Setting down at Windhoek airport in the morning, you will be met by our guide and myself and transferred to a charming lodge on the outskirts of the city. After lunch, we will visit a local game reserve, where in the hilly acacia savannah landscape, we will look for Short-toed Rock Thrush, Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills and Rockrunner. Some game might also be seen such as Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest and Giraffe.
We will conclude the day with a scrumptious dinner at Windhoek’s most famous restaurant.
In the morning, we will undertake a journey north to the Waterberg Plateau.
En route, the likely species we might come across include Tawny Eagle, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Black-shouldered Kite, Lilac-breasted Roller, Red-eyed Bulbul, Cape Glossy Starling, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Rock Martin and Acacia Pied Barbet.
Mammals will also be present by the side of the road and these might include Chacma Baboon, Greater Kudu, Gemsbok, Steenbok, Damara Dik-dik, Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Southern Giraffe, Warthog and Springbok.
We will reach Waterberg in early afternoon with plenty of time to explore the area. The Waterberg is a spectacular brick-red sandstone plateau up to 400m high and crowned with lush vegetation where birdlife abounds. The sandstone cliffs are the only breeding site of the Cape Vulture in Namibia and home to a variety of rock-loving species such as Familiar Chat, Speckled Pigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Verreaux’s Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle and Short-toed Rock-Thrush. The surrounding bushes, forests, river beds and open sandveld are excellent for most of Namibian’s specials, including Hartlaub's Spurfowl, Rüppell's Parrot, Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Bradfield's Hornbill, Orange River Francolin, Tinkling Cisticola, Burnt-necked Eremomela, and three species of woodpecker: Golden-tailed, Bennett's and Cardinal Woodpeckers.
We will continue exploring the area in the morning and after seeing the target species, we will leave the lodge and its stunning landscapes. Our destination for today is the Etosha National Park, one of the best game viewing places in Africa. And, once again, there will be several stops en route to view birds and mammals by the side of the road. After all, it is wild Africa!
We will spend the night at Namutoni camp, where the illuminated waterhole should provide unforgettable encounters with wildlife at night.
Te most striking feature of the Etosha National Park is the Etosha Pan. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake. Today, it is a vast, shallow depression that, for the greater part of the year, is a bleak expanse of white cracked mud, which shimmers with mirages. There are, however, a number of waterholes scattered throughout this area that attract a large diversity of mammals and birds. We will spend a full day in the park, exploring its eastern parts and visiting a number of waterholes in search of birds and game.
The park is home to 144 mammal species, including Black Rhino, Giraffe, Burchell's Zebra, Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, Warthog, Blue Wildebeest, Eland (the largest antelope), Gemsbok (Oryx), Springbok, and a plethora of others.
Three-hundred and forty bird species inhabit the park, including 35 species of raptors, of which six are vultures. Martial and Tawny Eagles, Red-necked Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Kori Bustard (the world’s heaviest flying bird) and Secretarybird should be encountered without great difficulty. Ironically, the pan is also Southern Africa's most important breeding ground for Greater and Lesser Flamingos (in the rainy season).
We will leave the park just before the gates shut and travel a short distance outside the park. Our visit Etosha will be concluded with an alfresco dinner at an upmarket lodge. After the whole day of game viewing, you will enjoy a little luxury!
After morning birding around our lodge, we will head towards Rundu. We will break the journey with a number of stops, including a visit to the sewage ponds at Tsumeb, which has a nice selection of waders and wildfowl.
At Rundu, we will do some birdwatching in the nearby woodlands in the hope of seeing Rufous-bellied Tit, Red-headed Weaver, Green-capped Eremomela, White-breasted and Black Cuckooshrikes, African Golden Oriole and Tinkling Cisticola.
We will spend the night at a lodge situated on the banks of the Kavango River and set within a lush garden. From the lodge’s premises, you can see locals crossing the river in mokoro's as they travel back and forth from Angola to Namibia!
Today, we will follow the Kavango River eastwards and after a two-hour drive we will enter the Caprivi Strip, a narrow piece of land sandwiched between Angola and Botswana. With 450 species of birds, it is the most bird-rich region of Namibia and is southern Africa’s top birding hot-spot.
While birdwatching along the way, we should reach our lodge by late afternoon. You will be impressed by the location of the lodge, where we will spend the next three nights. Set in riverine forest on the banks of the Okavango River, the lodge is an ideal gateway to the fabulous Mahango Game Reserve and one of the most pristine wetland habitats on Earth, the Okavango Delta. With two sunset decks on the bank of the river, you will have the chance to relax and enjoy the serenity of the river and its wildlife.
Today, we will explore the Mahango Game Reserve which protects habitats ranging from vast floodplains and papyrus swamps to dense climax woodland. Our bird list will grow here fast and highlights might include Dickinson’s Kestrel, Bearded Woodpecker, Broad-billed Roller, Long-toed Lapwing and the rare Slaty Egret. The reserve is also home to Crocodile, Hippopotamus, Elephant, Lion, Wild Dog, Buffalo, Kudu, Sable and Roan Antelopes, the elegant Red Lechwe and the rare Tsessebe.
We will cross the border with Botswana today and go deeper into the Okavango Delta. The entire day will be spent cruising the Okavango Delta (with a break for lunch) while searching for birds. The target species will be Perl’s Fishing Owl, which is almost guaranteed to be seen here. Other likely species include White-fronted, Carmine and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Osprey, Brown-throated Weaver, Brown Firefinch and numerous waterbirds.
The handsome African Skimmer breeds here as well, so no doubt, we will come across it too scooping the insects from the water surface of the Okavango.
You will be treated today to breakfast while cruising on the Okavango river – nothing can beat the enjoyment of having an omelette prepared by your chef while being watched by hippos!
After breakfast, we will continue eastwards along the Caprivi Strip, birding en route and reaching one of Africa’s largest rivers, the mighty Zambezi, by late afternoon. En route, we might pick up African Barred Owlet, Purple-banded and White-bellied Sunbirds, and White-crested Helmetshrike, amongst others.
We should arrive at our comfortable lodge, nestled on the banks of the Zambezi River by late afternoon. A stroll around the lodge’s lush green garden might produce an array of new species, including Schalow’s Turaco, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Spectacled Weaver, Bronze Mannikin, Golden Weaver, White-browed Coucal, Olive Woodpecker and even a Willow Warbler. Our chalets are situated on the water's edge overlooking the river – another lovely place where you will be lulled to sleep with the sounds of grunting Hippo and woken to an early chorus of songbirds.
After breakfast, we will drive eastwards while birding en route. The woodlands along the Zambezi River and its surrounding floodplains are home to a wide assemblage of birds including Livingstone’s Turaco, Copper, Purple-banded and Shelley’s Sunbirds, Black-headed Oriole, Arnot’s Chat, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Bennett’s Woodpecker, White-crowned Lapwing and Black-bellied Bustard. The most memorable experience though will be a visit to a spectacular Southern Carmine Bee-eater colony, with hundreds of birds nesting on the banks of the Zambezi River.
Our accommodation for the next two nights is situated on the bank of the Zambezi River, which runs the length of the property offering breathtaking views over the water. Species such as African Fish Eagle, African Paradise Flycatcher, numerous kingfishers and bee-eaters can be seen from the veranda of the restaurant here, as well as Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos and Crocodiles. Even the African Finfoot is a resident birds here!
The lodge’s garden is teeming with birds and an early morning stroll can produce good views of Red-faced Cisticola, Puffback, Black-collared Barbet, Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Black Cuckooshrike, Yellow White-eye, Amethyst Sunbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Terrestrial Brownbul and Blue Waxbill.
After birding along the Zambezi, we will cross the border with Zambia and head to Livingstone and the world-famous Victoria Falls. The immense waters of the Zambezi River plunge into a gorge causing permanent rain, rainbows and the famous "smoke" which is visible from a distance.
This spectacle that bewitched the Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, all these years ago, is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on you. We will spend some time in the vicinity of the falls and look for some birds such as Trumpeter Hornbill, Jameson’s Firefinch, Schalow’s Turaco, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Copper Sunbird and Dusky Lark.
We will conclude our tour with a “sundowner” on a tranquil boat trip along the Zambezi river. A lovely way to end our tour!
After breakfast and birding on our doorstep, we will depart for Livingstone to catch our flight home or further to one of the extensions that are on offer.
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