Namibia Photo-Adventure Safari with Jason & Emilie
"12 day privately guided safari through Namibia in Apr 2021"
"12 day privately guided safari through Namibia in Apr 2021"
“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, Galton House
Day 2, 3 & 4: Dead Valley Lodge, Sossusvlei area
Day 5: Strand Hotel, Swakopmund
Day 6 & 7: Spitzkoppen Lodge, Spitzkoppe
Day 8 & 9: Okaukuejo Resort, Etosha National Park
Day 10: Mushara Lodge, Eastern border of Etosha National Park
Day 11: Erindi Old Trader’s Lodge, Central Namibia
Day 12: Galton House, Windhoek
Day 13: Depart from 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 Galton House 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. Jason & Emilie will meet up with you at your guesthouse and will be joining 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, 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 the Namibia.
You will 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 midafternoon 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 serene surroundings at the lodge.
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.
There is also the option of helicopter scenic flights over the seas of sand as prearranged by your tour leader (at extra cost). Gliding effortlessly over the dunes in a hot air balloon would be another option (at extra cost).
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 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 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.
Leave the coast and Swakopmund behind today as you make your way east towards the oddly shaped Spitzkoppe. For the next two days you will explore the peculiar inselbergs and their surroundings which offer spectacular scenic photographic opportunities.
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.
Travel through part of the stark and interesting landscape of Damaraland as you make your way to the Eastern border of the Etosha National Park, passing the Brandberg Mountain in the distance. Lunch may be enjoyed at a scenic location along the way. Enter the park through the Anderssons Gate and make your way to the Okaukuejo Resort, passing by the numerous waterholes in this area. Please note that the gates close at sunset so you would have to be inside the Resort complex before then.
The name Brandberg is Afrikaans, Dutch and German and means Fire Mountain, derived from the mountains glowing color which is sometimes seen in the setting sun. The Brandberg Massif or Brandberg Intrusion is a granitic intrusion, which forms a dome-shaped plateau. The geology of the area is typical of Damaraland, which is littered with eroded mountains, hills and koppies (small hills), which are made up of granite boulders. These piles of granite are ancient magma chambers, formed billions of years ago when underground volcanic activity was common in southern Africa. Over the millennia, these massive deposits of magma cooled and have been exposed, as we see them today, by the forces of erosion. The imposing Brandberg massif is Namibia’s highest mountain, its highest point is ‘Kings Rock’ or Konigstein with an elevation of 2,574m. The remaining circular inselberg has a diameter of about 25km. In addition to the interesting geology of the area, the mountain provides an oasis to a variety of flora and fauna including Namibia’s only endemic acacia, the Acacia montis-usti. The rocks also provided temporary shelter to indigenous nomadic people who left behind a mosaic of rock paintings totaling around 45,000 figures – making this one of Africa’s largest open air rock art galleries. The most famous, and controversial, rock painting found here is known as the ‘White Lady’.
Okaukuejo was founded as a German South-West Africa military outpost in 1897 in an effort to control spread of foot-and-mouth disease. It later served as a police station and it was formally opened as a rest camp in 1955. The Okaukuejo tower was built in 1963 modelled after the old police station tower in the area. Okaukuejo has a restaurant, a post office, souvenir shops, two swimming pools and a tourist information centre where visitors can record their daily observations. There is an observation deck at the Okaukuejo waterhole, which is floodlit at night for the benefit of tourists staying overnight, to observe nocturnal wildlife at the waterhole.
Traverse the vastness of the Etosha National Park today as you explore the myriad of waterholes and roads that snake through the park. If all guests are in agreement, you could opt to spend the whole day out in the park or return to Okaukuejo for lunch and a short siesta before heading out again in the afternoons.
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 enough rain falls to the north in Angola, inducing floods to flow southward along the Cuvelai drainage system. Explorers Charles John Andersson and Francis Galton were the first Europeans to record the existence of the Etosha pan on 29 May 1851. The explorers were traveling with Ovambo copper ore traders when they arrived at Omutjamatunda (now known as Namutoni). The Etosha pan was discovered when they travelled north upon leaving Namutoni. The name Etosha comes from Oshindonga word meaning Great White Place referring to the Etosha pan. The pan is also known as Chums which refers to the noise made by a person’s feet when walking on the clay of the pan.
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.
Travel through the park today with the aim of exiting through the eastern Von Lindequist Gate before sunset. Your guide/s will take you to explore the central and eastern areas from the comfort of your specially modified safari vehicle/s with lunch being served either at a scenic spot in the park or at Halali Resort.
Today the road leads you south back towards Windhoek along the B1 highway, passing through small towns and farming communities to stop over at the Erindi Private Game Reserve to experience its incredible wildlife. Activities here will be conducted by their dedicated guides.
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.
Leave behind the bushveld today as you head back to the capital city of Windhoek where you will spend your last evening at Galton House. Your guide/s will join you for dinner this evening to reminisce about trip highlights and good memories.
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.
Galton House – Dinner (including local beverages with dinner)
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 136 800 per person (twin share)
ZAR 9 500 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.
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 a 10% admin fee.
Helicopter Flight – Day 3 or Day 4
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!