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Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe -6-27th June 2015

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Old Saturday 18th July 2015, 06:13   #1
Andy Hurley
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Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe -6-27th June 2015

I recently completed a 3 week holiday with my wife and a friend to the above countries. Here is my report.

A list of bird seen is not yet fully sorted, but I have been adding the new ones add and when to my year list Iwill endeavour to add a complete list at the end of this report.

Week 1

We flew direct to Windhoek from Frankfurt Am Main with Air Namibia having booked our holiday with, a German company with roots in South Africa.. They suggest a route that you can change to suit your needs/wishes if you want to stay anywhere in particular or see particular areas of the country. All the routes have been driven by someone from the company so they are very accurate in estimated length and know what's along the route that's worth visiting. The accommodation has all been checked out in advance, so no nasty suprises. They book the car and the flights too.
At Windhoek airport we picked up our hire care from Avis a Hyundai IX35 (2x4) and set off towards Rostock through Windhoek and then down the C26. In and around Windhoek there are several places of interest:

Avis Dam: A great place to see birds and get a meal. between the airport and Windhoek. Everything is in walking distance (2-3 Km max)
Daan-Viljoen-Wildpark: A 40sq Km park west of Windhoek. Famous for its bird variation. You can self drive here. Mammals include Greater Kudu, Southern Oryx, Blue Wildebeest and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. We didn't have time to visit either, but we visited the Avis Dam 2 years ago.

Distance 272 Km- 4 Hours

Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge
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The lodge is made up of igloos made of concrete, but done to a high standard. They stay cool in summer too. The people there, a Swiss couple I think, run it and look after wildlife. The have 2 groups of Suricate, which when strong enough will "escape" by tunnelling out of their enclosure and heading out into the Namib to start their own territory. The also habe a Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. There are small walking routes marked, with maps available at the reception. It was very peaceful and the view was of the Namib desert.
Before we headed north we drove to Solitaire to fill up, always do it when you can, because the distances are huge and the petrol stations few.

Mammals seen: Suricate, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Ground Squirrel, Oryx, Springbok, and Dassie Rat

Rostock to Swakopmund 226 Km - 3 Hrs 30 mins

This road is fairly isolated, so water and a snack is a good idea..
Driving over the Kuiseb Pass following the C14 to Walvis Bay the up to Swakopmund.
Stopping whenever a bird, mammal or reptile was sighted is no bother with self drive as the traffic is very light. If someone comes, they normally ask if you need help. The road goes through the Namib-Naukluft National Park and is very scenic.
The birds I saw are all listed in the 2015 list on Birdforum. At Walvis Bay there are cruises in the Bay. We went last time so gave it a miss this time.
Between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, nearly at Swakopmund is the Swakop River and a place to see water birds including Greater and Lesser Flamingos. Also south of Swakopmund there are places to see shorebirds and Brown Hyenas if you are lucky.
You will probably get info about cruises etc at your accommodation.
Mammal added: Cape Hare, Steenbok Ground Hyrax, Yellow Mongoose

Villa Margherita
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We stayed at Villa Margherita for 2 nights, which gave us day to explore the area. The Villa has a nice garden with water and feeders, so plenty of birds. There is a massuese for loosening up those tight muscles. An excellent place to stay and was our second visit.
The Tug Restaurant is is a great place to eat, but you need to book a few hours in advance. It's right at the beach by the pier. The beach gives a great view of the sunset, cloud permitting.
The next morning we went on a desert tour, (booked through our accommodation) and saw Palmato Geckos, Namaqua Chameleons and several other lizards that I've yet to id, plus a Tractrac Chat. Also the drive on the high dunes was spectacular. We went in a single 4x4 and were picked up directly outside our accommodation.
It might worth going to the seal colony at Cape Cross. It stinks, but is very impressive. 2 years ago there we 250 000 Cape Fur Seals there and a Grey Whale! in Walvis Bay.
There is also the Welwitchia trail which starts in Swakopmund. A permit is needed from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and you'll need a 4x4
The Swakopmund museum presents the history and nature of the coastal region and Swakpomund's part in it.

Swakopmund to Usakos 162 Km - 2 Hrs 30 mins

Highlights: Spitzekoppe:
The mountain streches 700 m above the plateau and is well worth a visit.
It is inside a park which you have to pay for. You can self drive, but you are restricted to certain tracks only. If you want you can pick up a guide, ours was Lazarus, and he shows you were to go in your own car telling all about nature, history and the Bushman's cave paintings and what they mean. We had a visit by 2 Suricate at the restuarant begging for food.

The road is good with nice scenery. We stopped at the Swakop River to look for birds before head off. On route at one point near the Spitzkoppe, we heard a Leopard in some scrub very close to where we took a short break.

Mammals added: Leopard (heard only), Greater Kudu, Common Impala

Hohenstein Lodge
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Just an overnight stay, so not much time to explore.
There was a small waterhole about 600m away down a track of sorts, but the better birding was direct at the accommodation. The accommodation was good enough, the personnel were ok, but not very friendly. The next morning was very cold, -2°C as we were in the Erongo Mountains.

Places of interest: Phillip's Cave: A cave at the Ameib Farm there are cave paintings from San Bushmen including a white elephant and a red antelope. (not visited as we had seen the drawings at the Spitzkoppe.

The Erongo Mountains: We drove through the mountains on back roads for a more enjoyable journey to Omaruru then north along the C33 to Otjivarongo, south down the B1 then east along the C22 to Hamakari Huting Ladge and Guest Farm.

Usakos - Waterberg 321 Km - 5 hrs

Things to do:
We never had time for these, too much stopping to seen birds and animals in their natural environment.

Franke's Tower: A tower in Omaruru where the white farmers fled to in 1904 during the Herero Rising. Captain Franke marched his men 900 Km in 5 days to break the siege and free the settlers. The tower was named after him.

Africat Foundation: A non-profit organisation founded in 1992 and has since then rescued over 1000 Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions, Hyenas, Caracals and African Hunting Dogs. The have the largest save and release programme anywhere in the world.

Otjiwarongo Crocodile Ranch: 60 male and 40 female Nile Crocodiles are farmed. You can also eat crocodile meat at their restaurant. There are birds and tortoises/turtles too

Cheetah Conservation Trust: An American project inside the Waterberg Conservacy about 45 Km SE of Otjiwarongo.

Mammals added: Common Warthog, Grey Duiker

Hamakari Hunting Lodge and Guest Farm
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This was a revisit because we were made welcome so well last time we visited. We stayed 2 nights. They do hunting there, but we didn't. The owners Sabine and Wilhelm Diekmann, speak English, German, Afrikaans and Herero (I think). This place is great and Sabine and Wilhelm make you most welcome. The farm is 20 000 Hectares and is full of wildlife and lots of birds. I counted 56 species during my time there, but I still have to check my photos in case I forgot to right some down. We did several game drives and a bush walk. Meals are taken with the family and all the guests sit down together for dinner around a long table. A great way to meet others and get trip info too. The farm is an oasis in a barren lanscape with waterholes and wells being replenished from the high water table as the farm sits directly below the Waterberg mountain. There is a swimming pool.

Mammal added: Black Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Common Eland, Savannah Baboon

Thing to do:

Various game drives, bush walks and historic drives on the farm itself. Lots of birds species to see around the farm.

Waterberg: The Waterberg is a table mountain which stands above the surrounding Savannah. The difficult to reach plateau is a refuge for threatened mammals, both Rhino species, Cape Buffalo and rare antelopes. 200 bird species and a large number of reptiles and amphibians. The best way to see it is on foot with a network of paths from a few 100 meters to a 3 day excursion. There is a path up the cliff face which we used 2 years ago and were met by a troop of Baboons half way up.

Last edited by Andy Hurley : Saturday 18th July 2015 at 08:37.
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Old Tuesday 21st July 2015, 10:25   #2
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Very interesting Andy, I'm looking forward to weeks 2 & 3.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 10:20   #3
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Thanks Alf.

The next partis 4 days in and around the Etosha Park

Part 2

Hamakari to Okaukuejo - 276 Km -4 Hrs

Driving back along the C22, B1 to Outjo (fuel stop) was revisiting the route we used to get to Hamakari. From Outjo we continued on the C38 to the Etosha National Park. The roads are busy for Namibia with very light traffic for the European norm. The park is 20 000 square Kilometers with a distance of about 300 Km east to west. On arrival at the Anderson Gate to Etosha you are issued with a permit, $Nam 80 per person per day for overnight visitors, that you have to take to the camp you are staying in. (I think that day visitors have to go to the nearest camp and pay the park fees at the office there.). A day is 24 hours and starts from the time you enter the park. If you enter at lunch time, you are meant to leave at lunchtime, which we didn't know, and not by gate closure, which is sunset. (the park is open from sunrise to sunset and driving is restricted to these times through out the park. People staying in the park have be at their camp before sunset as the gates close during the hours of darkness.) Official sunset game drives stay out till after the gates close, so it is possible to see the park at sunset..

Okaukuejo Camp
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We stayed in Okakuejo Camp on the west side of the park for 2 nights. The Camps in the park are government run. We found them to be good, clean and efficient. The food was not to the same very high standard as we have had in our previous lodges, but it was good, wholesome and filling. The accommodation was of a good standard. We stayed at one of the waterhole chalets, which is great for night visits to the waterhole. There are no cash points or banks in the park so ensure that you have enough cash in case the credit card machine connection does not work in reception. We had to try 3 different cards till we got one that connected.
The waterhole at Okaukuejo is the place to see game at night. On our first night we observed a herd of 28 elephant 3 Black Rhinos, Black backed Jackals and many antelope zebra and giraffes. The second night we saw 5 Black Rhino, 2 of which were fighting, A male lion who was seen off by the rhinos and many groups of elephant. There is a non stop to-ing and fro-ing with small periods of non "action". The danger is not knowing when to go to bed! Just after sunset flocks of Double-banded Sandgrouse visit the waterhole to drink. I managed some night time photography as the water hole is floodlit with low level light so that every nocturnal visitor can be seen well.

After a good breakfast we headed west to look for the waterholes in that direction. A map can be obtained for $Nam 2 at reception. It is just a A4 photocopy that doesn't show which waterholes are seasonal. A proper map with colour coding for permanent/seasonal waterholes can be obtained in the gift shop opposite reception. Unfortunately for us they had sold out, so we had to make do with the photocopy.
There was only one waterhole with water in that we saw on the west side before we had to turn around to make it back before the gates close. The Okondeka waterhole had water.
The whole of western Etosha has now been opened up, so it possible to go as the Galton Gate and stay in Dolomite Camp, which was only possible to do with planned tours 2 years ago. Driving in the park is no problem and there are plenty of birds to see from the road. (No off road driving allowed)
The game on the west side was a bit scarce due to a lack of water, but we still saw herds og Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Oryx, Springbok, Black faced Impala, giraffe and the odd elephant.

Okakauuejo to Oshikoto 158 Km - 20 Hrs 30 min (if driven straight through)

On our second day we head east as we were leaving the park by the Von Lindequist Gate, east of Namutoni Camp.
One of the better waterholes is Olifantsbad which has Mopane trees in the area and is often visited by elephant. It took all day as we stopped for every bird and heard of antelope for photos and observation. It is over 100 Km from Okakuejo to Namutoni as the crow flies and we covered most loops on the way reaching the exit gate with about 10 minutes to spare. Go planning and preparation is needed and plenty of time. Just after Halali the Etosha lookout is worth a visit. It is a feww hundred meters in the saltpan, and a good reminder of how insignificant we are in the great scheme of things. The pan is a vast area, 5000 square Km and 120 Km long that is flat and barren. Except it is teeming with life in the form of insects, reptiles, birds and the hardier antelopes like Oryx and Springbok. The is no traffic allowed, so it's an area set aside for nature. During wet years, the whole saltpan is covered in up to 10 cm of water and attracts 1000s of flamingos, waders and other water birds. Needless to say, in June it was dry.
For those staying or visiting the Halali Camp, (not visited) the camp has a restaurant, toilets and cafe. There is a footpath to a waterhole that has been accepted by wildlife and well visited, 600m, that is floodlit at night.
Another waterhole of note is Kalkheuwel. It is popular for wildlife photographers, especially during the dry season as it is well visited by wildlife. We saw 2 specially adapted 4x4s with four sideways facing seats, glass windows that lifted up revealing photographers with properly mounted pinions loaded up with Bigma size lenses in the time we were there.

Mammals added: Grey Duiker, Black faced Impala, African Bush Elephant, Angolan Giraffe, Black Backed Jackal, Common Eland (a 2 day old calf wasseen at Hamakari, but I forgot to add that there), Black Rhinoceros, Lion, Red Hartebeest, Damara Dikdik

Onguma Etosha Aoba Lodge
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Just after the Von Lindequist Gate, our next lodge was set in a 7000 Ha private game reserve and set into the bush with great care to preserve the environment. There are no artificial lawns or palm tree to be seen, only natural vegetation and its wildlife. Great! The lodge was well appointed and the standard of food and accommodation very high, with open air restaurant and bar looking onto a waterhole and small swimming pool. The paths to the chalets were lit by petroleum lamps. We spent 2 nights here and loved it.

The following morning, at first light we set off on an organised game drive in an open jeep. It was very cold, but we were provided with blankets, a poncho and a hot water bottle. We headed into the Etosha Park and headed north of Namutoni to Twee Palms, Aroe, Groot and Klein Okevi then south to a few waterholes including Kalkheuwel which we had visited the day before. We spotted a Cheetah with 2 cubs and observed them for at least half an hour. That evening I discovered I had taken over 150 photos of this family alone! The rangers that provide the service to the Onguma group of lodges all stay in radio contact with each other providing up to date sightings of what is visible and making the game drive much more enjoyable. On the way back to the lodge, we saw a solitary lioness in the lodge's own reserve. (note to self: take care when walking about!)
A lazy afternoon around the waterhole gave us views of Steenbok, Greater Kudu, Common Impala, Damara Dikdik and Woodland Dormouse.
Later, after sunset we got a visit from 2 Honey Badgers and several large grey bats, which I was not able to photograph, so no id.

Mammals added: Cheetah, Honey Badger, Woodland Dormouse and unidentified bat.
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Old Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 19:05   #4
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Sounds like a great trip! Etosha has a lot to offer, it seems. Look forward to the next part.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2015, 12:21   #5
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Thanks Peter.

Part 3

Oshikoto to Rundu 435 Km - 6 Hrs

The drive toRundu is firstly SE along theC42 through Tsumeb to Grootfontein, then NE up the B8 to Rundu.

The first leg passes

Lake Otjikoto. This a small lake formed by a collapse of the local limestone karst to form a hole of about 100 m x 150 m and 76 m deep. Otjikoto means "deep hole" in Herero and is of historic importance. This is where during WW1 the German troops sunk weapons in the lake to prevent them being captured by British forces advancing on them. An entrance fee of $Nam 100? I think was a bit steep for what was there, but we paid and went in. The garden had some nice trees and shrubs, so there were birds to be seen including Scarlet Chested Sunbirds and a few passerines. The lake itself had only 2 Little Grebes, but a few butterflies were seen here.

then continues through Tsumeb

The town has many trees and is labelled the "garden town". It lives mainly from mining lead, zinc, copper and rarer minerals. Lake Otjikoto provided water for early settlers of bushmen who traded copper foe meat and tabacco. The Ombili Institute is worth a look if you have the time and the inclination and shows how the remaining 250 bushmen survived and were integrated into the growing settlement.

to Grootfontein, which mean large well in Afrikaans.

Grootfontein is amongst the water richest areas of Namibia and is in the transition area to the tropical wet Africa that lies further north. A meuseum shows how early Dorstlandtrekker, Boers from the Cape, moved as nomads and eventually grounded the Holy State of Upingtonia. The was dissolved after the German colonists arrived a short time later. Grootfontein was one of the possibilities for the capital city.

The road North East, the B8 is interesting, as all along it the are traditional settlements of wattle and mud huts with reed/straw roofs, lots of goats and cattle, the occasional car parked in front with young cattlemen, chatting on mobile phones and allowing their livestock free range of the road, so caution is needed especially after dark. Nearly every settlement has a school, a shop and a shebeen.
131 Km south of Rundu is a Foot and Mouth control point, designed to prevent the spread of various diseases to the larger commercial cattle ranches to the south. No meat products of ANY description may be brought south of the check point., but taking stuff north is allowed. We saw several South African campers being made to empty their cool boxes of meat onto the side of the road, so be warned.

There was little wildlife along the B8, but birds were seen as usual. Rundu is gateway to the Caprivi Strip.

Rundu itself has a petrol station, supermarkets for the self caterers, eateries and several lodges nearby.

Hakusembe River Lodge
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The lodge is 13 Km west of Rundu along the B10 directly on the Okavango River. The chalets were of a high standard. This was the first taste of wetland Namibia and the number of birds, mammals and reptiles grew rapidly from here onwards. The main building has a bar and restaurant. There is a swimming pool. The food was good . This was one of the larger lodges we stayed at and to us, the personal touch was missing. We took a really good boat trip along the river were the north bank is Angola. The people on both sides of the river belong to the same groups and those in Angola cross the river in hollowed out wooden canoes to shop in Namibia, as the supermarkets in Rundu are much closer with a better rage of goods.We saw Water Monitors and crocodiles on the river. Birds included African Openbill, Pied Kingfisher, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Striated Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern and many more.

We stayed one night and set of early towards the Caprivi Strip proper.

The Caprivi Strip.

The Caprivi gets it's name from the German Reichskanzler Graf von Caprivi at the time it was annexed. It is 460 Km long and at it's west end only 32 Km wide. In contrast to the normally very dry countryside in the rest of Namibia, this region is tropical and water rich, making a malaria risk area apart from during the winter months. We took malaria tablets with us, but didn't need them because it was cool enough to prevent the malaria carrying mosquitos from being active. 60% of the Cape Buffalo and Elephant in Namibia live in this region.

Rundu to Divundu 228 Km - 3 Hrs

The B8 to Divundu and beyond is probably the best road in Namibia, although the roads in general here are very good. It is tarmac, wide and in an excellent state of repair. The road follows the Okavango River east passing settlements interspersed with wildlife and plenty of birds.

Ndhovu Safari Lodge
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This lodge is excellent. The management, Monika and Johann, are hands on in a very positive way. With over 400 species of birds having been observed in the area it is a great place for birders. Johann is very knowledgeable about birds and other wildlife and a great source of information. At night hippos wander though the camp grazing. We slept under canvas, but I wouldn't calling it camping in the traditional way. The "tents" were luxurious with a proper double bed, electricity and adjoining shower room and WC with running hot and cold water. The guests eat at a single table in a familial setting with the hosts.

We stayed 2 nights, taking river cruises both evenings. They were both excellent, seeing large herds of Cape Buffalo, Elephants and families of Hippo along with Nile Crocodile, Water Monitor and African Clawless? Otter along the river bank. Giant Kingfisher, White Fronted Bee Eater, African Yellow White Eye, Arrow Marked and Hartlaub's Babblers were amongst the many species in the camp directly.

Not far to the south is Mahango Game Park. This park is well worth a visit. The riverside drive runs along the Okavango to the Botswanan border with good views of game such as Elephant, Hippopotamus, Waterbuck, Sable and Roan Antelope, Bushbuck, Zebra, Greater Kudu, Blue Wildebeest, Impala and Vervet Monkey were all observed.
Birds seen include Wattled Crane, Yellow and Red Billed Oxpecker, Banded Snake Eagle and many geese and ducks. There is a giant Baobab tree and a picnic area along the river.
The waterhole is worth a visit and there are two routes to get there. The Thinderevu track along the border going west is only suitable for 4x4s, but driving up the central path bring you to a 10 Km long route to Thingwerengwere waterhole. (That was hard to spell!)

Mammals added: Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Roan Antilope, Sable Antelope, Vervet Monkey Bushbuck, Waterbuck and African Clawless? Otter.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2015, 15:10   #6
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Divundu to Kongola 249 Km - 3 Hrs 30 mins

Leaving the Okavango River behind, we drove east along the B8. This is the narrow part of the Caprivi Strip with parks all along the route. We called in at the Poppa Falls, which were spectacularly unimpressive.

Bwabwata Park is a 32 000 Ha National Park encompassing the largest wetland in Namibia. It border Angola in the north with it's proposed Kaza National Park and Botswana and the Okavango Delta to the south. (But that's another trip, in the future, hopefully). At the C49 we drove south to Camp Kwando.

Camp Kwando
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The Camp is 25 Km south of Kongola on the Kwando River. Our chalet was a stilt house overlooking the river. This was our least favourite stop, but our travel guide had problems finding us a better lodge although we book 9 months in advance. We stayed 2 nights.

The chalet was well appointed, but the power system was inadequate for a lodge of that standard. Hair dryers were not allowed. The power supply was solar power and a back up generator and we were asked to only charge up our equipment, (cameras, laptops, phones etc) between 9 pm and midnight and from 6 to 9 o'clock in the morning.

The staff were not friendly in general and took the best seats in the sunshine as they became available. The paying guests had to sit in the shade! The grounds of the lodge were large, so there were plenty of places to go exploring, if you could avoid the sprinklers that were in use during daylight hours to supply water to the vast lawns that were there.

The ranger, Nelson, was very good and took us both a river cruise and a game drive into the Mudumu Park, a 1000 Sq Km park, where no new mammals were added, but quite a few birds were including the Emerald Spotted Wood Dove and Wattled Starling. The food was disappointing on the first evening but better on the second. The breakfasts were good. The bar was open all day, but unmanned and the service was slow. If you wanted a game drive, you needed a minimum of 4 people otherwise you had to pay for the "missing" numbers. This lodge was not up to the standard of the rest of our trip.

Kongola to Kasane (Botswana)

This leg took us north to the B8 then east to Katima Mulilo then south the border crossing at Ngoma before going east to Kasane airport where we dropped off our hire car. As this was the end of the Namibian part of our trip, we went by the shortest route so as not to have to refuel the car. We didn't have any more $Nam and didn't find a bank to get more, so we could stick more fuel in the car at Kongola. (nearly all petrol stations only take cash). Staying on the C49 would have been a better option, in hindsight, as we missed seeing Lake Liambezi.

Just before the border is a pond where we saw African and Lesser Jacana, several swallow species and water fowl. A herd of Common Waterbuck were crossing into Botswana in the background.

The border crossing was a challenge as we didn't know that we had to exit Namibia officially( getting passports stamped etc, before we entered Botswana and the guy at the barrier didn't ask about passports. We had to turn around and find the office to get the necessary paperwok done. At our second attempt, everything went smoothly and the lady in passport control was very friendly.
On entering Botswana the first birds that we saw were a flock of impressive Southern Ground Hornbill that were foraging along the roadside
From the airport we were transferred to the Kubu Lodge.

Kubu Lodge
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This Lodge was excellent, a refreshing change from Camp Kwando. The staff were welcoming, polite and looked after us really well. The food was excellent.
It is on the Chobe River, just outside the Chobe Elephant Park. The chalet raised slightly on short stilts and the grounds were impeccable.
We stayed here 2 nights.

On the first evening we took a cruise on the Chobe River, which was ok but for my liking, the guide took us too close to the wildlife and scared the birds away before they could be properly photographed or observed. The cruises were far more commercialised than in Namibia with importance placed on seeing the big 5. Not ideal for birders, although we did see a lot.

The 2 game drives that we took the 2nd day were a different matter and our guide, Brave, was happy to let us decide what we wanted to see. He was a ranger, as only rangers are allowed to guide groups inside the national park. Their training takes 2 years in ranger school, followed by a 6 months practical phase and then the final exams to qualify after that. His speciality was birds, although his knowledge of other areas including tracking, vegetation, mammals, reptiles and butterflies was very good.

On the morning drive, we saw a leopard and her cub, banded Mongoose and many antelope, elephant, buffalo and hippos. The bird count was good including large amounts of ibis, herons, storks, including large numbers of Marabou, Verraux's Eagle Owl and Hooded Vulture. The afternoon drive was highlighted with a lion kill. A pride of about 10 lions had taken a five year old giraffe and were feasting on it as we arrived at the scene.

The next morning we saw Grey Headed and Orange Breasted Bushshrike and a White Backed Night Heron amongst others before breakfast.

Mammals added: Puku, Red Lechwe and Banded Mongoose

After breakfast we were picked up for our transfer to Zimbabwe by a driver whose name was Brown Sugar.

Botswana, the little we saw impressed us greatly and we plan to return there some day.

The border crossing was uneventful this time and continued to the Victoria Falls Hotel.

Victoria Falls Hotel
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The final two day were spent at the Victoria Falls Hotel, a reminder of yesteryear and colonial times gone by. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid, 'nuff said.
We were booked into 2 rooms, the largest going to our friend who was by herself and smallest go to wife and I. On return to reception, we were asked if we were happy with our room and said it was a bit small, particularly the bed and were promptly upgraded to a suite, that didn't have a view of the falls, but was far nicer than the first room we were given.

The water falls are very impressive to see and experience close up. The hawkers on the hotel's private path to get there less so. We hired plastic raincoats on the way into the park to avoid getting soaked. I brought the waterproof cover I had for my camera and lens which work well.
The park costs $US 30 per person entrance fee.
The 2 Km long falls is really a must see and the network of paths along the falls is good for the bird life. A litter friendly Vervet Monkey was searching the waste bins and recovered a piece of toast in a paper bag. It removed the toast and put the bag back into the bin, before taking to the trees to enjoy his toast. Bird around the falls inlcuded Lizard Buzzard, Wahlbergs Honeybird Jameson's Firefinch and Crowned Hornbill. Outside the park are consessions for bungee jumping and death slides as well as walks through the forest, but beware of the hawkers. They wanted me to give them my shoes and shirt before I left the hotel as those items are very expensive for the locals in Zimbabwe. After explaining that I needed them still myself, they left me alone, although they took a bit of shaking off. I advise people not to wander around alone.

That evening we took a sun downer cruise on the Zambesi and saw a lot of elephant, hippo and water birds including African Finfoot. Afterwards, we went to Mama Africa, a restuarant that serves traditional African food, including peanut butter rice washed down with Zambezi Beer. There was an unaccompanied choir who sang beautifully

The following day we took a helicopter ride over the falls. It was a bit cramped for US$ 150 but the view was great. We did the falls again in the afternoon. This is best time of day to see them as you get double rainbows with the sun behind you.
That evening we went to a boma, a restaurant with traditional food and music, including a drumming lesson for everybody as we were giving bongos to play and dancing. On the next table to us a large group from Mozambique joined in fully and were showing off their skills on the dance floor. It made the evening seem genuine enough and we enjoyed ourselves.

I'm not sure I want to go back to Zimbabwe at the moment. The Victoria Falls were spectacular, but the obvious poverty just outside the grounds was in stark contrast to the opulence inside.

We flew back to Windhoek via Maun in Botswana by Air Namiba and made our connecting flight without a hitch. The baggage was checked through to Frankfurt from Victoria Falls and all arrived in one piece.

Last edited by Andy Hurley : Thursday 23rd July 2015 at 15:18.
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Old Thursday 23rd July 2015, 15:17   #7
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The following is a list of the 288 bird species seen during our trip:

Acacia Pied Barbet
African Black Headed Oriole
African Black Swift
African Darter
African Finfoot
African Fish Eagle
African Grey Hornbill
African Harrier Hawk
African Hawk Eagle
African Jacana
African Marsh Harrier
African Mourning Dove
African Openbill
African Palm Swift
African Pied Wagtail
African Pipit
African Pygmy Goose
African Red Eyed Bulbul
African Reed Warbler
African Sacred Ibis
African Skimmer
African Spoonbill
African Swamp Warbler
African Swamphen
African Wood Owl
AfricanYellow White Eye
Alpine Swift
Amethyst Sunbird
Ant Eating Chat
Arrow Marked Babbler
Banded Snake Eagle
Bare Cheeked Babbler
Bearded Woodpecker
Bennett's Woodpecker
Black Backed Puffback
Black Chested Prinia
Black Chested Snake Eagle
Black Collared Barbet
Black Crake
Black Crowned Tchagra
Black Faced Waxbill
Black Shouldered Kite
Black Throated Canary
Blacksmith Lapwing
Blue Waxbill
Bradfield's Hornbill
Bronze Mannikin
Brown Firefinch
Brown Hooded Kingfisher
Brown Snake Eagle
Brown Throated Martin
Burchell's Starling
Burnt Necked Eremomela
Cape Bunting
Cape Cormorant
Cape Crow
Cape Glossy Starling
Cape Gull
Cape Penduline Tit
Cape Sparrow
Cape Teal
Cape Vulture
Cape Wagtail
Capped Wheatear
Cardinal Woodpecker
Carp's Tit
Chat Flycatcher
Chestnut Banded Plover
Chinspot Batis
Chirping Cisticola
Cinnamon Breasted Bunting
Collared Pratincole
Collared Sunbird
Common Ostrich
Common Scimitarbill
Common Waxbill
Coppery Tailed Coucal
Crested Francolin
Crimson Breasted Shrike
Croaking Cisticola
Crowned Hornbill
Crowned Lapwing
Cut Throat Finch
Damara Hornbill
Dark Capped Bulbul
Dark Chanting Goshawk
Desert Cisticola
Double Banded Courser
Double Banded Sandgrouse
Dusky Sunbird
Eastern Clapper Lark
Emerald Spotted Wood Dove
Familiar Chat
Fawn Coloured Lark
Forked Tailed Drongo
Fulvous Whistling Duck
Gabar Goshawk
Giant Kingfisher
Golden Breasted Bunting
Golden Tailed Woodpecker
Great Sparrow
Greater Blue Eared Starling
Greater Kestrel
Green Winged Pytilia
Green Woodhoopoe
Grey Backed Camaroptera
Grey Backed Sparrow Lark
Grey Go Away Bird
Grey Headed Bushshrike
Grey Headed Gull
Grey Headed Parrot
Grey Rumped Swallow
Groundscraper Thrush
Hadada Ibis
Hartlaub's Babbler
Hartlaub's Gull
Helmeted Guineafowl
Holub's Golden Weaver
Hooded Vulture
Indian Peafowl
Intermediate Egret
Jameson's Firefinch
Karoo Chat
Karoo Long Billed Lark
Kittlitz's Plover
Knob Billed Duck
Kori Bustard
Lappet Faced Vulture
Larklike Bunting
Laughing Dove
Lesser Flamingo
Lesser Jacana
Lesser Masked Weaver
Lesser Striped Swallow
Lilac Breasted Roller
Little Bee Eater
Little Bittern
Little Swift
Lizard Buzzard
Long Billed Crombec
Long Billed Pipit
Long Tailed Paradise Whydah
Long Tailed Pipit
Luapula Cisticola
Magpie Shrike
Malchite Kingfisher
Marabou Stork
Marico Flycatcher
Marico Sunbird
Martial Eagle
Meves's Starling
Meyer's Parrot
Miombo Blue Eared Starling
Monteiro's Hornbill
Mosque Swallow
Mountain Wheatear
Namaqua Dove
Namaqua Sandgrouse
Natal Francolin
Northern Black Korhaan
Orange Breasted Bushshrike
Orange River White Eye
Ovambo Sparrowhawk
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Pale Flycatcher
Pale Winged Starling
Pearl Breasted Swallow
Pearl Spotted Owlet
Pied Crow
Pied Kingfisher
Pin Tailed Whydah
Pink Billed Lark
Pririt Batis
Purple Heron
Purple Roller
Pygmy Falcon
Rattling Cisticola
Red Billed Oxpecker
Red Billed Quelea
Red Billed Spurfowl
Red Billed Teal
Red Capped Lark
Red Crested Korhaan
Red Eyed Dove
Red Faced Crombec
Red Faced Mousebird
Red Headed Finch
Red Knobbed Coot
Red Necked Falcon
Red Winged Starling
Reed Cormorant
Ring Necked Dove
Rock Martin
Rosy Faced Lovebird
Rufous Bellied Heron
Rufous Vented Warbler
Rüppell's Korhaan
Rüppell's Parrot
Sabota Lark
Saddle Billed Stork
Scaly Weaver
Scarlet Chested Sunbird
Sclater's Lark
Senegal Coucal
Short Toed Rock Thrush
South African Kestrel
Southern Black Flycatcher
Southern Brown Throated Weaver
Southern Fiscal
Southern Grey Headed Sparrow
Southern Ground Hornbill
Southern Masked Weaver
Southern Pied Babbler
Southern Red Billed Hornbill
Southern White Crowned Shrike
Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Spectacled Weaver
Spike Heeled Lark
Spotted Eagle Owl
Spur Winged Goose
Squacco Heron
Stark's Lark
Striated Heron
Swainson's Spurfowl
Swallow Tailed Bee Eater
Swamp Boubou
Tawny Eagle
Tawny Flanked Prinia
Terrestrial Brownbul
Thick Billed Weaver
Three Banded Plover
Tractrac Chat
Tropical Boubou
Trumpeter Hornbill
Verreaux's Eagle
Verreaux's Eagle Owl
Village Indigobird
Village Weaver
Violet Eared Waxbill
Wahlberg's Honeyguide
Water Thick Knee
Wattled Crane
Wattled Starling
White Backed Mousebird
White Backed Night Heron
White Backed Vulture
White Bellied Sunbird
White Browed Coucal
White Browed Robin Chat
White Browed Scrub Robin
White Browed Sparrow Weaver
White Crested Helmetshrike
White Crowned Lapwing
White Faced Whistling Duck
White Fronted Bee Eater
White Headed Vulture
White Throated Canary
Wire Tailed Swallow
Yellow Bellied Eremomela
Yellow Bellied Greenbul
Yellow Billed Oxpecker
Yellow Billed Stork
Yellow Breasted Apalis
Yellow Canary
Yellow Crowned Bishop
Yellow Fronted Canary
Yellow Throated Petronia
Rufous Naped Lark
Sociable Weaver
Common Moorhen
Egyptian Goose
Little Grebe
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Little Heron
Greater Flamingo
Cattle Egret
House Sparrow
Feral Pigeon
Pied Avocet
Zitting Cisticola
Glossy Ibis
Black Crowned Night Heron
Black Winged Stilt

The last 16 were seen in Europe already this year, so they have just been tacked on the end of year list that I used to copile this list

Last edited by Andy Hurley : Thursday 23rd July 2015 at 15:22.
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Old Sunday 26th July 2015, 00:14   #8
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Very neat report, some very cool species I missed.
I was in Namibia and Botswana in 2013, hope to hit Vic Falls someday soon.
You say you were there 2 years ago as well --- I'm curious: do you know of Tandala Ridge ( - south of Etosha) and Shamvura Lodge (
These were both excellent birding sites, wonderfully run.

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Old Sunday 26th July 2015, 16:33   #9
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A fabulously detailed report and a huge aid to anyone contemplating a similar journey, however, seems as if it cost a small fortune though!
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