At a Glance
Dates: August 29th - September 7th, 2024
Extension: We offer extensions to Etosha, Sossusvlei and Luderitz, with prices available on request.
Prices: £3,950 pp sharing (with no single supplement), excluding flights.
In a sentence: Seek out Africa's smallest, and perhaps most beautiful, cat in the heart of its range in southern Namibia.
For many years, the received wisdom has been that black-footed cats can only reliably be seen in South Africa. Marrick and Benfontein have long been the only places to which mammal-enthusiasts have headed to see this stunningly beautiful small cat. But, recently, sightings in Marrick have dried up, and access to Benfontein has become increasingly restricted. And, so, southern Namibia has emerged as a frontier, exciting destination for this special predator.
In fact, the open farmland around Grunau has emerged as an area with the highest densities of black-footed cat anywhere in its range. Multiple sightings are regularly recorded on single night drives, and this itinerary represents the best chance anywhere in Southern Africa to see this, Africa's most successful predator. Coupling the pursuit of cats in Grunau with searching for a separate population in the beautiful Gondwana Nature Park, our chances of a sighting are high indeed, although there are no guarantees.
Whilst our main focus on this tour is black-footed cat, we also have the chance to spot exciting species by night including leopard, wild cats, bat-eared fox, zorilla, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, cape fox and caracal. By day, Gondwana supports giraffe, oryx, greater kudu, springbok and mountain zebra. This is an itinerary for the diligent and committed nature lover.
On arrival into Windhoek, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and transferred to your comfortable local hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel before dinner tonight, with the remainder of the day set aside for catching up on rest after a long inbound flight.
Gondwana Nature Park
Early this morning, we transfer to Windhoek's second airport, Eros, for our flight south to Oranjemund. On arrival in Oranjemund, we will transfer the four-hours north-east, snaking along the border with South Africa, generally on good roads. By early afternoon, we will have arrived at the charming and remote Gondwana Canyon Lodge. Time it set aside this afternoon for lunch and settling in, before we head out on a guided game drive this evening. This is a great opportunity to spot our first wildlife of the tour, with klipspringer, oryx, springbok, mountain zebra and giraffe thriving in the little-visited arid reaches of the park. We will head to a viewpoint of the canyon itself, and our local guide will provide information on the centuries of geological activity that have shaped this beautiful area.
After returning to the lodge for dinner, we have secured special permission to spotlight in the park after dark. This area is rarely surveyed after dark, but past visits have revealed a small breeding population of black-footed cats, and these will be our primary target tonight. There are plenty of other nocturnal species in the park, though, with leopard, wild cat, black-backed jackal, genet, bat-eared fox and zorilla spotted frequently.
Days Three to Four
Gondwana Nature Park
The next two days in Gondwana will be devoted to locating black-footed cats and other rare nocturnal species by night. By day, guided walks and game drives will allow us to enjoy the range of dry-country species that occur here. Birdwatching, for iconic specis including Ludwig's bustard, is also hugely productive here, and when not on drive our lodge is a great place to unwind and relax in stunning surrounds.
This morning, we transfer by road for two hours east to the unassuming town of Grunau. Surrounded by miles and miles of farmland, it is sometimes hard to imagine this to be an excellent mammal-watching destination, but we hope you will be pleasantly surprised.
We will check in to our guesthouse accommodation on a nearby farm in time for lunch and a few hours to settle in. There is limited diurnal wildlife here, so we may choose to remain at the guesthouse until nightfall. Once dark, we have secured unprecedented access to experts who have researched black-footed cats here extensively, and we will spend 2-3 hours out tonight spotlighting. Some night drives here can reveal multiple black-footed cats, so this can be a hugely productive area. Even if black-footed cats are not spotted tonight, aardwolf, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, zorilla, and cape fox are commonly seen here. If very lucky, we may even spy the elusive caracal on our travels.
Days Six to Eight
The next three full days are spent on Grunau, with night drives targeting black-footed cats with the assistance of local researchers. As there is not much diurnal wildlife here, we may visit the nearby Ai-Ais hot springs or quiver tree forests by day, or simply relax at our guesthouse to take advantage of the warm hospitality in this corner of Namibia.
Today we transfer back to Oranjemund for our flight to Windhoek, where we transfer to a comfortable local hotel.
This morning, clients are transferred back to the airport for homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in September 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, and when grasses are at their lowest. The tour will run from August 29th to September 7th.
The cost of this trip is £3,950 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. There is no single supplement for this tour. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,200 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Windhoek at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter Namibia. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your departure from Namibia and has at least two blank pages. You may also need to provide documentation confirming you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in southern Namibia in September is cool and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 21 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 11 degrees Celsius, although it will feel much colder than this during night drives - be sure to pack warm clothes.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing Namibian Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are currently no security concerns in the areas visited by this trip.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.