Thursday, March 7, 2019

Namibia and Botswana - Okavango

Sunrise on the Okavango Delta
From Etosha we had a long drive to the northeast corner of Namibia and the famous Okavango River. This river starts in the highlands of Angola and travels over a thousand kilometers before forming the border of Namibia and Botswana. It then turns south into Botswana and the Okavango Delta, covering hundreds of square kilometers in an inland delta, before disappearing in the Kalahari Desert (mostly through evaporation). We didn't travel all the way to through the delta but did see much of the same habitat along the river and at the upper edge of the delta in the Botswana panhandle. After three days in Botswana we returned to Namibia for a final couple days along the Okavango near the Mahango Conservation Area. 

Our quick overnight stay near the town of Rundu provided some excellent birding on the lodge grounds and then especially at the effluent of the local water treatment plant where we saw the very secretive African Rail and Lesser Moorhen.

Rundu bird list

African Rail

African Snipe
Lesser Moorhen

Three-banded Plover

Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Arrow-marked Babbler

Hartlaub's Babbler
Woodland Kingfisher

We crossed the Botswana border at Mohembo and drove south to Shakawe and our stay at the top of the Okavango Delta. Birding by boat on the river and in the lodge grounds was spectacular. Several extremely difficult birds were found at the lodge including Pell's Fishing Owl and Narina Trogon. Of particular note was our first night stay at the lodge. Our host informed us that we would be sharing the lodge with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and his entourage on holiday. We were certainly shocked that we were allowed to stay. It turns out the lodge cancelled all the reservations for everyone except two groups of international tourists, ours and an Italian couple. The security was crazy with army soldiers stationed all around the grounds. It was certainly the safest international lodge stay we will ever have! While we were having dinner the president arrived from his room and stopped to visit with us for a few minutes. We got to introduce ourselves, shake hands, and make small talk. It was pretty amazing! President Masisi got his masters degree in Education at Florida State University and is highly respected at home and internationally. Very cool. Unfortunately photos aren't appropriate so our memories will have to suffice.

Morning boat ride bird list
Evening boat ride bird list
Morning walk list


African Jacana
African Pygmy Goose male

African Pygmy Goose female

Coppery-tailed Coucal

African Darter

Little Bee-eater

Little Bee-eater

Nile Crocodile

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Village Weaver

Water Thick-knee

African Wattled Lapwing

White-fronted Bee-eater
Sunset over the Okavango
African Wood Owl
Narina Trogon
Lesser Honeyguide

Crested Barbet

Pell's Fishing Owl

Pell's Fishing Owl
Terrestrial Brownbul

Black Cuckooshrike

Tim birds the grounds pond for Thick-billed Weaver with his presidential escort!

Thick-billed Weaver

Thick-billed Weaver nest building

From Shakawe we headed back north into Namibia and our final Namibian lodge at the western edge of the Caprivi Strip at Mahango. We did an evening boat ride on the Okavango with hippos being the big hit. The next morning we drove the Mahango Game Park and in the afternoon took a game vehicle to the other side of the river and the Buffalo Core Area. Our game vehicle driver was the lodge owner Deon who volunteered his time and vehicle to us just so he could get away for the afternoon. Excellent! If you are ever in this part of the world, we can highly recommend the Shametu River Lodge - the owners and staff are super friendly and the food was outstanding. 

Morning park bird list
Afternoon conservation area bird list

Our rooms on the river at Shametu River Lodge



Nile Crocodile
Long-tailed Cormorant

Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Susan checks out one of Namibia's largest and oldest Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata)

The giant baobab from another view

Cut-throat Finch

Plains Zebra

Red Lechwe

Roan Antelope


Vervet Monkey
The bird of the day, the secretive African Crake in the open

African Crake

African Openbill in sunset light

Sunset over the Buffalo Conservation Area
Sunset over Popa Falls on the Okavango

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for more spectacular photos. A fishing owl is intriguing. You are adding personal touches to my knowledge of that area. Wonderous Nature.