#2 Namibia Photo-Adventure Safari with Jason & Emilie
"13 day privately guided safari through Namibia in May 2022 – tour 2"
"13 day privately guided safari through Namibia in May 2022 – tour 2"
“We will be sharing everything we know about photography and offer you 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: Arrival in Windhoek, Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel
Day 2 & 3 & 4: Dead Valley Lodge Sossusvlei
Day 5&6: Strand Hotel, Swakopmund
Day 7: Spitzkoppen Lodge, Spitzkoppe
Day 8 & 9: Okaukuejo Camp Central Etosha National Park
Day 10: Mushara Lodge Eastern border of Etosha NP.
Day 11: Erindi Old Traders Central Namibia
Day 12: Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel, Windhoek
Day 13: Depart for Hosea Kutako International Airport
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 Hosea Kutako International Airport, about 40km outside the city, you will be welcomed by an Ultimate Safaris representative who will transfer you into town and on to Am Weinberg where you will stay overnight in their beautifully designed rooms. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax and recuperate from your flight. This evening your guide/s will meet up with you at your guesthouse to join you for dinner as well as to brief you on any administrative arrangements and to answer any questions you may have about the program.
Windhoek Capital City: Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, nestles among rolling hills, bounded by the Eros Mountains in the east, the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland in the west. It is a meeting place between Africa and Europe, the modern and the old. In the capital’s main street, well-preserved German colonial buildings are in sharp contrast with modern architectural styles, while Herero women in their traditional Victorian dresses mingle with executives dressed in the latest fashions. Centrally located within Namibia, Windhoek is an excellent starting point for an adventurous holiday for many visitors to the country and an ideal base from where to explore the rest of Namibia.
Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel: The Am Weinberg Estate’s Boutique Hotel provides all of the exclusivity and privacy you might expect from this prestigious Estate – making it the perfect retreat when travelling. The elegant 41-bedroom hotel wraps around a heritage building, creating an inviting courtyard. All rooms offer unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi and internet access, a private room safe, flat screen, high definition TV and satellite television channels, international plug points, tea and coffee facilities, air conditioning, full height windows and an en-suite bathroom with rainfall shower. Am Weinberg’s iconic styling seamlessly blends old-world splendour with modern lines and state of the art amenities, ensuring an unparalleled guest experience. This design complements its historic character, while modern amenities ensure the utmost comfort. The hotel also features three upmarket lounge spaces, including the Sky Lounge, boasting panoramic views of the surrounding valley. Guests also have access to two upmarket restaurants and a delicatessen within the broader estate precinct. A 5-star spa and world class conferencing facilities add to the hotel’s upmarket stature; every touch leaves a lasting impression of quality.
This morning your Ultimate Safaris guide/s will collect you from Galton House after breakfast. You then depart Windhoek in your safari vehicles and drive 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 arrive at Dead Valley Lodge in the mid-afternoon where you will stay for three nights whilst you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide/s. If desired, your guide/s can take you on a sundowner nature drive to Elim Dune or the surrounding area, however if you prefer, you can just relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings at the lodge.
Dead Valley Lodge: Dead Valley Lodge is situated next to the main entrance gate inside the Namib-Naukluft National Park, between the Sesriem campsite and Elim Dune on the way to the world famous Sossusvlei and the Dead Vlei. This oasis offers a panoramic view of the Namib Desert with towering red sand dunes, rugged mountain ranges, and arid desert savannahs. Each of the 20 free-standing luxury tented chalets is climate controlled and equipped with double bed units, electric plugs, private patios, a kitchenette, and freestanding bathrooms stocked with toiletries. Guests can enjoy the top-class restaurant that serves delicious Namibian-style cuisine, relax in the picturesque bar with a cold drink after a day of activities, or cool off in the open-air swimming pool overlooking the Elim Dune. The lodge’s eco-friendly design and architecture have truly been inspired by Sossusvlei. With its own entrance into the Namib-Naukluft National Park, it makes the Dead Valley Lodge one of the closest lodges to Sossusvlei pan.
Experience the magical beauty of the Namib Naukluft National Park with your guide/s over the course of the next two days. They will be full of photographic opportunities as you rise early in the mornings for memorable excursions into the dunes with your guide/s. As you are already inside the park you can get into Sossusvlei before everyone else 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 guide/s will give you insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs.
A relaxed picnic breakfast in the shade of a camel thorn tree and returning to Dead Valley Lodge in the early afternoons for a late lunch will cap off thrilling photography mornings. A visit to the fascinating Sesriem Canyon is not to be missed either. The rest of the afternoons will be at leisure (from experience, this is usually welcomed after exhilarating mornings in the dunes), with the option to head out on nature drives with your guide/s later in the day if desired for stunning sunset landscape photography opportunities.
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 colored sand dunes which can be reached by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is 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 for want 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.
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 fascinating drive today takes you northwest through breathtaking 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 where you have the option to visit the lagoon to see 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 will be time this afternoon to wander around town and along the waterfront on foot if appeals, before heading out to dinner at one the popular restaurants in town with your guide/s.
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 good 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 attempts to create a harbour town by constructing a concrete Mole and then an iron jetty failed. The advent of World War 1 halted developments and the town sank into decline until half a century later when infrastructures 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 the time spent in the desert.
Strand Hotel: The Strand Hotel has a prime location on the well known “Mole” beachfront and with its extensive, unique and creatively entertaining Restaurants, Bars, Deli, Lobby-Lounge, Sea Facing Terraces, Beach Kiosk and state of the art Conference & Banqueting Center, all set on the Mole, a historic and iconic site surrounded by Ocean on three sides, the Strand Hotel Swakopmund is a social epicentre and destination in itself for all visitors to and residents of Swakopmund. The hotel is in walking distance from the centre of town, and has long, sandy beaches right on its doorstep with a total of 125 rooms of which 90% have beach and sea views and 10% garden and park views. Each room is elegantly furnished and feature en-suite bathrooms, complimentary internet Wi-Fi access, Air Conditioning, Electronic Door Locks, Hairdryers, Safes, Direct Dial Telephones, LCD Television with Satellite TV Channels, Tea/Coffee Stations, Stocked Mini-Bars and Working Desks with 220v International Plug Points for Europe, UK and South Africa.
Today your guide will drive you back to Walvis Bay to embark on a full day activity to discover the beautiful Sandwich Harbour area on an exciting 4×4 excursion.
Sandwich Harbour: Sandwich Harbour is an area on the Atlantic coast of Namibia that includes a bay in the north and a lagoon at the southern end. Formerly the bay was a moderately-sized commercial port based around whaling and small-scale fishing, but it is now best known for its birdlife in the lagoon to the south of the bay. It is located approximately 80km south of Swakopmund, beyond the town of Walvis Bay. In the 1930s an ambitious project was started to build a guano island in the lagoon using sand pumps imported from the Netherlands. Unfortunately, jackals could cross to the island at low tides and chased the birds away. All that now remains of the project is the manager’s house. It is a remarkably beautiful attraction that consists of a lagoon lying between the Atlantic Shore and high dunes of the Namib sand sea. It is a Ramsar wetland site of international importance and is also known to be one of the best spots for birding at the coast as well as one of Namibia’s most important coastal wetlands, supporting eight endangered species among the large numbers of wading birds. Sandwich Harbour is best explored with a local guide who is skilled in off-road driving as the route to the Harbour has no road and crosses the dunes.
Leave the coast and Swakopmund behind today as you make your way east towards the oddly shaped Spitzkoppe in Damaraland. For the next two days you will explore the peculiar inselbergs and their surroundings which offer spectacular scenic photographic opportunities.
Spitzkoppe: The Spitzkoppe between Usakos and Swakopmund is also described as the “Matterhorn of Namibia”. Rising to an altitude of about 1800m, 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 700m. Next to the Spitzkoppe lie the “Little Spitzkoppe” with a height of 1584m 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.
Spitzkoppen Lodge: The lodge is situated on the northern periphery of the Spitzkoppe inselberg, between huge granite boulders, which were created more than 150 million years ago, with breath taking views onto the Brandberg and Erongo Mountains. The stylish, private accommodation consists of 15 spacious, tastefully furnished chalets, each with private bathroom and outside viewing deck, which connects the guest with the vast stretches of untouched sand and boulders beyond. The buildings are linked with elevated walkways all constructed to be wheelchair friendly and minimize the impact on the environment. The tented roof shapes simulate the surrounding rock formations and soften the square building plan form. Water, which is unfit for human consumption is sourced from boreholes and purified with our own reverse osmosis plant. We guarantee an intoxicating experience by these ancient landscapes, which delve into the visitor’s spirit.
Leave behind the stark desert landscape and make your way today towards the bushveld areas of the Etosha National Park. You enter through the Andersson gate and game drive your way to the Okaukuejo Camp where you will be based for the next two nights. From here you will have the perfect base inside the park to explore all the waterholes and areas on this side of the park, returning just before sunset each evening to freshen up for dinner. Keep a keen eye on the waterhole at Okaukuejo as it tends to be most productive at times.
Okaukuejo Resort: Okaukuejo was the first tourist camp to open in Etosha. It is famous for its floodlit waterhole where visitors can observe, at close quarters, a spectacle of wildlife congregating and interacting. Resort facilities include accommodation in comfortable en-suite chalets located a short walk from the waterhole, a buffet restaurant, bar, swimming pool, curio shop, post office and viewing tower.
Continue your exploration of the central area of the park via the many roads and waterholes, keeping an eye out for various species of flora and fauna. Lunch may be enjoyed at any of the rest camps inside the park.
Etosha National Park: Etosha National Park, translated as the ‘Place of Mirages’, Land of Dry Water’ or the ‘Great White Place’, covers 22 270 km², of which over 5,000 km² 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 a 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 Pan is the largest of the pans at 4 760 km² 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 around 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.
Game drive your way through the central parts of the park today as you slowly make your way to the eastern side, exiting through the Von Lindequist Gate just before sunset to check in at Mushara Lodge in time for dinner.
Mushara Lodge: Located just 8km from the Von Lindequist Gate on the eastern boundary of Etosha National Park, Mushara Lodge is an ideal overnight stop for visitors to the game reserve. The lodge consists of ten spacious chalets, one family unit, a triple room and two single rooms. The name Mushara is derived from the Purple Pod Terminalia tree which grows abundantly on the lodge grounds and in the surroundings. The thatched public area includes a small library with a selection of good books, a bar with an extensive wine cellar, an airy lounge complete with welcoming fireplace for winter evenings, a dining area and a well-stocked curio shop. Great attention has been paid to the décor, which is an eclectic blend of traditional African and modern works of art mixed with original older paintings. Ten well-spaced thatched chalets are arranged in horseshoe shape around the swimming pool. All the chalets and individual rooms are extremely spacious and equipped with air-conditioning, mosquito net, mini-bar, safe, tea and coffee station, sockets for charging storage batteries and direct telephone connection. The bathrooms are en-suite with separate toilette. The chalets and single rooms have a shower, whereas the triple room and the family house have a shower and bath. One of Mushara’s prominent features is its large bright blue swimming pool, surrounded by green lawns which are kept perfectly manicured by visiting local wildlife.
Bid farewell to the Etosha National Park today as you head for the central parts of the country, passing through small towns and farming communities along the way. Your destination is the privately owned Erindi Game Reserve where you will arrive in time for a late lunch. Depart this afternoon on a game drive with one of their dedicated guides and return in time for a refreshing sundowner drink.
Erindi Private Game Reserve: Erindi Private Game Reserve is situated between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo. This 71,000ha of pristine wilderness is in a malaria free area and has varied landscapes; from mountains to savannah to open grassland. The reserve supports more than 12,000 head of game which includes lion, rhino as well as elephant along with large numbers of antelope and other ‘plains game’. In addition to the species one might normally expect to find, there are hippo and crocodile in the dam in front of the lodge as well as waterbuck on the reserve. There is also a pack of wild dog which can often be seen during a stay on the Reserve.
Head out for a farewell dinner with your guide/s at any of the popular restaurants in town to reminisce about good memories and experiences.
This morning can be spent relaxing at your guesthouse, exploring Windhoek, visiting NamCrafts and the Craft Centre or doing some last-minute souvenir shopping, if time allows, before an Ultimate Safaris representative collects you from your guesthouse for your transfer out to Hosea Kutako International Airport, getting you there in time to check in for your ongoing flight. On arrival at the airport you will be assisted with your check-in and onward flight arrangements.
Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel – Dinner (including local beverages with dinner) & breakfast, also on the day of departure
Dead Valley Lodge – Full board, local beverages
Strand Hotel – Full board & local beverages
Spitzkoppen Lodge – Full board, local beverages
Okaukuejo – Full Board, local beverages
Mushara Lodge – Full Board, local beverages
Erindi Old Traders Lodge – Full board, local beverages
ZAR 118 000 per person (twin share)
ZAR 7 500 single supplement
MINIMUM 6 PAX / MAXIMUM 12 PAX
NOTE: THE USD/AUD/EURO/GBP PRICE AS INDICATED IS JUST INDICATIVE AND IS BASED ON EXCHANGE RATES AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING. THE ZAR PRICE IS FIXED AND WILL BE CONVERTED TO USD/AUD/EURO/GBP AS AT THE DATE OF PAYMENT. A 25% NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED TO SECURE A SPOT AND THE BALANCE IS DUE 75 DAYS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE.
NOTE COVID-19 Policy: Should the tour have to be postponed due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic all monies paid by guests will be transferred across to the new tour dates. Should a guest be unable to travel on the new dates due to personal circumstances the monies paid will be refunded less an admin fee of 5% of the Tour Price. All refunds will be based on the ZAR price and the relevant exchange rate at the time of the refund.
Helicopter Flight – Day 3 or Day 4 (below are the 2021 rates)
ROUTE 3: approximate flight duration 60 minutes
ROUTE 4: approximate flight duration 1 hour and 30 minutes
We will be sharing the ins and outs of how and why we create and the importance of meaningful storytelling.