- Wynand du Plessis -
Guided bird watching tour to Namibia during January / February 2024
Wynand du Plessis (dedicated Bird Watcher with extensive knowledge on birds, Ecologist & Nature Consevation Scientist in Namibia, Wildlife Photographer, Publisher, Digital Artist).
If you are potentially interested to join this tour, you can apply here.
For inspiration, you can view some of our bird photos from Namibia here.
Experiencing the joy of bird watching in Namibia - a guided bird watching tour:
This tour is designed on having an enjoyable and inspirational holiday with a strong focus on bird watching, but also on wildlife observation. It is not so much about seeing as many different birds and mammals as possible, but rather about having quality observation time when interesting animals are found. We will aim to capture the joy of bird watching and wildlife observation in nature and to rekindle the feeling of being part of wild nature. You will get to know species behaviour and characteristics in greater detail. Such in depth animal encounters are often the most memorable experiences you may have in nature.
Most wildlife and bird viewing are done from the vehicle, and relaxed early morning or late afternoon walks are included when ever possible and feasible. We rather spend the middle of the day driving to the next destination or to just take time to relax in the beautiful African bush, and make use of the early morning and late afternoon for dedicated bird and wildlife observations. Single night stays will be reduced, and camping avoided. Breakfeast and dinner will be served at the local lodge restaurant.
We will not spend much time searching for difficult to find or drab looking birds. The focus will be on more colourful and spectacular birds (but this is depending on the preferences of the participants, and the focus can be refined when required).
This tours is not designed for hardcore birders and listers that do not want to take enough time in observing birds but just want to see as many birds as possible. It is also not for professional bird or wildlife photographers because to capture great photos of a specific bird may require many hours at one location. This would be in conflict to the main goal of this tour.
Endemic and near-endemic birds in Namibia:
The selected route (see itinerary below) presents the opportunity to find the only true endemic bird in Namibia (the Dune Lark), as well as most of the 14 near-endemic birds (Damara Tern, Hartlaub's Francolin, Ruppell's Korhaan, Ruppell's Parrot, Violet Wood Hoopoe, Monteiro's Hornbill, Damara hornbill, Herero Chat, Rockrunner, Barlow's Lark, Gray's Lark, Carp's Tit, Barecheeked Babbler and White-tailed Shrike).
Number of bird species expected to be seen:
About 220 to 250 species are likely to be seen (&/or heard).
List of birds that are likely to be seen (including endemic and near-endemic birds):
The list of birds of southern Africa can be found HERE to download, and the Namibian birds most likely to be seen for this tour are highlighted in yellow (this list is rather conservation, and it is most likely that species not highlighted may also be seen). The list includes the English name, scientific name and German name of birds, with a link for each species to the Avibase website where some photos, further links and bird sounds are available.
We have decided not to include "top birds" that can be expected to be seen at each destination in the itinerary descriptions as there are too many duplications and the text will be too drawn out. When the final itinerary has been decided on, a list of the top birds that can be expected at each destiination will be included in a table.
The ease of bird watching and wildlife observations during this tour:
Most bird and animal sighting will be made from a vehicle (in nature reserves and National Parks), but when ever possible we will walk around at suitable locations to experience the joy of especially bird watching on foot and be closer to nature. Very easy birding can be expected at most of the accommodation facilities as birds are used to people and may have easy access to water or food.
For inspiration, you can view some of our bird photos from Namibia here.
Preliminary Itinerary (14 nights / 15 days):
All guests arrive at Windhoek International Airport and are collected by the driver of the tour operator and myself as the expert bird and wildlife guide. We drive to the first overnight accommodation without spending time in Windhoek.
Days 1-2: Central Namibia, north of Okahandja (possible accommodation options are: Erindi Private Game Reserve, Okonjati Game Reserve, Okonjima Nature Reserve):
The central Namibian region is the ideal first stopover on our birding tour to explore open savanna bush country from the comfort of our 4x4 vehicle or from numerous game viewing locations. The area is a heaven for birders with more than 300 species of birds recorded.
An abundance of small and big game mammals are seen throughout the year, including some mammals very rarely seen elsewhere in Namibia. All of the listed reserves offer exceptional accommodation surrounded by wild unspoiled nature.
Day 3-4: Waterberg Plateau Park (possible accommodation options are: Waterberg Wilderness Lodge, Waterberg NWR Resort):
The Waterberg Plateau Park is a vast protected state-owned game reserve of 40500 hectares, with the impressive red sandstone plateau forming a larger part thereoff. The area is ecologically very diverse i.t.o. plants and animals, and more than 300 species of birds have been recorded. Various short hiking trails are situated in the dense bush below the plateau, and some trails lead up on top of the plateau offering a grand view of the magnificant rock faces and surrounding flat savanna country. Waterberg Wilderness Lodge offers great accommodation. Accommodation at Waterberg Resort is acceptable.
Days 5-6: Etosha National Park - eastern Namutoni area (possible accommodation options are: Onguma Private Game Reserve, Mokuti Lodge, Mushara Lodge, Onkoshi Resort):
More than 340 bird species have been recorded in Etosha and the surroundings, and most of them may be seen at the eastern parts of Etosha, especially during the rainy season. Etosha is teaming with large & small game, and world famous for it's large concentration of endangered Black Rhinoceros. The habitat types include the Etosha Pan and Fisher's Pan that will be flooded at this time of the year, open short grass plains surrounding the Pan's Edge, open shrub to dense tree savanna. All of the listed private lodges offer exceptional accommodation surrounded by wild unspoiled nature.
Day 7: Etosha National Park - central Okaukuejo area (possible accommodation options are: Ongava Game Reserve, Etosha Taleni Lodge, Etosha Safari Lodge, Okaukuejo Resort):
The central Etosha region offers some bird species not common in the east. But the main attraction here during the rainy season in January and February is very large herds of herbivores gathering on the open short grass plains to feed on the abundant food available. Most of the antelopes also have their young at this time, and large herds always draw their predators, mainly lion and cheetah. The dense bush savanna south of Etosha have some birds species more commonly seen much further west, so it is also valuable to spend time searching for birds on the private game reserves. The privately owned lodges in the area offer exceptional to great accommodation, and the accommodation at Okaukuejo Resort is good.
Days 8-9: Erongo Mountains south-west of Omaruru (possible accommodation options are: Ondudu Safari Lodge, Erongo Wilderness Lodge, Ai Aibab - The Rock Painting Lodge, Omurenga Lodge, Ameib Ranch):
The beautiful and wild Erongo Mountains is a great destination for landscape photographers, hikers, and a heaven for birders with more than 220 species of birds recorded. Here many species from the dryer west meets species usually more common in the wetter east. There are many rock paintings and interesting erotion formations found in the ancient granite landscape. All of the listed lodges offer great to exceptional accommodation surrounded by wild unspoiled nature.
Days 10-11: Drive to the Namibia coast with a long stop over at Spitzkoppe for lunch and bird watching:
After leaving the Erongo Mountains, we have a short drive to get to the Spitzkoppe, an isolated granite mountain often called the Matternhorn of Namibia. The very photogenic steep granite mountain and eroded boulders offer many great photo opportunites. About 220 species of birds have been recorded, and because of the open to very open environment, it is often easy to found interresting and rare bird.
The Atlantic coast at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have very many accommodation options to choose from, and at Walvis Bay and area over 200 species of birds have been recorded, many of them at the Walvis Bay lagoon. Here we will have an opportunity to observe many birds only found along the Namibia coastline, and nowhere else in Namibia.
Days 12-13: Sesriem & Sossusvlei area (possible accommodation options are numerous, including Namib Desert Lodge, Sossosvlei Lodge & the Dead Valley Lodge):
The main attraction of this beautiful region is the towering dunes of the Namib Desert. During some rainy seasons Sossusvlei may have flood water, which is an unique and wonderful sighting. The vast gravel plains in between the dunes may also be covered with short green grass and yellow fields of flowers, which then attracts large numbers of larks to breed here. Over 150 bird species have been recorded, and it is also the easiest location to see the only endemic bird of Namibia, the Dune Lark. All of the listed lodges offer great to exceptional accommodation surrounded by the vast desert.
Day 14: Drive to Windhoek over the Gamsberg Pass:
After leaving the Namib Desert, we drive to the city of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. On the way we pass the Gamsberg Pass, which is an impressive pass leading up from the flat lowlands below the great escarpment, to the top of the pass at over 1400m elevation. Over 190 bird species have been recorded in the area, and we will make some stops along the way to search for interesting birds of the central western escarpment.
Windhoek has very many great hotels to choose from, and here we will enjoy our last evening together.
Day 15: All guests depart from Windhoek International Airport (Hosea Kutako International Airport):
All guests will be taken to the main airport in time for their flights back home.
Accommodation availability for the planned tour on such short notice:
Because the planned tour is on such short notice, we may not be able to always find accommodation at our preferred lodge or resort along the route, and may have to select alternative accommodation in the vicinity. For this reason we have not list specific lodges where we will stay in the itinerary above, but rather list regions that will be visited. Here we indicated accommodations options most likely available. We will have to select the specific lodge or resort based on availability. However, this will not compromise the quality of bird watching and wildlife observation in any way.
The green season in Namibia:
The rainy season in Namibia (December to April) is the best time to see most bird species. The duration of rainfall that can be expected in any day during the Namibian rainy season is usually short and over quickly. During most days there will be no rain and lots of sunshine. The only exception is for the far north-east of Namibia where there may be flooding rains that last a week or two. For this reason these regions are avoided during this time of the year, as bird and wildlife activity and viewing are severely hampered by continuous rain.
Why we have chosen this route at this time of the year:
The selected route at this time of the year is ideal to see most of the typical savanna and desert birds in Namibia, including many of the summer migratory birds from Africa and Europe. Mammals are plentiful and occur in large herds in Etosha and on the private game reserves, but may be scattered all over as plenty of field water is available and animals do not need to visit permanent waterholes during this time. Most bird species breed during the rainy season, and most herbivores and small to medium size mammals have their young during the rainy season. Unfortunately the rainy season is not the best time to see elephant and rhino in Etosha, or large concentrations of game at waterholes, but it makes up for this lack with many aspects that are only available during the rainy season, especially if you are doing a birding tour.
Mammals most likely to be seen:
The following mammals are most likely to be encountered:
Lion; Cheetah; Spotted Hyena, (Leopard), Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Banded Mongoose, Yellow Mongoose, African Elephant, (Black Rhino), Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Burchell’s Zebra, Damara Dik-dik, Klipspringer, Gemsbok, Greater Kudu, Eland, Springbok, Black-faced Impala, Common Impala, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Steenbok, Warthog, Ground Squirrel, Tree Squirrel, Chacma Baboon, Cape Fur Seal and Rock Hyrax.
Introduced species on private game reserves that do not occur naturally in the area of the tour but may be seen are: Hippopotamus, Waterbuck, Black Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo, White Rhino & Wild Dog.
This tour offers excellent photographic opportunities for landscapes and mammals, and good opportunities for bird photography. Please take note that this is not a dedicated photography tour but a bird and wildlife observation tour. To get great bird photos are usually much more time consuming than to get great landscape or mammal photos, and photography is therefore not the main focus of this tour. But we are in the process of planning a dedicated bird and wildlife photography tour for later during the year 2024. More information will be posted on this website in the coming months.
Top scenic attractions:
Waterberg Plateau Park, Acacia and broad-leaved Savanna of the interior, Etosha Pan and surroundings, Erongo granite mountains, Spitzkoppe Inselberg, Gravel Plains of the Namib Desert, Coastal Estuary at Walvis Bay, Petrified Dunes at the Namib Desert Lodge, Namib Sand Dunes at Sossuvlei and surroundings, Deadvlei, and the Gamsberg Pass through the great escarpment on the way back to Windhoek.
We can expect pleasant to hot temperatures with lots of sunshine, some clouds and a chance of occasional thunder showers in the northern parts of the tour. Sometimes it may rain a lot during one week in the northern parts of the tour, but this is unpredictable and most unlikely. The predictions for the rain season during this period are rather dryer and hotter conditions.
Group size & vehicle:
Six to eight guests with one dedicated bird & wildlife guide (myself) and one driver from the tour operator. We will have one 4x4 vehicle that can easily accommodate all the people and travel bags without being crowded. We strongly recommend that double rooms are shared by guests as this makes booking so much easier.
Accommodation & meals:
Comfortable lodges, bungalows and hotels (no camping). Breakfeast is included in the price and will be served at the local lodge restaurant. At some lodges it may be possible to also include dinner in the price, but this is not sure yet. All other meals and drinks (especially alcoholic drinks) are extra.
Recommendations of what to consider and what to take with you on this tour:
Will follow soon.
Join our guided bird watching tour to Namibia
If you are potentially interested to join this tour, please add your name and contact details in an email by using the button below to open your email application. If enough people show an interest by the end of November 2023, we will be able to provide a final itinerary and prices shortly thereafter. We will use the services of a very well established tour company in Namibia that will make all the arrangements and accommodation bookings, and provides a vehicle and driver. Wynand will join the tour as the expert bird and wildlife guide.
Yes, I am interested to join the planned tour in January / February 2024
(please provide your name, surname and nationality in your email message)
Find out more about Wynand & Claudia du Plessis
Wynand & Claudia du Plessis are wilderness lovers and passionate wildlife photographers.
Find out more about us here.