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Namibia 10 25 November 2018 *

Including Etosha National Park and the Skeleton Coast

Namibia is a land of contrasts. It’s dominated by the deserts of the Namib and Kalahari, with dramatic landscapes of brick-red dunes and craggy hills. Yet Namibia also boasts some of Africa’s richest densities of wildlife. There are huge coastal seal colonies and lagoons rich in waders, flamingos and pelicans, and the Etosha National Park has concentrations of mammals and birds considered by many to be the continent’s finest.

Windhoek and its Botanical Gardens offer a gentle introduction to the former German colony of South-west Africa – which has been independent from South Africa since 1990. Special birds here include Monteiro's hornbill, rockrunner and swallow-tailed bee-eater.


The Waterberg is a spectacular sandstone massif in the central region of the country. This is the only breeding site of the Cape vulture in Namibia, with a vulture feeding scheme. The Waterberg Plateau Park has the country’s breeding programme for Namibia’s endangered large mammals. There are sizeable numbers of black and white rhino within the park, as well as roan and sable antelope and buffalo.

Walks here include fig forests and reedbeds and are excellent for birds such as Ruppell's parrot and Bradfield's hornbill. On the sandstone cliffs a variety of rock-loving species include familiar chat, Verreaux's eagle, African hawk-eagle and short-toed rock-thrush. The bush below the cliffs is good for hornbills, woodpeckers, francolins, Swainson's spurfowl, pririt batis, golden-breasted bunting and much more.

Waterberg Plateau Damara dik-dik
Waterberg Plateau; Damara dik-dik

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is one of Africa's greatest wildlife parks and it holds some 380 bird species. Centered on the vast expanse of the Etosha Pan, the park is a sanctuary to the largest population of the western sub-species of the black rhino. White rhino, elephants, black-faced impala, lions and a profusion of other mammals can be seen.

The camp itself holds sociable weaver colonies and the associated pygmy falcon. Birds more typical of drier habitats are the southern pied babbler and crimson-breasted shrike. Waterholes attract many seedeaters, including violet-eared waxbill and cut-throat finch. Impressive numbers of double-banded sandgrouse come to drink shortly after dusk. At night, rufous-cheeked nightjars hunt in the lights.

Games drives at sunrise help to get the best from the area. Birds that we will be searching for include secretarybird, kori and Ludwig's bustards, yellow-throated sandgrouse and Bennett's woodpecker. Several Kalahari-associated species occur this far west including the barred wren-warbler, Marico flycatcher and shaft-tailed whydah. Caspian plover, blue crane and crimson-breasted shrike are other sought-after birds.

But it’s far from hard work: camps have swimming pools, restaurants, gift shops and large flood-lit waterholes that attract a steady procession of wildlife during the night.

Skeleton Coast

The famous Skeleton Coast – so named because of the many shipwrecks – holds the Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross, the largest in the southern hemisphere and home to about 200,000 seals in peak season. Walvis Bay lagoon is regarded as one of the most important wetlands along the west coast of southern Africa, both for the large numbers of resident species and for the vast numbers of both intra-African and Palaearctic migrants. The area also has strange seaside settlements and lichen fields on the gravel plains of Vloskasbaken.

Skeleton Coast Cape fur seals
Skeleton Coast wreck with perched cormorants; Cape fur seals.

Erongo Mountains

The basalt and granite Erongo massif is extinct volcano; its central feature is the eroded core of a caldera or volcanic crater that caved in under the weight of lava. Traversing this area are two major west-flowing rivers, the Omaruru and the Khan and the riparian woodlands are a magnet for a variety of species otherwise not found in the drier parts of the country.

This area is considered to be the best bushveld birding in Namibia with a dry acacia savanna habitat, an endemic hotspot for plants, reptiles, birds and small mammals. While we are staying in this area we will be going on a 4 x 4 game drive where we would hope to see a range of mammals and many of the more than 200 bird species recorded here to date.

There are many walking trails on the property and the lodge has a swimming pool and extensive gardens. We will go for a few short walks and perhaps go to visit some of the San rock art in the area. In the rocky hills of the Erongo, the San lived mainly in caves or crevices and their numerous rock paintings, which date back to many thousands of years, can still be seen.

White-bellied sunbird
White-bellied sunbird; black rhino.

Conservation project

The second South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) is one of the most intensive monitoring programmes ever undertaken across southern Africa (including Namibia). Many areas are difficult to access but critically need atlas work and ongoing monitoring work for BirdLife South Africa to understand the bird conservation challenges in these remote sites.


Geoff Crane is the man behind Crane's Cape Tours & Travel, both local leaders and ground agents for Honeyguide in South Africa. An experienced guide himself, Geoff co-leads all Honeyguide’s holidays in South Africa. More on Geoff here. Co-leader (as our Namibia group has grown) is Darrin Baxter. Darrin studied nature conservation, was a ranger for South African National Parks and worked with the anti-poaching unit in Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal before he moved into the tourism sector and guiding.

Holiday details

This holiday includes more travelling and holiday bases (six) than a typical Honeyguide holiday, though the journeys have stops with much wildlife and landscape to absorb.

Price: £4,400 per person in twin room for 13 nights, plus travelling overnight twice (Saturday to Sunday).

Single room supplement: £400

En suite facilities

Flights: Scheduled flights with SAA. Outbound London Heathrow to Windhoek via Johannesburg, return Walvis Bay to Johannesburg and Heathrow.
10/11 Nov: depart London Heathrow 18:05, arrive Johannesburg 07:15 on 11 Nov. Depart Johannesburg 09:50 arrive Windhoek 11:45.
24 Nov: depart Walvis Bay 14:45 arrive Johannesburg 16:55. Depart Johannesburg 21:00 arrive Heathrow 06:25 on 25 Nov.

Deposit: £500

Number: minimum of 3, maximum 14 (two leaders for a bigger group).

Kalahari ferrari
'Kalahari ferrari'

Namibia map

* Dates from Europe, now one day earlier than the brochure. Participants would arrive in Africa on 11 November and leave on 24 November.

November 2017: this text and the itinerary is updated following recent travel problems in Namibia.

This shortens travel distances by not visiting Sossusvlei / Namib-Naukluft National Park and replacing that area with extra time in Etosha National Park and two nights in the Erongo Mountains.

For prices, see Holiday Details at the bottom of the page.

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FCO travel advice for Namibia here, and NHS health advice here.

Photos on these South Africa pages by Geoff Crane and Honeyguiders John & Jan Croft.

Holiday reports

Namibia November 2015.

A selection of photos by Honeyguider John Rumpus from November 2015 here.

Namibia (plus Namibian safari) September 2013.

Rosy-faced lovebird

Rosy-faced lovebird - can be seen in Windhoek.

chestnut-banded plover

Some 90-95 per cent of the world population of chestnut-banded plovers is here.


More flamingos


Yellow-billed hornbill

impala with bataleur

Impala with bataleur

sociable weaver nests

Sociable weaver nests: their multiple nests are one of the largest and most spectacular structures made by any bird.




Burchell's zebras







All of our southern African holidays support SABAP2; the project's coverage includes Namibia.

More on SABAP2 and Honeyguide's links with the project here.

Geoff Crane

Geoff Crane

For a South Africa holiday where and when you'd like to go, see our Your South Africa page.

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