I first visited the great continent of Africa in 2003 when I received a consignment to photograph a new lodge for their website and brochure. Little did I know that I would be returning year after year for various volunteering projects and tours. I’ve even spent 6 months teaching photography in South Africa, where I awoke every morning filled with excitement about what the day would hold. You see Africa gets under your skin, seeps into your soul, and one trip is never enough.
Just imagine wrapping your hands around a mug of piping hot coffee at dawn whilst sitting on blankets placed upon the desert’s soft sand. The colours of the landscape change by the minute as the sun rises over the mountains and glides effortlessly across the land. There is absolute silence all around, with one exception………..click……click. The sound of memories being captured by your fellow travellers.
This was just one of the many magical ‘never to be forgotten’ experiences I had when visiting Namibia to photograph some of the most breathtaking and unique locations in the world. Namibia is rugged, sparsely populated and contains unrivalled sights to excite the keen photographer. I’d love others to see it like I do, feel it like I do, and be as passionate about it as I am, so I’ve put together another extensive plan for an unforgettable journey. A tour through the heart of Namibia that includes some of the best locations and most amazing photographic experiences. In a nutshell, it’s a photographer’s dream. The hard work has been done and if you’d like to experience this for yourself all you have to do is book your place, your airplane tickets and two weeks off work next September 🙂 “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff” ~ Jim Richardson.
Here are the details.
Will this be a photography workshop or a tour? The answer to that is – ‘whichever you want it to be’. If you are an experienced photographer and are simply looking for an organised photography tour without unwanted suggestions from me on how to take a photo that’s absolutely fine. On the other hand, if you don’t understand how to use those settings on your camera, or are lacking in confidence, I’ll be with you every step of the way to teach and continually guide you. Because I’ve photographed all the locations on our tour before, I will have no problem ‘sacrificing’ my own shots to help you obtain the best you possibly can. At some of the lodges we have ‘free’ time, and for those that want it, we can have some sessions devoted to learning how to enhance your shots with easy editing processes. “Learning expands great souls” ~ Namibian proverb.
What will the accommodation be like? I have provisionally booked all the accommodation and 6 of our nights will be as below.
What’s the best season in Namibia? September is considered one of the best months to travel to Namibia. There are often no clouds and the humidity is low. I travelled in May when I recce’d this tour, but September is better for wildlife viewing. There is less vegetation which means that wildlife congregates around rivers and waterholes, making animals easier to spot.
Day 1: The Namibian adventure begins. “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”
We will arrive at varying times today depending on flights. We’ll all stay at a convenient location in Windhoek and we will spend the first evening getting to know each other over a meal and a drink or two.
Day 2: Setting off to see trees that are only found in Africa.
An early start as we check out straight after breakfast and go to collect our vehicles. We will then journey south, which will be your first eye-opener to just how different Namibia is. The roads are long, straight, and with very little traffic.
Our first destination will be the Quiver Tree Forest.
With their unusual bark and unique shape, these trees make great photographic subjects. We’ll arrive in time to capture them in the best light – the golden hour. We will be staying right next to the forest, and after dinner at the lodge we will turn in for an early night. The next morning, those who want to can get up early to return to the forest to photograph them again with the starry skies above. As dawn breaks and the sun rises, the light changes rapidly and the trees glow with yet more colours.
Day 3: Explore a Ghost Town.
Immediately after breakfast we leave for our next destination. The incredible abandoned town of Kolmanskop. This small former diamond mining town hasn’t been inhabited for many years, and the desert sands are slowly but surely reclaiming it. The sand swirls into the buildings through broken and missing windows and doors, and we will obtain special permits to stay on and photograph there after it is closed to the public at lunchtime. I experienced the haunting beauty of this ghost town with just four other people, and defy any photographer not to get excited about the prospect of visiting here.
On our way to our overnight accommodation we may be lucky enough to see the wild horses that roam freely. They are remarkably unafraid of humans and inquisitive enough to come up close.
Days 4 – 5: The Drama of the Desert.
On day 4 we have a leisurely start as we don’t have much driving today. We will be staying for two nights at an exclusive desert retreat that has just 8 luxury en-suite guest tents and is situated on 33,000 hectares of unspoilt nature. When night falls, the Milky Way and billions of stars draw the eyes and camera lenses skywards. Contrasting landscapes are never-ending, with rippled sand dunes glowing in the magical light of sunrise and sunset.
On day 5 we will get up early to watch the sun rise over the desert, and later on we’ll enjoy the very popular Cheetah feeding experience. This is a wonderful opportunity to photograph these beautiful animals up close in their natural habitat of the unique Namib Desert.
The day will be topped off with a sundowners drive where I previously experienced the most vivid orange sky that I’ve ever seen.
Day 6: Towering sand dunes.
After a couple of relaxed days it’s time to move on again and head for our next beautiful lodge which is inside the Namib Naukluft Park.
Staying here means that we benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise and stay until after sunset, thus avoiding all the crowds. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are one of a kind landscapes, and we will have our first experience of them this afternoon.
We will turn in for an early night as we will be up before dawn the next morning.
Day 7: Like nowhere else on earth.
This morning’s photography will leave you buzzing. We will leave around 5.00 a.m. and get to Deadvlei an hour before virtually anyone else.
With luck we will have this magical place almost to ourselves and I can guarantee that hundreds of shots will be taken! What draws us here are 50 or so ghostly trees rising from a cracked white clay surface in an area that is completely surrounded by high sand dunes.
Once the crowds start arriving we will leave and return to the lodge to check out. Sesriem Canyon is then only minutes away. The Tsauchab River has shaped the Canyon over millions of years and there is an easy route down into the canyon where we can take a short walk before getting on the road again. Our drive today will take several hours, and it will be nicely broken up with a stop in the middle of nowhere that has a well deserved reputation for the ‘best apple pie’ in Namibia! This place certainly has character. Deteriorating vintage American cars are strategically placed around the area as if they are part of a desert film set. The real reason for stopping though is to buy huge portions of delicious apple pie. If you join me I’ll tell you the story behind it!
Our destination for the night is right on the coast and fingers crossed we’ll see another magnificent sunset, but this time the sun will be dropping right into the ocean.
Day 8: Sea and Sand.
The day starts with a marine cruise where we go in search of the marine Big 5: whales, dolphins, mola, leatherback turtle and seals. Later on we will transfer to 4X4s for an afternoon trip out to the dunes to enjoy the breathtaking views of the desert on one side and the ocean on the other. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop for photography and we will pass the areas where the flamingos gather. Lunch and drinks are served on this trip which include fresh oysters with sparkling wine, savoury snacks and desserts.
Day 9: Boulders and Stars.
Today’s journey will only take a couple of hours, so we have a relaxed morning. After an early lunch we will continue our journey to our next lodge. The lodge, bedrooms, customer service and attention to detail wowed me the last time I was here and whilst not on the normal tourist route it was a stop well worth it. Not only does it break up what otherwise would be a very long journey to our next destination, it’s here that we get to photograph an amazing huge rock arch, see ancient bushman paintings, and with some of the lowest light pollution in the world, we should see thousands of stars. If conditions are right we will spend some time photographing them whilst listening to the unforgettable sounds of the African night.
Days 10-12: Wildlife.
On day 10, we continue northwards for the ‘safari’ part of our tour. Etosha National park ranks as one of the world’s greatest wildlife viewing destinations. We will have two early morning guided drives in open sided vehicles, and are also able to drive our own cars in the park during the day if we wish. Where we will stay however has a large floodlit waterhole which receives a regular stream of wildlife, and for those of us who have had enough of being in a car it’s possible to just sit and wait for the animals to come to us. On our second night here we will stay in the premier waterhole lodges, which are situated right next to it.
Day 13: Our final destination.
Time to journey back to Windhoek today. We will drop off our cars and transfer to our final lodge. Located only thirty minutes from Hosea Kutako International Airport amongst camel thorn trees, riverbeds, and a stone canyon, this beautiful lodge is perfectly situated to finish our trip. Depending on what time we arrive we may have time to take an optional afternoon carnivore feeding tour and we will all enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Day 14: Return to reality.
Time to say goodbye. Transfers can be arranged from the lodge to the airport at times to suit. Will you join me on this Namibia photography tour? For essential information and to make your booking, click here.
P.S. I warned you at the beginning of this post that Africa gets under your skin. Here is a poem that reaches out to me, grabs me, and makes me want to journey back there – now!
Learn more about joining me on my next Namibian adventure here →.