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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Critique our 18 day self-driving birdwatching and wildlife trip to Namibia, Okavango, and Victoria Falls in early October (1 Viewer)

pookiecake

New member
United States
Posting our itinerary so far for critiques before we make some final bookings. Some days are booked and can’t be changed. Our two main areas of uncertainty are: 1) Should stay one or two nights in Sossuvlei and; 2) Should we stay in Katima Mulilo or closer to Chobe NP? We are visiting in early October and there are two of us.

Our goal is to see as many bird species + other wildlife as possible, with the exception of hiking in Sossuvlei. Targets birds are: Schalow's turaco, secretary bird, violet woodhoopoe (looks rare though), violet-eared waxbill, ostrich, grey-crowned crane, and generally any any type of hornbill, kingfisher, and desert-ground-type birds (e.g., courser, rockjumper, bustard).

We are aware of not driving at night and stopping for gas as much as possible.

DAY 1: Arrive Windhoek

DAY 2: Avis Dam in the early morning and then drive 5-6 hours to Sossuvlei. Overnight in Sossuvlei

DAY 3: Hike Deadvlei and Dune 45 early morning (not a bird-oriented day). SEEKING ADVICE: should we stay another night in Sossuvlei or stay somewhere more North, such as Solitaire, to get a headstart on driving to Omaruru the next day?

DAY 4: Drive from Solitaire/Solitaire to Omaruru (7/5 hours). QUESTION: are there any birding spots we should stop by along the way? Or should we just plan to stop our car when we see a bird along our drive?

DAY 5: Birdwatching in Omaruru area in the morning. Did not decide which specific spot to bird here yet (recommendations welcome). Drive to Okonjima, stay overnight (already booked)

DAY 6: Okonjima most of day, then drive to Okaukuejo, stay there overnight (booked)

DAYS 7 + 8: Okaukuejo

DAYS 9 + 10 : Eastern Etosha. We plan on booking a place that is not government-run here. Lodging recommendations welcome. We are thinking about staying at Mokuti Etosha.

DAYS 11 + 12: Mahango area, stop by Rundu for food and gas (7+ hour drive from Etosha). SEEKING ADVICE: thoughts on staying at Mahangu Safari Lodge? Also, we have not yet decided which tours to do here yet (e.g., boat tour, game tour, etc., so recommendations are welcome.

DAYS 13 TO 14: Okavango Panhandle, stay in Drotsky’s Cabin (booked)

DAYS 15 TO 16: ??? SEEKING ADVICE: Undecided on how to spend our time here. Maybe one day Katima Mulilo area and then one day Chobe NP? And undecided on whether we should stay in the Katima Mulilo area (Caprivi Houseboat lodge is sold out) or closer to Chobe NP? By this point in our trip, we want to see new birds + wildlife/habitat that we have not yet seen. Also, my partner wants to see a Schalow's turaco, so I think that would lean towards Katima Mulilo, but we are also going to go to Victoria Falls, though we’re not clear how reliable they are in either areas.

DAY 17: Bird in Victoria Falls (probably the “Zambezi River near Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side)” eBird hotspot)

DAY 18: Leave

Thanks!
 
Sossuvlei is a very nice area, but personally I'd do the one night there, hike during the morning, then move north. I'd use the saved time to add a day in Walvis Bay. What are you doing on Day 1? If your flight is early morning, Avis Dam is very close to the city and can easily be done first morning, thereafter heading to Sossuvlei, this saving another day.

As for day 15 and 16, I'd book/plan nothing at this stage and leave it flexible - by that stage of the trip, you'll have a very good idea what you still need/want to see and I'd then plan those days accordingly.
 
Sossuvlei is a very nice area, but personally I'd do the one night there, hike during the morning, then move north. I'd use the saved time to add a day in Walvis Bay. What are you doing on Day 1? If your flight is early morning, Avis Dam is very close to the city and can easily be done first morning, thereafter heading to Sossuvlei, this saving another day.

As for day 15 and 16, I'd book/plan nothing at this stage and leave it flexible - by that stage of the trip, you'll have a very good idea what you still need/want to see and I'd then plan those days accordingly.

Thanks for your input. We decided to skip out on Walvis Bay to cut down on time driving, though we will reconsider it since we will only stay at Sossuvlei one night now and could skip out on Omaruru.

We arrive Windhoek at 1PM so do you think that would be enough time to go to Avis Dam that day?
 
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We arrive Windhoek at 1PM so do you think that would be enough time to go to Avis Dam that day?
Almost certainly, assuming you are picking up a car at the airport - it is on the airport side of the city and you could do it directly on the way from the airport (if concerned about bags in the car, the entrance car park is quite busy and has a manned guard post where you pay a small parking fee).

If time is looking too little for Avis, then the alternative is to skip it and drive direct to Sossuvlei that day, still saves a day. No big issue driving after dark on occasion, though perhaps not on day one after an overnight flight from Europe etc :)
 
Almost certainly, assuming you are picking up a car at the airport - it is on the airport side of the city and you could do it directly on the way from the airport (if concerned about bags in the car, the entrance car park is quite busy and has a manned guard post where you pay a small parking fee).

If time is looking too little for Avis, then the alternative is to skip it and drive direct to Sossuvlei that day, still saves a day. No big issue driving after dark on occasion, though perhaps not on day one after an overnight flight from Europe etc :)
Thanks for the helpful advice! We are re-structuring our trip and driving to Sossuvlei the same day.

We are torn between spending another night at Okonjima (my SO's favorite animal is a cheetah and Okonjima has another night available) or staying at Omaruru (Ondudu Safari Lodge) for one night instead. Any thoughts on this? Are we missing anything if we skip Omaruru? It looks like, per eBird, Omaruru is a good place to see the Hartlaub's Spurfowl and White-tailed Shrike. We also wonder if Okonjima is a similar habitat to Etosha, so might be better spending a night in Omaruru for variety.

Our itinerary now looks like:

DAY 1: Arrive Windhoek 11AM, drive to Sossuvlei

DAY 2: Hike Sossuvlei. Drive to Walvis Bay (4 hours)

OPTION 1 (Okonjima two nights, skipping Omaruru):
DAY 3: Spend most of day in Walvis (lagoon, salt pan, etc.). Stay in Spitzkoppe overnight
DAY 4: Spitzkoppe NR in AM. Drive to Okonjima, stay overnight

OPTION 2 (Omaruru one night, Okonjima one night):
DAY 3: Spend most of day in Walvis (lagoon, salt pan, etc.). Stay in Walvis Bay overnight
DAY 4: Spitzkoppe NR in AM. Drive to Omaruru, stay overnight at Ondudu Lodge.

DAY 5: Okonjima


DAY 6: Okaukuejo, stay there overnight

DAYS 7 + 8: Okaukuejo

DAYS 9 + 10 : Eastern Etosha.

DAYS 11 + 12: Mahango area, stop by Rundu for food and gas (7+ hour drive from Etosha).

DAYS 13 TO 14: Okavango Panhandle, stay in Drotsky’s Cabin (booked)

DAYS 15 TO 16: Katima Mulilo and/or Chobe areas

DAY 17: Bird in Victoria Falls (probably the “Zambezi River near Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side)” eBird hotspot)

DAY 18: Leave
 
Out of those two, I'd recommend option 1 simply because it includes overnight at Spitzkoppe - really to be here at dawn for the best birding (and, if camping, the Spitzkoppe area has really atmospheric sites, albeit very basic). If driving from Walvis Bay, you'd arrive too late and birding really drops off as it gets hot.

Or option 3
DAY 3: Spend most of day in Walvis (lagoon, salt pan, etc.). Stay in Spitzkoppe overnight
DAY 4: Spitzkoppe NR in AM. Drive to Omaruru, stay overnight at Ondudu Lodge.

Hartlaub's also really needs a dawn start, the shrike is relatively easy.

However Namibia is truly amazing, you will have an excellent trip whatever exact itinerary you choose - I have spent over a year in Namibia across various trips and could easily spend more there.
 
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Out of those two, I'd recommend option 1 simply because it includes overnight at Spitzkoppe - really to be here at dawn for the best birding (and, if camping, the Spitzkoppe area has really atmospheric sites, albeit very basic). If driving from Walvis Bay, you'd arrive too late and birding really drops off as it gets hot.

Or option 3
DAY 3: Spend most of day in Walvis (lagoon, salt pan, etc.). Stay in Spitzkoppe overnight
DAY 4: Spitzkoppe NR in AM. Drive to Omaruru, stay overnight at Ondudu Lodge.

Hartlaub's also really needs a dawn start, the shrike is relatively easy.

However Namibia is truly amazing, you will have an excellent trip whatever exact itinerary you choose - I have spent over a year in Namibia across various trips and could easily spend more there.
Thanks for the dawn tip. We sincerely appreciate your expert advice on our trip!
 

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