Trip report: Namibia & Botswana custom tour (Sep-Oct 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse and Jerry Connolly.

This trip was a repeat of last year‟s very successful Audubon Shop Namibia custom tour. It was another immensely enjoyable trip and marked by the changes due to the record rainfall this year. Even though arriving 6 weeks later, it should have been even drier, the landscape was a good deal greener and some of the rivers even had water left in them. Amazing to see in this normally bone-dry landscape. We again picked up the vast majority of escarpment, desert and Kalahari specialties. With some highlights being the charismatic Rockrunner singing right above our heads, dozens of delightful Rosy-faced Lovebirds coming into feed on grain at Erongo and watching Hartmann‟s Mountain Zebras feeding on the lush grass of the plains having descended from the escarpment. Etosha was again dazzling, and although we didn‟t have such huge concentrations of game at waterholes like last year, we had fantastic views of lions and elephants as well as the wonderful bonus of a Leopard in a tree at close range. In Botswana we tracked down the huge Pel‟s Fishing-Owl along with many memorable water birds. One of the reasons for running the trip later this year was to catch the Southern Carmine Bee-eaters which we had been too early for last year. In Botswana we visited a wonderful nesting colony which turned out to be the trip highlight for many. As well as the outstanding birding and game-viewing, both Namibia and Botswana charmed us with their beautiful and diverse landscapes, people and cultures.

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