Tag Archives: dassies

Weekend at Erongo Wilderness Lodge

If you’re a regular reader you will know that we are avid campers and have camped all over Namibia.  We considered ourselves extremely spoilt therefore when we were given a night at the luxurious Erongo Wilderness Lodge for my birthday (thanks again Mick).  Not to be outdone by Mick, Rob chipped in for an extra night to make it a whole weekend treat!

Tented camp

Situated in the beautiful Erongo Mountains, this lodge stands proud as one of the leading lodges of Namibia.  Guests stay in fabulous tents perched on the side of the mountain.  Each tent has an en-suite open-air bathroom with all the mod-cons.  The entire tent sits under a thatched roof and has its own wooden patio overlooking the valley and the magnificent views.


Just getting to there is an experience in itself.  To self-drive one has to have a 4×4 as the road up the mountain is very rocky and cannot be negotiated in an ordinary car.  Guests who don’t have 4×4’s are greeted at the gate and offered a lift up.  The drive up to Reception is spectacular and before we reached the office, baboons and rock rabbits (dassies), that sit like sentinels on the rocks, had already called out their welcome.


After checking in we were offered a guided walk to the top of the mountain so that we could watch the sun going down.   The views from the top were amazing and we were very amused by a lone chair perched on the highest point, that looked out over the vast expanse of land below.   The dry Omaruru River could be seen cutting a swathe through the barren landscape.  Our guide carried snacks and drinks for us to make the sunset even more memorable!


The open-air dining room overlooks a floodlit waterhole where animals come to drink.  We also saw many nightjars and bats catching the insects that gathered around the floodlight.  We were delighted when a porcupine ambled past the dining room on his way to the kitchen for a snack.  This was the first time that we’d seen a porcupine in the wild as they are nocturnal creatures.  In Namibia you have to carry a camera with you at all times otherwise you miss out on special moments like this


We were up at six the next morning to take a guided hike around the mountains.  We specifically asked for a guide who was knowledgeable about birds and were very impressed by the young man who accompanied us.  He identified a Verreaux’s Eagle flying overhead and took us on a long detour to find its nest perched on the side of a rocky cliff.   When I mentioned the nightjars that we’d seen at the waterhole the night before, he offered to show us a pair that he said slept quite near our tent during the day.  We notched up a ‘lifer’ with the Freckled Nightjars and were happy to be able to photograph them.   Here local knowledge was essential for finding them, as they blended into the rocks so well.

Sleeping Freckled nightjar

I was fortunate enough to  spot a rare and elusive black mongoose on a rocky plain.  We also saw leopard footprints, a horned adder soaking up the sun and numerous birds.   A common resident in the Erongo area is the White-tailed Shrike. I love these birds with their sweet little grey waistcoats!

White-tailed shrike

As always, the weekend was very special.  Whether we’re in a tent or a lodge, wherever we spend our weekends in Namibia they are certain to offer up many delights in the way of scenery, birds and nature.  This weekend was no exception and we came away with many more memories of this awesome country.

Bird of the week – Week 12 : Verreaux’s eagle

Visit any part of Southern Africa blessed with mountainous terrain or rocky hills and gorges inhabited by dassies (or hyraxes) at a time when the thermals are rising and there is a good chance that you will see a pair of large black birds soaring to great heights. With wings  narrow at the base and broader at the distal end, with white windows in the primaries; and with a broad white Y-pattern visible on its back as it wheels, this is the majestic Verreaux’s eagle.
With a length greater than 80 cm and a wingspan approaching two metres, the Verreaux’s eagle (formally called the Black eagle) is a formidable bird. The sexes are alike in plumage, although the female is a little bigger than the male and has more white on its back. They feed mainly on dassies but may also take hares, monkeys, squirrels and other mammals, as well as a variety of birds such as guineafowls, korhaans and doves. They have been known to carry tortoises aloft and drop them to break open their shells and rarely they will dine on domestic stock like lambs and chickens.
Verreaux’s mate for life and will usually be seen in pairs. They are highly territorial and, like many other territorial species, the size of their territory will often correlate inversely with the food supply; in this case dassies. They hunt by surprising their prey in a fast stoop, but may also hunt from a perch. They are most active at dawn and at dusk and will often spend the hotter part of the day in the shade.
Their nest is a platform of sticks up to two metres in diameter with a bowl 30-40 cm deep lined with leaves, usually located on a cliff ledge rather than in a tree. The same nest may be used for many years. The clutch is usually of two creamy-white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 45 days.
These graceful hunters are mostly quiet, but may utter a variety of mewing and whistling calls.
The scientific name for the Verreaux’s eagle is Aquila verreauxii; aquila from the Latin for an eagle and verreauxi honouring Jules Verreaux (1807-1873) and perhaps also his brother Édouard Verreaux (1810-1868). Thus Verreaux’s eagle, which makes sense.