Day 1 – Windhoek (L, D)
After arriving in Namibia you 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 => Erindi (B, L, D)
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 3 – Erindi (B, L, D)
This morning and this afternoon we will be undertaking game-viewing excursions in the Erindi reserve. During the middle of the day, you’ll have some free time to relax on the viewing deck and watch the wildlife come to the waterhole to drink.
Day 4 – Erindi => Spitzkoppe (B, L, D)
This morning we have an opportunity to undertake one last game drive before commencing our leisurely drive south-west to Spitzkoppe. This is where a group of bald granite peaks or bornhardts majestically rise out of the Namib Desert.
Mid to late afternoon we’ll take some time to explore the beautiful rock formations, as well as select suitable locations to watch and photograph the sunset.
Day 5 – Spitzkoppe => Swakopmund (B, L, D)
This morning we rise early for a sunrise shoot at Spitzkoppe as the first rays of sunlight hit the rocks. Mid-morning we commence our 3-hour journey south-west to the coastal town of Swakopmund.
Swakopmund was of major importance as a harbour during the German colonial era, 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 went 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.
Late afternoon light will provide a great backdrop for some shooting around the jetty area.
Day 6 – Swakopmund (B, L, D)
Today we depart early with a packed breakfast for Walvis Bay where we seek out and photograph Great and Lesser Flamingos. We then enjoy a relaxing boat cruise around Walvis Bay, providing us with 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.
After lunch, we make our way back to Swakopmund where will have a short break before heading 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 trip we will also see the “moon landscape”, which is can be quite spectacular in the late afternoon light.
Day 7 – Swakopmund => Sossusvlei (B, L, D)
This morning we depart Swakopmund early and return to Walvis Bay to photograph the beautiful Flamingos in the early morning light before the wind picks up. Afterwards, we commence our journey south-east through vast desert areas to the spectacular dunes of the Sossusvlei. On the way, we witness a very different type of dessert 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 be interspersed with numerous photo stops.
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,
The Sossusvlei is Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert. It is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the spectacular hills of sand are 300 metres high. 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.
While there, we will have the option to walk through the dunes to “Dead Vlei”. This 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 8 – Sossusvlei (B, L, D)
This morning we rise early to undertake a guided 4WD tour to the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei, arriving before sunrise and well before the tourists arrive. After sunrise we walk into the “Dead Vlei”, one of the most famous 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.
Most of the visitors will have left the park by around 5:30 pm. Taking into account when you have to be back for dinner, you can stay out after sunset and try some night shots.
Day 9 – 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.
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.
We will venture out again in the afternoon to photograph the sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
Day 10 – Sossusvlei => Luderitz (B, L, D)
Today we depart the Sossusvlei and travel through the amazing landscape on our way south-west to Luderitz. 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.
Luderitz was established in 1883 as a remote German outpost and 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. We will arrive late afternoon in time for photographing the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 11 – 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 9.30 am guided tour which will help familiarise us with the area. However, as this is a hot and dry place we may 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, this is the place to do it.
Day 12 – Luderitz => Keetmanshoop (B, L, D)
This morning we will explore and photograph the town of Luderitz before commencing our four-hour drive east to Keetmanshoop. For the next two nights, we will be staying at Quivertree Restcamp which is conveniently located near an amazing Quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) forest, as well as the Giant’s Playground.
Late afternoon we will photograph sunset amongst the Quiver trees and then return again later in the night to do astrophotography.
Day 13 – Keetmanshoop (B, L, D)
This morning we have an early shoot to capture the sunrise at the Quiver tree forest. During the middle of the day, we will have time to relax and/or discuss 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.
In the afternoon we enjoy another sunset shoot at the Quiver tree forest, and after dinner, we will travel a short distance to the Giant’s Playground for another night of astrophotography.
Day 14 – Keetmanshoop => Windhoek => End of Tour (B, L, D)
On our final morning of the main tour, we’ll enjoy a morning walk and photoshoot with the resident cheetahs.
After breakfast, we depart for Windhoek arriving in time to enjoy our farewell dinner together.
Day 15 – Optional Extension – Windhoek => Opuwo (B, L, D)
For those choosing to do the extension tour, we have a long drive north today, so we will be departing as early as possible. 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.
Day 16 & 17 – 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.
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 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 18 – Opuwo => Etosha (B, L, D)
This morning we will depart fairly early for Etosha National Park. This is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important game reserves. Etosha game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covers 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 1,000 million years ago.
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 19 – 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 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’ll return to explore 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 20 – 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 the eastern end of the park where we will try and seek out the elusive cheetah.
Day 21 – Etosha => Windhoek (B, L, D)
This morning we rise early and head out looking for cheetahs. After breakfast, we depart for Windhoek.
Day 22 – End of Extension Tour (B)
Unfortunately, our journey together has come to an end. This morning we rise early for our transfer to the airport.