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NAMIBIA: Desert and Etosha

NAMIBIA gemsbok dune 45 2000x BINNS D64A7434 copy

TOUR FOCUS
BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2019 :: December 3 - December 18
2020 :: November 1 - November 16

TRIP LEADERS

TOUR COST

From: $6,800 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Windhoek, Namibia (WDK)

GROUP SIZE

6-8 Participants

AVAILABILITY

1 space remains for 2019

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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TESTIMONIALS

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Highlights of NAMIBIA: Desert and Etosha

  • Desert-adapted wildlife
  • Endemic Dune Lark
  • Stunning sand dunes at Sossusvlei
  • Mega-fauna of Etosha National Park

Description of NAMIBIA: Desert and Etosha

Namibia is a country of amazing contrasts. Situated in Southwest Africa, Namibia encompasses the oldest desert on the planet, gleaming white salt pans, uninhabited beaches of the Skeleton Coast, and the vast wilderness of the Koaveld. These unique landscapes are home to unique, desert-adapted wildlife found nowhere else on earth.

This Namibia birding and wildlife safari explores key areas of this arid wonderland to find endemics and specialty species among some of the most dramatic, breath-taking landscapes on the African continent.

Namibia’s focus on conservation and eco-tourism provide many areas for unrivaled wildlife watching. More than 600 species of birds have been recorded in Namibia, spread across a variety of habitats. The arid interior is home to range-restricted species, including Dune Lark (endemic), Ludwig’s Bustard, and Burchell’s Courser. Coastal wetlands like Walvis Bay are of international importance and host many migratory birds such as Greater and Lesser Flamingos, and Chestnut-banded Plover. Gray’s Lark and Tractrac Chat are found among gravel plains adjacent to the coast. The Namib escarpment is where we find Herero Chat, Rockrunner, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Violet Wood-hoopoe, Damara and Monteiro’s Hornbill and the enigmatic White-tailed Shrike.

The dramatic dunes of Sossusvlei, surrounded by ancient volcanic mountains and sweeping plains, reflects spectacular scenery and hosts a rich diversity of mammals, birds, and reptiles. At Etosha National Park, we’ll spend ample time enjoying the wildlife that concentrate around watering holes.

Throughout our safari, we’ll encounter an exciting array of animals adapted to thrive in harsh, arid environments, such as elephants, Black Rhino, Gemsbok, Springbok, and endemic Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Damara Dik-Dik and Black-faced Impala. Carnivores include Bat-eared Foxes, Cape Fox, Brown Hyaena, Black-backed Jackal, Cheetahs, and elusive ‘desert’ Lions.

Magnificent scenery, dramatic desert landscapes, and remarkable biodiversity make Namibia a top destination for birding and wildlife safaris.

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Itinerary

Length of Tour

16-days/15-nights

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive Windhoek  o/n  Windhoek
Day 2 – Windhoek to Sossusvlei o/n Kulala Desert Lodge
Day 3 – Sossusvlei o/n Kulala Desert Lodge
Day 4 – Sossusvlei to Swakopmund o/n Lagoon Loge Guesthouse, Walvis Bay
Day 5 – Swakopmund and Walvis Bay o/n Lagoon Loge Guesthouse, Walvis Bay
Day 6 – Walvis Bay to Doro! Nawas Conservancy, Damaraland o/n Doro Nawas Camp
Day 7 – Doro! Nawas Conservancy, Damaraland  o/n Doro Nawas Camp
Day 8 – Damaraland to Western Etosha o/n Hobatere Lodge
Day 9 – Hobatere, Western Etosha o/n Hobatere Lodge
Day 10 – Western Etosha to Central Etosha o/n Okaukeujo Rest Camp
Day 11 – Central Etosha o/n Okaukeujo Rest Camp
Day 12 – Central Etosha to Eastern Etosha o/n Mokuti Etosha Lodge
Day 13 – Eastern Etosha o/n Mokuti Etosha Lodge
Day 14 – Eastern Etosha to Erongo Mts o/n Erongo Wilderness Lodge
Day 15 – Erongo Mts o/n Erongo Wilderness Lodge
Day 16 – Transfer to Windhoek and Departure

Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Windhoek

Depending upon flight arrivals, some possible birding sites around the capital city include Botanical Gardens, Gammam’s Sewage Works, Avis Dam and Daan Viljoen Game Reserve.

Day 2: Windhoek to Sossusvlei

Day 3: Sossusvlei area

Early morning departure from Windhoek travelling through the spectacular Khomas Hochland Mountains with many birding stops en route. Early on we could see Orange River Francolin, Short-toed Rock-Thrush, Bradfield’s Lark, Chat Flycatcher, Mountain Wheatear, Rufous-eared Warbler, Black-chested Snake-Eagle to mention a few. Before dropping down into the Namib Desert, we will stop on the spectacular Spreetshoogte Pass absorbing the vastness of the landscape in front of us.  From here we descend in altitude into the Namib with a very different bird community. We could see our first Rüppells Korhaan, Stark’s Lark, Greater Kestrel, Red-necked Falcon and Ostriches. We will arrive at Kulala Wilderness Camp or Kulala Desert Lodge early evening where we will stay for two nights.

The following morning an early start will be made to find Dune Lark. This bird favours the grassed lower slopes of immense red sand dunes that dominate the area, and is best searched for early in the morning. There is also favourable birding habitat amongst Camel-thorn Acacia along ancient dry river beds for Dusky Sunbird, Acacia Pied Barbet and open gravel plains for the tricky-to-find Burchell’s Courser. A non-birding highlight will certainly be climbing the gigantic ‘Dune 45’.

Day 4: Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay

Day 5: Walvis Bay and Swakopmund area

Early morning departure for the coast and the coastal town of Walvis Bay – it is a fairly long drive but so much to see along the way. A stop will be made early on in the Naukluft Mountains for the highly localized Cinnamon-breasted Warbler at the northern extremity of its range. We then traverse the moonscape Kuiseb River canyon before the flat open plains of the Namib-Naukluft Park gives way to the high dunes along the coast. Time permitting could do walk around town for marine cormorants like Cape and Bank and foraging Orange River White-Eyes in the gardens. Two nights in Walvis Bay.

Following day explore birding localities in-and-around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The latter, a pretty town with an interesting mix of German style buildings, continental cafes and interesting shops. Early morning visit to the gravel plains north of town could produce Gray’s Lark, Tractrac Chat and Red-capped Larks. The Walvis Bay Salt Works and lagoon is home to some of the largest concentrations of flamingos, shorebirds and localized endemics like Damara Tern and Chestnut-banded Plover.

Day 6: Walvis Bay to Doro! Nawas Conservancy, Damaraland

Day 7: Doro! Nawas Conservancy, Damaraland

A very early start will be made again to maximize the most of this day. We will initially travel north along the coast, then inshore past the spectacular inselberg of the mighty Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain at 8,440 feet. In this area a search will be made Herero Chat and there will be many other roadside birding stops for species like Ludwig’s Bustard. We will arrive late afternoon at the spectacular Doro Nawas Camp where we will overnight for two nights. This camp is well situated in an ancient floodplain with the beautiful red Etjo sandstone and Ekendeka Mountains in the distance.

The following day we will explore this diverse rugged landscape exploring associated thicket along ephemeral river systems, gravel plains, dry river beds and rocky outcrops. A highlight could be finding the unique desert-adapted black rhino, or elephant as several family groups roam the area, but other mammals could include oryx (gemsbok), springbok, suricate and even possibly cheetah. On the gravel plains we could find Ruppell’s Korhaan, Lark-like Bunting and Namaqua Sandgrouse whilst the rocky outcrops often have Benguela Long-billed Lark. Exploring the riverine systems of the Huab and Aba Huab we could find Damara Hornbill, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Carp’s Tit, Little Banded Goshawk (Shikra), Madagascar Bee-eater (summer), Red-crested Korhaan, African Cuckoo (summer), Grey-backed Cameroptera, Pearl-spotted Owlet and Spotted Eagle-Owl.

Other exciting activities in this area is to visit Twyfelfontein – a marvelous San rock art site showcasing  a plethora of rock engravings and paintings depicting wildlife and abstract patterns and also a recently proclaimed world heritage site. The birding here is equally good with the likes of Rosy-faced Lovebirds, White-throated Canary, Dusky Sunbird and Verreaux’s Eagle with colourful Namib rock agamas basking on the sandstone rocks.

Day 8: Doro! Nawas Conservancy to Western Etosha

Day 9: Hobatere area, Western Etosha

Today we depart for another premier Namibian birding destination – Hobatere. This is a very scenic drive and on the way to Khorixas we will pass through a picturesque landscape filled with ancient welwitchia plants. Stops will be made en-route for Herero Chat and even possibly the Khorixas Sewage Works. We hope to arrive at Hobatere Lodge in the early afternoon to settle in and get ready for a night drive on the reserve for nocturnal bird and mammal species. Hobatere is situated in the Khoadi Hoas Conservancy west of Etosha National Park, offering great birding in dramatic landscapes.

Birding in the scenic Hobatere area is very productive for species such as White-tailed Shrike, Damara Hornbill, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, African Scops-Owl, Chestnut Weaver, Great Sparrow, Red-billed Spurfowl, Bateleur, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Lark-like Bunting, Carp’s Tit, Meve’s Starling and Violet Wood-hoopoe. The day will be spent targeting various areas for these species on walks and open-vehicle drives.

Day 10: Western Etosha to Central Etosha National Park

Day 11: Okaukeujo, Etosha National Park

From Hobatere we head into Etosha National Park and work our way towards the central parts of the park and onto the Okaukeujo area for two nights at Okaukeujo Rest Camp. This opens up habitats yet unexplored –woodland interspersed with open plains and a vast clay white pan that covers almost 5000 square kilometres. Apart from the opportunity in spotting predators and plains game, the Park’s birdlife is staggering. Birds we could find are endless including Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Burchell’s Courser, Sociable Weaver, Pygmy Falcon, Red-necked Falcon, Stark’s Lark, Double-banded Courser and Pink-billed Lark.

Day 12: Central Etosha National Park To  Eastern Etosha National Park
Day 13: Namutoni, Etosha National Park
The habitats and resultant bird diversity is very different in the eastern parts of Etosha (Namutoni area) with species such as Black-faced Babbler, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Southern Black Tit, Fawn-coloured Lark, Barred Wren-Warbler and an isolated population of Blue Crane on offer. Birding drives will take in all the key areas here such as the vast Andoni Plains and Fischer’s Pan as well as the varied Park waterholes in the vicinity. Two nights at Mokuti Lodge

Day 14: Etosha to the Erongo Mountains

Day 15: Erongo Mountains

Today we travel south to Omaruru at the dramatic Erongo Mountains which rise like mighty whalebacks over the otherwise flat landscape. Our two nights are at Erongo Wilderness Lodge which is a classic style tented camp hidden in the boulders. This area has many Namibian endemics and will give us a final chance for any species we may have missed such as Rosy-faced Lovebird, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Hartlaub’s Francolin, Rockrunner, White-tailed Shrike and Rüppell’s Parrot. Overhead may spot Verreaux’s Eagle and Augur Buzzard whilst at night we may see Freckled Nightjar.  In the area mammals are not that numerous but we could see rock hyrax, dassie rat, the recently described black mongoose, chacma baboon, greater kudu and possibly porcupine and caracal in the evening. This venue definitely is a relaxing end to any Namibia birding itinerary.

Day 16: Return to Windhoek

Depending on return flights

Please note that this itinerary is a guideline, and while we hope to do everything on this birding safari, activities are subject to change, due to circumstances beyond our control.

Cost Details

Cost

$6,800 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Windhoek, Namibia (Airport code WDK).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code ).

Single Supplement and other Cost Additions

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $695 will be assessed.

Cost may vary, subject to the fluctuation of the Rand at the time of payment.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants are registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Deposit Requirements

A $1,000 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Accommodations

This trip includes standard hotels, tented camps and lodges.

Activity Level

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Moderate walking usually over level but uneven terrain, between 1-4 miles a day. The most strenuous being climbing dunes in Sossusvlei, where a good level of fitness will be required

Additional Information

Recommended Field Guide

Birds of Southern Africa  4th Edition (Princeton Field Guides, 2011)
by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton and Peter Ryan

 

Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.

Visa

No Visa is required for US citizens.

Climate

Spring-beginning of summer in the south! November-Dec is a highly variable month. Average low 68, high 86, though expect it to be hot with low humidity, and hotter in the desert.  Sometimes the hot, dry  weather will continue, at other times the sky will fill with clouds and threaten to rain – but if you are lucky to witness the first rains of the seasons, you’ll never forget the drama!

Transportation

We will be 9 seater vans as well as open-sided 4×4 safari vehicles.

 

 

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

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