Our trip is 2/3rd over – hard to believe.  The time has gone by fast.  More places, wildlife, and birds to see, enjoy, and appreciate.

Day 13
Left Etosha National Park, but not without seeing two more lions lazing under trees.  Quite a few cars jockeying for position to see (and photograph) the lions.  The male was radio collared.

We stopped at Toshari Lodge to search for the Ruppell’s Parrot.  Our guide tried calling in the parrot to no avail.  Jack, Gina, and I were walking at the back of the pack when Gina casually pointed to a bird in a tree.  Sure enough it was the parrot!  Everyone was very happy to see the bird as we had circled the garden area for some time and our guide was getting nervous.

We then continued our drive to our next destination – Ai Aiba – The Rock Painting Lodge in the Erongo Mountains of Namibia.  We did bird along the way to the lodge, finding the most coveted bird – the Bare Cheeked Babbler.  This bird was seen several days earlier by one of our group members.  Now the rest of us got to see the bird too.  There were at least 6 of the birds flying into the trees to the right of our vehicle.  At one point there were 5 of them sitting next to each other on a bare branch.  I quickly got my camera, raised it up to focus, and off shot the birds.  I’ve learned on this trip that this happens to every photographer.  I did manage to ‘shoot’ a photo of one bird.  Speaking of photographers, Bobby Orr (no not the famous pro hockey player) has this big honking camera lens.  He’s a small guy (skinny, but regular height) and he lugs his camera and lens along on a tripod that also has to weigh a lot.  By the time he gets set up to take his photo the bird is long gone.  If we are in the vehicle, he rests the lens on the window sill.  Sometimes I’m in the way but he seems to get that lens in there anyway.  What some people won’t do for a photo.  I’m probably the same way, but my lens is much, much smaller.

Once we arrived at the lodge no one in the group wanted to go out in the heat to see the paintings so we had a lazy afternoon out of the hot sun.  I spent most of that time with my scope, binoculars, and camera looking at what flew into the trees, or on the ground, or at the water feature near my room.  Got some good birds, including the beautiful Crimson-breasted Shrike.


Our tour guide “Greg”. He loves to wear his flip-flops.


Mopane tree leaf


Ruppell’s Parrot


The countryside was still dry, dry, dry once we left Etosha National Park. In fact, only 2% of Namibia is arable.


Score, Score, Score – the Bare-cheeked Babbler.


Dead Black Mambo snake on the road. These snakes are very dangerous as they can be aggressive and come after you.


Giraffe art – these are tree limbs made to look like Giraffes.  Clever.


Martial Eagle with a dead Helmeted Guineafowl.


The eagle trying to take off with its kill. Maybe he thought we were after it?


Rocky hillsides of the Erongo Wilderness Area.


As we approached the gates of our lodge, these two Damara Hornbills were in the shade trying to stay cool.  It was very hot outside.


The warthogs loved the green grass at our lodge – Ai Aiba Lodge.


Looks almost like they are dancing the two-step.


More rock formations in the Erongo Wilderness


Male Namibia Rock Agama. Love the colors.


Not sure what this reptile is but he shared a table with me.


Acacia Pied Barbet on, what else, an acacia tree.


Familiar Chat. Much lighter than the ones we saw in South Africa.


Female Namibia Rock Agama

Tomorrow we move onward.

Day 14
Before first light we head off in search of the Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, which is best found at daybreak as the sun is coming up over the rock formations.  Unfortunately the spurfowl were a no show.   This is the first time Rockjumpers has used Ai Aiba Lodge and I don’t think it was confirmed that the birds were here.  Their range is quite limited. We did bird the lodge grounds and had many Rosy-cheeked Lovebirds, but not much else.

We left the lodge and headed toward Spitzkoppe, an outcrop of rocks that is host to the Herero Chat, a species endemic to the area.  When we got there it was very hot outside (wish someone had a thermometer, okay maybe I don’t wish that.  Ignorance is bliss, right?).  We took a short walk (me with my umbrella) and tried calling the bird.  No luck.  We started back towards the vehicle when our driver spotted the Herero Chat in a nearby bush.  The bird stayed long enough for everyone to get good looks both through binoculars and the scope.

The rock formations of Spitzkoppe


Speaking of scopes.  We brought ours because we were birding in South Africa before and after this trip and wanted to be able to check out birds at a distance.  Good thing we did bring it because our guide’s scope broke the first day.  The group has been using our scope for the entire trip.

After we got the chat we headed to Walvis Bay.  As we neared the coast you could feel the temperature difference.  We even had to close the van’s windows because it was downright chilly with the wind blowing in on us.  The van has no air conditioning (or I suspect heat).  Getting from Spitzkoppe to the coast took us through some pretty desolate landscape.  Despite that we did get several lark and chat species.  The birds blend in really nice with the light colored soils.

Shortly before arriving in Walvis Bay we stopped at a sewage plant to search for the Gray’s Lark.  We found several of the larks running around on the ground.  In the distance were large flocks of Greater and Lesser Flamingos.  Nice to see them again.  We arrived to overcast, foggy skies at Walvis Bay.  A welcome respite from the heat.


Ruppell’s Korhaan


White-tailed Shrike


Mountain Wheatear


Red-winged Starling


Ruppell’s Korhaan


Trac-Trac Chat


Shipwreck – the birds liked it for roosting.


Great White Pelican – these birds are BIG and just right outside our hotel room

Day 15
Up early for a 5:15 am departure to search for the Dune Lark.  This bird is found in only very localized areas and moves around mostly during the early daylight hours – smart bird.  With sunrise at around 6:00 am we departed early and only had a short hike from the road to their location before we found the lark scampering among the limited dune vegetation.  Since it was a cold, overcast morning with a light mist, we decided not to spend much time looking at the bird but instead retreated to Walvis Bay for breakfast, and once refreshed then more birding.

Walvis Bay has LOTS of Flamingos – both Greater and Lesser.  In addition to Flamingos there were a fair number of different tern species – Sandwich, Greater Crested, Caspian, Common, and the Damara Tern.  There were also lots of shorebirds about, including the coveted (by me) Chestnut-banded Plover.  Cute little bird.  At one point he got into a tiff with a Common Ringed Plover.  They both backed off.

The shorebirds and waders were found within the bay (Walvis) and around a salt works.  Some of the salt was pink – Himalayan.  I always thought Himalayan salt came from where else – Nepal.  Learn something new everyday.  Jack asked how the pink got its pink color.  Our guide didn’t know.  I told him they took a few Flamingos and threw them in to get the color, and that Lesser Flamingos were better because they are more pink, but they would settle for Greater Flamingos – I don’t think he believed me…..

In the late afternoon we took a drive out to check out a old tree – Welwitschia Tree (Welwitschia mirabilis) is endemic to the Namib desert and is one of the oldest plants known to man.  Our guide believes the plant we saw was at least 800 years old.  The adjacent landscape is very moonlike.  Pretty, but I still think the Grand Canyon is more spectacular.


Our group in search of the Dune Lark


This is the habitat of the Dune Lark


Great Flamingo feeding alongside shorebirds


Plenty of Lesser Flamingos too


This one was just landing. I think it nailed the landing and scored a 5 out of 5.


See just a “few” flamingos


My what strange eyes you have – freaky really


This is where I saw my first “Chestnut-banded Plover”.  Lots of shorebirds here, believe it or not.


We birded near a salt works


Looks like snow on a lake – not salt in the make


And this was Himilayan salt we were told


Isn’t it cute – Chestnut-banded Plover


There were hundreds of them along the shoreline of Walvis Bay


Here the Chestnut-banded Plover and the Common-ringed Plover were facing off


Okay do I want big machinery plowing up the salt I use on my table?


Bar-tailed Godwit


Ruddy Turnstone – nice to see some familiar birds too, especially shorebirds


The “moonscape” area in route to the Welwitschia Tree


Yep, this is a tree. In fact, it is believed this Welwitschia Tree is around 800 years old. The tree only has two leaves, which split as it grows making it look like it has more than the two.


More of the moonscape landscape


It was quite impressive, but I think the Grand Canyon beats out this canyon any day.

Day 16
Most of the day was spent driving through barren landscape.  I don’t think we saw any wildlife (birds included) within a several hour stretch of time.  Very desolate.  It also happens to be Namibia’s Largest National Park (Namib-Naukluft National Park), and the fourth largest in the world).  The park includes the Namib Desert, which is the oldest desert in the world.  Continuing on, we made occasional stops for birds.  Throughout the trip we’ve yelled “STOP” at the driver.  I think the vehicle will need new brakes by the time our trip is completed.  I’m sure he will be glad to have a break from our group.

For lunch we stopped at the town of Solitaire, which boasts a gas station, cafe, bakery, general store, lodge, and camping area.  It is the smallest town in Namibia – population is 99, but I’m not sure where they live.  Didn’t see any houses.

Tonight we are staying at Namibgrens.  The villas are very, very nice.  I wish we had more time to spend here (only one night).  They are built around and incorporate the surrounding rocks and boulders.


Gray version of a Mountain Wheatear


River channel with no water


Typical camper trucks in Namibia




Me – thought we should throw in a photo or two of ourselves. Neither of us likes to have our photo taken.


Barren, sandy habitat


Chat Flycatcher




Dead Motorcycle (art?) at Solitaire, Namibia


Small community with a hotel, gas station, bakery, cafe, and camping area.


And plenty of old dead cars …


… and trucks


Post Office – or a place to put you postcards to be mailed


As you can see they haven’t had much rainfall yet this year.


If it isn’t sandy, then it is rocky …


… but still beautiful


Pygmy Falcon


Cape Teal


Also mountainous in some areas


Our rooms were built into and around the rock. Nice accommodations, only wish we could have stayed more than one night.

Day 17
Today is our last full tour day.  Tomorrow we only bird for a couple of hours in the morning before half the group leaves to catch flights home.  Several of us are staying over a night.  We decided to stay overnight in Windhoek as we didn’t want to arrive at Cape Town in the evening (i.e., in the dark), pick up our car, and then drive 60 plus kilometers to find our accommodations.

We birded the grounds around Namibrgrens, but didn’t see too much.  We then headed to Windhoek (Capitol of Namibia) with stops along the way as we spotted birds along the road.  Once we reached Windhoek we went to the Daan Viljoen Private Game Reserve in search of the Cape Penduline Tit.  Didn’t find the bird, but got some great views of the Violet-earred Waxbill and Pearl Spotted Owlet.  Of course our guide calls in birds using the call of the Pearl Spotted Owlet so obviously it would draw in the owlet as well.

Before heading to our hotel for the night we made a stop at the Windhoek Sewage Facility.  There ponds were quite active with birds including some familiar birds such as the Black-crowned Night Heron and Common Moorhen.  There were plenty of waterbirds (egrets, herons, etc.), shorebirds, and waterfowl.  I really enjoy (except for the smell) visiting sewage treatment ponds, hey water is scarce in Namibia.  The birds seem to like them so generally lots of birds to see.  This place was no exception.




Flowers just waiting for a sunbird


We came across a large flock of vultures fighting over the remains of some dead animal.


Lappet-faced Vulture at the kill


Baboons always have such funny poses and hope for handouts


Township outside of Windhoek – not as bad as some in South Africa


Another view


Ostriches cooling off or at least trying to cool off


Opening one’s mouth helps


Male Violet-eared Waxbill – what a beautiful bird


Pearl Spotted Owlet


Mountain Zebras. Their stripes do not go all the way down their bellies.


Windhoek Sewage Ponds


Black-crowned Night-heron at the sewage ponds


Countryside on our way into Windhoek


Dan Viljoen Nature Reserve. We didn’t see a lot of animals. Seems like a lot of people have private game or nature reserves, both here and in South Africa.

Day 18
Went to Avis Dam just outside of Windhoek.  There wasn’t any water behind the dam.  Our guide had been at the dam in July and said there was some, but not much water at that time.  We did bird the area, and surprisingly found a fair number of species, including two life birds – Orange River Francolin and the Cape Penduline Tit.   After a brief visit to the dam we were dropped off at our accommodations for the night.


Scarlet-breasted Sunbird (Male)


View of the lakebed from the lakebed


Orange-River Francolin


No water in the reservoir unfortunately

Our tour has ended.  It was hard to say good-bye to the other six people we had come to know a little on our tour – Moya and Rick from Vancouver British Columbia, Gina and Bobby from Scotland, Karen from Maryland, and Juliette from Florida.  Juliette is 80 years old and traveled on her own to come on the tour.  Amazing!!!

Time now to return to South Africa and drive from Cape Town up the east cape to Durban, with a stop near the country of Lesotho, where we will hire a guide to take us to see birds of the area.  After that we head to Ethiopia for 18 days of birding.  I recently learned that I will be the sole woman in a group of 9 men.  Should be interesting.