Day 1: ARRIVE WINDHOEK (D)
After clearing Customs & Immigration we will be transferred to the city for our overnight stay. Late this afternoon we have the option of a walk around the city centre, which is a mix of old German colonial buildings and modern architecture.
Day 2: WINDHOEK – KEETMANSHOOP (B/L/D)
This morning we will depart from Windhoek and journey south to the city of Keetmanshoop. This is around 6 hours driving time and scenic stops will be made en route for photo opportunities. About 20 kilometres north of Keetmanshoop lies the spectacular and much photographed Kokerboom (Aloe dichotoma) or quiver tree forest on the farm Garas. We shall explore the Kokerbooms late afternoon to take some great late light and sunset shots. For those not in a hurry to return to the hotel, the owner of the property is allowing us to stay after sunset to photograph the stars. This is a great location to try some static Milky Way shots as well as star trails.
Day 3: KEETMANSHOOP (B/L/D)
This morning we return to Garas for sunrise with the quiver trees. During the middle of the day we will be holding a workshop on astrophotography, in preparation for our second night of shooting. For those who bring their laptops, we can also go through post processing and review the images we took the night before.
Mid-afternoon we make our way to the Quivertree Forest Rest Camp, where we will get to see their resident cheetahs and prepare for another amazing sunset shoot at the Quivertree forest or Giant’s playground. After dinner we will again return to Garas for a second night of shooting.
Day 4: KEETMANSHOOP – LUDERITZ (B/L/D)
For those who are keen, it will be up before dawn and back to the Kokerbooms and the Devils Playground for some stunning sunrise shots (this is subject to the owners granting us permission for such an early start).
This morning we have to travel to the coastal town on Luderitz, around four hours from Keetmanshoop, so we will arrive in time for a late lunch.
This afternoon we shall explore this coastal town. Established in 1883 as a remote German outpost, the area is surrounded by diamond mine areas (restricted zones). The town has numerous historic buildings and a unique character, so lots of photo opportunities.
Day 5: LUDERITZ – KOLMANSKOP – LUDERITZ (B/L/D)
Today is a special day as we have permits for the whole day for the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop. Once having been home to 700 families, the buildings have stood the test of time (in an area where rain hardly falls) but the winds and sands of the Namib Desert have slowly encroached upon each dwelling and have created amazing results.
We can enter the area at sunrise and leave at sunset. We will also undertake the 9.30am guided tour which will help us with familiarisation, however this is a hot and dry place so we will probably take a lunch break in Luderitz and return later in the afternoon. The public is only permitted into the area during the morning, so our special all-day permits will ensure us better photographic opportunities. If you want to practice natural-looking HDR, then here is the place to try.
Day 6 LUDERITZ – SOSSUSVLEI (B/L/D)
Today we depart Luderitz and travel through amazing landscape on our way to the Sossusvlei region. The distance is approximate 470km’s, but the majority of it is on gravel roads so it will take over 6 hours. Numerous stops will be made on the way for photos and rest breaks, and we will take a picnic lunch.
We will be staying at Sossus Dune Lodge, built in an environmentally sensitive manner primarily from wood, canvas and thatch, in an attractive ‘afro-village’ style. Situated within the park, guests benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise, and stay until after sunset, and on their return after an exhilarating day, relax in the tranquillity and splendour of the Namib Desert, under the spectacular African sky.
The Sossusvlei, Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert, is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the spectacular hills of sand are at a height of 300 metres, the highest in the world. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, does the vlei fill with water. As the clay layers hardly allow any water infiltration, a turquoise lake will remain for quite some time. The dunes of the Namib desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. It is thought that the vast quantities of sand were deposited into the Atlantic Ocean by the Orange River. This material was subsequently moved northwards by the Benguela current to be dumped back onto the land by the surf. The coastal dunes developed as a result of this and were shifted further and further inland by the wind. Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib desert. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.
While there, we will have the option to walk through the dunes to “Dead Vlei”. The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river and subsequently killed the trees. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to be about 900 years old, are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. The wood does not decompose because it is so dry.
Day 7: SOSSUSVLEI (B/L/D)
This morning we rise early to undertake a guided 4WD tour to the famous sand-dunes of Sossusvlei, arriving at the dunes before sunrise, well before the tourists arrive. After sunrise we walk into the “Dead Vlei”, one of the most famous of the locations for photography. This walk is around 1.5kms (each way) through pebbly and sandy dunes. You should be at the Vlei as the sun’s rays hit the southern wall and the light extends across the vlei floor. After photographing in the Deadvlei, we make our way back to our 4WD vehicle for breakfast before returning to the lodge.
This afternoon there are various destinations that can be visited for shooting. You will have seen the great locations along the valley as you returned from the morning shoot, and we will take our own vehicle back down towards the Sossusvlei. Most of the park visitors will have left the park by around 5:30pm however we can stay up to an hour after sunset and may choose to try some astrophotography.
Day 8: SOSSUSVLEI (B/L/D)
This morning we rise early to photograph the dunes in the morning light. We can seek out some beautiful sand ripples to photograph, or if feeling energetic we can climb up one of the sand dunes to watch the sunrise. If you wish to return to the Sossusvlei and Deadvlei with the lodge’s dawn 4WD tour, then this can be booked the day before and will be an additional cost of around US $50.00 per person, payable to the lodge. Please let us know if you are intending to do this.
Late morning we have the option to visit Sesriem Canyon, located not too far from the Lodge. Sesriem Canyon is one kilometre long and up to 30 meters deep, and was formed by the rare flow of water down the Tsauchab River over the past two million years The name Sesriem is Afrikaans and means “six belts”, since the early settlers had to attach together six belts (made of oryx hides), in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. The Sesriem Canyon is only two meters wide in some places, and has a portion that permanently contains water, which many animals use. Past the canyon, the Tsauchab flattens and grows broader, and is surrounded by a riparian forest as it slopes towards the Sossusvlei salt pan.
We will venture out again in the afternoon to photograph the sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
Day 9: SOSSUSVLEI – SWAKOPMUND (B/L/D)
This morning we depart the dunes area and travel through the vast desert areas to the coastal town of Swakopmund. On the way we witness a very different type of desert as we pass through the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which provides stunning vistas with huge mountain massifs and gravel plains. This five hour journey will again be interspersed with numerous photo stops.
Swakopmund was of major importance as a harbour during the German colonial era even though the water at the coast is actually too shallow and the bay is unprotected. But Luderitz was too far away and the seaport of Walvis Bay was in British possession in those days. In August 1892, the gunship “Hyäne” under the command of Captain Curt von François, staked out a wharf north of the Swakop River mouth. A year later, 40 settlers from Germany and 120 members of the Schutztruppe were taken ashore on landing boats to embark upon an adventurous undertaking. The 325 metre long wooden jetty was only completed in 1905 and it was later replaced by a more solid iron construction. Swakopmund became the gate to South-West Africa and the entire supply for the colony was wound up through this little town. The appearance of the town, with its 30,000 inhabitants, is characterised by numerous colonial buildings with the Woermann House from 1905 as its landmark. The former trading house in Bismarck Street with its 25 metre high Damara Tower and its courtyard bordered by arcades today houses the city library. The late afternoon light will provide a great backdrop for some shooting around the lighthouse and jetty area.
Day 10: SWAKOPMUND (B/L/D)
After collecting a packed breakfast, we travel down the coast to the more modern city of Walvis Bay where we photograph the Flamingos during and after sunrise. We then enjoy a relaxing boat cruise around Walvis Bay, providing us an opportunity to see and photograph some of the local wildlife, such as pelicans, Cape Fur Seals, Dolphins and the local water birds including Flamingos.
This afternoon we will head east of Swakopmund into the desert areas of the Welwitschia Plains –The Welwitschia is an odd ancient conifer with only two leaves. This is easy to see in young plants, but the leaves get shredded by the wind into streamers in older specimens. Individual plants are either male or female, with the female plants growing cones. Various insects live on the plants, but very little else can survive here. While on this tour we will also see the “moon landscape”, which is can be quite spectacular in the late afternoon light.
Day 11: SWAKOPMUND – SPITZKOPPE (B/L/D)
This morning we have a leisurely departure to initially drive north of Swakopmund to the settlement of Wlotzkasbaken. No one can adequately describe what you are about to see in this town, except to say that this will be a architectural shoot, with some very amazing colours. We then start heading north-east to Spitzkoppe, a group of bald granite peaks or bornhardts majestically rising out of the Namib Desert.
After lunch we will take some time to explore the beautiful rock formations, as well as select suitable locations to watch and photograph the sunset and the sunrise the following morning.
Day 12: SPITZKOPPE – ERINDI RESERVE (B/L/D)
This morning we rise early for a sunrise shoot at Spitzkoppe as the first rays of sunlight hit the rocks.
After breakfast we commence our journey to Erindi, arriving in time for lunch. Erindi Private Game Reserve is home to some 12,000 animals, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, white and black rhinos, wild dogs and if we are lucky, the more elusive leopard.
After lunch you are free to relax on the viewing deck before going on an afternoon game-viewing drive.
Day 13: ERINDI RESERVE (B/L/D)
This morning and this afternoon we will be undertaking game-viewing excursions in the Erindi Reserve. There are also a number of other guided tours you may wish to consider, however these will be at an additional cost.
During the middle of the day, why not relax on the viewing deck and watch the wildlife come into the waterhole to drink.
Day 14: DEPARTURE (B)
This morning we have an opportunity to undertake one last game drive. For those departing at the end of the main tour, sadly it’s time to prepare for your departure. After saying farewell to those continuing on the optional extension tour, you will return to Windhoek for your return flight.
OPTIONAL EXTENSION TOUR
Day 14: ERINDI – OPUWO (B/L/D)
After our early morning game drive, it’s time to prepare for our long drive north to Opuwo. Once we leave the reserve, our drive is on good bitumen roads, so it will be easy if not a long day of travel. On arrival in Opuwo we check into our hotel. If time allows, we will return to the centre of town to photograph the activities of the local Himba, Dhimba and Herero people.
Day15-16: OPUWO (B/L/D)
With the assistance of a local guide, we will be visiting Himba, Zemba and Herero villages over the course of two days. The Himba are semi-nomadic and unlike many indigenous groups in Africa, have managed to maintain much of their traditional lifestyle. Himba women have a particularly distinctive appearance. Each morning, they cover themselves with a mixture of butter fat, red ochre and local herbs that gives their body the smooth, reddish appearance as well as offering some sun protection. Married women wear a small headpiece made of soft skin on top of their braided and ochred hair. In addition, they often wear a heavy ornament around their necks that includes a conch shell that hangs between their breasts in the front and a metal-studded leather plate that hangs down the centre of their back. They also wear heavy metal rings around their ankles as well as other jewellery made of copper, ostrich shells or woven reeds.
Zemba, also known as Dhimba are found in Namibia and Angola. Their global population is approximately 14,000, with 5,700 living in Namibia. Like the Himba, they are also semi-nomadic. The Herero are proud cattle farmers who measure their wealth in cattle, the importance of cattle to these people is even evident in the dresses the women wear. The traditional dress is derived from a Victorian woman’s dress, and consists of an enormous crinoline worn over a several petticoats, and a horn shaped hat (said to represent cow horns). Like the Himba they also have a holy, ritual fire which symbolises life, fertility and prosperity. When visiting a village or a compound, it’s important to walk around the holy fire, even if it’s not burning.
Day 17: OPUWO – ETOSHA (B/L/D)
This morning we will depart fairly early for Etosha National Park (approximately 2 hours south). Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species and 16 amphibian species. Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The Pan only contains water after good rains and is normally a dry, white expanse.
The Park has five Rest-camps where visitors can stay. Four of them are found in the eastern area of the Park, while one is located in the Restricted Western Zone. During your stay we will visit both zones. You will enter the Restricted Zone by the western “Galton Gate” and you will be staying at Dolomite Camp – only visitors who are staying overnight at this camp may tour the western zone. Nestled in the dolomite outcrops of this vast area of western Etosha National Park, Dolomite Camp offers its clients an intimate experience of one of the most scenic areas of the Park, an area where previously endangered species like the Black Rhinoceros and Black-Faced Impala have been successfully bred. This afternoon and for the first part of tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to explore the many waterholes that surround the Dolomite area.
Day 18: ETOSHA (B/L/D)
This morning we head east from Dolomite exploring many waterholes before leaving the restricted zone and entering the eastern Etosha area. We are now starting to approach the mighty Etosha Pan. Late afternoon we arrive at Okaukuejo Restcamp. Okaukuejo is located 17km’s from the southern entrance of the park, and famous for its flood-lit waterhole, where visitors can observe at close quarters a spectacle of wildlife congregating and interacting.
After check-in you return to exploring the local waterholes close to Okaukuejo to discover a host of animals that are far more relaxed with vehicles around, compared to those you have seen in the newly opened western area. This evening after dinner you will be able to spend time around the waterhole and await the night parade of animals.
Day 19: ETOSHA (B/L/D)
Today we will explore many of the waterholes of Etosha – each one is a magnet for the local wildlife and different species favour different locations. We will travel east into the central region of the eastern zone and stop in the middle of the day at Halali Restcamp.
After lunch we continue to wind our way back from waterhole to waterhole before arriving back at Okaukuejo at dusk.
Day 20: ETOSHA – WINDHOEK (B)
Today we depart early from Okaukuejo and travel back to Windhoek where our extension tour will conclude. There are restaurants and banks at the airport, so a light lunch can be taken there.
It is now time to say goodbye to Namibia and our fellow travellers.
The cost of this tour is made up of two components:
* Tour Cost
- The early-bird discounted price of US $7195 per person twin share to 31 October 2017.
- The price for the optional Himba/Etosha extension tour is US $3195 per person twin share.
A very limited number of single rooms are available and a supplement will apply to persons not sharing a room.
Any variations in fees will be passed on in full to participants, and any unused services are non-refundable.
** International Airfare
Our estimate is that the economy airfares will be around AU $2800 (including airline taxes and charges).
This tour is being run and led exclusively by Malcolm Fackender of Spotlight on Asia, however all arrangements will be made through Wildlife Safari Consultants.
A deposit is required to secure booking and a cancellation penalty will apply.
All participants are required to take out comprehensive travel insurance as a condition of the tour. The travel insurance should cover you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to Australia. Proof of adequate insurance is required as a condition of the tour. It is also advisable to make relevant arrangements for your insurance to cover your luggage and camera equipment.
If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us for further details.
- Keetmanshoop and the amazing Quivertree forest.
- Kolmanskop, a ghost diamond mining town fighting a constant battle with the sand dunes of the Namib Desert.
- The Sossusvlei, a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes in the heart of the Namib Desert.
- Swakopmund and the Flamingos and water birds of Walvis Bay.
- Spitzkoppe known as the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, a 700 million year old granite mountain rising majestically out of the Namib desert.
- Erindi, an amazing 71,000ha conservation park containing more than 20,000 animals.
Optional extension tour
- Opuwo and the nomadic Himba tribe who rub their bodies with red ochre to protect themselves from the sun.
- Etosha, one of the largest game parks in Africa, and home to a wealth of animals and plants.
- Duration: Namibia tour – 14 days, Opuwo/Etosha extension – 6 days
- Departure date: Thursday 12th July 2018
- Price: Main Tour – Early-bird discounted price of US $7195* to 31 October 2017.
Extension Tour – US $3195*
- There will be a minimum of 4 people and maximum of 12 people on this tour.
- International return airfare is not included in the tour price. Flights departing Sydney are estimated AU $2300 – $2800 per person depending on when purchased.**
- For anyone requiring a single room, there will be an additional surcharge
- The complete tour as per the itinerary
- Meals as specified (B/L/D)
- Experienced Australian Photographic Leader/Tour Leader and local guides where required.
- International Economy Airfares **
- Airport and Airline taxes & charges **
- Travel Insurance
- Any expenses of a personal nature (such as laundry, phone calls, personal tipping etc.)
- Any meals other than those specified
- Any drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
- Optional tours and activities
- Items of a personal nature
- Excess baggage fee
- Tips and gratuities
- Visa fees if required (Australian Passport holders do not require visas)
Images taken from past tours
Download program in PDF format here.
Download e-brochure in PDF format here.
More tour images can be seen here.