Embark on an extraordinary SafariWise journey to the Namaqualand Extension. Here, the harmonious symphony of birding, wildlife, and vibrant flowers creates a mesmerizing tapestry of nature’s wonders. Set against the enchanting landscapes of South Africa, this adventure promises a sensory experience like no other.
Named after the explored region, the Namaqualand Extension beckons passionate birders and nature enthusiasts alike. South Africa’s reputation as a haven for birdwatching finds its zenith here, amidst a diverse range of habitats that serve as a sanctuary for avian life. From the exquisitely colored to the enigmatically rare, the avian diversity within Namaqualand is a testament to the region’s ecological richness.
Yet Namaqualand is more than a haven for birds; it is a sanctuary for captivating wildlife encounters. Iconic mammal species roam freely through these landscapes, offering glimpses of Africa’s untamed beauty. With each step, the thrill of potential wildlife sightings keeps explorers on the edge of anticipation, fostering a deep connection with the natural world.
However, it’s the captivating floral display that sets Namaqualand apart as a spectacle of wonder. Watch in awe as the arid terrain undergoes a stunning transformation, erupting into a kaleidoscope of colorful wildflowers. This breathtaking panorama provides a picturesque backdrop for an immersive journey into nature’s artistry, offering endless opportunities to capture the essence of this vibrant display through the lens.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or a leisure seeker of wildlife encounters, Namaqualand’s allure is irresistible. The convergence of birding, wildlife, and stunning flowers creates an immersive experience that resonates with the senses, fostering a profound connection to the environment. Join SafariWise on this remarkable journey into the heart of South Africa’s Namaqualand Extension, where every step is a discovery and every moment is an encounter with the extraordinary.
This is the first day of the Namaqualand extension, but also the last day of our Rare Mammal Tour. We’ll be up early for our 3 hour drive to Upington where we’ll say goodbye to any participants who’ll not be joining us for the extension and we’ll also welcome anyone joining us only for this part of the tour. After all the formalities we’ll be setting off in the direction of Pofadder where we’ll be staying for the next night. The road there however provides some excellent birding and we’ll spend some time at several sites searching for a selection of important species, with top prize arguably going to the quite striking ‘Dune’ form of Red Lark, a distinctly different colour morph compared to the birds found further south. Time permitting we’ll head down a fairly lengthy dirt road towards the Orange River to allow ourselves an opportunity to locate Rosy-faced Lovebird, a difficult bird to locate in South Africa, although the route there also has some good birding with Stark’s Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Greater Kestrel and the highly nomadic Burchell’s Courser also being found in this region. Once we get back to Pofadder we’ll check a few nearby sites for the enigmatic Sclater’s Lark before heading to our hotel. Accommodation: Pofadder Inn, Pofadder Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Birding en-route to Pofadder Optional activities: N.A.
Shortly after breakfast we head slightly south of town where we’ll search for Karoo Korhaan and we might again look for Sclatter’s Lark. On our way to Springbok we’ll keep an eye out for Black-eared Sparrowlark, a highly nomadic species that appear and disappear from areas overnight, following the sparse rains in this arid part of the country. Good flowers can often be found south of Pofadder, but is very rain dependent and not guaranteed in this part of the country, commonly known as Bushmanland. Closer to Springbok we’ll try a spot that has proven fairly reliable for Ludwig’s Bustard in the past. Accommodation: Mountain View Guest House, Springbok Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Birding & flower excursions with guide en-route to Springbok Optional activities: N.A.
Our full day will be focused on one species, Barlow’s Lark, and we’ll drive across to the coastal town of Port Nolloth, experiencing a very pleasant drop in temperature as we do so, with the cold Benguela Current running along the coast creating a very different habitat compared to the dry interior. Along the way we’ll also search for the similar Karoo Lark, which overlaps slightly with Barlow’s Lark at various sites, and as such, we’ll spend a fair amount of time aiming to get good views of both species in order to ensure a positive ID before we search for some of the other more widespread but none the less interesting birds to be found here. Cape Long-billed Lark is found in the coastal scrub, where it is joined by several other species such as Southern Grey Tit, Cape Penduline-Tit, Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds. The coastline can also be quite rewarding, with Cape and Crowned Cormorant occurring here alongside African Black Oystercatcher, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls, Caspian, Swift, Common and, if lucky, Damara Terns, with the latter occasionally being seen at a nearby pan where they are known to breed in small numbers. Depending on time, we may choose to drive further north to Alexander Bay, where the Orange River meets the cold Atlantic Ocean, offering us the chance to do some excellent coastal estuary birding. We should encounter a host of species here such as Curlew Sandpiper, Common Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Little Stint, whilst Caspian Tern is regularly seen alongside the typically scarce Damara Tern. Eventually we’ll start to make our way back to Springbok, keeping our eyes open for the fairly widespread Black-headed Canary, as well as the more scarce Damara Canary, although the latter can be quite erratic in its occurrence. The endemic Black Harrier is often found along this route. Once we arrive back in Springbok, we may opt to search for the scarce Cape Eagle-Owl at a few areas along the outskirts of town after dinner. Accommodation: Mountain View Guest House, Springbok Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Birding & flower excursions Optional activities: N.A.
We have a full day to spend in Namaqua National Park, where we will focus the morning in the Skilpad (Afrikaans for Tortoise) area which is justly famous as one of the prime spots to enjoy the incredible flower spectacle that happens each year around this time. We’ll also spend some time traveling some of the other routes in the park and we stand a good chance to see Gembsbok, Springbok and Black-backed Jackal. Some of the less often seen mammals include Aardvark, Leopard and Porcupine. Accommodation: Agama Tented Camp, Kamieskroon Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Namaqua National Park excursion Optional activities: N.A.
After breakfast we’ll load everything into the vehicle once more and make our way south-west to the small town of Nieuwoudtville, situated in the heart of the Namaqualand flower region. The drive there will be fairly lengthy, even so we will be passing through the most amazing flower-scapes and we’ll still devote some time to birding at a few sites along the way, where we’ll search for birds such as Cape Long-billed Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Cape Clapper Lark and Namaqua Sandgrouse. Accommodation: Gannabos Guest Farm, Nieuwoudtville Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Scenic drive to Nieuwoudtville with birding & flowers en-route Optional activities: N.A.
We have a full day to explore the floral riches of Namaqualand and we plan to visit the Hantam National Botanical Gardens as well as Papkuilsfontein farm for spectacular flower scenes. We’ll have time to visit the spectacular Nieuwoudtville Falls and we’ll have the opportunity to spend some time in the largest Quiver Tree forest in the world, night photography in the forest can be arranged. We have another chance to encounter Aardvark, Bat-eared Fox and Porcupine on the farm at our guesthouse. Accommodation: Gannabos Guest Farm, Nieuwoudtville Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Excursions to Hantam National Botanical Gardens, Papkuilsfontein & Nieuwoudtville falls Optional activities: Night Photography in the Forest
We’ll be up slightly later than usual and after breakfast we’ll take another tour around the farm, which is justifiably famous as one of the top wild flower spots in all of Namaqualand, we might even bump into a few Cape Clapper Lark here. The route to the West Coast National Park offer some spectacular scenery as we drop down to the coastal plain once more, where we’ll spend some time birding along the way for a few specials, with Protea Seed-eater being one of our main targets for the day. Additional species to look out for include Streaky-headed Seed-eater, Yellow, Cape and White-throated Canaries, Fairy Flycatcher and Layard’s Titbabbler. Along the way we’ll also spend some time birding the excellent Berg River Estuary where a host of shorebirds can be found, with Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Little Stint, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Whimbrel all being fairly regular, whilst Eurasian Curlew and Red Knot are present in low numbers, and if we’re lucky, Red-necked Phalarope may even turn up here. Afterwards we’ll have a fairly straightforward drive through to Langebaan, situated just outside of West Coast National Park, which we should arrive at in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Farmhouse Hotel, Langebaan Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: Berg River Estuary excursion, birding en-route to Langebaan Optional activities: N.A.
We’ll be up early again, heading into to the West Coast National Park. We have a full day in the park and early entry will improve our chances of seeing the rare Caracal here, other mammals include Eland and Bontebok and we often see Cape Grysbok here as well. With this being arguably the best site for shorebirds in South Africa, we’re bound to spend a bit of time at some of the numerous hides (or blinds) scattered around the lagoon. We’ll divide our time between birding the tidal mudflats around the Geelbek Hide and visiting another famed wild flower area in the Postberg section of the park (only open to the public for 2 months of the year),the flowers here are often a highlight of our trips. At Geelbek hide we hope to find a number of waders, many of which we would probably have recorded already but we’ll still aim to locate Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Red Knot, African Black Oystercatcher, White-fronted Plover and Chestnut-banded Plover whilst rarities such as Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and Greater Sand Plover do turn up from time to time. The surrounding bush and scrub will also attract our attention for much of the morning as we aim to locate Grey-winged Francolin, Black Harrier, Cape Penduline-Tit, Karoo Lark and Southern Black Korhaan. Accommodation: Farmhouse Hotel, Langebaan Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner Included activities: West Coast National Park excursion Optional activities: N.A.
After a hearty breakfast we’ll check out of our accommodation and make our way to Cape Town International Airport for flights out. Accommodation: N.A. Meals: Breakfast Included activities: N.A. Optional activities: N.A.