expanse of different pastel-coloured geology. If possible, we try to spot the Black-headed Canary and the Barlow’s Lark among the thick shoots of Euphorbia gummifera and degreana…
Mr Kolman tried to reach the sea on this route. The desolate area forbids any orientation for newcomers. So Kolman thought he was far from the coast and shot his thirsty oxen…. only to discover Lüderitz Bay on foot behind the next hill. Kolmanskop became a diamond stronghold and later a ghost town… a visit is worthwhile.
Between the rough gneiss formations, on which the Atlantic has been gnawing for thousands of years, the harbour town of Lüderitz suddenly stands out.
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 and supported self-catering (filled fridge)
Leaflove Birding Tip:
Did you know that the Namibian Bird Club just loves this place. Since no other tourists are allowed here, birding is completely individual without any pressure or disturbance. You wanna check these pans after the rain… hundreds and hundreds of birds!
Nomtsas Farm, the Leaflove Sanctuary
The Fish River meanders through the red sandstone and grey-green shale plains of our wilderness. We have built 12 shallow reservoirs to conserve birdlife and numerous “jeep tracks” lead through the different habitats of our farm.
“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.
Rainfall in January to March brings an amazingly diverse birdlife to the south. We will gladly find the sought-after Rufous-eared Warbler for you in the Water-thorn thickets. Greater Painted Snipes breed successfully on the lakes and we will show you hundreds of waders and waterfowl.
On the endless grasslands, bustards of various 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 12, 13 & 14
a red coat…
- 2 nights at a fantastically situated luxury camp in the world famous Namib Rand Nature Reserve.
- 1 night at a good semi-state lodge INSIDE the Namib Naukluft Park. We use the exclusive right of this lodge to be in the dunes BEFORE sunrise.
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast
- Game drive in an open terrain jeep with well-trained guides in the Namib Rand Nature Reserve.
- Locally guided game drive to Sossusvlei.
Dune Landscapes on the Namib Rand, Sossusvlei & the Sesriem Canyon
The Dune Lark is the only true endemic of Namibia and a wonderful observation target. It is not only the rust-red-brown-orange colour that fascinates, but also the breathtaking landscape in which this lark lives that delights every nature lover.
Red dune valleys overgrown with yellow grass as far as the eye can see…
A dune landscape in the morning light offers an unforgettable landscape. We are happy to show you the various reptiles and the botanical lifesaver “Nara“! The Tsauchab Dry River has had its path to the ocean cut off by shifting sand dunes, creating a clay soil depression called “Sossusvlei”. Sossusvlei is surrounded by the highest dunes in the world. Once you reach the top, you are amply rewarded with a fantastic view.
Ecologically sound game drives through fantastic dune valleys.
Visit the Sesriem Canyon.
Day 15 &16
Good coffee, flamingos and a special tern
- 2 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)
- 2 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)
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 and 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 and breakfast
Interesting succulents of the vine, euphorbia and dog poison families grow between monstrous granite spheres. Various acacias (now Vachellia and Senegalia, because acacias have been renamed) and several gas species 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 birder looking for the “special”.
Even before dusk we listen to where the hardy 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 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.
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.
Would you like to depart today or tomorrow?!
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
After good rainfall, southern Namibia turns into a birdwatcher’s paradise. So we recommend this trip between the months of February to April.
Yes, please check that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your return and that there are at least 4 free pages available.
Not only are deserts far more interesting geologically than vegetated areas, they offer a wealth of different plants, reptiles, mammals and birds, all of which tell a good story with their adaptability and make it worthwhile to visit their habitat.
An offer especially for you! Simply let us know your change requests in the form.
Fill out non-binding enquiry 'Larks & Deserts'
This Safari was last updated on 4. October 2023 @ 17:55.