Namibia Photo-Adventure Safari with Jason & Emilie
"11 day privately guided safari through Namibia in Jun 2019"
"11 day privately guided safari through Namibia in Jun 2019"
“We will be sharing everything we know about photography and offer the chance to learn first-hand from us while exploring this magical destination. From the basics of setting up your camera, to understanding light and experimenting with new concepts – We will be sharing the ins and outs of how and why we create and the importance of meaningful storytelling. Carved by desert winds, we will be immersing ourselves in the largest sand dunes on the planet and get up and close with some of most diverse wildlife Africa has to offer. “
Namibia is a vast country, even by African standards, covering an area approximately twice the size of California and somewhat bigger than Texas, but with a population of a mere 2 million – one of the lowest densities in the world. It is also an ‘ageless land’; visible through the heritage of rock art created by stone-age artists and geological attractions such as the petrified forest where fossilised tree trunks have lain for over 280 million years. Added to the space and silence, these all contribute to a feeling of antiquity, solitude and wilderness.
This adventure focused Namibian photo safari affords you the chance to experience this magnificent and memorable country in a very personal way. Accompanied by Jason & Emilie as well as experienced naturalist safari guides – they will enhance your enjoyment of this unique country by making it a fascinating and stress-free journey of discovery, photography and adventure, amidst very dramatic scenery.
Day 1 Arrive in Windhoek and head southwest to the Namib Naukluft National Park
Day 2& 3 Explore this beautiful area including the largest dunes in the world at Sossusvlei
Day 4 Head northwest through the desert until you hit the coast at Swakopmund
Day 5 Drive to Spitzkoppe and spend the day exploring this interesting area
Day 6 Drive further north into Damaraland, to Twyfelfontein
Day 7 Head northeast to Hobatere to officially start your safari
Day 8 Explore and capture this wild region
Day 9 Drive through the famous Etosha National Park and sleep at Halali Camp..
Day 10 Game drives in Etosha
Day 11 Breakfast together then transfer back to Windhoek to fly home
Your Ultimate Safaris’ guides will have an intimate knowledge of each area and camp / lodge that you visit, allowing them to share the local highlights whilst adding continuity and depth to your safari. It goes without saying that they know exactly what a “True African Safari” is all about. Not only are our guides highly qualified, each has a specific area of expertise. Together they possess the breadth and depth of knowledge to allow them to answer questions and satisfy the particular interests of each of our guests. Your Ultimate Safaris’ guides will turn your safari into an experience of a lifetime!
The specialised safari vehicles are perfectly equipped for photographic safaris, being kitted out with custom made stackable bean bags for use at each window (and when using the pop top roof) as well as inverters and sockets for charging electronic equipment and batteries. The large windows and spacious interior ensures plenty of space and “photographic opportunity” for each participant.
After landing at Windhoek’s International Hosea Kutako Airport (arrival must be no later than 10H00), about 40km out of the city, you will be welcomed by Jason, Emilie and you Ultimate Safaris guides. You then depart in your private safari vehicles and make your way southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before heading down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below, stopping for a picnic lunch at a scenic location along the way. You enter the Namib Naukluft National Park and go on to the Sesriem Camp where a cozy camp setup awaits you. Here you will stay for three nights whilst you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide.
Sesriem Camp is the only campsite that affords you prime location within the boundaries of the Namib Naukluft National Park. If there is still time today, your guides will take you to visit Sesriem Canyon, a nearby geological attraction, or to explore Elim Dune. However, if you prefer, you can just relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings at camp, or head out on a photographic excursion with your guides
Sesriem Canyon: Sesriem Canyon has evolved through centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River which has incised a narrow gorge about 1.5km long and 30m deep into the surrounding conglomerates, exposing the varying layers of sedimentation deposited over millions of years. The shaded cool depths of the canyon allow pools of water to gather during the rainy season and remain for much of the year round. These pools were a vital source of water for early settlers who drew water for their livestock by knotting six (SES) lengths of rawhide thongs (riems) together, hence the canyon and surrounding area became known as Sesriem.
The next two days will be full of photographic opportunities as you rise early for magical excursions into the dunes with your guides. As you are already inside the park you can get into Sossusvlei before everyone else (you will be allowed to access the dunes 1 hour before sunrise and will have up to 1 hour after sunset to exit the park) and you would even be able to get there in time to see the sun rise to capture the dunes whilst the light is soft and shadows accentuate their towering shapes and curves. This area boasts some of the highest free-standing sand dunes in the world. Your guides will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs.
Once you have explored the dune fields to your heart’s content you can enjoy a relaxed picnic brunch in the shade of a camel thorn tree. You then return to Sesriem Camp in the early afternoon for lunch, stopping off to view Sesriem Canyon along the way. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure (from experience, this is usually welcomed after an exhilarating morning in the dunes), with the option to head into the dune fields again later in the afternoon to see the dunes whilst the shadows sharpen as the sun goes down.
Sossusvlei: This most frequently visited section of the massive 50,000km² Namib Naukluft National Park has become known as Sossusvlei, famous for its towering apricot coloured sand dunes which can be penetrated by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 300m above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the tallest dunes on earth. The deathly white clay pan contrasts against the orange sands and forms the endpoint of the ephemeral Tsauchab River, within the interior of the Great Sand Sea. The river course rises south of the Naukluft Mountains in the Great Escarpment. It penetrates the sand sea for some 55km before it finally peters out at Sossusvlei, about the same distance from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the encroaching dunes blocked its course around 60,000 years ago, the Tsauchab River once reached the sea; as ephemeral rivers still do in the northern half of the Namib. Sand-locked pans to the west show where the river previously flowed to before dunes shifted its endpoint to where it currently gathers at Sossusvlei. Roughly once a decade rainfall over the catchment area is sufficient to bring the river down in flood and fill the pan. On such occasions the mirror images of dunes and camel thorn trees around the pan are reflected in the water. Sossusvlei is the biggest of four pans in the vicinity. Another, famous for its gnarled and ghostly camel thorn trees, is Deadvlei which can be reached on foot over 1km of sand. Deadvlei’s striking camel thorn trees, dead from loss of water, still stand erect as they once grew. They survived until about 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the river from occasionally flooding the pan.
The fascinating drive today takes you northwest through the awesome and ever-changing desert landscapes of the Namib Naukluft National Park, including the impressive Gaub and Kuiseb canyons. You meet the coast at the port town of Walvis Bay, visiting the lagoon to see and photograph the interesting mix of pelicans, flamingos and other sea-birds, before continuing north to Swakopmund where you can enjoy the pleasant seaside location and cooler coastal air. There should be time this afternoon to wander around town and along the waterfront on foot if appeals, before heading out to dinner at one of the popular restaurants in town with your guides.
Swakopmund: Swakopmund resembles a small, German coastal resort nestled between the desert and the sea. It boasts a charming combination of German colonial architecture blended with modern hotels, shops, restaurants, museums, craft centres, galleries and cafés. Swakopmund had its beginnings as a landing station in 1892 when the German Imperial Navy erected beacons on the site. Settlers followed and made attempts to create a harbour town by constructing a concrete Mole and then an iron jetty – which attempts were ultimately unsuccessful. The advent of World War one halted developments, and the town sank into decline until half a century later when infrastructure improved and an asphalt road opened between Windhoek and Swakopmund. This made reaching the previously isolated town quicker and easier and it prospered once again to become Namibia’s premier resort town. Although the sea is normally cold for swimming there are pleasant beaches and the cooler climate is refreshing after time spent in the desert.
Departing Swakopmund after a leisurely morning you make your way to Namibia’s “Matterhorn”, the Spitzkoppe. Here you have a full day to explore the local area with the option to go to see the Bushman’s Paradise rock paintings if this appeal, although the evening and tomorrow morning will probably be spent concentrating on the Spitzkoppe rock formations. These are especially dramatic in the early morning light like you will experience the following morning.
Spitzkoppe: The Spitzkoppe between Usakos and Swakopmund is also described as the “Matterhorn of Namibia”. Rising to an altitude of about 1,800m, the Spitzkoppe is by no means Namibia’s highest mountain, however, due to its striking outlines, it is regarded as the most well-known mountain in the country. Situated in an endless, dry plain the island of mountains can be seen from far away. The difference in height between the peak of the mountain and the surrounding land is 700 metres. Next to the Spitzkoppe lie the “Little Spitzkoppe” with a height of 1584 metres above sea level and the Pondok Mountains. Despite appearances, it is quite difficult to climb the Spitzkoppe, first conquered in 1946. Only experienced and well-prepared mountaineers with adequate equipment should take this mountain on. In summer, it is out of the question, because the rock gets so hot, you would burn your hands immediately. The granite massif, which is part of the Erongo Mountains, was created by the collapse of a gigantic volcano more than 100 million years ago and the subsequent erosion, which exposed the volcanic rock granite. One can go for beautiful walks in this stunning landscape and climb about between the bizarre rock formations. For those interested in flora, there is a lot to look at, like the yellow Butter Trees and the Poison Tree (euphorbia virosa), which leaks an extremely poisonous white juice; the Bushmen use this to poison their arrows. San (Bushman) paintings can be found in various places, many in the “Bushman Paradise” under an overhanging rock wall.
You rise this morning for another memorable view and another good photo opportunity. After freshening up you take to the road, making your way a little further north into the wonderful and diverse region of Damaraland, taking time to view game and absorb the vastness of the scenery along the way. Damaraland is typified by displays of colour, magnificent table topped mountains, rock formations and bizarre-looking vegetation. The present day landscape has been formed by the erosion of wind, water and geological forces which have formed rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. It is the variety and loneliness of the area as well as the scenic splendour which will reward and astound you, giving one an authentic understanding of the word ‘wilderness’.
Later this afternoon when it is cooler, your guides will take you to visit the nearby attractions and geological sites of the pre-historic Twyfelfontein rock engravings (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), returning to your lodge with time to freshen up before dinner
Twyfelfontein: Strewn over a hillside amongst flat-topped mountains of red sandstone, Twyfelfontein’s boulders and slabs of red sandstone hold some 2,500 prehistoric engravings that depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs. It is perhaps the largest and finest collection of petroglyphs in Africa. The engravings show animals such as elephant, giraffe, kudu, lion, rhinoceros, springbok, zebra and ostrich that once used to drink from a fountain at the bottom of the hill. In some cases footprints were engraved instead of hooves or paws. The abstract motifs feature mainly circles. Stone tools and other artifacts found at Twyfelfontein suggest that hunter-gatherers occupied the site over a period of perhaps 7,000 years. These days a local guide accompanies visitors to showcase the rock art. The engravings lie along two circular routes, one an hour’s climb and the other 40 minutes longer. Twyfelfontein is one of Namibia’s key National Monuments and has recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After an early breakfast you will be treated to an exciting 4×4 excursion with your guide, traversing the ephemeral Aba Huab and Huab River valleys to explore this remarkable region and to search for game, including the elusive desert adapted elephants if they are in the area. Damaraland is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife and hidden desert treasures.
Your journey then continues northeast through scenic countryside and past small towns and communities to reach Hobatere Lodge, situated inside a private concession area bordering the western fringes of the Etosha National Park. You will have time to settle in and freshen up before dinner, and his evening you will be treated to a night drive on the Hobatere Reserve. Hobatere is one of the few wildlife areas where night game drives are possible, and these normally offer the opportunity to see a variety of nocturnal animals that are hard to find at any other time – but, as always with game viewing, there are no guarantees.
Today your guides will take you north to reach the bustling town of Opuwo where you will get to visit an authentic Himba settlement to learn about the customs and traditions of this ancient people. The Himba are one of the last most traditional peoples of Namibia and have little time for conventional practices. You will learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation, and will be given insight into their beliefs, way of life and everyday routine. After visiting the Himba and enjoying a delectable picnic lunch at a scenic location, you make your way back to Hobatere Lodge. You will have some time at leisure to sit back and soak in the serenity of your surroundings before dinner, and this evening you will be treated to another memorable nigh drive on the Hobatere Reserve.
The Himba: The Himba, Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Namibia’s remote north-western Kunene Region are loosely referred to as the Kaokovelders. Basically Herero in terms of origin, language and culture, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists who tend to tend from one watering place to another. They seldom leave their home areas and maintain, even in their own, on which other cultures have made little impression. For many centuries they have lived a relatively isolated existence and were not involved to any noteworthy extent in the long struggle for pasturelands between the Nama and the Herero. The largest group of Kaokovelders is the Himba, semi-nomads who live in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region. They are a tall, slender and statuesque people, characterized especially by their proud yet friendly bearing. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba of Kaokoland are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The men build the structures, while the women mix the clay and do the plastering. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night, to keep away insects and provide light and heating. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle. A Himba woman spends as much as three hours a day on her toilette. First she bathes, then she anoints herself with her own individually prepared mixture which not only protects her skin from the harsh desert sun, but also keeps insects away and prevents her body hair from falling out. She uses another mixture of butter fat, fresh herbs and black coals to rub on her hair, and ‘steams’ her clothes regularly over the permanent fire. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads. With their unusual and striking designs, these items have gained a commercial value and are being produced on a small scale for the urban market. Sculptural headrests in particular are sought-after items.
You game drive your way through the park today as you make your way on to Halali Camp in the hilly central region of the Etosha National Park, taking time to explore the various waterholes along the way and to observe the game that congregates there in the drier months of the year. Option to head out on another game drive this afternoon, or alternatively spend time at the productive waterhole at Halali which boasts frequent sightings of rhino, leopard and even owls and other nocturnal creatures once the sun has set.
Halali Camp: Halali Camp is situated at the base of a dolomite hill, nestled amongst shady Mopane trees in Namibia’s legendary Etosha National Park. The thick vegetation in the area makes it a popular draw to leopards, rhinos and elephants. Some of the most popular waterholes of the park are located in close proximity to Halali, and the floodlit waterhole at the resort is an attraction to both wildlife and the visitors seeking to spot it. The guided morning, afternoon, and night game drives arranged at the resort provide flexible opportunities to see the wildlife.
Today is dedicated to leisurely game drives inside the Etosha National Park from the comfort of your specially modified safari vehicles. After discussion with your guides you can either opt to go out on game drives in the morning and the afternoon and return to camp for lunch and an early afternoon rest; or you can head further east to spend more time in the area around Namutoni; or you can head north past Fischer’s Pan and up into the Andoni Plains if you prefer. Either way, you will return to the comforts of Halali Camp by sunset.
Etosha National Park: Etosha National Park covers 22,270km², of which approximately 5,000km² is made up of saline depressions or ‘pans’. The largest of these pans, the Etosha Pan, can be classified as a saline desert in its own right. The Etosha Pan lies in the Owambo Basin, on the north-western edge of the Namibian Kalahari Desert. Until three million years ago it formed part of huge, shallow lake that was reduced to a complex of salt pans when the major river that fed it, the Kunene, changed course and began to flow to the Atlantic instead. If the lake existed today, it would be the third largest in the world. Etosha is the largest of the pans at 4,760km² in extent. It is nowadays filled with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north in Angola, inducing floods to flow southward along the Cuvelai drainage system. The Park consists of grassland, woodland and savannah. Game-viewing centers on the numerous springs and waterholes where several different species can often be seen at one time. The Park boasts some 114 mammal and over 340 bird species. Wildlife that one might see includes elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, gemsbok (Oryx), zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger and warthog, as well as the endemic black faced impala.
After a very early breakfast you set off on your way back to Windhoek, heading south through small towns and farming communities. Your guides will then transfer you out to Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport, getting you there in time to check in for your onward flight.
Please note: If flying out of Windhoek Int’l Airport, onward international flights should depart no earlier than 19H00 to allow sufficient time for the drive to Windhoek and a 2-hour mandatory check-in procedure for all international flights.
Sesriem Mobile Camp – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – local drinks included.
Desert Breeze Lodge – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – drinks excluded.
Spitzkoppen Lodge – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – drinks excluded.
Twyfelfontein Country Lodge – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – drinks excluded.
Hobatere Lodge – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – drinks excluded.
Halali Camp – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – drinks excluded.
USD 7990 per person (twin share)
USD 750 single supplement
MINIMUM 6 PAX / MAXIMUM 10 PAX
Helicopter Flight – Day 2 or Day 3
ROUTE 3: approximate flight duration 60 minutes
ROUTE 4: approximate flight duration 1 hour and 30 minutes
Contact safariFRANK to get started on your safari of a lifetime!