Namibia Birding Tours

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Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a wonderfully unique southern African country. Located along the continent’s south-western coast, Namibia is perhaps best known for the similarly-named large desert that occupies much of this arid country – the Namib Desert. The country’s vast diamond reserves, its increasingly popular (and very tasty) oysters, and its superb wildlife-viewing all feature prominently in this country’s definite ‘must-visit’ appeal. With its sparsely populated interior, friendly people, and ease of traveling Namibia truly epitomizes the saying ‘don’t let appearances deceive you’ (with its mostly arid land deceptively harboring next-to-nothing to the first-time onlooker), and all of these factors and more make it one of the most rewarding and enjoyable destinations to travel throughout Africa and arguably even the world.

Namibia has close ties with neighboring South Africa, so much so that the South African Currency (ZAR – Rand) is legal tender in addition to the Namibian Dollar, and is an excellent ‘value-for-your-money’ destination. Namibia is also bordered by Angola, Zambia, Botswana and the Atlantic Ocean. Although it is the most arid country in sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia boasts a vast collection of nature reserves and protected areas that harbor a wide array of wildlife, including all of southern Africa’s big game mammals. Etosha National Park, truly one of Africa’s great game parks, is one of the country’s most prominent reserves and draws guests from far and wide with its superb game viewing –which you’d be hard-pressed to beat anywhere in the world. Birdwatching in Namibia is equally excellent; despite the country having only one true endemic it has a great many near-endemics shared with either South Africa, Botswana, or Angola. The dry nature of the country makes for very easy birding, and Namibia is a long-time favorite among our clients and guides alike!

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In addition to the incredible Etosha National Park Namibia has a great many other sites that are widely known for excellent bird-watching. These include the likes of the vast mudflats and salt flats of Walvis Bay and the mighty Spitzkoppe that rises out of the arid plains for all to see from an incredible distance. The Brandberg and Erongo Mountains host some of the best ‘desert-birding’ in the country, while the moister Waterberg Plateau hosts a similar suite of exciting species.  Large rivers form much of the country’s northern borders, with prime examples being the Kunene, Okavango, and Zambezi Rivers – all of which play a vital role in the life of the many birds and other wildlife that call this country home. The moist tropical-deciduous woodlands of the peculiar Caprivi Strip host an entirely different suite of birds and are an excellent supplement to the fantastic dry-country birding to be had elsewhere in Namibia.

Although a bird-watching tour to Namibia will not see you getting as many species as some of its neighboring countries, like South Africa (although it is not far removed), the many restricted and highly sought-after birds available in Namibia easily make up for this. These range from the desert-loving Rüppell’s Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Herero Chat, and both Gray’s and Dune Larks to the dry-woodland-restricted Rüppell’s Parrot, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Carp’s Tit, and Bare-cheeked Babbler. Rocky areas and the many mountainous zones hold the much-desired Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Rockrunner, and Angolan Cave Chat, while the Kunene River to the north hosts the highly prized Cinderella Waxbill among others. The more tropical Caprivi Strip sees more-widespread species but still offers a number of prized specials such as Racket-tailed Roller, Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling, and a great many others. Ephemeral waterbodies in these areas offer further excellent tropical species, which include Wattled Crane, Dwarf Bittern, Allen’s Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, and even the almost unknown Striped Crake. A visit to this southern African country is a must for any bird watcher and nature traveler alike.

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Testimonials from our tours

Bo Beolens of Fatbirder put me onto Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours originally. What a favour he did me. Not only is Chris an excellent birder, but he goes out of his way to be really helpful.
I and my partner settled on Namibia with Birding Ecotours as our next trip, and as we were in Jo`burg visiting friends a few days before the trip, I asked Chris if he could also arrange for me to see Flufftails in the gap available. The hub of Birding Ecotours couldn`t have been more delightful to deal with. Not only did he get very excited by this challenge, but took it upon himself to do our guiding. He found an equally enthusiastic birder, Kevin, to join the trip and off we set for the Dullstroom area, where there was a Striped Flufftail guide, all revved up and ready to go except it was miserable weather. Never mind, a quick re-calculation and we descended down to Nelspruit Botanic Garden and sunshine, and spent half a day revelling in Sth. African birds. Then we ascended and went lark and pipit hunting which Chris found by call. He also found us an Oribi which was stunning, we were so close.
Chris and his guide worked extremely hard the next day, trying to call out a flufftail . We could hear them but the thick vegetation prevented any views of them. After doing a circuit of the whole area, Chris and the guide doing more, as they were going up and down the hill , we were losing heart. Luck returned as Chris planted us by a carefully placed mp3 playing flufftail, and a narrow trodden path into the bracken. We waited as the sound of another flufftail got closer.
I could hear Kevin hyperventilating as he suddenly found himself looking at a full frontal view of a male Striped Flufftail. As I was at a slightly different angle, I couldn`t see this marvellous apparition, but found myself breathing hard in anticipation when, from behind the clump of grass I was straining to see through, a female suddenly leapt across the gap like a frog, so fast that all I got was a view of the back and tail! No wonder they are a difficult bird to get to grips with but I would recommend this sort of diversion to anyone. I wouldn`t have climbed the hill after the Cape Eagle Owl if it wasn`t for Chris`s infectious enthusiasm either, and we were sorry to see both of them go; they had been so easy to get on with, both entertaining and amusing
We flew to Walvis Bay a few days later to meet Steve Braine, our leader for the Namibia trip, and the rest of the participants. We found that Steve was a born and bred Namibian and knew the country like the back of his hand. He knew exactly where everything was, and if he didn’t, he had a hot-line to somebody who did.
Fortunately the rest of the group were a relaxed bunch and very talkative and entertaining, and soon Steve had everyone fixated on birds. Steve and his bird knowledge is fearsome. He worked tirelessly, always on the go arranging the next highlight, repeating things if he thought anybody had missed out. He knows all the mammals, all the reptiles, loves scorpions and even dabbles with Lepidoptera.
We were all beginning to think he was some kind of magician a week into the trip.
There are sights on this trip you will never forget. For me, even the sight of a line of larks, all squashed together along a 1 inch wide line of shade under a notice board was spectacular.
The plumage of desert birds looking like ink etchings: I could go on.
Steve is an extremely good leader and I for one am grateful for his excellent birding skills and tireless driving.

Jan & JohnWales