Tips for trip to Namibia and Botswana

Hello fellow mammalwatchers!

This summer Tim and I are going to Namibia and Botswana. If any of you have some time to share your thoughts and experiences, we’d be very grateful.

It’s not our first time to Africa. Hence, we’ll be happy to see the typical African wildlife again (e.g. elephant, leopard, lion, giraffe, …) but we’re certainly also looking for less easy mammals (e.g. honey badger, aardwolf, aardvark…) or species that don’t get as much attention (e.g. springhare, other rodents, …). After a week or two, both our sisters will join us for the rest of the trip. They are not die-hard mammalwatchers, but they’ve agreed to adjust to our mammal obsession.

Although we’re very motivated to see nice species, we’ve got to be realistic about our abilities. We’ve only got one car and we’re not too brave when it comes to using the full abilities of cars. Hence, we don’t want to travel to regions that are too remote (for example the Central Kalahari sounds so promising, but we’ll have to skip it for practical reasons) or parks that are too challenging to access.

I’ve summed up the plan for our trip below. Any tips or alternatives are welcome!

First, we’re going to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (4 nights). We’re thinking of entering the park through Twee Rivieren, camping there and then driving on to Nossob for two nights. For our final night we’d drive back to Twee Rivieren so we can leave the following day through the Mata-Mata gate. Hence, we’d focus on the main road from Twee-Rivieren to Nossob. Good idea? Or should we try to focus more on the areas in the North (Union’s End, Grootkolk, …).

From the Kalahari, we’re going to Sossusvlei (two nights), with a stop in Mariental. The focus in Sossusvlei would be landscape photography. Unless anyone has wildlife tips?

After Sossusvlei we’ll spend a few days in Swakopmund for marine mammals (two nights). Then we’re on to the Erongo plateau (three nights). The Erongo wilderness lodge is a bit over our budget but we hope to see some good mammals in de neighboring Erongo Lodge.

Next on the list is Ghaub guest farm (three nights) for some relaxing + hopefully spotting some interesting wildlife during spotlighting on food in the lodge grounds.

We then have to drive back to Windhoek and stay one night, so we can pick up our sisters the following day which will join us for the second part of the trip. We’re driving to Maun to visit the Okavongo (three nights). We’ll have to find a location to sleep between Windhoek and Maun and we were thinking of the Zelda guestfarm, which has received good comments by previous mammalwatchers.

In the Okavongo, we want to spend two days in Moremi game reserve and spend one day exploring the delta in a boat. It’s not so easy to find good information for this part of the trip. At the moment we’re thinking of booking one trip from Maun into Moremi to visit the south of the reserve. The second day we’d do the boat trip, starting from Maun. Then we’d relocate to the northern part to do a day tour of the Khwai region (not sure if there are any day trips..?). We’re a bit skeptical about taking our rental car into the reserve after reading some horror stories in previous trip reports. We’re not that used to driving 4WD and certainly not used to driving roads that absolutely require a 4WD. It seems that Moremi has a lot to offer and I’m sure we’ll spot enough to keep us happy. The holy grail would be wild dogs… Does anybody have any tips? Would anyone recommend to actually sleep in the park? Does this give any advantage? (as you’re not allowed to spotlight anyway…)?

Then we’d drive on to Chobe (5 nights). We’d probably prefer to avoid the sandy roads of Satuvi etc and instead take the longer road to Kasane. In Chobe, we’d visit the park with our own vehicle (Northern part of the park). We are now planning 3 full days to explore the park by car (and boat) and one day to take an organized trip to the Victoria Falls. We’d sleep outside of the park, so after dark, we can try to do some spotlighting (probably on foot). Does anybody have tips for wildlife viewing in Chobe? Maybe some tips on wild dogs or other difficult and/or overlooked species?

After Chobe, we’re going to Ethosha (5 nights), with an overnight stop along the road. In Ethosha we’ll visit the classic route between the three main restcamps. The far west of the park is now also opened to tourism (Galton gate), but unless someone convinces us that this is Walhalla, it doesn’t really fit our schedule.

After Ethosha we have to go back to Windhoek, with an overnight stop at Waterberg.

Thank you so much for any tips!

Tim and Stefi

1 Comment

  • vdinets

    The southern road to KTP is good for night drives: we got a striped polecat there, plus Cape and bat-eared foxes and lots of springhares. In the main camp in KTP, look for gerbil mice at night along the fence.

    In Kasane, check out the main garbage dump: it often has elephants (keep safe distance!) and spotted hyenas after sunset. The area between the airport and Chobe park entrance is good for camping (if you don’t mid elephants walking around the tent) and spotlighting (we got a Selous’ mongoose there, plus a few thick-tailed greater galagos and one Krebs’ fat mouse). Look for Angolan marsh rats on the riverbank just upstream from Chobe Safari Lodge.

    Roads around Maun are worth trying late at night, we got another Selous’ mongoose there.

    You can get to Sossusvlei in time for sunrise by taking the side road behind the lodge. Unlike the main gate, this road isn’t locked at night. Watch for barking and other geckos on the road. If you manage to get to the dunes well before dawn, look for dune hairy-footed gerbils along the dirt road between the regular parking lot and the 4wd parking lot. In 2005 there were a few Pipistrellus hesperidus (subsequently split from P. kuhli) roosting under the roof of the camping bathroom. Not far from the lodge is a slot canyon (better visit it during the day first) where you can see Jameson’s rock hares and barn owls at night.

    In Swakopmund there’s a guy who runs excellent half-day desert tours – he’ll show you palmated geckos, desert chameleons and other cool stuff. There are dune hairy-footed gerbils and Littledale’s whistling rats on the outskirts of town at night.

    Check out Arnheim Cave on the road from Windhoek to Botswana. It has lots of bat species, and if you can stay until dark, you might see bushveld sengi and stone dormice around the entrance.

    In Etosha, check large trees in camps for hollows – you can find some difficult-to-see bats there. Also, at each camp ask about bat roosts in buildings.

    My favorite place in Botswana is Central Kalahari Game Reserve – I posted a description here recently in comments to another Africa RFI.

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