The Best Birding Destinations in Namibia

Namibia’s Top Ten Hot Spots for Birds

~ By Guest Blogger Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours

Namibia is a varied country, from the coastal Namib Desert to the riverine forests of some huge rivers, the Okavango and the Zambezi. Thanks to these diverse habitats, it is possible to see about 400 bird species and 50 mammals in under three weeks.

Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is a fabulously scenic place to look for localized birds. These include the sometimes elusive, peculiar, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler Euryptila subcinnamomea, and Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis near the southern limit of its range (it’s a Namibia near-endemic barely getting into South Africa and Angola).


Moving north-west, Sossusvlei boasts the highest sand dunes on the planet, and is a great place to find some desirable desert birds. These include Dune Lark Calendulauda erythrochlamys, Burchell’s Courser Cursurius rufus and Ludwig’s Bustard Neotis ludwigii. Other parts of the vast Namib-Naukluft National Park and the (also vast) NamibRand Private Nature Reserve are well worth exploring for magnificent scenery and awesome desert bird and mammal species.

Walvis Bay Lagoon

Walvis Bay Lagoon is full of birds, sometimes well over 100,000 of them, including both species of flamingo and vast numbers of overwintering waders. It is also arguably the best place on earth for the localized, tiny, Damara Tern Sternula balaenarum and in the nearby sandy desert there are reliable sites for Dune Lark Calendulauda erythrochlamys and Gray’s Lark Ammomanopsis grayi.


Moving inland again are the Spitzkoppe, spectacular inselbergs towering straight out of the desert plain. This is a famous site for Herero Chat Namibornis herero and also abounds with other localized species including Rosy-faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis and Monteiro’s Hornbill Tockus monteiri, one of a plethora of northern Namibia/southern Angola endemics.

Erongo Mountains

Nearby the Spitzkoppe are the Erongo Mountains, which are also a must-visit site on the picturesque Namib Escarpment. The beautiful liquid song of Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius resounds from the rocky slopes. Small parties of charismatic White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus are very much in evidence. The elusive Hartlaub’s Spurfowl Pternistes hartlaubi makes a racket from atop boulders around dawn.

Etosha National Park

Continuing northwards, one reaches one of the world’s greatest game parks, Etosha National Park. I’ve never missed desert Black Rhino Diceros bicornis here, and it is also one of the best places in the world for Africa’s three biggest cat species. It is a superb place for some charismatic African birds like Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius, Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori and Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus. And it is also great for far more localized species including Stark’s Lark Spizocorys starki, Black-faced Babbler Turdoides melanops and the peculiar Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys.

Kunene River

The Kunene River area is one of Namibia’s most remote corners. A healthy population of Angola Cave Chat Cossypha ansorgei, previously thought to be an Angolan endemic, was recently discovered in the rugged Zebra Mountains in this corner of north-west Namibia. Cinderella Waxbill Estrilda thomensis is the other Angolan near-endemic that is often sought in these parts. It’s also the southern boundary of the range of Rufous-tailed Palm-thrush Chichladusa arquata and Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus.

Okavango River

Further east at Rundu, another large river, the famous Okavango River, forms the boundary with Angola. Here, the Okavango is relatively narrow, before it starts fanning out into the Okavango Delta. This area is an exciting place to spend some time birding. There are scarce dry woodland species around, and in years of good rainfall, tropical waterbirds arrive in numbers, sometimes for example there are lots of Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturnii around.

Mahango Game Reserve

The tiny Mahango Game Reserve, also on the Okavango but a bit further east, must be Namibia’s most bird-diverse birding site (at least for its size) and boasts a bird list of well over 400 species. These include desirables such as Wattled Crane Grus caranculata, Bradfield’s Hornbill Lophoceros bradfieldi and so many others. It is also a super-amazing place for mammals, including rare ones such as Roan Antelope Hippotragus equinus and Sable Antelope Hippotragus niger. Popa Falls is nearby and is a must-visit.

Katima Mulilo

Moving to the extreme eastern end of Namibia is the town of Katima Mulilo on the great Zambezi River. Pel’s Fishing Owl Scotopelia peli, African Finfoot Podica senegalensis and the gorgeous Schalow’s Turaco Tauraco schalowi are just three of the many targets here.

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