Namibia

Namib Desert & Etosha

A 14-day, small group birdwatching tour to Namibia

Travel on Limosa’s birdwatching tour to Namibia and you will discover a world-class wildlife destination... a country that’s home to some of Africa’s most sought-after endemic birds and mammals, one of the continent’s finest national parks and some spectacular desert landscapes! Let our southern Africa specialist Joe Grosel guide you on this remarkable journey - one that will take you from the special birds of the immense red dunes and stark granite monoliths of the Namib, via the prolific wildlife of Namibia’s mist-shrouded Atlantic shore - at the southern tip of the mysterious Skeleton Coast - to legendary Etosha National Park, the 'place of dry water'.

Tour Dates & Prices

Sun 7th March 2021

Sat 20th March 2021

  • Booking Closed

Thu 26th May 2022

Wed 8th June 2022

  • Booking Closed

Tour Cost: 14 Days from £5695* inc return flights from London Heathrow

Deposit: £700Single Supp: £595*Land Only: £4695*Group Size: 6Leaders:  Joe Grosel
Join the Wait List

* 2020 tour costs shown. Please note costs for our 2021 tour TBA (available summer 2020)

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • Return flights - London Heathrow-Windhoek
  • 11 nights accommodation in Namibia
  • All main meals (with drinking water provided)
  • Travel by 4WD Landcruiser with 'pop-up' roof for bird & wildlife viewing
  • All excursions, permits, entry fees, local guides, tour based tips & taxes
  • Map and Limosa checklist of bird & mammals

Cost Excludes

Insurance, drinks, airport meals/snacks & other items of a personal nature

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

The Land Only cost is the price you will pay if you choose to arrange your own flights

Tour Cost: 14 Days from £5695* inc return flights from London Heathrow

Deposit: £700Single Supp: £595*Land Only: £4695*Group Size: 6Leaders:  Joe Grosel
Join the Wait List

* 2020 tour costs shown. Please note costs for our 2022 tour TBA (available summer 2021)

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • Return flights - London Heathrow-Windhoek
  • 11 nights accommodation in Namibia
  • All main meals (with drinking water provided)
  • Travel by 4WD Landcruiser with 'pop-up' roof for bird & wildlife viewing
  • All excursions, permits, entry fees, local guides, tour based tips & taxes
  • Map and Limosa checklist of bird & mammals

Cost Excludes

Insurance, drinks, airport meals/snacks & other items of a personal nature

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

The Land Only cost is the price you will pay if you choose to arrange your own flights

Tour Highlights

  • Travel by 4WD Landcruiser, specially adapted to optimise bird and wildlife viewing
  • A dazzling array of southern African birds - including many regional endemics
  • The endemic Dune Lark, Gray's Lark, Tractrac and Herero Chats, White-tailed Shrike
  • See the prolific birds and wildlife of one of Africa’s richest coastlines  
  • Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s Francolin and other specialities in the remote Erongo Mountains
  • The haunting beauty of the desolate Namib Desert and its magnificent red dunes
  • 4 nights at world famous Etosha National Park - Black Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Gemsbok, Zebra and more  
  • Small party size - maximum of 6 participants
  • Expertly led by our southern Africa safari specialist, Joe Grosel

Outline Itinerary

  • Fly London Heathrow overnight to Johannesburg

  • We meet Joe and fly on to Windhoek. Transfer to the Erongo Mountains. Erongo (2 nights)

  • The Spitzkoppe, Namib Desert and the bird-rich Atlantic coast. Walvis Bay (2 nights)

  • The Brandberg Massif. Night Brandberg

  • Etosha - 4 nights split between lodges in the western, central and/or eastern sectors of this impressive National Park.

  • Waterberg National Park (2 nts)

  • Morning Waterberg. Afternoon fly Windhoek-Johannesburg-London, with arrival on Day 14

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Trip Reports
Namibia vehicle Joe Grosel.jpg
Travelling in style... Participants on our Namibia tour enjoy their all new, all terrain vehicle © Joe Grosel, Limosa

From the swirling apricot-coloured dunes and stark granite monoliths of the Namib, via the shores of its mysterious, mist-shrouded Atlantic coast to one of Southern Africa's best loved wildlife sanctuaries, legendary Etosha National Park... our July birdwatching tour to Namibia will astound and delight you - both in the wealth and wonder of its extraordinary birds and wildlife, and in its magnificence of landscape.

Travelling by modern 4WD Landcruiser that's been specially adapted to optimise bird and wildlife viewing, our journey will take us first from the capital Windhoek to the Erongo Mountains - a dramatic range overlooking the Namib Desert. Nestled below the giant granite 'whalebacks', our lodgings here are an excellent place to start our search for Namibia's sought-after near-endemics, such as the enigmatic Rockrunner, Hartlaub’s Francolin and White-tailed Shrike, as well as flocks of colourful Rosy-faced Lovebirds.

Continuing west across the empty gravel plains, we will find ourselves on Namibia’s cool Atlantic shore, where we spend two nights at Walvis Bay. Lying at the extreme southern end of the fabled ‘Skeleton Coast’, the graveyard of so many shipwrecked sailors over the centuries, this arid and infamous stretch of fog-shrouded coastline is better known nowadays for its immense concentrations of shorebirds, flamingos, cormorants and Cape Fur Seals.

From our base on the coast, we’ll explore the towering red dunes of the Namib, with their sand-diving lizards and fog-drinking beetles, and the seemingly endless gravel plains. The remarkable desert is also home to the endemic Dune Lark, the near-endemic Gray’s Lark and the ancient Welwitschia, a bizarre desert plant that sprawls across the sand like discarded rope and may live for over 2000 years.

Turning north, we reach the Brandberg massif, Namibia’s highest mountain. This huge granite inselberg towers above the shimmering desert plains and harbours a range of endemic birds as well as Namibia's elusive ‘Desert Elephant’.

Continuing north, we spend our next four nights in and around Etosha. Acclaimed as one of the world’s finest National Parks and the undoubted jewel in Namibia’s glittering wildlife crown, Etosha’s vast natural basin has long since lost the lake that it once held. Although its name literally means ‘place of dry water’, Etosha remains an oasis for an exceptional wealth of wildlife and scenes from countless TV wildlife spectaculars spring to mind as we come face to face with large mammals including African Lion, Elephant, Zebra and herds of dainty Springbok.

As we return full circle towards Windhoek, we spend our final two nights in Namibia at scenic Waterberg Plateau Park - with the prospect of more exceptional birding and large mammals, too.

Guide Joe Grosel is right out of the top-drawer, a Southern Africa specialist who led his first trip for Limosa back in 2007 (when he showed us owls and rhinos around his hometown in South Africa's Limpopo Province). Joe has since led our tours to Botswana & Zambia, and South Africa. He's also a veteran of well over a dozen birding and wildlife tours to Namibia - including Limosa's own visits there in July 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Dune Lark Namibia Callan Cohen 0409.jpg
The confiding Dune Lark is endemic to Namibia, its coloration blending perfectly with the deep ochre sands of the Namib dune sea © Callan Cohen

Day 1
DEPART LONDON
Our birdwatching tour to Namibia departs from London Heathrow today on an overnight flight bound for Johannesburg (South Africa).

Days 2-3
WINDHOEK & THE ERONGO MOUNTAINS

Morning arrival in Johannesburg, where guide Joe Grosel will join us for the onward connection to Windhoek (Namibia). We load up our modern safari vehicle and head northwest on a scenic two-and-a-half hour drive towards the Erongo Mountains, pausing along the way to enjoy our first birding as we go.

Our destination today is a lodge set below magnificent boulders on the edge of the rugged Erongo Mountains. Immense granite monoliths dominate the scenery, and birds often seem to be everywhere. Monteiro’s Hornbill, Short-toed Rock Thrush and the near-endemic Rockrunner - a ground-dwelling warbler with a streaky head and bright rufous belly and undertail - are key species to be found, along with White-backed Mousebird, Greater Striped Swallow, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Crimson-breasted Gonolek. As night falls, if it’s a warm evening, Freckled Nightjars may hawk around our lovely lodge.

The Erongo range is home to yet more Namibian specials and we shall need to be up bright and early to find the first of them - Hartlaub’s Francolin - as this uncommon bird is only likely to be seen at daybreak, when pairs stand out atop the boulders and crow in duet. We’ll relish further chances of seeing the engaging Rockrunner scrambling about rocks near the lodge today, as well as the stunning Violet-backed and drabber Pale-winged Starlings, and tiny Black-faced Waxbill. These huge granitic outcrops are also home to the magnificent Verreaux’s Eagle and we should see their distinctive dark shape as they patrol the rocks.

We’ll also have some time for a more relaxed approach today, after the morning’s birding, to wander and appreciate the unique surroundings at one’s own pace. Photographers might wait near the very productive waterhole for beautiful Violet-eared Waxbills and other seedeaters to come and quench their thirst, while the more energetic in the group explore the trails around the camp. The likes of Rüppell’s Parrot, Black-backed Puffback, Acacia Pied Barbet, Pririt Batis, Familiar Chat, Ashy Tit and Black-throated Canary occur - and we should be treated to some great views of them here! Two nights at a lodge on the edge of the Erongo Mountains

Days 4-5
THE SPITZKOPPE, WALVIS BAY (SKELETON COAST) & THE NAMIB DUNE SEA

Leaving Erongo, we set off early this morning for the Spitzkoppe - another magnificent granite inselberg or kopje that rises like a colossus from the flat gravel landscape.

As we head out over the stark gravel plains, we’ll be keeping a keen eye open for the near-endemic Gray’s Lark, an elusive and pallid desert dweller that is found only in western Namibia and the southernmost tip of Angola. This is also one of the premier sites for Herero Chat, another near endemic - but we will still require luck and patience to find this elusive bird! The enigmatic and splendid White-tailed Shrike is yet another local speciality here that’s all but confined to Namibia; with its pale eye, striking black, white and grey plumage, long legs and stubby tail, it’s a bird not to be missed! Also recognised by its disproportionately short tail, we’ll watch for the distinctive Augur Buzzard, along with the pretty Rosy-faced Lovebird, Acacia Pied Barbet, White-throated Seedeater and Mountain Wheatear.

The roadside birding is good, with the crisp lines of Black-breasted Snake Eagle to watch out for along with the aptly-named African Pygmy Falcon, Pale-winged and Cape Starlings, Karoo Chat and Great Sparrow also possible.

As the Namib’s landscapes become increasingly arid and stark, we’ll make frequent stops to scan for desert specialities such as the nomadic Rüppell’s and Ludwig’s Bustards, and the dapper Double-banded Courser, with its striking chestnut hindwing in flight. We should also see our first Springbok, an antelope that's restricted to the arid areas of Southern Africa.

Approaching the cool Atlantic coast, we’ll notice a definite - and welcome - drop in temperature. Our accommodation for the next two nights will be in the seaside town of Walvis Bay, at the southernmost end of the treacherous and utterly desolate Skeleton Coast. The gargantuan red sand dunes along the Kuiseb River to the south of Walvis Bay are simply stunning, especially in the early morning and late afternoon light.

We will wake up early for a ‘scramble’ over the sparsely vegetated foothills of the giant dunes, where we should enjoy excellent views of the surrounding dunescape, stretching away into the distance towards Sossusvlei, over one hundred miles to the south. We will be close to the famous desert research station at Gobabeb, where so many of the pioneering studies that have been done on the region’s fascinating desert life have made the Namib Desert so famous. We’ll of course be looking for some of the small lizards and beetles that are remarkably adapted to this harsh landscape. The dunes in this area are also home to the handsome Dune Lark; endemic to Namibia, its coloration blends perfectly with the deep ochre sands of the Namib dune sea. Chestnut-vented Warbler, Dusky Sunbird and Orange River White-eye eke out a living here - and, if we are very lucky, we might find a wandering Burchell’s Courser, too.

We’ll also travel inland from Walvis Bay to seek out that most remarkable plant, the Welwitschia. With its ancient and gnarled grey stem and fraying leaves, one’s mind is transported back to ancient desert landscapes. In fact, as with the fictional triffid, the scene has been likened to that of a barren planet other than the Earth. In the same area we have good chances of finding the pale and ghostly Namib form of Tractrac Chat, a southern Africa endemic. Two nights Walvis Bay

Day 6
WALVIS BAY TO THE BRANDBERG

The coastal shores, offshore islands, saltpans and estuaries around Walvis Bay teem with shorebirds, terns and cormorants. Even in the Austral winter, migrant waders such as Curlew Sandpipers and busy Ruddy Turnstones can be present here in good concentrations, as lines of the near-endemic Cape Cormorants stream out over the cold ocean in search of food. Hartlaub’s Gull, Kittlitz’s Plover and the localised Chestnut-banded Plover are also likely, and the fish-rich waters support masses of terns, including Caspian and Greater Crested. Throngs of Greater and Lesser Flamingos crowd the mudflats, presenting a confusing forest of bright pink legs as they bustle this way and that.

We will also hope to see Cape Fur Seals from the shore, although we’ll have to be much luckier to spot either Heaviside’s or Common Bottlenose Dolphins that also occur off this coast.

Leaving Walvis Bay, we head back out into the Namib Desert on our way to the massive granite outcrop of the Brandberg. At 2500m (8200 feet), this is Namibia’s highest peak. This immense granite monolith towers above the shimmering desert plains below and is home both to a range of endemic birds and Namibia's elusive ‘Desert Elephant’. We’ll be on the lookout for the recently described Benguela Long-billed Lark, along with Rock Kestrel, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Bare-cheeked Babbler and the lemon-chested Bokmakierie. With luck, we may find signs of Namibia’s famous ‘Desert Elephants’ in this remote landscape, but one has to be very fortunate to actually set eyes upon these mystical creatures. Night near the Brandberg

Days 7-10
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

After a morning birding the desert plains and tree-lined watercourses of the Brandberg, we’ll set our sights northwards to Etosha. As we continue to push north, the landscape becomes increasingly verdant. We shall spend the next four nights enjoying world famous Etosha National Park, dividing our time between lodges in the western, central and/or eastern sections of this massive reserve - which covers an area almost the size of Norfolk! Accommodation at Etosha is of an excellent standard and will be staying in lodges situated at the edge of the park, as well as the government-run park itself.

With great anticipation, we enter Etosha itself. This fabulous National Park - at one time the largest such park in the world - fulfils everyone’s ideal of the ‘real’ Africa. We should arrive in the Okaukuejo area in time to enjoy some birding nearby. The stunning Crimson-breasted Shrike, Sociable Weaver, African Hoopoe and Rufous-vented Warbler occur around camp. At dusk, flocks of thirsty Double-banded Sandgrouse descend upon the waterhole, and on some nights we’ll have the thrill of watching mammals visit the famous floodlit waterholes. These remain a scene of constant activity after dark, with chances of seeing African Elephant, Lion and the endangered Black Rhinoceros. Predators can also be much in evidence during the day and we can expect to have a number of Lion sightings; Cheetah and Leopard occur in the park too - but we’ll have to keep a sharp eye open for them! Large herds of Elephants frequent the waterholes at this time of year.

The open grasslands and acacia savanna are the haunt of impressive Martial and Tawny Eagles, sentinel Pale Chanting Goshawks and African Pygmy Falcon, while stately Kori Bustards stride through the grassy brush. We’ll look out for the strikingly handsome White-quilled Bustard, which we hope to see in display - the males flying in circles above the grassland, calling raucously and flashing their dazzling white primary feathers. Ant-eating Chat and Rufous-eared Warbler are amongst a wealth of small birds we shall be looking out for, and grazing mammals such as Gemsbok, Common Zebra and Blue Wildebeest are plentiful. We may find the enormous Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, hiding its gaze behind surreal pink eyelids, along with the smaller and superbly camouflaged African Scops Owl.

The central area of the park is a great place to look for Violet Woodhoopoe and Bare-faced Babbler. In the mopane woodlands, Fawn-coloured Lark, White-browed Scrub Robin and flocks of inquisitive White Helmetshrikes could all come our way, as we watch for the distinctive ‘tail-less’ outline of the snake-hunting Bateleur, sailing against the cloudless blue Namibian sky. Not to be confused with the similar call of African Hoopoe, the voice of African Cuckoo is its most diagnostic feature and we might well hear them here, calling from the trees.

Travelling east towards Namutoni, the scenery becomes ever greener and the vegetation taller. Few African birds are more elegant or instantly recognisable than the long-legged Blue Cranes and Secretarybirds, which frequent the more open areas here. However, unless we are fortunate enough to catch a male in display, we shall have to look a good deal harder to detect any evidence of the rufous nape feathers of the imaginatively named Red-crested Korhaan! Happily, the striking Southern Pied Babbler is much more appropriately named (and somewhat easier to spot!), while the upright Groundscraper Thrush, delicate Burnt-necked Eremomela, Chinspot Batis and ‘must-see’ Long-billed Crombec could all be added to the list today.

Spotted Hyena and Black-faced Impala are among a host of larger mammals to watch for, while a habituated group of Banded Mongoose often forages around our accommodation. Four nights Etosha National Park

Days 11 - 12
ETOSHA & WATERBERG NATIONAL PARKS

Before we leave Etosha today, we’ll spend some time birding and looking for more mammals near Namutoni. One possible highlight might be the diminutive Damara Dik-dik, which we’ll search for in the woodlands south of Namutoni. This is also the best area in the park for African Elephants, so we’ll keep a look out for them. Southern Red-billed Hornbills are common and we’ll be able to compare them to the Damara Red-billed Hornbill we’ll have seen further west.

After lunch, we head south for four hours to reach our final destination, Waterberg National Park, where our lodgings are situated in woods on the slopes of the Waterberg Mountain, close to Otjiwarongo. The park is dominated by a brick-red sandstone plateau - crowned with lush vegetation - which rises above the Kalahari plains of Eastern Namibia. This area has both an interesting natural and human history, the local Herero tribe ultimately being forced out of their ‘tribal grounds’ by German colonial forces in the early 20th Century. Nowadays, the park has a very active mammal protection programme.

The grounds of our rest camp are perfectly situated below the cliffs - and with birds all around, we can simply stroll out from our accommodation to enjoy them. The variegated colours of light on the sandstone cliffs of the Waterberg provide a spectacular backdrop to our birding here and possible highlights might include another chance of Rüppell’s Parrot, African Paradise Flycatcher, Little Sparrowhawk, Bradfield’s Swift, Bearded Woodpecker, Burchell’s Starling, Black-backed Puffback and more amazing Crimson-breasted Shrikes. Pearl-spotted Owlet is often present and mammals include two real cuties: the inquisitive Dwarf Mongoose and the delicate Damara Dikdik.

We will also allow ourselves some time off today, to simply relax and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings at one’s own pace - and maybe to catch up with some of the packing for tomorrow! Two nights Waterberg

Day 13
TO WINDHOEK & FLIGHTS HOME

Our final morning in Namibia and reluctantly we must leave Waterberg after breakfast and travel back south to Windhoek. It’s a journey of about four hours, but if flight times permit, we may be able to pay a short visit to Avis Dam, an area of rich woodlands and grassland on the edge of town and close to the airport. We may be treated to our last views of the extraordinary displaying male Shaft-tailed Whydahs, with their vivid orange plumage and impossibly long tails!

Arriving back at Windhoek, we bid farewell to Joe and board our flight to Johannesburg, with onward overnight connection back to London.

Day 14
ARRIVAL LONDON

Morning arrival in London on Day 14, where our birdwatching tour to Namibia concludes.

Rosy-faced Lovebirds Namibia Callan Cohen.jpg
A flock of Rosy-faced Lovebirds gather to feed © Callan Cohen

WHAT TO EXPECT
A 14-day birdwatching and wildlife tour to Namibia visiting the Erongo Mountains and Namib Desert, Walvis Bay, The Brandberg, Etosha National Park and Waterberg Plateau Park. Many endemic, near endemic and regional endemic birds - plus some wonderful mammal watching, too! 

Daytime temperatures will be falling away and should be much more comfortable at the time of our visit in July, typically ranging between 6-27C (43-81F), making this the ideal time to visit Namibia. Cooler on the coast than in the interior. Rainfall and humidity are low.

We may encounter some mosquitos in places on this tour but there is a low risk of malaria in Namibia at this time of year (further detailssee page 13 of our Namibia Tour Info Pack, available to download).

BIRDS
180-240 species

MAMMALS
30-40 species

ACCOMMODATION
11 nights accommodation in Namibia, staying at a varied selection of good-excellent guesthouses, lodges and permanent tented camps. All rooms have private facilities. 

MEALS
All main meals are included in the tour price, commencing with either lunch or dinner on arrival in Namibia on Day 2 and concluding with breakfast or lunch in Namibia on Day 13 (meal plan can vary according to flight times).

Food is good to excellent throughout. Most main meals will be taken at our accommodation with lunches taken either as picnics or at the lodges. 

WALKING
Easy. In common with much of Africa, please note that the presence of large mammals at Etosha and Waterberg precludes excursions on foot in certain areas. Sturdy, comfy walking shoes adequate for this tour.

TRAVEL
There are no direct flights to Namibia from the UK so all routes involve a change of planes. We fly with British Airways, routing from London Heathrow to Windhoek with a change of planes in Johannesburg (South Africa).

Ground Transport  We travel by modern 4WD Toyota Landcruiser that's been specially adapted to optimise bird and wildlife viewing, with 'pop-up roof' and fully retractable windows. Roads in Namibia are generally good but some travel will out of necessity be on well-graded gravel roads.

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Something to reflect upon: Zebras visit a waterhole in Etosha NP © Tertius A Gous, Birding Africa

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