Trip Report - Namibia Photo Safari - March 2019

This was my first photo workshop in Namibia. I must say, “Any expectations that I had about Namibia did not even come close to the reality of what we saw and photographed on this 14 day trip”.

Namibia has become on of my favorite photographic destinations that I have ever visited. I definitely will return again. But I will be making some changes. The drives can be quite long between destinations. I don’t mind a two or three hour drive, or even a 6 hour drive with lots of photo stops that turns it into a 10 hour day. But I am not a fan of the straight shot with only a few stops to get from point A to point B.

My next trip will include an nternal flight. I want to maximize the time behind the camera, and save those long day(s) on the road. Next time I will fly from Windhoek to The Quiver Trees area. The rest of the drives are awesome. Lots of photo stops. Great scenery.

Yes, the addition of the private charter flight will increase the cost. But this is one of those reasons people travel with me. I go to a location, eliminate the negatives. increase the positives. Make your trip a better experience. It’s not that driving was a bad experience. I enjoyed seeing the diverse landscapes. I would just rather get to where I want to be… I am a little impatient that way ;-)

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The great photography opportunities started right at our first hotel. Turns out, the Windhoek Country Club is a haven for a variety of species of birds. It was the perfect gathering place for the group as they arrived for our Namibia adventure.

Once we left the Country Club the hits just kept on coming.

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The Quiver Tree Forest - Sure, you’ll see quiver trees, Aloe dichotoma, all over southern Namibia, but it’s the sheer number and size of the distinctive forked aloes found among the jungle of massive dolerite boulders on the Gariganuns farm outside Keetmanshoop that makes the Quivertree forest so magical.

Then there is the night skies. Some of the darkest skies I have ever experienced. We went into the forest a few times. Once at sunset, and then returned at 3am to photograph the MIlky Way before the sun started to paint the skies orange.

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From there it was time to see a Ghost Town I have been looking forward to seeing, Kolmanskop. In the dry, barren stretches on the edge of the Namib Desert in south-western Africa lie the bones of a grand town. Among the gentle curves of the sand drifts and bleached stone outcrops, ornate buildings rise, defying their desolate surroundings and exuding an air of quiet dignity.

The vastness of the lonely landscape dwarfs the buildings and the sand seeks to hide the structures within itself. It is not until you approach the houses that their characteristic German architecture, featuring truncated roofs and generous windows, can be appreciated.

If you are into abandoned photography. This HAS to be one of the crown jewels.

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The area that would be the most famous is Sossusvlei and Daedvlei.

Sossusvlei is situated in the largest conservation area in Africa (the Namib-Naukluft National Park), Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction. Characterised by the large red dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan and is a great destination all year round. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters, and provide photographic enthusiasts with wonderful images in the beautiful morning and evening light.

Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River to flow any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Close to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is a clay pan characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor. The pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded and the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. However, the climate changed and the sand dunes encroached on the pan, blocking the river from reaching the area.  The trees are estimated to be approximately 900 years old, however they have not decomposed due to the dry climate.

Deadvlei is a paradise for photographers as the contrast between the pitch-black trees and bleached-white pans, and the rusty-red dunes and deep blue sky make for incredible images.  Deadvlei is at least 1km walk from the parking lot so be sure to take drinking water with you.

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The next highlight for me was meeting the Himba tribes. The Himba are a tribe of nomadic pastoralists who inhabit the Kaokoland area of Namibia. The Himba are actually descendants of a group of Herero herders who fled into the remote north-west after been displaced by the Nama. The Himba have clung to their traditions and the beautiful Himba women are noted for their intricate hairstyles which and traditional jewellery.

As Himba men and woman wear few clothes apart from a loin cloth or goat skinned mini-skirt, they rub their bodies with red ochre and fat to protect themselves from the sun and also gives their appearance a rich red colour.

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Then there is the wildlife. If you are a nature photographer, Namibia has it all. We came across lots of Wildlife during our time in Namibia. While it was not our focus, the opportunities came throughout the trip at different stops. If I went to Etosha, it would have been more of a focus, but this wasn’t the main reason we went to Namibia.

From Cheetah and Leopard to White Rhino and Desert Giraffes, upon reflection, the photos I took during this trip were some of the best experiences I have had.

Laying on the ground photographing Cheetah. Coming face to face with a White Rhino while on foot. Witnessing hundreds of thousands of Fur Seals overtake an area. The trip included a lot of great memories.

As I mentioned earlier in this post… I will be going back in April of 2021. If you are interested, check out my next workshop by clicking on the Learn More button below.