Namibia is rightly famous for its success with the conservation of wild animals, but it is also an incredible place for bird lovers to spend some time. With excellent accommodation options, a sound tourist infrastructure and amazing scenery to behold, birding in Namibia is a pleasure, and there are some excellent birding hot spots found within its borders.
The darling of photographers all over the world, the gravel plains of the Sossusvlei yield sightings of ostrich, Ludwig’s bustard, Rüppell’s bustard, Burchell’s courser and Namibia’s only true endemic species, the dune lark.
Book your accommodation in Windhoek for a daytrip to the Daan Viljoen Game Park, located in the Khomas Hochland which overlooks the city. This reserve is home to Namibian escarpment species such as the Damara rockjumper, short-toed rock thrush, Carp’s tit, long-billed pipit and the elusive Orange River francolin.
Erongo Mountains and Spitzkoppe
Located within 60km of each other, these ubiquitous rocky outcrops are both home to Monteiro’s hornbill and white tailed shrike. Freckled nightjars, Damara rockjumpers, southern white-faced owls and Rüppell’s parrot are often seen in the Erongos, and the Spitzkoppe is good for sightings of dry west species like the Herero chat, rosy-faced lovebird, booted eagle, dusky sunbird and Augur buzzard.
The salt pans, mudflats and marine environment of Walvis Bay are a goldmine for fans of marine and shore birds. Some of the specials to keep a look out for near Walvis Bay are the Damara sterna, black terns, lesser flamingos and chestnut-banded lapwings, as well as rare migrant waders such as the common redshank, broad-billed sandpiper, Eurasian oystercatcher and black-tailed godwit are also enjoyed in this area.
Etosha National Park
Etosha’s vast salt pan and arid environment provide some of the best game-viewing opportunities in Africa, and the birdlife here is prolific too. Ostrich, violet wood hoopoe, pygmy falcon, Kori bustard, red-necked falcons, rare Caspian plovers, bare-cheeked babblers and pink-billed lark are just a few of the 340 species which visit Etosha every year. Etosha is also an attractive spot for lappet-faced, white-backed and hooded vultures, as well as 35 different raptors. Look out for the bateleur, martial eagle and tawny eagle overhead while visiting this wonderful wilderness area.
Just to the west of Etosha, Hobatere is a pristine 35 000 ha reserve which produces regular sightings of Cinderella waxbills, Madagascar bee-eaters, chestnut weavers, rufous-tailed palm thrush, Benguela long-billed larks and grey kestrels.
Rundu and Mahango are the best places for birding along the Kavango River with several sought-after species to be found in these two areas. A stopover to explore the woodlands and wetlands surrounding the small town of Rungu will yield African pygmy-geese, coppery-tailed coucals, Allen’s gallinules, Dickinson’s kestrels and a host of other water-loving species. The Mahango Game Reserve is located in the Western Caprivi Strip and is alive with birdlife, including the African skimmer, Western banded snake eagle, swamp boubou, Holub’s golden weaver, greater painted-snipe and African hobby falcons, along with about 400 other species.
Any time of the year is great for birding in Namibia, although the rainy season (November to March) yields a full-house of both endemic and migrant species to admire. With these wetter months on their way, now is a good time to start planning a visit to enjoy your share of Namibia’s excellent birding opportunities.