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Namibia - October 2018

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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 14:22   #1
Matt Eade
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Namibia - October 2018

Dear all,

Hope you find the following report of my recent trip to Namibia and Botswana of some use. The trip was aiming to find the remianing Southern African Endemics i had yet to see.

Feel free to get in touch by email or PM on here.

All the best, Matt
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 16:24   #2
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Nice report & blog entries - the birds & place names bring back some very good memories.
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 17:18   #3
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Nice report & blog entries - the birds & place names bring back some very good memories.
Indeed, I miss Africa!

Always interesting to compare others lists, we had no Wattled Cranes anywhere and unbelievably, no Chestnut-banded Plovers.

I assume you didn't need Narina Trogon so didn't mention them from Drotsky's?

Regarding Herero Chat, we stomped around in 40c at Spitzkoppe heat and found none so decided to hire a guide. Ended up with a guy called Franz, I forget the cost (will be in my report I think) but it was cheap and he soon found us a pair.
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 20:13   #4
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Indeed, I miss Africa!

Always interesting to compare others lists, we had no Wattled Cranes anywhere and unbelievably, no Chestnut-banded Plovers.

I assume you didn't need Narina Trogon so didn't mention them from Drotsky's?

Regarding Herero Chat, we stomped around in 40c at Spitzkoppe heat and found none so decided to hire a guide. Ended up with a guy called Franz, I forget the cost (will be in my report I think) but it was cheap and he soon found us a pair.
Hi Andy,

Yeh Ive seen Narina Trogan quite a few times now so wasnt fussed one bit too be fair.

I had heard horror stories of Herero Chat and only gave this a brief look and obviously dipped. Just didnt have enough time to devote too much time. Lovely photo you got.

All the best, Matt
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 21:06   #5
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Hi Andy,

Yeh I’ve seen Narina Trogan quite a few times now so wasn’t fussed one bit too be fair.

I had heard horror stories of Herero Chat and only gave this a brief look and obviously dipped. Just didn’t have enough time to devote too much time. Lovely photo you got.

All the best, Matt
Really?

I was the same re the Hartlaub's Spurfowl so didn't even bother looking!
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2018, 21:54   #6
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Nice report, Matt.

That's a really good photo of Herero Chat, Andy. We found them easily enough at Spitzkoppe, but they were incredibly skittish and difficult to photograph at anything other than long range.

We were very surprised to see Hartlaub's Spurfowl at Spitzkoppe - an incredibly responsive male which came bombing down the rock face to land a few metres away and pose for photos. However, perhaps the best place to see the species (at least for for those who can't afford Erongo Wilderness Lodge), is Tandala Ridge. The owners, a really nice American couple, are birders and get them in their garden. Great camping here too.
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 10:18   #7
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Enjoyed the read Matt. Wife and I stayed at Otjohotozu Guestfarm both on our way north and then again heading south when we visited Namibia in early 2017.I wasn't prepared to pay Erongo Wilderness prices either. In fact looking at prices in general,Namibia seems to have gone through the roof in a mere 22 months although the exchange rate is much in our favour now. The speciality at the guest farm for me were the Rupell's Parrot which were in the garden trees. I had Hartlaub's Spurfowl sitting outside our room in Dolomite Camp, Etosha making a heck of a row as dawn broke and managed to get some snaps too, albeit not the best at a slow shutter speed and poor light.We never made it as far as Caprivi, it's still on the wish list. However, I saw Pel's Owl on a river trip at Tendaba,Gambia which was considered a very lucky sighting. My photos of that were even worse!!
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 10:54   #8
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Enjoyed the read Matt. Wife and I stayed at Otjohotozu Guestfarm both on our way north and then again heading south when we visited Namibia in early 2017.I wasn't prepared to pay Erongo Wilderness prices either. In fact looking at prices in general,Namibia seems to have gone through the roof in a mere 22 months although the exchange rate is much in our favour now. The speciality at the guest farm for me were the Rupell's Parrot which were in the garden trees. I had Hartlaub's Spurfowl sitting outside our room in Dolomite Camp, Etosha making a heck of a row as dawn broke and managed to get some snaps too, albeit not the best at a slow shutter speed and poor light.We never made it as far as Caprivi, it's still on the wish list. However, I saw Pel's Owl on a river trip at Tendaba,Gambia which was considered a very lucky sighting. My photos of that were even worse!!
Reading some commercial tour reports when planning our trip, it did look as though Dolomite is a reliable spot for Hartlaub's. It looks a really nice camp, but was beyond our budget.

Another really good budget option at Erongo is Camp Mara, which has cheap camping and is adjacent to Erongo Wilderness Lodge. The owner feeds birds on a pretty industrial scale, with literally hundreds of Rosy-faced Lovebirds coming in to feed a few metres from the breakfast table.

We were told that several European airlines have recently commenced direct flights to Windhoek from Holland and, especially, Germany, and that this has greatly increased the number of tourists. Even though Namibia is huge, all those tourists are going to the same relatively few places, and I guess it's inevitable that increased demand without increased supply is going to push prices up.

The good news is that there are (mostly) very good camp sites at or close to pretty much all the major birding sites. Apart from Etosha, these are typically about 10 or less pppn.

It's also much cheaper to hire a car in South Africa and drive into Namibia, if you have the time and inclination. We did a loop from Joburg down to southern Namibia via Kimberley (Marrick Game Farm), up to Kunene, across the Caprivi to Kasane and back to Joburg through Botswana, via the Boulder Chats near Francistown. It's a lot of driving, but you might as well be sat in an air conditioned car putting the miles in during the heat of the day!
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 11:16   #9
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Reading some commercial tour reports when planning our trip, it did look as though Dolomite is a reliable spot for Hartlaub's. It looks a really nice camp, but was beyond our budget.

Another really good budget option at Erongo is Camp Mara, which has cheap camping and is adjacent to Erongo Wilderness Lodge. The owner feeds birds on a pretty industrial scale, with literally hundreds of Rosy-faced Lovebirds coming in to feed a few metres from the breakfast table.

We were told that several European airlines have recently commenced direct flights to Windhoek from Holland and, especially, Germany, and that this has greatly increased the number of tourists. Even though Namibia is huge, all those tourists are going to the same relatively few places, and I guess it's inevitable that increased demand without increased supply is going to push prices up.

The good news is that there are (mostly) very good camp sites at or close to pretty much all the major birding sites. Apart from Etosha, these are typically about 10 or less pppn.

It's also much cheaper to hire a car in South Africa and drive into Namibia, if you have the time and inclination. We did a loop from Joburg down to southern Namibia via Kimberley (Marrick Game Farm), up to Kunene, across the Caprivi to Kasane and back to Joburg through Botswana, via the Boulder Chats near Francistown. It's a lot of driving, but you might as well be sat in an air conditioned car putting the miles in during the heat of the day!
That reminds me, a question for Matt about hire cars.I am heading off to South Africa and Kruger NP next year and to keep the costs down ended booking a Toyota Avenza at 679 for 29 days ex JNB airport. I have since read reports that they can be unstable due to small wheels and being higher than a saloon. I looked at hiring an SUV but there was nothing below 800 and then it was a Qashqai that has limited viewing from the rear windows and little luggage space.

For Namibia I had a Nissan XTrail which was not really necessary although we did find some flooded roads in Etosha ( we lost a number plate which must have got washed off going through one) We paid 880 for 25 days. For South Africa it would be 929 now, Windhoek a crazy 1360!

I appreciate that driving on gravel is a different game to driving on tar, in fact the stats show that you are 50x more likely to have an accident in Namibia than in Europe. 10 % of rentals have an accident of some kind( maybe that includes loosing a number plate too) but the vast majority don't involve other vehicles. Indeed we saw a Hillux Camper on it's side, the driver having braked too hard when he saw a dip in front of him and that resulted in a skid and loss of control.Totally driver error. A 4x4 didn't help him, mind you Hillux have a bad reputation for stability and they cost a fortune to hire.
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 12:39   #10
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That reminds me, a question for Matt about hire cars.I am heading off to South Africa and Kruger NP next year and to keep the costs down ended booking a Toyota Avenza at 679 for 29 days ex JNB airport. I have since read reports that they can be unstable due to small wheels and being higher than a saloon. I looked at hiring an SUV but there was nothing below 800 and then it was a Qashqai that has limited viewing from the rear windows and little luggage space.

For Namibia I had a Nissan XTrail which was not really necessary although we did find some flooded roads in Etosha ( we lost a number plate which must have got washed off going through one) We paid 880 for 25 days. For South Africa it would be 929 now, Windhoek a crazy 1360!

I appreciate that driving on gravel is a different game to driving on tar, in fact the stats show that you are 50x more likely to have an accident in Namibia than in Europe. 10 % of rentals have an accident of some kind( maybe that includes loosing a number plate too) but the vast majority don't involve other vehicles. Indeed we saw a Hillux Camper on it's side, the driver having braked too hard when he saw a dip in front of him and that resulted in a skid and loss of control.Totally driver error. A 4x4 didn't help him, mind you Hillux have a bad reputation for stability and they cost a fortune to hire.
Hi Dave,

The Kruger is well tarmacced and speed limits are slow enough not to cause any chance of rolling over in an Avensa.

The Avensa was very good, and to put it lightly, I do have the tendancy to put my foot down, this includes on gravel roads and I had no problems. The slight height is a great advantage and so i feel youve made a great choice. Best of luck in the Kruger.

All the best, Matt
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 12:41   #11
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Hi Dave,

The Kruger is well tarmacced and speed limits are slow enough not to cause any chance of rolling over in an Avensa.

The Avensa was very good, and to put it lightly, I do have the tendancy to put my foot down, this includes on gravel roads and I had no problems. The slight height is a great advantage and so i feel youve made a great choice. Best of luck in the Kruger.

All the best, Matt
Thanks Matt, reassuring to hear your experience is a positive one.
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Old Thursday 6th December 2018, 14:09   #12
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That reminds me, a question for Matt about hire cars.I am heading off to South Africa and Kruger NP next year and to keep the costs down ended booking a Toyota Avenza at 679 for 29 days ex JNB airport. I have since read reports that they can be unstable due to small wheels and being higher than a saloon. I looked at hiring an SUV but there was nothing below 800 and then it was a Qashqai that has limited viewing from the rear windows and little luggage space.

For Namibia I had a Nissan XTrail which was not really necessary although we did find some flooded roads in Etosha ( we lost a number plate which must have got washed off going through one) We paid 880 for 25 days. For South Africa it would be 929 now, Windhoek a crazy 1360!

I appreciate that driving on gravel is a different game to driving on tar, in fact the stats show that you are 50x more likely to have an accident in Namibia than in Europe. 10 % of rentals have an accident of some kind( maybe that includes loosing a number plate too) but the vast majority don't involve other vehicles. Indeed we saw a Hillux Camper on it's side, the driver having braked too hard when he saw a dip in front of him and that resulted in a skid and loss of control.Totally driver error. A 4x4 didn't help him, mind you Hillux have a bad reputation for stability and they cost a fortune to hire.

We came across a car that had done a complete 360 on one gravel road and the occupants were miraculously unhurt. They were standing, dazed, surveying the stat of their hire car while they waited for a replacement at the side of the road. We made sure they were ok and left them to wait.

They had become complacent after driving a few hundred km's on gravel and nearly paid the ultimate price.
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Old Friday 7th December 2018, 14:46   #13
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Nice report and quite a total for the time you spent there! I also saw the Pel's at Xaro Lodge, though I was staying at Drotsky's at the time. One of the highlights of our trip.

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I have since read reports that they can be unstable due to small wheels and being higher than a saloon
@dave williams: I rented an Avanza a few years ago and quite liked it. The only 'issue' I remember is that it is a rear-wheel drive, which was notable on dry, sandy roads.
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Old Friday 7th December 2018, 18:22   #14
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Nice report and quite a total for the time you spent there! I also saw the Pel's at Xaro Lodge, though I was staying at Drotsky's at the time. One of the highlights of our trip.


@dave williams: I rented an Avanza a few years ago and quite liked it. The only 'issue' I remember is that it is a rear-wheel drive, which was notable on dry, sandy roads.
We did 13000km (W SA, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana)including the remote Kunene River Lodge in a Chevy Spark.....

I think Chris Gooddie did Kunene in something like a Bubblecar!

Sometimes, a short wheel base is advantageous.
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