Saturday, 20 August 2016

Namibia - from Windhoek to the dunes

After visiting Avis Dam early morning, and then having the first of many great Namibian breakfasts, we set off south from Windhoek and then headed west and into the Namib desert. The destination for the afternoon/night was Buellsport which, although on the map as a place, was literally the farm and guesthouse where we were staying! This was obviously our first full day, and was an introduction into how sparsely populated the country is.

Anyway, Karen had booked some horse riding for the afternoon so while she did that, I went for a long walk in the stony desert on a quest for Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. Predictably, I took the 6 mile long Zebra trail and thankfully it delivered: -
Hartmann's Mountain Zebra
In total, I saw a dozen of these vulnerable, range restricted beasts - a couple on the mountain ridge and then a group of ten grazing distantly. There was a bit of birdlife too, with White-tailed Shrike, Brubru, Sabota Lark, Karoo Chat, Black-chested Snake Eagle and a load of Sociable Weavers seen. Back at the guesthouse Pririt Batis and Yellow-bellied Eremomelas were common by our chalet. I also had to sort out a puncture that evening too, as driving on gravel/dirt roads for miles and non-off road tyres aren't an ideal combination.
Pririt Batis
The next day, before heading off west again, we had an early morning walk for a couple of miles where in the stony desert, I was able to eek out a bit of birdlife - a couple of Cape Buntings were nice, as was a group of Cape Penduline Tits and some more Crimson-breasted Shrikes. Monteiro's Hornbill and Common Scimitarbill were present in the woodland along the dry riverbed. Pale-winged Starlings were really common around the guesthouse too.
Cape Bunting
Pale-winged Starling
A small (and I mean small) area of water held a single South African Shelduck; miles from any other water, and in the middle of nowhere, I felt a bit sorry for this bad boy: -
South African Shelduck
After breakfast on 4th August, we set off towards Sesrium and Sossuvlei - Namibia's iconic red dune system. A short while down the road, a couple more Hartmann's Zebras were seen while as we neared our destination there was a bit of commotion by the roadside...
Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures on Zebra kill
These Lappet-faced and White-backed Vultures were lapping up this zebra kill, and was a great African wildlife scene to watch for a while. I noticed a couple of the Lappet-faced Vultures were yellow wing-tagged, so hopefully should find out where they're from sooner or later. Other than that, the drive was filled by nice views of my first Springboks, Oryx and Ostrich. All good stuff!

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