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Namibia & Botswana

Covering some of Africa's best wildlife refuges, including four days in Etosha and three days along the Okavango. This tour is full of fantastic scenery and spectacular animal encounters, with plenty of near-endemic birds and other specialties from the coastal desert dunes to the rich papyrus swamps. Everywhere you look, bustards and larks, raptors and coursers, the odd Secretarybird, and plenty of chances for spotlighting. Who could ever forget Black Rhinoceros drinking at night by the camp waterhole, coming face-to-face with a Leopard while out on a night drive, following Rockrunners and Ground Batis as they bounce over the boulders, or coming across a huge Pel's Fishing Owl roosting above the boat while cruising down the world's largest inland river delta!?

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

6

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

This tour has a maximum of six participants and uses a custom-modified birding safari vehicle. We do not cover the far north (which involves much longer drives and somewhat strenuous birding walks for species best seen in Angola), instead spending more time enjoying the world-renowned Etosha National Park, plus both Erongo and Waterberg for more chances at the toughest specialties.

Accommodation:

All comfortable hotels and lodges.

Walking difficulty:

Entirely easy and flat, with quite a lot of birding from the road and vehicles.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature. Also excludes additional spotlighting excursions that can be booked at lodges.

Day 1: Arrivals into Windhoek International Airport (WDH) for overnight.


Day 2-3: Leaving early, we will be able to spend the morning birding on gravel plains en route to Walvis Bay. This is the best way to see the near-endemic Rüppell’s Korhaan, along with our first smattering of exciting larks. Arriving later on at Walvis Bay, we can begin our exploration of the best coastal wetlands in Africa! Here, we will search for Chestnut-banded Plover, African Oystercatcher, Damara Tern, Dune and Gray’s Larks, and Orange River White-eye, all the while marvelling at huge flocks of Great White Pelican and Greater and Lesser Flamingoes. Additional species include Cape Shoveler, Cape Gannet, Cape and Crowned Cormorants, and Hartlaub’s and Grey-hooded Gulls. Some areas we will be passing host Mountain Zebra, while those who are interested can opt for some spotlighting out on the dunes, this ecosystem being extremely rich in reptiles and small mammals. Night in Walvis Bay.


Day 4: Heading early to Spitskoppe, a spectacular scenic outcrop that is one of the most reliable sites to find Herero Chat, along with Augur Buzzard, Mountain Wheatear, Ashy Tit, Bradfield’s Swift, Dusky Sunbird, Stark’s and Karoo Long-billed Larks, Layard’s Warbler, and “Latakoo” Southern Fiscal. The endemic Black Mongoose can sometimes be seen scurrying around the edge of the campground here. After our exploration, we’ll continue to Uis, where will look for Benguela Long-billed Lark this evening (which is usually straightforward to find!). Night in Uis.


Day 5: Heading directly to the Erongo Mountains in the morning, our focus will be on more Namibian specialties. Primary targets will be the endearing Rockrunner and tricky Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, with our first sightings of the spectacular Ground Batis (sometimes poorly named as White-tailed Shrike) also likely! Other species may include Verreaux’s Eagle, Rüppell’s Parrot, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Monteiro’s and Damara Hornbills, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Carp’s Tit, Pale-winged Starling, Southern Pied Babbler, and Chestnut Weaver. Klipspringer and Dassie Rat emerge from rock crevices in the late afternoon, and an evening spotlighting session driving slowly along the road should produce Freckled Nightjar and a selection of the many other animals found here, from African Leopard and Aardwolf to Bat-eared Fox! Night in Erongo.


Day 6-7: After another morning of birding at Erongo, we’ll drive to the western entrance of the world-famous Etosha National Park for our two nights at Okaukuejo Camp. The grounds hold huge Sociable Weaver nests, often attended by Pygmy Falcons, which can be seen at close range when present. Dawn and dusk drives are always very productive in this western section, with birding from the vehicle hopefully producing a huge assortment of species all posing well for viewing and photography! Common Ostrich, Red-billed Spurfowl, Kori, Ludwig’s, Red-crested, and White-quilled Bustards, Double-banded and Burchell’s Coursers, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse, Secretarybird, White-headed and White-backed Vultures, the Critically Endangered Lappet-faced Vulture, African Hawk-Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Red-necked Falcon, Crimson-breasted Gonolek, Southern Fiscal, White-crowned Shrike, Chestnut-backed and Grey-backed Sparrow-Larks, Sabota, Red-capped, and Pink-billed Larks, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Wattled and Cape Starlings, Chat and Marico Flycatchers, Southern Anteater-Chat, Capped Wheatear, Dusky Sunbird, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Great Rufous Sparrow, Lark-like Bunting, and so much more. There is a waterhole behind the dining area that is visited most nights by Black Rhinoceros and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, while nearby flats are full of large game from Lion, Cheetah, and Spotted Hyaena, to Gemsbok, Springbok, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Damara Dik-dik, and Black-faced Impala. We do not include nighttime game drives in the tour price (we cannot use our own vehicle in the park once the sun is down), but these are easy to book on arrival at either of the camps in Etosha. These give the best chances for Honey Badger, Cape Fox, and Small-spotted Genet. Nights at Okaukuejo Camp.


Day 8-9: Leaving Okaukuejo Camp on the morning of Day 8, we will work east towards Namutoni Camp for our next two nights. Passing the huge saltpan for which the park is named, we are sure to see a large array of animals and birds during our slow transit. A stop at Halali Camp will hopefully produce Violet Wood Hoopoe, Bare-cheeked Babbler, and Damara Hornbill. Southern Pied Babbler and Violet-eared Waxbills are usually around somewhere, as are South African Ground Squirrel and Yellow Mongoose. Namutoni itself is a great place to look for Black-faced Babbler, while the surroundings are best for two exciting species: the stately Blue Crane and beautiful Burchell’s Sandgrouse. Otherwise, there are more chances for all the aforementioned birds and mammals. Nights at Namutoni Camp.


Day 10: Leaving the park, we will head further east to the Caprivi Strip for the Okavango section of our tour. This afternoon, we should have time to check out the Rundu sewage works, where we might see Lesser Jacana or Allen’s Gallinule. We can also do some birding in the nearby teak woodland, where there are chances for Tinkling Cisticola, Grey Penduline-Tit, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, African Golden Oriole, and maybe some scarcer species like Souza’s Shrike or Rufous-bellied Tit. Night in Caprivi Strip.


Day 11-12: Today we cross into Botswana, our destination being a lodge on the shores of the Okavango Delta. Walking in the riparian forest is is often a good way to find Pel’s Fishing Owl, this area being the best place in the world to see it. Other species are abundant, including Western Banded Snake-Eagle, African Barred Owlet, Striped Kingfisher, Collared Sunbird, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Thick-billed Weaver, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Terrestrial Brownbul, Meves’s Starling, African Paradise Flycatcher, White-browed Robin-Chat, Hartlaub’s Babbler, and Brown Firefinch. Out on the water, we will take several cruises along the papyrus-fringed channels in search of Slaty Egret, African Pygmy Goose, White-backed Night-Heron, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Greater Swamp Warbler, Luapula and Chirping Cisticolas, and Swamp Boubou. There will also be huge flocks of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters preparing to breed at their colonies, and hopefully African Skimmer or Rufous-bellied Heron. Nights at lodge.


Day 13: After another morning session, we cross back into Namibia, spending our afternoon at Mahongo Game Reserve. Still part of the Okavango, here we can drive around through adjacent acacia woodland full of mammals (Sable, Roan, Tsessebe, Red Lechwe, Sitatunga, etc.) and a slightly different array of birds. Boasting a huge species list, standouts that we will be focused on include Rock and Collared Pratincoles, Wattled Crane, Long-toed Lapwing, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Sharp-tailed Starling, Southern Brown-throated and Golden Weavers, Grey-headed Kingfisher, and maybe Dickinson’s Kestrel. Night at Mahongo Game Reserve.


Day 14: We will take the first half of the day to continue enjoying Mahongo before we have lunch and begin our drive back south. Our overnight stop is at a conveniently placed lodge where Black-faced Babbler is regularly seen in the late afternoons, should we still need it.


Day 15: Leaving early, we will spend a full day in the Waterberg Plateau. This is a backup area for several tricky species we tried at the start of the trip, from Hartlaub’s Spurfowl and Rockrunner to Bradfield’s Swift, Violet Wood Hoopoe, and Rüppell’s Parrot. There are also plenty of mammals here and a chance for one last night drive to try our luck spotlighting! Night nearby.


Day 16: Final morning session in Waterberg before returning to Windhoek, where the tour ends this afternoon.

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