Part 5. The Waterberg, Roy’s Camp and Shamvura.
Leaving Swakopmund it was off and on to the Waterberg for 3 nights. Sally had booked us in to the Waterberg Plateau Campsite 8 kms from the Waterberg National Park. Along the way we by-passed Spitzkoppe as you can see in the photos.
The campsite was well managed and we even had hot water early in the mornings – despite the donkey. The sites are set reasonably far apart – are level and not rocky. We even had our own ablutions.
At a number of places it was a real effort to try and get the pegs in, the ground was so hard and stony. Anyone got any secrets on how to get your pegs into very hard ground?
There were 2 lodges on the property – the old and the new. The new was situated on the top of a hill with a wide view of the area below – chalets nestled in the rocky cliff. The old lodge was approached through well wooded established grounds. And it was from here that we started our early morning walks – along the side of a cliff and up to the head of the valley where there was a spring or fountain. Water flowed/seeped down the valley all the way back to the lodge. Certainly the purest and best tasting water we had.
The birding was excellent. We heard the Harlaub’s Spurfowl calling at the old Lodge but never bumped into it. Some of the other specials we saw there included the Damara Hornbill, Rosy-faced Lovebirds, Ruppel’s Parrot, Rockrunner, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Carp’s & Ashy Tits and Violet Wood-Hoopoe.
We did see an unusual mongoose – very black with red eyes – see pictures and please id it for us.
From here it was on to the Caprivi. Shamvura with Mark and Charlie Paxton to begin with. We decided to break the journey with one night at Roy’s camp. We were hoping that we might have a chance to see the Black-faced Babblers which we had dipped on in Namutomi, Etosha.
We took the direct route – 100 kms of gravel to Grootfontein – rather than go all the way back and round which would have added at least 100 kms to the journey – albeit on tar.
And it is on this journey that my bad luck with tyres continued. We were cruising along quite nicely enjoying the scenery. Stopped for a break and I noticed we had a flat tyre. It took us an hour to change it – mainly because the wheel had stuck to the hub and I tried everything to loosen it. In frustration I gave it a kick and to my surprise it broke loose. During that hour not another car passed us. It was as we were about to get into the car to continue that a car raced past covering us in dust – talk about adding salt to the wound.
We stopped in Grootfontein to get the tyre fixed. On arrival at the new Kwik Fit centre, we checked the other tyres to discover that the other back tyre also had a puncture! The sidewall of the first had buckled and the other had a sidewall puncture! Two new tyres later and R7600 poorer we set off for Roy’s camp 50 kms further along. So instead of arriving there at 10:30 we got there after 1 pm.
Nevertheless we set up our 3 Second tent in a flash, got organised and relaxed going for a walk later on to see if we could find the Babblers. Not to be.
We planned to leave the next day after a leisurely early morning walk and breakfast. So up with the sparrows dressed for the cold we wandered around the camp birding. We had hardly started than we heard them – rather Sally heard them. About 7 Black-faced Babblers appeared heading for the restaurant. They stayed and wandered around each campsite and were still there 2 hours later when we left.
On to Shamvura, stopping in Rundu to do some shopping for Mark and Charlie’s latest addition to their family.
On arrival we set up our camp in the Ushivi campsite – slightly more expensive but level sandy ground with your own ablution and kitchen.
We met the baby – so cute, soft and furry. Their latest Cape Clawless Otter.
At Shamvura we went for a walk with Mark to look for the Rufous-bellied Tit, Tinkling Cisticola and Sharp-tailed Starlings. We dipped on all three, however in passing we saw several Souza’s Shrikes, Green-capped Eremomelas, Dark-Chanting Goshawk and Arnot’s Chat amongst others.
The birding was excellent in the area and was enhanced by a boat trip (a must do) down the river where we saw Little Bittern, Skimmers, Rufous-bellied Heron, Long-toed Lapwing, African Rail, Slaty Egret and Luapula Cisticola amongst many others.
During the time there we came across a flowering (pale yellow) Albizia full of many different Sunbirds. Amongst the White-bellied, Marico and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds we spotted one which stood out and was being chased away especially by an out-of-plumage Marico Sunbird. It was a Copper Sunbird.
We spent time driving about the area and went down to the wetland area near the river’s edge close to the camp. Coppery-tailed Coucal, African Marsh Harrier and Lizard Buzzard were present amongst the variety you would normally expect.
Around the camp, some of the specials we saw included Bradfield’s Hornbill, Meyer’s Parrots, Swamp Boubou, Mosque and Grey-rumped Swallows. However there were 2 birds that stood out for us. Both seen around our tent and in the gardens – Red-faced Crombec and Shelley’s Sunbird. The Shelleys’ Sunbird was singing its heart out all round the camp.
Too soon it was time to leave Shamvura. In 2 days we had seen 117 species – the most we had seen anywhere.