Namibia is a land of mesmerizing contrasts, with its arid deserts being among the most captivating natural wonders. The country’s sweeping landscapes, vast open spaces, and dramatic sand dunes make it a photographer’s paradise and an adventurer’s dream. The Namib Desert, one of the oldest and driest deserts in the world, is a prime example of Namibia’s unique beauty. Its towering red dunes, shaped by the relentless winds, stand out in stark contrast against the deep blue sky, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that is truly awe-inspiring.
Visiting Namibia’s deserts is a humbling experience, as one realizes the immense power of nature and the strength of the human spirit. It’s a place where one can disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life and reconnect with the essence of existence. It’s a place of solitude, beauty, and contemplation, where the sand, sun, and sky merge into a sublime symphony of colors and shapes. Namibia’s deserts are truly a wonder of the world, and a testament to the raw beauty of our planet.
After your arrival in Windhoek, Namibia, and a short introduction of your photo guide to the special features of Namibia, the first adventure is not long in coming. After only two hours of driving in north-western direction we find ourselves in the middle of untouched, South African nature.
Welcome to the Erindi Game Reserve – the most biodiverse region north of Windhoek. A breathtaking wilderness awaits you on an area of 70,719 hectares, which is roughly the size of Hamburg. This makes the reserve one of the largest private game reserves in Africa.
We move into the idyllic “Old Traders Lodge”, furnished in elegant safari style, where we not only recover from the long flight over the next two days, but also gradually immerse ourselves in South African culture together.
The luxurious lodge is located in a beautiful, protected nature reserve and is therefore a true paradise to come to rest and at the same time be part of exciting safari experiences. The game reserve is known for implementing numerous conservation projects in the spirit of environmentally friendly tourism, while supporting local communities and hosting the most extensive population of endemic wildlife in the country. According to its own data, the area is home to more than 10,000 large animals. Who knows? You may already be greeted with a loud trumpeting from afar or even up close: The probability is very high.
After we have sufficiently recovered at our lodge, we set out for our first evening wildlife safari. For the next three hours, our expert and trained local guide will drive with us in an open 4×4 vehicle through the impressive bush landscape, reading animal tracks on the ground to safely guide us to Namibian wildlife. Look forward to experiencing the incredible biodiversity of the reserve up close and capturing it photographically.
Not only four of the “Big Five” of African wildlife – elephants, rhinos, lions, and leopards – live in the game reserve, but also more than 130 other mammal species such as giraffes, zebras, hippos, various monkey species, antelopes, wildebeests, hyenas or wild dogs.
After our tour we spend a cozy evening in our lodge, enjoy delicious Namibian food and get in the mood for the next days with soothing sounds (from) nature.
The dawn of the second day signals the beginning of an exhilarating sunrise game drive at the Erindi Game Reserve, where the pristine wilderness wakes to greet the new day. As we embark on this thrilling journey in our open 4×4, the African horizon starts to break into hues of pink and orange, casting a gentle, warming glow on the vast lands. Our trained local guide navigates us through the stirring landscape, now coming to life with the distinctive sounds of the African wilderness.
Afterwards, we will spend the rest of the day talking all things photography as we rest on the deck of the Old Traders Lodge, which overlooks a bustling waterhole, watching the african life unfolding like a living theater.
The knowledge gained can be directly applied in the evening during our third guided game drive. Again we will approach – together with a trained guide – the animals of the reserve with pointed ears and binoculars and photographically stage impressive wildlife scenes from our car.
During dinner we will review the experiences of the first two days and listen to the unique sounds of South African nature until bedtime.
Our day today begins with a delightful breakfast. Afterward, we leave our lodge and embark on a roughly two-hour journey towards Swakopmund, Namibia’s second-largest city with 44,000 inhabitants. This popular coastal town is situated in the west of the country, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the endless expanses of the Namib Desert.
Swakopmund was once a German colony. Hence, German influences are omnipresent in this cozy coastal town: whether in the architecture, the food in the restaurants and beer houses, or the beach promenades. Even the German language is still frequently encountered here. Our first tour takes us to the tiny coastal village of “Walvis Bay,” just 30 kilometers from Swakopmund. It’s known for the seal banks at Pelican Point and its over 5000-year-old lagoon on the southern edge of the town. This tidal area, a bird sanctuary, is home to countless seabirds, flamingos, and pelicans.
We conclude the day with a sunset session with the famous flamingos of Walvis Bay. This area is a haven for birdwatchers and photographers alike, with its vibrant flamingo population adding a splash of color to the landscape. As the sun sets, we’ll capture the flamingos against the backdrop of the golden sky.
On the next day we have our first taste of the massive Namib-Naukluft National Park, as we embark on a unique, guided tour amidst the massive dune landscape of the Namib Desert. Large, sturdy 4×4 vehicles drive us through the sand masses, stopping with us for photo breaks, and eventually take us to “Sandwich Harbor.” We enjoy the unique panoramic view of the meter-high dunes that spill into the Atlantic Ocean. Simultaneously, we capture the interplay of light and shadow in the dunes with our cameras during the spectacular sunset – until the sun slowly disappears behind the Atlantic. Now it’s time to return to our hotel.
After leaving the charm of Swakopmund we head towards the real adventure by crossing the Tropic of Capricorn and heading towards the legendary Namib-Naukluft National Park.
The night will be spent in a cozy resort nested on top of a petrified dune, with stunning views over the landscape and the valley, surrounded by a surreal silence and overwhelmed by countless stars. In addition, all rooms come with the option of sliding the bedroom onto the balcony to fully enjoy the beauty of the Southern night sky.
Another unmissable opportunity for photography from sunset to sunrise.
Our journey through the Namib desert continues as we enter the gate to Sossusvlei, possibly Namia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction.
Arriving at our stunning “Sossus Dune Lodge” in Africa’s largest nature reserve, we anticipate two days of exploring Sossusvlei’s towering dunes and the surreal Deadvlei salt pan with its iconic dead camel thorn trees.
Sossusvlei, located in the Namib-Naukluft Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our lodge’s unique location allows us to enjoy the first and last light of the day, a privilege over other tourists.
After settling into our luxurious tent chalets, we dive into our desert adventure, exploring the Namib Desert, the oldest desert on Earth. This rare fog desert often forms extensive fog fields in the early morning hours due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, a fantastic natural phenomenon that we will incorporate into our photo scenes.
We journey through the desert park on a beautiful panoramic road, watching the glowing dunes of Sossusvlei grow larger on the horizon. In the midst of the vast dune landscape is the “Big Daddy,” a 380-meter high dune.
During our stay in Sossusvlei it’s possible to book an optional exciting helicopter scenic flight* at sunrise or sunset, offering a unique aerial perspective of the impressive sand landscape.
(*) Note: The helicopter flight is optional and can be booked for an additional charge, subject to availability at the time of travel booking.
After a final glance at the Sossusvlei dunes, we embark on a six-hour drive south to the Namibian fishing village of Lüderitz. Nestled on stormy South Atlantic granite rocks, this town of 19,000 inhabitants boasts a rugged, diverse coastline. After the long journey and checking into our elegant “Lüderitz Nest” hotel, we immerse ourselves in the relaxed atmosphere of this dreamy port town. We stroll through the colorful streets and enjoy delicious local food in the evening before returning to our seaside hotel.
Before sunrise, we head to the abandoned and mysterious diamond settlement of Kolmannskuppe, also known as “the ghost town of the desert.” After diamonds were found in the Lüderitz area in 1909, a luxurious small town was built to house the diamond company’s employees and their families. However, when larger diamonds were discovered in the southern part of the region years later, Kolmanskuppe was abandoned in the 1950s.
After a short drive, we arrive in the famous mining town just in time to capture the first light of the day illuminating the small rooms and warming the sand. With a special day-long permit, we explore the enchanted corners of the houses until sunset. The strong winds from the sea have piled up sand within the small accommodations, providing unique opportunities for fascinating image compositions.
The following day, our tour takes us to another Namibian natural phenomenon: the Quiver Tree Forest, a protected national monument located northeast of Keetmanshoop. We have approximately a three-and-a-half-hour drive ahead of us before we arrive at our accommodation, the “Quivertree Forest Rest Camp”. After an extended lunch break, we set off on our joint tour into the unique Quiver Tree Forest, with a brief detour to the adjacent “Giant’s Playground” – a small area with numerous rock formations.
Interestingly, the Quiver Tree is not a tree but a species of aloe plant that grows about five to eight meters high. They can survive particularly well in Namibia’s extreme conditions because they can store a lot of water in their fibrous trunks and branches. This is also where their name comes from: the branches are easy to hollow out and were used by the locals as so-called quivers (long storage bags) for their arrows. Usually solitary, they have sought the immediate vicinity of about 250 to 300 other Quiver Trees at this location: a very special phenomenon worldwide. Some specimens are already over 200 years old.
Even in daylight, the Quiver Trees offer an extraordinary sight. However, as the glowing sun gradually sets, the forest transforms into a magical place with indescribable charm, with the trees illuminated in red-orange. We will collectively use this changing light mood, which offers us new perspectives on the photogenic Quiver Trees almost every minute, for our shots. As a grand finale, thanks to a special permit, we get to enjoy photographing the forest against the backdrop of the dark night or starry sky and the impressive Milky Way: an unparalleled natural spectacle. After this unforgettable night, we drive back to the nearby camp and catch up on our well-deserved sleep.
After many eventful days amidst Namibia’s impressive desert nature, we now commence our return journey to Windhoek. The approximately five-hour drive runs along the western border of the seemingly endless Kalahari Desert. As we gradually approach the country’s capital, we have ample time to reflect on the highlights of the trip and mentally prepare to transition from the days-long silence and tranquility of the Namibian desert back to city life. Upon arrival at our accommodation, there’s an opportunity to edit our photos within the group one last time before we recover from the long drive and look forward to our final communal dinner in Africa.
We transfer to the airport in time to catch the international flights back home.
As the journey comes to a close, memories of the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises, star-filled night skies, will stay with us long after we have left this incredible land.
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