Namibia, Okavango, and Victoria Falls Birding Adventure


SMALL GROUP SIZE: 3-8 PARTICIPANTS

Dates and Costs

 

November 2023

In 2023 we are running our Complete Namibia” tour instead of this one

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to base price when making final payments.

 

02 – 19 November 2024

Price: R136,200 / $8,310 / £6,705 / € 7,645 per person sharing.

Single Supplement: R14,900 / $909 / £734 / €837


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 18 days
Group Size: 3 – 8
Tour Start: Walvis Bay, Namibia
Tour End: Livingstone, Zambia


Price includes:

All accommodation
Meals (from lunch on day 1 until breakfast on day 18)
Unlimited bottled water
Expert tour leader
All entrance & conservation fees
All ground transport, including airport pick-up and drop-off
Entrance fees to Victoria Falls
Boat ride on the Okavango River
Boat trip along the Zambezi River
Boat trip from Walvis Bay
Open-top game drive in Etosha National Park

Price excludes:

International/domestic flights (to Walvis Bay/from Victoria Falls)
Visas
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Download Itinerary

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls Birding Adventure
November 2024

This is a truly marvelous 2.5-week birding adventure, during which we sample three different countries and spectacular, diverse scenery. We start in the coastal Namib Desert with its impressive dune fields (inhabited by a desirable, localized endemic) and lagoons filled with flamingos, pelicans, shorebirds, and some really localized species such as Damara Tern and Chestnut-banded Plover. The mountains of the beautiful Namib Escarpment are next on our itinerary, and here we search for Rosy-faced Lovebird, Herero Chat, Rockrunner, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Damara Red-billed Hornbill, the incomparable, batis-like (although largely terrestrial) White-tailed Shrike, and other charismatic species of northern Namibia.

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursThe cute White-tailed Shrike is a sought-after Namibian near-endemic.

Eventually we leave the desert and enter the grassland, savanna, and woodland of one of Africa’s greatest game parks, Etosha National Park. This must surely be one of the world’s best places for seeing Black Rhinoceros and big cats, along with all the other African megafauna. It is also excellent for a good range of very special birds, such as Namibia’s dazzling national bird, Crimson-breasted Shrike, the world’s heaviest flying bird, Kori Bustard, the diminutive Pygmy Falcon, and stacks more.

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursEtosha National Park is full of game, and is an especially good area to see Black Rhinoceros.

After Etosha we head into an incredibly bird-diverse tropical corner of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip, and the adjacent panhandle of the Okavango Delta, which falls just within the borders of Botswana. The magnificent wetlands and woodlands in these parts support Pel’s Fishing Owl (this is the world’s most reliable place for this monster), White-backed Night Heron, Slaty Egret, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, and literally hundreds of other species, a rather large proportion of them spectacular. Finally, we bird around Livingstone in Zambia (with a brief foray to view Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwean side) for yet another rich assemblage of birds.

This birding tour covers a vast area and a huge range of habitats, from the coastal deserts to the land of big rivers. While Namibian distances are large, we minimize driving time and maximize birding time by starting in Walvis Bay, Namibia, and ending in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

This tour can be combined with our premium Comprehensive Subtropical/Eastern South Africa Birding Tour  which precedes this tour, for a 35-day Southern African adventure and even, preceding that, our Best of Cape Town and Beyond Birding Tour for an even longer, 42-day Southern African mega tour. Another possibility is to combine it with our Best of Madagascar: 14-day Birding and Wildlife tour.

Itinerary (18 days, 17 nights)

Day 1.  Arrival in Walvis Bay and coastal desert birding

Our birding guide fetches you from Walvis Bay airport, and we immediately start birding. The first site we usually visit is the picturesque red sand dune habitat across a (usually) dry riverbed around the village of Rooibank, right in the middle of the Namib Desert. Namibia’s sole endemic, Dune Lark, is the main target here, but we often also find the almost pure-white desert form of Tractrac Chat. Our accommodation for two nights is at a place where one can sometimes literally see thousands of Flamingos (usually about half-half Greater and Lesser), migratory shorebirds from Eurasia, Great White Pelican, and all the rest.

Overnight: Lagoon Loge, Walvis Bay

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursDune Lark, Namibia’s only endemic bird, should be seen around Walvis Bay.

Day 2. Walvis Bay Lagoon, Swakopmund, and other areas

Today we take a boat trip on Walvis Bay Lagoon that is focused mainly on marine mammals, such as Cape Fur Seal, Common Bottlenose Dolphin, the localized Heaviside’s Dolphin, and sometimes Southern Right Whale. But one also often sees some good birds from the boat, not the least of which is Damara Tern. But there is also an incredible drive we do later in the day that usually gives us close-up views of all the target birds of the lagoon – these include not only this rare, tiny tern but also Chestnut-banded Plover, Black-necked Grebe (often in large rafts), and hundreds of thousands of migrant waders. Today we also look for Gray’s Lark, a very pale Namib Desert near-endemic.

Overnight: Lagoon Loge, Walvis Bay

Day 3. The Namib Escarpment via the Spitzkoppe (the “Matterhorn of Namibia”)

Heading inland and northward we start encountering some spectacular mountains. The Spitzkoppe in particular is a huge inselberg that rises abruptly from the desert plain. The flat surrounding areas are good for Burchell’s Courser, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard, a number of localized lark species such as Karoo Long-billed Lark (replaced by Benguela Long-billed Lark slightly farther north), etc. The mountains themselves are where we search for the enigmatic, bizarre Herero Chat, noisy little flocks of Rosy-faced Lovebirds, a couple of hornbill species basically restricted to the Namib and adjacent arid habitats, Bradfield’s Swift, and many others.

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursAnother Namib Desert special we’ll search for on this tour, Rüppell’s Korhaan.

The rocky areas near Omaruru offer some great habitat for watching hunting raptors, including Verreaux’s Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle as well as Augur Buzzard. A diminutive antelope, Kirk’s Dik-dik, is often encountered in the area.

Overnight: Ai-Aiba – The Rock Painting Lodge, Omaruru

Day 4. Birding the Namib Escarpment

Today we have the full day to continue birding the mountains of central Namibia. White-tailed Shrike, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Rüppell’s Parrot, and Rockrunner are four of the superstars of the show – all of them are very localized (occurring only in Namibia and a small part of Angola) and full of personality, not to mention striking-looking. Quite a number of brightly-colored seedeaters also vie for attention around the lodge.

We will also head slightly farther west, targeting another Namibian near-endemic, Benguela Long-billed Lark, and may also have another shot at Herero Chat, if need be. We might, if we’re lucky, see Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose, Greater Kudu, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, or another mammal or two.

Overnight: Ai-Aiba – The Rock Painting Lodge, Omaruru

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursThe stunning Rosy-faced Lovebird usually provide excellent views in the Namib Escarpment.

Day 5. Etosha National Park: birds and mammals

Etosha justifiably is rated as one of the best game parks in Africa. During our time in this amazing park, we will partake in an open-top game drive which is always a great way to experience the area’s birds and wildlife. This is big (and small) mammal country, where African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, large herds of Springbok, Gemsbok, Plains Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, and many other herbivores lurk, meaning (excitingly) that there are also relatively high densities of predators and scavengers, such as Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, African Wildcat, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal, etc.

Although we stop to look at all the mammal species, birding is still the main focus. An isolated population of South Africa’s national bird, the beautiful Blue Crane, inhabits Etosha. Kori Bustard and its smaller relative, Northern Black Korhaan, are both common. Secretarybird and an absolute stack of raptors and vultures are always much in evidence. This is one of the best places in southern Africa for owls, and we often find the tiny African Scops Owl, the giant Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, and then also others such as the beautiful Southern White-faced Owl at their daytime roosts (usually in Halali Camp, where we sometimes stop for lunch on one of the days). Etosha must be one of the few sites where one has to kick Double-banded Courser from one’s feet. The unbelievably huge nests of Sociable Weaver are features of some areas, sometimes with Pygmy Falcon taking up residence in the same nests.

Overnight: Okaukuejo Camp, central Etosha

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursWe’ll search for the scarce Burchell’s Courser in Etosha National Park.

Day 6. Bird and wildlife viewing in Etosha National Park

We will have the full day in this impressive park birding the open plains and various waterholes. We hope to find a multitude of Lark species, including Eastern Clapper, Stark’s, Sabota, Pink-billed, Fawn-colored, and Rufous-naped, as well as larger and more brightly colored species such as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Gabar Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Lappet-faced Vulture, and Namaqua Sandgrouse.

Overnight: Okaukuejo Camp, central Etosha

Day 7. Central to eastern Etosha National Park

Today we make our way from the central section of the park to the eastern edge. As we head farther east the bird species change gradually, and we hope to find Blue Crane, Secretarybird, Red-necked Falcon, Burchell’s Courser, and Caspian Plover among the usual suspects. Around Mokuti Lodge we should see Black-faced Babbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, White-browed Scrub Robin, Black-faced Waxbill, Bearded Woodpecker, Pearl-spotted Owlet, and other woodland species.

Overnight: Mokuti Etosha Lodge, eastern Etosha

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursEtosha National Park is one of Africa’s great game parks, and is a major highlight on the tour!

Day 8. Full day in eastern Etosha National Park

We will have the full day to enjoy the birds and wildlife of eastern Etosha today. We will likely head up to the grasslands of Andoni Plains to look for Blue Crane, Pink-billed Lark, Eastern Clapper Lark, and Burchell’s Courser, while also having some time to bird the woodlands around our lodge for Black-faced Babbler and many others.

Overnight: Mokuti Etosha Lodge, eastern Etosha

Day 9. Transfer to and birding around Rundu

As we continue eastward the landscape becomes less arid, and today we start seeing some well-developed woodlands for the first time during our tour. The tall woodlands east of Rundu are home to some tricky birds, such as Rufous-bellied Tit (which can be very thin on the ground and tough to find). Sharp-tailed Starling (along with the more common but also more spectacularly plumaged Greater Blue-eared Starling) and Souza’s Shrike are two tough birds of human-modified woodland sometimes in poor condition. There is a plethora of other great birds to be found here, both woodland birds and waterbirds, such as cuckooshrikes, orioles, Green-capped Eremomela, Tinkling Cisticola, Swamp Boubou, Dwarf Bittern, Rufous-bellied Heron, and a rich assemblage of others.

We will also bird the wetlands around Rundu for Collared Pratincole, White-backed Duck, Baillon’s Crake, Greater Painted-snipe, and perhaps even Lesser Moorhen and Lesser Jacana.

Overnight: Taranga Safari Lodge or similar, Rundu

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursThe relatively large Rufous-bellied Tit is one of the prized denizens found in the tall woodlands of the Caprivi Strip.

Day 10. Into the Caprivi Strip

After some early-morning birding we will make the relatively short transfer to the Mahango area, which is incredibly biodiverse. We will have another shot at Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, and Rufous-bellied Tit as we head east through the tall woodlands. We stay at a lodge near the tiny but impressively diverse Mahango Game Reserve, a protected area within Bwabwata National Park. Species to look for around the lodge include Meyer’s Parrot, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, African Golden Oriole, White-browed Robin-Chat, Brown Firefinch, and many others.

Overnight: Mahangu Safari Lodge or Ndhovu Safari Lodge, Divundu

Day 11. Mahango birding

We spend the day in the Mahango Game Reserve, enjoying birds such as Rock Pratincole and any of the birds mentioned for the previous day that we may have missed. Here we also add a great many new birds to our list, along with new mammals. African Buffalo occurs here but not in Etosha, and this is also one of the best places in the world to find the rare Roan Antelope and Sable Antelope. Wattled Crane, Slaty Egret, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Tinkling Cisticola, the oversized Coppery-tailed Coucal, several spectacular weavers with their bright yellow plumage and amazing nests, Greater Painted-snipe, and Grey-rumped Swallow are just a few of the many birds we’re likely to encounter at Mahango.

Overnight: Mahangu Safari Lodge or Ndhovu Safari Lodge, Divundu

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursAfrican Skimmer is regular around the Okavango Panhandle.

Day 12. Into Botswana: the Okavango Panhandle

The Botswana border is only a short drive away. After crossing it one immediately enters a more open, overgrazed habitat, which is, interestingly, the best place to see the localized Bradfield’s Hornbill. At Drotsky’s Cabins the loud grunts of Hippopotamus startle you as you fall asleep in your cabins; while in the water during the day, they do lurk around the lodge grounds at night eating grass – it’s not advisable to walk around after dark, as this is Africa’s most dangerous animal. The lodge grounds are a haven for birdlife, and we can expect to find Hartlaub’s Babbler, White-browed Coucal, and Meves’s Starling, with African Barred Owlet in the nearby woodlands. Brown Firefinch and its more common cousins, Red-billed Firefinch and Blue Waxbill, often feed on the lawns. The liquid calls of Swamp Boubou and coucals add greatly to the atmosphere.

Overnight: Drotsky’s Cabins, Shakawe, Botswana

Day 13. A full day in Botswana

We spend a lot of time birding by boat today as we slowly cruise the upper panhandle of the Okavango Delta. This day is usually excellent for photography, as we are able to approach many birds and animals really close from the boat, and highlights include Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret, White-backed Night Heron, African Skimmer, African Pygmy Goose, Long-toed Lapwing, Coppery-tailed Coucal, and Southern Carmine Bee-eater. We may also be lucky enough to encounter the rare, swamp-dwelling Sitatunga antelope.

In the nearby woodlands we hope to find African Barred Owlet, Narina Trogon, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Grey-headed Kingfisher, African Golden Oriole, and Crested Francolin, among others.

Overnight: Drotsky’s Cabins, Shakawe, Botswana

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursThe Okavango Delta is surely the best place in the world to find Pel’s Fishing Owl – we stand a good chance of finding one on this tour!

Day 14. Back into Namibia and continuing east through the Caprivi Strip

We continue birding the wetlands and woodlands of this bird-rich corner of Namibia. We spend two nights on the banks of the Zambezi River, from where we can do boat trips and birding/game drives. A late-afternoon boat trip along the Zambezi is extremely productive and usually produces great sightings of African Finfoot, White-backed Night Heron, Half-collared Kingfisher, White-crowned Lapwing, African Skimmer, and Rock Pratincole. We often head out this evening to look for night birds such as African Wood and Western Barn Owls and a host of Nightjars including Fiery-necked, Square-tailed, and the spectacular Pennant-winged!

Overnight: Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge or similar, Katima Mulilo

Day 15. Birding around Katima Mulilo

Today we have the full day to explore the productive woodlands in the far-eastern Caprivi. Yellow-throated Leaflove was discovered as a breeding bird on the Namibia/Zambia border (the Namibian side) in 2015, hundreds of kilometers south of its previously known range, and is one of today’s targets. Olive Woodpecker, Schalow’s Turaco, and Western Banded Snake Eagle all occur in the riparian vegetation along the banks of the Zambezi River.

In the surrounding woodlands we search for Racket-tailed Roller, Arnot’s Chat, Copper Sunbird, Striped Kingfisher, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Grey Penduline Tit, Wood Pipit, and Lizard Buzzard.

Seasonal pans in the area are explored for Hottentot Teal, Rosy-throated Longclaw, White-backed Duck, Lesser Jacana, Rufous-bellied Heron, Luapula Cisticola, and perhaps even Black Coucal.

Overnight: Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge or similar, Katima Mulilo

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursThe spectacular Pennant-winged Nightjar can be seen breeding around Katima Mulilo.

Days 16 – 17. Into Zambia and birding Victoria Falls

After some early morning birding around Katima Mulilo we will make our way through the border into Zambia. As we head further east we will pass through more broad-leafed woodland, where we may see Southern Ground Hornbills as they move around in small family groups. We eventually reach the busy little town of Livingstone, where we will be based for the next two nights on the banks of the Zambezi River. The woodlands outside of Livingstone hold good numbers of Racket-tailed Roller along with Miombo Pied Barbet (here at its southern extent), Miombo Rock Thrush, Stierling’s Wren-Warbler, Green-capped Eremomela, Cut-throat Finch, Lizard Buzzard, and Pale Flycatcher.

We spend some time admiring Victoria Falls, ‘the smoke that thunders’, from the Zimbabwean side, but it’s important to note that the whole area has spectacularly rich birdlife, so we’ll add a lot of good new birds to our list near the end of the tour. Birding around camp is extremely productive with regular sightings of Collared Palm Thrush, Natal Spurfowl, Bearded Scrub Robin, Schalow’s Turaco, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Trumpeter Hornbill, Olive Woodpecker, Broad-billed Roller, and other species along the Zambezi River.

We usually find about 400 bird species on this tour of varied habitats – and we also get one of the highest mammal lists of any of our tours on this transect.

Overnight: Camp Nkwazi, Livingstone, Zambia

Namibia, Okavango and Victoria Falls birding toursRacket-tailed Roller can be seen in the broad-leaved woodlands around Livingstone.

Day 18. Departure

Your flight can leave Livingstone any time today.

 

Please note that the itinerary above cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

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Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls Trip Report

02 – 19 NOVEMBER 2022

 By Dominic Rollinson

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Our visit to a Southern Carmine Bee-eater was one of the many highlights of the tour.

Overview

This 18-day birding and wildlife safari covered a vast distance and variety of habitats, from the coastal Namib Desert at Walvis Bay, in Namibia, to the subtropics of Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Due to the diversity of habitats visited on this tour, we usually record a high list of birds, and this tour was no different, with an impressive 438 bird species recorded. Of course, it was not only about the quantity of species seen but also the quality, with a great many Namibian near-endemics and regional specials encountered. This tour is generally an enjoyable one for guides and clients alike, with good infrastructure geared towards eco-tourism and high-quality accommodation (with delicious and varied meals) and easy access to areas with high diversities and abundances of birds and other wildlife.

Some of the crowd-favorites on this tour included Pel’s Fishing Owl, Schalow’s Turaco, Secretarybird, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Southern Ground Hornbill, Three-banded Courser and Kori Bustard. Some of the near-endemics and regional specials included Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Slaty Egret, Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Blue Crane, Burchell’s Courser, Bradfield’s Swift, Damara Red-billed and Monteiro’s Hornbills, Pygmy Falcon, Rüppell’s Parrot, Souza’s Shrike, Dune, Stark’s, Gray’s and Benguela Long-billed Larks, Rufous-eared Warbler, Sharp-tailed Starling and many others.

A small group of Southern Ground Hornbills were seen in the Zambezi Region of Namibia.

We also saw many charismatic and fascinating wildlife such as Lion, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Spotted Hyena, Spotted-necked Otter, Cape Fox, Giraffe, and (Hartmann’s) Mountain Zebra.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 2nd November 2022. Arrival and Walvis Bay birding

Most of the clients had arrived during the previous couple of days and so after breakfast we headed out to get a start on our bird list and spent time birding the lagoon and salt works. At the Walvis Bay lagoon, we saw huge numbers of both Greater and Lesser Flamingos and worked our way through the shorebirds on offer and found Curlew and Terek Sandpipers, Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Grey, Common Ringed and White-fronted Plovers, Common Greenshank and Bar-tailed Godwit. We then made our way south of town to the salt works where we found many Chestnut-banded Plovers as well as Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Marsh Sandpiper, Eurasian Whimbrel, Cape Teal and a few Cape Gannets flying along the coast. We were very pleased to find our target bird in the form of Damara Tern, which showed well for us. Throughout the morning we also found Caspian, Greater Crested, Sandwich and Common Terns.

Chestnut-banded Plovers were numerous in Walvis Bay.

We then headed back to Walvis Bay where we enjoyed a sit-down lunch and then made the obligatory stop at the local sewage works. The sewage works were very productive and we added many new fresh water birds. Some of the highlights included Little and Black-necked Grebes, South African Shelduck, Blue-billed Teal, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Three-banded Plover, Blacksmith Lapwing, Grey and Black-headed Herons, Whiskered Tern, African Reed Warbler and Southern Masked Weaver.

After the sewage works, we popped into the nearby shopping mall to exchange and draw money and to buy a couple of things before Dom headed out to the airport to collect Bob and Gail. We ended the day with a lovely meal as we overlooked the lagoon, which was packed with flamingos and other water birds.

Day 2, 3rd November 2022. Walvis Bay boat cruise and birding

We were up before dawn for our first full day of Namibian birding and headed inland into the Namib Desert to the red dunes of Rooibank. We searched for Namibia’s only endemic bird species, Dune Lark, which we found without too much difficulty. They provided us with stellar views as they went about feeding in the low dunes. The general birding was good and we also managed to find Bokmakierie, Ashy Tit (heard only), Pale Chanting Goshawk (the first of many, soon to be known as ‘PCGs”), Namaqua Dove, Diederik Cuckoo, Pririt Batis, Little Swift, Southern Fiscal, Black-chested Prinia and Southern Masked Weaver. A quick scan of the lagoon mudflats on our way back added Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Common Greenshank and Caspian Tern.

After an enjoyable breakfast, we made our way to the small craft harbor and took a boat cruise around Walvis Bay lagoon. While waiting for our boat, we had a single House Crow fly over us. These invasive corvids are seen occasionally around Walvis Bay and are likely ship-assisted birds which hopefully won’t establish a population here. The boat cruise itself was (as always) an enjoyable few hours out on the water and we managed good views of Black-necked Grebe, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Cape Gannet, Crowned, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants and Great White Pelicans, literally eating fish out of our hands. The massive tern roost included Greater Crested, Sandwich, Common and Black Terns and it was good fun to work through the different species as they flew overhead.

We had good looks at White-chinned Petrels on our Walvis Bay boat cruise.

After our boat cruise we headed north, beyond the pretty town of Swakopmund and into the white, open plains of the Namib Desert. We easily found many Gray’s Larks, some of which were very confiding. Up next were the 5-Mile Salt Works, which were full of birds and we found Cape Teal, Grey, Common Ringed and White-fronted Plovers, Eurasian Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and a few Damara Terns. The massive numbers of Cape Cormorants here were something to behold!

Gray’s Larks were seen well in the desert plains north of Swakopmund.

To finish off the day’s birding, we headed further into the Namib Desert and enjoyed spending some time with the bizarre Welwitschia mirabilis plants, estimated to live up to 1,500 years old and only grow two leaves their entire lives. These fascinating plants obtain most of their moisture from desert fog, although it is thought that they also tap into underground water supplies because they mostly grow along dry watercourses. On our drive out here, we enjoyed looks at the almost pure-white form of Tractrac Chat. We ended the day with another tasty meal, overlooking the bird-filled lagoon.

Day 3, 4th November 2022. Walvis Bay to Erongo Mountains, Spitzkoppe birding en route

It was another pre-dawn start this morning as we wanted to get deep into the Namib Desert before it heated up too drastically. As we made our way through the desert the shout of ‘bustard’ came from Christiane and had us turning around and enjoying good looks at Ludwig’s Bustard, a bird which is often very tricky to find, owing to its nomadic habits. Not long thereafter, we turned the vehicle around again, this time for a pair of the Namib-endemic Rüppell’s Korhaan and our first of many Stark’s Larks.

Once we turned north on the dirt road towards Spitzkoppe, the birding got even better which made the going very slow (a good thing) and resulted in sightings of Black-winged Kite, Northern Black Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Penduline Tit, Spike-heeled and Sabota Larks, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, African Red-eyed Bulbul, and Karoo Chat. We then spent the next couple of hours birding around the impressive Spitzkoppe massive in the hopes of finding Herero Chat. Despite a few hours of searching, and even employing the services of local bird guides, we could not find this Namibian near-endemic and had to eventually accept defeat. We did however find some other good birds during our search, including the likes of Rosy-faced Lovebird, White-tailed Shrike, Ashy Tit (seen today!), Carp’s Tit, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Layard’s and Chestnut-vented Warblers, Pale-winged Starling, Short-toed Rock Thrush and Yellow Canary.

After having finally given up on finding Herero Chat we headed west to the Erongo Mountains where the habitat changed slowly, with the desert scrub being replaced by taller trees and impressive rock formations. As the habitat changed, the bird life changed too and we steadily added Grey Go-away-bird, Long-billed Crombec, Chat Flycatcher and Green-winged Pytilia. After checking into our beautiful lodge, we had some downtime in the extreme heat of the mid-afternoon, before meeting later in the afternoon for a walk along the edge of some impressive granite koppies. The birding was slow to begin with but did steadily pick up, and we managed to add Pearl-spotted Owlet, Common Scimitarbill and the large and distinctive Monteiro’s Hornbill.

Monteiro’s Hornbills were common in the Erongo Mountains.

We enjoyed dinner as we overlooked a small floodlit waterhole where dozens of Double-banded Sandgrouse flew over and were also entertained by many calling Freckled Nightjars and had fantastic views as they gave their ‘bow-wow’ call.

Day 4, 5th November 2022. Erongo Mountains and Uis birding

This morning we did another walk through some koppies and bushveld and it was much more productive this time around. Some of the highlights of our morning’s walk included Rüppell’s Parrot, Gabar Goshawk, Brubru, White-tailed Shrike, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Cape Bunting, amazing views of Rockrunner. We heard the distant call of Hartlaub’s Spurfowl but it would remain unseen (for now). A mammalian highlight was a brief Kaokoland Slender Mongoose.

After perhaps the best breakfast of the trip, some of the group decided to relax around the lodge. The others took the long drive out towards Uis, where we found our target, Benguela Long-billed Lark, relatively easily and enjoyed prolonged views. While birding the desert plains we also saw the trip’s only African Hawk-Eagle. The drive also yielded our first Kori Bustards and Double-banded Coursers!

Once it had cooled down a bit we took a drive out into the Erongo Conservancy, which proved rather productive and we managed to see Red-crested Korhaan, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Southern Red-billed and Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills, Acacia Pied Barbet, Wattled Starling, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Marico Flycatcher and Red-headed Finch. Along the drive we also saw many new and exciting mammals such as Giraffe, Gemsbok (southern Oryx), Springbok, Steenbok, Klipspringer and Kirk’s Dik-dik.

This female Double-banded Sandgrouse was rather confiding.

After another enjoyable dinner (with complimentary Double-banded Sandgrouse and Freckled Nightjars on show) we did a night drive through the conservancy. Night drives are often hit-or-miss, although this time around we added Spotted Thick-knee as well as some interesting mammals such as Scrub Hare, Springhare and (Hartmann’s) Mountain Zebra.

Day 5, 6th November 2022. Erongo Mountains to Etosha National Park

With Hartlaub’s Spurfowl still on the target list we did yet another walk from the lodge and within ten minutes we had scope views of the spurfowl as a pair called high up from the top of a koppie. Other highlights of the morning walk included a few Black-faced Waxbills and a confiding Barred Wren-Warbler. We then decided to head back for an earlier breakfast and take our time driving out through the conservancy.

After another delicious breakfast we packed the vehicle and set out north towards Etosha National Park. Still in the conservancy, we enjoyed some very productive birding. Some of the highlights of the drive included Red-billed Spurfowl, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Purple Roller, Wattled Starling, Southern Pied Babbler, Marico Sunbird, Black-throated Canary and the near-endemic Damara Red-billed Hornbill. Once through the conservancy, while refueling the vehicle, we noticed a low group of swifts containing Little, White-rumped and most importantly, the tricky Bradfield’s Swift.

Purple Rollers were surprisingly widespread on this tour.

We made it into Etosha National Park in the early afternoon and, after checking into our accommodation at Okaukuejo Rest Camp, we decided to have a couple of hours of downtime during the extreme heat. Later that afternoon we headed out for a drive and made our way north of the camp, along the western edge of the bone-dry pan. Sightings were slow to start with but soon picked up, and we added Common Ostrich, Northern Black Korhaan, Crowned Lapwing, Greater Kestrel, Cape Crow, Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark, Desert Cisticola, Rufous-eared Warbler, Sociable Weaver (complete with massive colonial nests) and our first African Pipit. As is the norm in Etosha, there were large numbers of animals around, with some of the more interesting sightings including Banded and Yellow Mongooses, Spotted Hyena, Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest (Gnu) and Giraffe. A quick nocturnal visit to Okaukuejo’s floodlit waterhole after dinner gave us fantastic views of Black Rhinoceroses as they came down to drink and bathe and our first Rufous-cheeked Nightjars as they hawked insects in the floodlights.

Day 6, 7th November 2022. Central Etosha; birds and large game

We were out of the camp gate just after sunrise this morning and headed east of Okaukuejo, where we birded the open plains and some of the mopane woodlands. Highlights of the morning’s drive included Bateleur, Tawny, Martial and Booted Eagles, the massive Kori Bustard, Spotted Thick-knee, Double-banded Courser, the Critically Endangered White-backed Vulture, Cape Penduline Tit, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Ant-eating Chat, Great Sparrow and the bizarre Secretarybird. The avian highlight of the morning drive was probably a large group of Burchell’s Coursers which showed well and kept edging closer and closer to the vehicle. We had some great mammal sightings on this drive too, including the likes of Black-backed Jackal, Cape Fox, Kudu, Impala, many African Elephants and fantastic close-up views of two female Lions walking right past our vehicle.

A small group of Burchell’s Coursers was seen well in Etosha National Park.

In the afternoon we decided to try the areas northwest of camp, which resulted in some more interesting birds. We stopped to enjoy a young Pale Chanting Goshawk at point-blank range, before we added a distant White-headed Vulture (another Critically Endangered vulture), soon followed by European Bee-eater, African Grey Hornbill and Pink-billed Lark. While driving amongst large acacia trees with many active Sociable Weaver nests, we were lucky enough to find a distant Pygmy Falcon – a tricky bird in Etosha. We also had another (distant) sighting of a Black Rhinoceros – Etosha is surely the best place to see this charismatic and rare species.

Okaukuejo’s floodlit waterhole again had Black Rhinoceros as well as a few African Elephants and more Rufous-cheeked Nightjars.

Day 7, 8th November 2022. Central Etosha; birds and large game

Today we moved east across the park to Etosha’s easternmost camp, Namutoni, where we were based for the next two nights. The morning got off to a great start when we saw a large male Lion as it quickly walked past us at a waterhole. A little further down the road, another large male Lion was seen right next to the road and gave us incredible, prolonged views and even gave some impressive roars! A stop at another waterhole further east had some good waterbird activity which included Red-billed and Cape Teals, Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint and White-fronted and Kittlitz’s Plovers. The drive also produced our first (Red) Hartebeest of the trip.

This male Lion gave us incredible views!

We then made it to Halali Rest Camp for lunch and had a good walk around, as we had several birds to target here. One of our two main targets, Violet Wood Hoopoe, proved straightforward and we soon saw a feeding flock, however Bare-cheeked Babbler proved tricky. We eventually all had good views as a small group fed in the shade during the midday heat. Other interesting birds seen around Halali included African Cuckoo, Western Barn Owl, Acacia Pied Barbet, White-crested Helmetshrike, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Violet-eared Waxbill and Southern White-faced Owl (chick and an adult seen). We enjoyed watching cheeky Smith’s Bush Squirrels as they searched the camp for any left-over lunches.

This adult Southern White-faced Owl was seen close to its nest which had a small chick in it.

After checking into our accommodation at Namutoni Rest Camp, we took some time off to escape from the heat before enjoying a late afternoon drive. Our drive started well when Christiane showed us the Red-necked Falcon she had seen during her afternoon swim. Some of our better sightings on the drive included Groundscraper Thrush, Burchell’s Starling, Capped Wheatear and the cute Blue Waxbill.

As we sat outside and enjoyed our dinner that evening, we were serenaded by Pearl-spotted Owlets and Fork-tailed Drongos – a lovely way to finish the day!

Day 8, 9th November 2022. Eastern Etosha

The day started with us making our way north to the grasslands of the Andoni Plains where we hoped to add a few more key species. On our way north we stopped at a waterhole which had a single Greater Painted-snipe with Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Fawn-colored Lark, Rattling Cisticola, White-browed Scrub Robin, Black-crowned Tchagra, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Shaft-tailed Whydah seen in the surrounding bushveld. Blue Cranes did not prove difficult, and we saw a couple of dozen birds, some with color bands on their long legs. A stop at a nearby waterhole added South African Shelduck, African Spoonbill and Marabou Stork as well as repeat views of Chestnut-banded and Kittlitz’s Plovers and Cape Teal. Driving through the grasslands resulted in some great views of Lappet-faced Vulture as well as Eastern Clapper Lark (at last!) and brief views of a Common Buttonquail for Hilary and Dom.

After a quiet afternoon drive (although we had good views of Buffy Pipit) and an early dinner, we enjoyed a fantastically productive night drive. The evening started magically when we spotted a Three-banded Courser which showed exceptionally well for us. We then spent an enjoyable 30 minutes waiting at a waterhole as we listened to African Elephants wallowing in the shallows and enjoyed the impressive night sky. Another waterhole had a drinking Black Rhinoceros as well as a showy Spotted Eagle-Owl. The drive ended with us hearing a Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl calling close to camp, and after ending the drive we headed to the waterhole where we managed distant views of this giant owl!

Three-banded Courser in Etosha National Park was an unexpected bonus!

Day 9, 10th November 2022. Etosha National Park to Zambezi Region

Today was to be a significant move eastward as we made our way to the edge of the Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi Strip) where open desert plains were replaced with tall woodlands and lush riparian vegetation. As we left the park, we saw African Paradise Flycatcher, Black-backed Puffback and Red-headed Weaver. The drive immediately east of the park soon added the first of many Lilac-breasted Rollers. Our lunch stop at Roy’s Camp quickly added our target bird, Black-faced Babbler, as well as our first White-bellied Sunbird, Orange-breasted Bushshrike and Wahlberg’s Eagle.

We then arrived at our pretty lodge on the edge of the Okavango River and took a late afternoon walk around camp, which added lots of new birds, many here at their western limit. Some of our highlights included African Openbill, African Wattled Lapwing, White-browed Coucal, Black-collared Barbet, Swamp Boubou, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Arrow-marked and Hartlaub’s Babblers, Kurrichane Thrush and Holub’s Golden Weaver.

We enjoyed dinner that evening with the sounds of Fiery-necked and Square-tailed Nightjars calling from the edge of the river, with brief views of Square-tailed as it flew over the deck.

Day 10, 11th November 2022. East through the Zambezi Region

The early morning was spent birding around camp where we were hoping to connect with the long-staying Ross’s Turaco which gave us the run-around – we always seemed to be a few minutes late with other birders and staff having just seen the bird before we arrived. We did however have other good birds around camp including Striated Heron, Senegal Coucal, Woodland Kingfisher, Terrestrial Brownbul, Ashy Flycatcher and Amethyst Sunbird.

We made our way through the bustling town of Rundu before popping into the local sewage works (our second sewage works of the trip – a birding tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the poop ponds) which was a little on the disappointing side as the floodplain was bone dry. We did however manage to see Glossy Ibis, Brown Snake Eagle, Collared Pratincole, Little Bee-eater, Mosque Swallow, Lesser Swamp Warbler and a small group of Temminck’s Coursers.

This vagrant Northern Carmine Bee-eater was another surprise sighting.

After eventually giving up on the turaco, we pressed on eastwards through the Zambezi Region and arrived at a lodge after lunchtime, where we were to enjoy a boat trip to a Southern Carmine Bee-eater breeding colony. The Southern Carmine Bee-eaters, of course, obliged and we were also treated to its rarer cousin from the north in the form of a vagrant Northern Carmine Bee-eater which was trying its best to shack-up with one of the residents. Whilst enjoying the bee-eaters we also saw other interesting species such as Osprey, African Jacana, Rock Pratincole, Whiskered Tern, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Levaillant’s, Jacobin and Black Cuckoos, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Magpie Shrike and Yellow-billed Oxpecker. A non-avian highlight included good, but brief, looks at a Spotted-necked Otter.

After what had been a busy and birdy day, we decided to relax on the deck at Mahangu Safari Lodge, overlooking the Okavango River, with a drink in hand and enjoy the many birds and animals which working their way up and down the river. Some of the better birds seen during this relaxed birding session included Great and Intermediate Egrets, African Darter, African Skimmer, Mourning Collared Dove, Meyer’s Parrot and the only Bradfield’s Hornbill of the trip!

Souza’s Shrike occur in low densities in Namibia’s Zambezi Region.

Day 11, 12th November 2022. Birding the Mahango area

We had another pre-dawn start, heading about an hour’s drive from Mahangu to bird some dry woodlands west of Divundu town. This morning we were armed with local birding expert Christoph, who knew the whereabouts of many of our targets and so we started walking the woodlands in search of our quarry. The rare Souza’s Shrike proved relatively easy today and we soon found a calling bird which showed well from the top of a tree. However, despite our best efforts, we could not find Rufous-bellied Tit (a theme which would persist throughout the trip). We did however have many other top-quality birds in the surrounding woodlands though including the likes of Brown-backed Honeybird, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Icterine Warbler, Green-capped Eremomela, Tinkling Cisticola, Neddicky (Piping Cisticola), Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Golden Oriole, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Southern Yellow White-eye and Pale Flycatcher. Unfortunately, the calling Coqui Francolins would remain unseen. Christoph then took us to a nearby site where both Sharp-tailed Starlings and Arnott’s Chats were breeding in the same dead tree! On our drive back we encountered large storm clouds with impressive numbers of Eurasian Hobbies and Red-footed Falcons moving along with the rainstorm as well as a single African Hobby – always a tough bird to find!

The tricky-to-find Sharp-tailed Starling showed incredibly well on this trip.

After lunch and some downtime back at our lodge (with a White-backed Night Heron seen around camp), we headed out for a late-afternoon drive to Mahangu Game Reserve. This proved to be a wonderful afternoon and yielded some of the best birding and wildlife viewing of the entire trip. Some of the many avian highlights here included Swainson’s Spurfowl, Goliath Heron, Shikra, Little Sparrowhawk, Wattled Crane, Long-toed Lapwing, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Dusky Lark, Burnt-necked Eremomela and Meve’s Starling. Of course, a visit to this impressive game reserve is not all about the birds and we also encountered Southern Lechwe, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, African Buffalo, Vervet Monkey, Slender Mongoose and both Leopard and Speke’s Hinged Tortoises. The day was capped off with a roughly three-meter-long Southern African Rock Python lying across the road. What a great day it was!

Later that evening, after another lovely dinner, we headed out for a quick night drive where we saw Square-tailed Nightjar and the tiny African Scops Owl.

Day 12, 13th November 2022. Mahangu to Botswana

This morning we birded the overgrazed grasslands outside our lodge which again proved incredibly productive, with several new birds encountered. Highlights of this short walk included Luapula Cisticola, Plain-backed Pipit, Lesser Jacana, African Sacred Ibis, Caspian Plover, Quailfinch, Grey-rumped Swallow, Brown and Red-billed Firefinches and better views of African Hobby. After our morning walk, we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast cruise on the Okavango River on which we mostly saw the regular riverine bird species but had a very enjoyable time.

Luapula Cisticola in the Okavango floodplain.

We again drove through Mahangu Game Reserve on the way to the Botswana border which, due to the intense heat of the late morning, was much quieter than yesterday afternoon, with the only new additions being Crested Barbet, Broad-billed Roller and Green Wood Hoopoe. The border crossing was quick and easy and before we knew it, we were into Botswana and soon arrived at our lodge to take it easy for a couple of hours. In the late afternoon, we took a stroll around the lodge grounds, with some of the group getting brief (and mostly unsatisfactory) glimpses of the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl and excellent views of Narina Trogon.

Day 13, 14th November 2022. Okavango Panhandle boat cruise and birding

There was much excitement this morning as we boarded our small boat which would take us up and down the river, with Pel’s Fishing Owl being our main priority for the morning. As we moved up the river we had lovely views of African Skimmer, Whiskered Tern, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-fronted Bee-eater, Common Cuckoo, Greater Swamp Warbler, Chirping Cisticola, Southern Brown-throated, Village and Thick-billed Weavers and Fan-tailed Widowbird. We checked all the regular haunts for Pel’s Fishing Owl but drew a blank and just as we were beginning to lose heart, our boat guide phoned a friend who had told him of a spot he had seen the owls recently. We then pressed on to this camp and it didn’t take long until some of the group again got brief views of this enigmatic owl before it flushed. Eventually, with lots of stealthy stalking, we all managed great views of Pel’s Fishing Owl and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

This juvenile African Skimmer was busy learning to fly.

After lunch and some downtime, we headed out for our second boat cruise of the day and this time we made our way downstream to a floodplain where Slaty Egret normally feeds. As we made our way towards the floodplain, we got to experience the barbel run: with dropping water levels, bait fish were forced out of the reeds and into the main channel where barbel (a type of catfish) congregated to predate on the small fish. Herons and egrets also took advantage of the surplus of food and we had large numbers of fishing Squacco, Goliath, Purple, Black Herons and Great, Little and Intermediate Egrets all enjoying the feeding frenzy. We had an impressive feeding flock of Common Swifts overhead which provided us with close-up views. Upon arrival at the floodplain, it did not take long to locate Slaty Egret and we all had good, prolonged scope views. Other good birds here included Collared Pratincole, Lesser Jacana, African Snipe, Hamerkop and African Swamphen. On the return trip back to our lodge, we had brief looks at African Pygmy Goose, Allen’s Gallinule and Little Bittern and enjoyed another beautiful African sunset.

Day 14, 15th November 2022. Transfer to eastern Zambezi Region

We had a quick walk around the lodge grounds before breakfast, which added African Barred Owlet and Crested Francolin, and were then soon on our way back north towards Namibia. The border crossing was again a casual affair and we then made our way east through the Zambezi Region towards Katima Mulilo. The long drive went smoothly with the odd stop for Southern Ground Hornbill, Booted Eagle and Dark Chanting Goshawk. Our lunch stop was at a site known for Rufous-bellied Tit, however the birds would not play along and we had to settle for Chinspot Batis, Golden-breasted Bunting and Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow.

We arrived at our lodge in Katima Mulilo, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, and soon thereafter boarded a boat to look for a few specials. As we were boarding our boat, we had a huge flock (1000+) of Black-winged Pratincoles fly overhead which was quite something to see! It did not take long to locate African Finfoot and Half-collared Kingfisher with White-crowned Lapwing proving relatively easy too. We also enjoyed views of Giant and Brown-hooded Kingfishers, Schalow’s Turaco and Trumpeter Hornbill, as the sun set over the Zambezi River.

Katima Mulilo is a good area to find the scarce Half-collared Kingfisher.

Day 15, 16th November 2022. Katima Mulilo birding

We headed out early before breakfast and it did not take long for us to find Yellow-throated Leaflove (which was only discovered as a Namibian breeding bird in the last few years) along with Tropical Boubou while unfortunately the calling Eastern Nicator would not show itself.

After breakfast, we birded the woodlands near our lodge which yielded Lizard Buzzard, Retz’s and White-crested Helmetshrikes, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Green Wood Hoopoe, Schalow’s Turaco and Lesser Honeyguide. The nearby wetlands proved equally productive and here we managed many exciting birds such as Rufous-bellied Heron, Dwarf Bittern (brief views), White-backed Duck, Lesser Jacana, African Pygmy Goose, Blue-billed Teal and Long-toed Lapwing. After lunch we had an interesting encounter with a Black Mamba. We watched it as it unsuccessfully hunted squirrels and birds in a nearby tree, but when it got too close to one of the cabins, Curt decided to catch it and release it further away from the lodge!

In the late afternoon we drove on a road through some beautiful broad-leafed woodland which was very enjoyable and here we added Racket-tailed Roller, Striped Kingfisher, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Southern Black Flycatcher, Purple-banded Sunbird, Red-headed Weaver, Black-throated Canary and Meyer’s Parrot.

Racket-tailed Rollers put on a show for us around Katima Mulilo.

After dinner we went out with Curt to try and find Pennant-winged Nightjar, but unfortunately the area the nightjars normally frequented was flooded and Curt suspected the birds must have found a new area to display in. We thus had to settle for good views of Fiery-necked Nightjar.

Day 16, 17th November 2022. Katima Mulilo to Livingstone

For our morning’s birding, we decided to head back to the same road as the previous afternoon, however it proved much quieter this morning with African Harrier-Hawk, Brown-backed Honeybird and Copper Sunbird being our best finds.

This was mostly a travel day and so after breakfast we packed the vehicle and started making our way east towards Livingstone, in Zambia. After chatting to locals, it was decided that the quickest route into Zambia was through Botswana and so we crossed the Namibia-Botswana border, without any hassles, and then made our way through the famous Chobe National Park which was very quiet for us. The Botswana-Zambia border crossing was not as easily negotiated and after a couple of hours of Dom running from counter to counter and paying all the different taxes imaginable, we were on our way to Livingstone.

We made it to our beautiful camp on the edge of the Zambezi River in the late afternoon and enjoyed a walk around the beautiful and lush lodge grounds. With the shift further eastwards, we easily found several new species including Olive Woodpecker, Bearded Scrub Robin, Red-faced Cisticola, Red-throated Twinspot and a calling Orange-winged Pytilia which would not show itself.

Day 17, 18th November 2022. Victoria Falls and Livingstone birding

Today was the final full day of the trip and we had the exciting prospect of visiting Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our only new bird of the morning’s walk was African Goshawk, although we had even better views of a pair of the gorgeous Red-throated Twinspot.

The beautiful Red-throated Twinspot (female).

On the drive to the border crossing, we added a single Western Banded Snake Eagle and the border crossing into Zimbabwe was thankfully relatively straightforward (a breeze compared to yesterday’s crossing) and we were soon enjoying the mighty falls and the cooling mist. We spent a good couple of hours enjoying the falls from all the different viewpoints and even managed Hooded Vulture, White-crowned Lapwing, Red-winged Starling and a calling African Emerald Cuckoo which would not show itself, despite our best efforts.

After easily getting back into Zambia and back to our lodge we decided to take it easy for the afternoon, with some of the group opting for a relaxed boat trip along the Zambezi and others preferring to start packing bags or wandering around camp. The boat trip yielded some good birds such as Knob-billed Duck, Pink-backed Pelican, Hooded Vulture, Rock Pratincole and African Skimmer – a relaxing way to end our highly successful and fun birding tour.

Impressive views of Victoria Falls, from the Zimbabwean side.

Day 18, 19th November 2022. Livingstone birding and departure

For our final morning of birding, we headed into a nearby patch of miombo forest to see if we could find any last-minute ticks for the trip. The morning started well with a couple of Stierling’s Wren-Warblers showing almost immediately, as well as a few White-winged Widowbirds. As we moved deeper into the miombo we managed to find good numbers of Collared Flycatchers and eventually we found a male Miombo Rock Thrush which showed well for us.

We headed back to our lodge for a final breakfast and said our goodbyes as some of us caught lunchtime flights out of Livingstone, with others catching late-afternoon flights. This ended a highly enjoyable and successful 18 days across Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe with many good laughs and lots of lifers for all.

 

Bird ListFollowing IOC (12.2)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

 

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CE = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened. The Namibian endemic is bolded.

 

Common Name Scientific Name
Ostriches (Struthionidae)
Common Ostrich Struthio camelus
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata
White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
South African Shelduck Tadorna cana
African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus
Blue-billed Teal Spatula hottentota
Cape Teal Anas capensis
Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha
Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Crested Francolin Ortygornis sephaena
Coqui Francolin (H) Campocolinus coqui
Hartlaub’s Spurfowl Pternistis hartlaubi
Red-billed Spurfowl Pternistis adspersus
Swainson’s Spurfowl Pternistis swainsonii
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena
Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii
Swifts (Apodidae)
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Common Swift Apus apus
Bradfield’s Swift Apus bradfieldi
Little Swift Apus affinis
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Turacos (Musophagidae)
Grey Go-away-bird Crinifer concolor
Schalow’s Turaco Tauraco schalowi
Bustards (Otididae)
Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori
Ludwig’s Bustard – EN Neotis ludwigii
Rüppell’s Korhaan Eupodotis rueppelii
Red-crested Korhaan Lophotis ruficrista
Northern Black Korhaan Afrotis afraoides
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus
White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii
Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Klaas’s Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
African Emerald Cuckoo (H) Chrysococcyx cupreus
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus
Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius
African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)
Namaqua Sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua
Double-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles bicinctus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Mourning Collared Dove Streptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola
Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis
Emerald-spotted Wood Dove Turtur chalcospilos
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
African Green Pigeon Treron calvus
Finfoots (Heliornithidae)
African Finfoot Podica senegalensis
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Allen’s Gallinule Porphyrio alleni
African Swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis
Black Crake Zapornia flavirostra
Cranes (Gruidae)
Wattled Crane – VU Grus carunculata
Blue Crane – VU Grus paradisea
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Water Thick-knee Burhinus vermiculatus
Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis
Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Long-toed Lapwing Vanellus crassirostris
Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus
White-crowned Lapwing Vanellus albiceps
Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius
Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus
Chestnut-banded Plover Charadrius pallidus
Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus
Painted-snipes (Rostratulidae)
Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Ruff Calidris pugnax
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Sanderling Calidris alba
Little Stint Calidris minuta
African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Burchell’s Courser Cursorius rufus
Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii
Double-banded Courser Rhinoptilus africanus
Three-banded Courser Rhinoptilus cinctus
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni
Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris
Grey-headed Gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Hartlaub’s Gull Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Damara Tern – VU Sternula balaenarum
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Skuas (Stercorariidae)
Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus
Petrels, Shearwaters, Diving Petrels (Procellariidae)
White-chinned Petrel – VU Procellaria aequinoctialis
Sooty Shearwater Ardenna grisea
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumenifer
Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)
Cape Gannet – EN Morus capensis
Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)
African Darter Anhinga rufa
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Reed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus
Cape Cormorant – EN Phalacrocorax capensis
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii
White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
Slaty Egret – VU Egretta vinaceigula
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Hamerkop (Scopidae)
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens
Secretarybird (Sagittariidae)
Secretarybird – EN Sagittarius serpentarius
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus
Hooded Vulture – CR Necrosyrtes monachus
White-backed Vulture – CR Gyps africanus
White-headed Vulture – CR Trigonoceps occipitalis
Lappet-faced Vulture – EN Torgos tracheliotos
Black-chested Snake Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens
Bateleur – EN Terathopius ecaudatus
Martial Eagle – EN Polemaetus bellicosus
Wahlberg’s Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Tawny Eagle – VU Aquila rapax
African Hawk-Eagle Aquila spilogaster
Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates
Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax canorus
African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro
Shikra Accipiter badius
Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius
African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
Western Barn Owl Tyto alba
Owls (Strigidae)
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum
African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense
African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis
Southern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis granti
Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus
Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl Bubo lacteus
Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli
African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii
Mousebirds (Coliidae)
White-backed Mousebird Colius colius
Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius indicus
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
African Hoopoe Upupa africana
Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
Green Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Violet Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis
Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
Ground Hornbills (Bucorvidae)
Southern Ground Hornbill – VU Bucorvus leadbeateri
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Damara Red-billed Hornbill Tockus damarensis
Southern Red-billed Hornbill Tockus rufirostris
Monteiro’s Hornbill Tockus monteiri
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas
Bradfield’s Hornbill Lophoceros bradfieldi
African Grey Hornbill Lophoceros nasutus
Trumpeter Hornbill Bycanistes bucinator
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Purple Roller Coracias naevius
Racket-tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus
Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudatus
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Brown-hooded Kingfisher Halcyon albiventris
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Malachite Kingfisher Corythornis cristatus
Half-collared Kingfisher Alcedo semitorquata
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides
African Barbets (Lybiidae)
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Acacia Pied Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas
Black-collared Barbet Lybius torquatus
Crested Barbet Trachyphonus vaillantii
Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Brown-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus
Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Bennett’s Woodpecker Campethera bennettii
Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
Olive Woodpecker Dendropicos griseocephalus
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus
Rock Kestrel Falco rupicolus
Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides
Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
African Hobby Falco cuvierii
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri
Rüppell’s Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis
Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)
Chinspot Batis Batis molitor
Pririt Batis Batis pririt
White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus
Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae)
Grey-headed Bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti
Orange-breasted Bushshrike Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus
Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus
Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis
Black-crowned Tchagra (H) Tchagra senegalus
Black-backed Puffback Dryoscopus cubla
Tropical Boubou Laniarius major
Swamp Boubou Laniarius bicolor
Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus
Brubru Nilaus afer
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Retz’s Helmetshrike Prionops retzii
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
White-breasted Cuckooshrike Ceblepyris pectoralis
Black Cuckooshrike Campephaga flava
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Magpie Shrike Urolestes melanoleucus
Southern White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens
Souza’s Shrike Lanius souzae
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
Southern Fiscal Lanius collaris
Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra (Oriolidae)
African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
House Crow Corvus splendens
Cape Crow Corvus capensis
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
Southern Black Tit Melaniparus niger
Carp’s Tit Melaniparus carpi
Ashy Tit Melaniparus cinerascens
Penduline Tits (Remizidae)
Cape Penduline Tit Anthoscopus minutus
Nicators (Nicatoridae)
Eastern Nicator (H) Nicator gularis
Larks (Alaudidae)
Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata
Gray’s Lark Ammomanopsis grayi
Benguela Long-billed Lark Certhilauda benguelensis
Dusky Lark Pinarocorys nigricans
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucotis
Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix verticalis
Sabota Lark Calendulauda sabota
Fawn-colored Lark Calendulauda africanoides
Dune Lark Calendulauda erythrochlamys
Eastern Clapper Lark Mirafra fasciolata
Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana
Stark’s Lark Spizocorys starki
Pink-billed Lark Spizocorys conirostris
Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Yellow-throated Leaflove Atimastillas flavicollis
Yellow-bellied Greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris
Terrestrial Brownbul Phyllastrephus terrestris
African Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans
Dark-capped Bulbul Pycnonotus tricolor
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Banded Martin Neophedina cincta
Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga
Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
Red-breasted Swallow Cecropis semirufa
Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis
Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
Greater Striped Swallow Cecropis cucullata
Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)
Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius
Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens
Leaf Warblers & Allies (Phylloscopidae)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens
Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris
African Reed Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Little Rush Warbler (H) Bradypterus baboecala
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops
Rattling Cisticola Cisticola chiniana
Tinkling Cisticola Cisticola rufilatus
Luapula Cisticola Cisticola luapula
Chirping Cisticola Cisticola pipiens
Neddicky Cisticola fulvicapilla
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Desert Cisticola Cisticola aridulus
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
Black-chested Prinia Prinia flavicans
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
Rufous-eared Warbler Malcorus pectoralis
Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata
Stierling’s Wren-Warbler Calamonastes stierlingi
Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus
Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis
Green-capped Eremomela Eremomela scotops
Burnt-necked Eremomela Eremomela usticollis
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)
Layard’s Warbler Curruca layardi
Chestnut-vented Warbler Curruca subcoerulea
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Orange River White-eye Zosterops pallidus
Southern Yellow White-eye Zosterops anderssoni
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Arrow-marked Babbler Turdoides jardineii
Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys
Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor
Hartlaub’s Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii
Black-faced Babbler Turdoides melanops
Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
Cape Starling Lamprotornis nitens
Meves’s Starling Lamprotornis mevesii
Burchell’s Starling Lamprotornis australis
Sharp-tailed Starling Lamprotornis acuticaudus
Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
Pale-winged Starling Onychognathus nabouroup
Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus
Red-billed Oxpecker Buphagus erythrorynchus
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Groundscraper Thrush Turdus litsitsirupa
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyana
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Bearded Scrub Robin Cercotrichas quadrivirgata
Kalahari Scrub Robin Cercotrichas paena
White-browed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas leucophrys
Grey Tit-Flycatcher (H) Myioparus plumbeus
Southern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis pammelaina
Pale Flycatcher Melaenornis pallidus
Chat Flycatcher Melaenornis infuscatus
Marico Flycatcher Melaenornis mariquensis
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Ashy Flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens
White-browed Robin-Chat Cossypha heuglini
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis
Short-toed Rock Thrush Monticola brevipes
Miombo Rock Thrush Monticola angolensis
Karoo Chat Emarginata schlegelii
Ant-eating Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora
Mountain Wheatear Myrmecocichla monticola
Arnot’s Chat Myrmecocichla arnotti
Capped Wheatear Oenanthe pileata
Familiar Chat Oenanthe familiaris
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Marico Sunbird Cinnyris mariquensis
Purple-banded Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus
White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala
Dusky Sunbird Cinnyris fuscus
Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow Gymnoris superciliaris
Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus
Great Sparrow Passer motitensis
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)
Red-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis niger
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali
Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius
Scaly-feathered Weaver Sporopipes squamifrons
Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis
Holub’s Golden Weaver Ploceus xanthops
Southern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus xanthopterus
Lesser Masked Weaver Ploceus intermedius
Southern Masked Weaver Ploceus velatus
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix
Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris
White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Black-faced Waxbill Brunhilda erythronotos
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
Red-headed Finch Amadina erythrocephala
Violet-eared Waxbill Granatina granatina
Blue Waxbill Uraeginthus angolensis
Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba
Orange-winged Pytilia Pytilia afra
Red-throated Twinspot Hypargos niveoguttatus
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula
Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
Shaft-tailed Whydah Vidua regia
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
Buffy Pipit Anthus vaalensis
Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Black-throated Canary Crithagra atrogularis
Yellow-fronted Canary Crithagra mozambica
Yellow Canary Crithagra flaviventris
White-throated Canary Crithagra albogularis
Buntings (Emberizidae)
Lark-like Bunting Emberiza impetuani
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi
Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis
Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris

 

Total seen 432
Total heard only 6
Total recorded 438

 

Mammal List

Common name Scientific name
 
Dogs, Wolves, Foxes (Canidae)
Black-backed Jackal Canis mesomelas
Cape Fox Vulpes chama
Cats (Felidae)
Lion Panthera leo
Mongooses (Herpestidae)
Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo
Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penicillata
Common Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus
Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose Herpestes flavescens
Hyaenas, Aardwolf (Hyaenidae)
Spotted Hyaena Crocuta crocuta
Eared Seals (Otariidae)
Cape Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus
 
Mustelids (Mustelidae)
Spotted-necked Otter Lutra maculicollis
Bovids (Bovidae)
Impala Aepyceros melampus
(Red) Hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus caama
Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis
Common Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus
Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus
Sable Antelope Hippotragus niger
Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Southern Lechwe Kobus leche
Kirk’s Dik-dik Madoqua kirkii
Gemsbok (Southern Oryx) Oryx gazella
Steenbok Raphicerus campestris
Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus
African Buffalo Syncerus caffer
Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus
Greater Kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Giraffes, Okapis (Giraffidae)
Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis
Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae)
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
Hogs, Pigs (Suidae)
Common Warthog Phacochoerus africanus
Hyraxes (Procaviidae)
Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis
Rabbits, Hares (Leporidae)
Cape Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis
Springhares (Pedetidae)
Springhare Pedetes capensis
Horses, Asses, Zebras (Equidae)
Plains Zebra Equus quagga
Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Equus zebra hartmannae
Rhinoceroses (Rhinocerotidae)
Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Vervet Monkey Chlorocebus pygerythrus
Chacma Baboon Papio ursinus
Oceanic Dolphins (Delphinidae)
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus
Elephants (Elephantidae)
African Elephant Loxodonta africana
Dassie Rat (Petromuridae)
Dassie Rat Petromus typicus
 
Fruit bats (Pteropodidae)
Gambian Epauletted Fruit Bat Epomophorus gambianus
 
Squirrels, Chipmunks, Marmots, Prairie Dogs (Sciuridae)
Smith’s Bush Squirrel Paraxerus cepapi
South African Ground Squirrel Xerus inauris

 

Total seen 42

 

Reptile List

Common Name Scientific Name
 
Land Tortoises (Testudinidae)
Leopard Tortoise Geochelone pardalis
Speke’s Hinged Tortoise Kinixys spekii
Marsh Terrapin (Pelomedusidae)
Marsh Terrapin Pelomedusa subrufa
 
Pythons (Pythonidae)
Southern African Rock Python Python natalensis
 
Typical Snakes (Colubridae)
Black Mamba Dendroaspis polylepis
Mozambique Spitting Cobra Naja mossambica
 
Skinks (Scincidae)
Variegated Skink Trachylepis variegata
 
Monitors (Varanidae)
Nile Monitor Varanus niloticus
 
Agamas (Agamidae)
Namib Rock Agama Agama planiceps
Etosha Agama Agama etoshae
 
Crocodiles (Crocodylidae)
Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus

 

Total seen 11

 

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

BIRDING TOUR NAMIBIA, OKAVANGO AND VICTORIA FALLS: GENERAL INFORMATION

This 18-day birding adventure includes three countries, Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. In Namibia we bird the Namib Coast and Namibian Escarpment for the host of species that inhabit only northern Namibia and southern Angola. In addition we will see one of the greatest shorebird spectacles on the African continent (plus find localized species such as Damara Tern and Chestnut-banded Plover). We also bird the woodlands, rivers, and swamps of the Caprivi Strip and Botswana. These areas are inhabited by a phenomenal diversity of birds. Birding around the stunning Victoria Falls can also be very rewarding. The entire trip mixes truly unforgettable birding with impressive and unbelievably diverse scenery. Although the trip focuses on the endemics and specials, we will end up with an impressive list also of other birds as well as loads of mammals.

Namibia’s climate is typical of semi-desert terrain, hot days, and cool nights. The coastal regions are cooled by the cold Benguela current, causing fog and inhibiting rainfall. Over the central plateau in the country, which is higher up, temperatures are understandably lower. With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, Namibia is truly a sunny place. Only during the summer months from November to April does rain occur, mostly as heavy thunderstorms. Then the usually dry riverbeds become saturated with torrents of muddy water in a very short time. It is during this time that the sun-scorched land comes to life and develops a colorful horizon-to-horizon floral carpet within a few days. The interior enjoys two rainy seasons: the short season is between October and December, marked by frequent thunderstorms. The longer season is from mid-January to April. Summer is from October to April. Temperatures can reach 40 ºC, which drops at night to cool levels. Average daily temperatures range from 20 to 34 ºC. Winter is from May to September with wonderful warm days, which are contrasted by very cold nights when temperatures often drop to below freezing.

On this trip we expect very hot weather in the desert. Further east toward Victoria Falls we expect hot and humid weather. The weather can be surprisingly cool on the coast, even in summer, so please be prepared for all weather but generally expect heat to be the main problem. It might rain, but since the areas visited are typically dry we don’t expect it to interrupt birding very much

 

POTENTIAL HAZARDS

Dangerous Animals

We will be visiting areas inhabited by venomous snakes, although as usual we will be very lucky to see any. We recommend hiking boots, jeans/long trousers, and a good dose of care to minimize the danger of snakebites. We do not take anti-venom on our tours but will try and rush you to a private hospital if you do get bitten (although we will often be in extremely remote places); your own travel insurance (especially medical insurance) is crucial. In game reserves, where large predators freely lurk, it is illegal for very good reasons to alight from one’s vehicle except in rest camps and picnic areas. Scorpions and spiders may also cause problems.

Malaria and other diseases

We strongly recommend taking anti-malaria precautions. Any of the following three drugs is highly effective as a malaria preventative measure (albeit not 100 percent due to resistant strains of malaria):

Malarone® (atovaquone/proguanil),

Doxycyxline, and

Lariam® (mefloquine).

Mosquito repellent, long trousers/jeans, and long-sleeved shirts, particularly at night when malaria (Anopheles) mosquitoes bite, are advised in addition to the drugs.

In the unlikely event that one still contracts malaria after taking anti-malaria drugs and other precautions the disease can still be easily treated if diagnosed soon after symptoms develop: suspect malaria if ‘flu-like’ symptoms develop within a few months after visiting Namibia. If it is malaria it can be treated with an alternative to the prophylactic that you chose.

The Centers for Disease Control website, particularly the section on malaria in southern Africa, is very informative: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/regionalmalaria/safrica.htm

Please do carefully read

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/namibia

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/botswana

You can also take a look at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/zambia, but please be aware that we only venture into a tiny part of Zambia near Botswana/Namibia, so the countrywide text for Zambia does not really apply to this tour – the Botswana and especially Namibia sections are far more relevant here.

Crime

Although you will find that the people of Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia are generally friendly, helpful, and kind, crime is always a possibility (as it is virtually worldwide). We urge you to be aware that crime is possible (although unlikely) throughout the trip – please take very good care of your personal belongings and don’t leave valuables visible in the vehicle when no one is with it.

 

ELECTRICITY

Electricity is 220-240V. If you intend to recharge video batteries etc. in your hotel room you will need an international adapter (3 round prong in a triangular pattern, ITA Type D/M for Namibia, ITA Type D/G for Botswana, and ITA Type C/D/G for Zambia). Note: If you are from North America or elsewhere that does not have 220-240V electricity, then do check all equipment that you plan on charging to see if it is 110/120–220/240V compatible. If that is the case you only need an adaptor to plug the US/Canadian/etc. plugs into. If your equipment is only listed as 110-120V then you will need a converter to convert the electric current to 220-240V.

 

VISA

You can get a Zambian visa at the border – will need US$ cash for it – usually around $50. Please note that those wanting to cross into Zimbabwe on foot to see Victoria Falls from the other side (across from Livingstone, Zambia) will have to pay for an additional (Zimbabwean) visa, the cost of which changes quite often but can be as high as US$100 (unfortunately, some nationalities are charged a lot more than others, too).

 

CLOTHING SPECIFIC TO THIS TOUR

In Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia we expect the weather to be warm to very hot during the day, and often mild at night. We do this tour at the best time for birds, but the disadvantage is the heat. However, the coast can sometimes be foggy and quite cool, and we recommend bringing sweaters, windbreakers, and long pants at least for the coastal part of the trip. Inland the Namib Desert is often extremely hot, but dry, whereas the Caprivi can be very hot and humid, even at night. So hot weather clothes are recommended, but long trousers, hiking boots, and long sleeves, although uncomfortable in hot weather, will help prevent snakebite and sunburn. There is a chance of rain, especially in the Caprivi, the Okavango, and at Victoria Falls.

 

EMERGENCY CONTACT DETAILS

Our emergency contact numbers are as follows (please note that the “+27” should be substituted by a “0” if dialing from within South Africa):

Birding Ecotours office:  Nadia: +27 72 211 9863
Fax: +27 21 592 7438
E-mail (which is checked almost daily): [email protected]

 

FIELD GUIDES

Birds

Please refer to our online resource for field guides and apps

Mammals

Stuarts’ Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa by Chris and Mathilde Stuart, Struik Publishers. 2015

Smithers’ Mammals of Southern Africa – a field guide. Edited by Peter Apps. 1996

Reptiles

Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa by Bill Branch, Struik Publishers. 1998 – Excellent

Butterflies

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa by Steve Woodhall, 440-page paperback. 2005 – the best of those available

Sasol First Field Guide to Butterflies and Moths of Southern Africa by Simon von Noort, 56-page paperback. 1999

Insects

Field guide to Insects of South Africa by Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving. 3rd edition. Struik Publishers. 2019

 

IMPORTANT

Check whether your tour operator is legal in Namibia – please read this carefully.

Birding Ecotours

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‘We toured Namibia in a private group of six people through Birding Ecotours in 2010. Our group was rather diverse, with birding desires ranging from obsessive to casual and including a wildlife photographer. The range of interests could have led to issues, but we all were very satisfied with the trip. We not only had great birding results, thoroughly satisfying the more bird-oriented among us, but also had unforgettable experiences viewing mammals to the delight of the entire group. The tour was well-organized and well-executed, we had plenty of information in advance, the arrangements took account of our special needs, accommodations and transportation were excellent, and the price was quite reasonable. We were delighted with the trip and look forward to our next adventure (already booked!) with Birding Ecotours.’

Bill

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