The Ultimate Guide to Birdwatching in Namibia
Namibia may be synonymous with dry desert landscapes and epic dunes, but if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll also find that this South-West African nation is commonly regarded as one of the best destinations for birding on the entire African continent.
Home to over 600 species of birds, including 29 near-endemics and one true endemic (the Dune Lark), Namibia attracts thousands of avian enthusiasts each year, with the largest concentration of bird species naturally located in areas with more water and on the coast.
If you are eager to glimpse some rare and exotic birds on your Namibia self-drive safari tour (or guided safari), we’ve put together this handy guide that details everything you need to know. From the best places to spot birds in Namibia to the best time to visit for birdwatching and more, read below.
When is the Best Time for Birdwatching in Namibia?
The best time for birding in Namibia is between December-March, during the wet season when birds are actively breeding. Although the term ‘wet season’ gives rise to thoughts of torrential and consistent downfalls, rainfall isn’t extensive in most years and temperatures, although hot, is manageable for tourists.
As well as visiting between December-March, April is also a good month for birding in Namibia. During April, you’ll still find an abundance of bird species to photograph, but temperatures tend to be a little cooler.
The Best Places for Birdwatching in Namibia
Owing to the presence of the Chobe and Okavango rivers that flow through it, the Caprivi strip is one of the best locations in Namibia for birding. Located between Botswana to the south and Angola to the north, this stunning area boasts lush green vegetation all year round, which naturally attracts close to 500 migratory and resident species, most of which can be found in the centre of the Okavango Delta.
If you’re travelling through this region, be sure to have your camera ready and look out for notable species, including the coppery-tailed coucal and the African skimmer, as well as the fascinating carmine bee-eaters which nest along the riverbanks.
Etosha National Park
The immense arid landscapes of Etosha National Park are home to an abundance of game, but once the rain falls during the wet season, the pans fill with water, creating the ideal habitat for hundreds of spectacular bird species.
Over 300 avian species can be spotted each year in the park, including migratory and permanent species drawn to the lush surroundings. Birding enthusiasts have even noted over 30 raptor species that can be spotted here, including tawny eagles, goshawks and the incredible martial eagle.
Etosha also serves as the ideal spot to view larks, bustards, and lucky bird watchers may even catch a glimpse of the rare Monteiro’s hornbill, which can be easily identified by its drooping red bill.
Rising over an epic 1000 metres above the ground, Spitzkoppe is a stunning landmark on the Namibian landscape. Although its arid terrain may not naturally lend itself to attracting birds, Spitzkoppe is one of the most important birding destinations in all of Namibia.
Situated in the plains of southern Damaraland and accessible by car, avian enthusiasts have noted that a vast array of spectacular bird species can be spotted here, including Layard’s warbler, the Rufous-vented warbler, Stark’s lark and Rueppell’s bustard.
The rare and highly elusive, near-endemic Herero chat is also known to inhabit this area. However, be warned that this species often resides in the more remote regions of Spitzkoppe, which are difficult to access.
Located 30 km south of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay is the third-largest town in Namibia, and here you’ll find the country’s only deep-sea harbour. Renowned for its high-quality fishing industry, you’ll be pleased to know that this area is also a haven for birding. Walvis Bay is said to be the most important and diverse marine birdlife environment in Southern Africa.
Home to well over 100 recorded avian species, visitors to Walvis Bay are greeted with the site of over 150,000 migratory birds, so make sure you have your binoculars, camera and bird book at the ready!
From October to April, when the Southern hemisphere conditions are more favourable, Walvis Bay attracts swarths of migratory species from northern Siberia and Europe, including iconic grey plovers, black terns and Arctic terns. Birdwatchers may even be lucky enough to spot the endemic Dune Lark, one of Namibia’s most sought-after species.
As well as terns, intra-African migratory species including the lesser and greater flamingo, black-necked grebes and cape teals are often spotted in Walvis Bay; make yourself comfortable and see how many different types of our feathered friends you can spot!