May 23: Arrive Namibia


After landing at Windhoek’s International Hosea Kutako Airport, we will be transferred to Galton House guesthouse to meet the rest of the group and enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight Galton House. Dinner.


Galton House

Galton House is Windhoek’s newest accommodation establishment. Named after the famous explorer Sir Francis Galton, it has a relaxed but efficient style which creates a very welcoming atmosphere. A mere ten minute drive from the center of town and perched on the edge of Windhoek’s northernmost affluent suburb of Eros, guests staying here will be ensured of peace and tranquility. The communal areas consist of a large lounge, dining room, swimming pool and garden. There is also a delightful ‘al fresco’ dining area by the pool, serving freshly prepared and very tasty meals. There are also a number shops, restaurants and supermarkets within easy striking distance.

May 24, 25 & 26: Ongava Game Reserve, Etosha National Park


This morning we will depart Windhoek to the southern boundary of Etosha National Park. Andersson’s Camp is situated overlooking an amazing waterhole – you’ll be able to sit in a comfortable chair, in the shade, while photographing animals coming for a drink. The camp has also built a “hide” next to the waterhole, accessed through a tunnel which will give us very close access to animals and another direction of light. This setup is a great opportunity for everyone to fine tune their animal photography skills and approaches before we head out on game drives – and a great place to capture outstanding images.

Diane and Bob will work with our group’s guides to coordinate between game drives in Etosha National Park and time spent honing skills at Andersson’s waterhole. Etosha is a huge park where the government has created a number of waterholes to support wildlife. We will enter Etosha both days, exploring different waterholes and areas of the park, and stopping for lunch at one of the rest camps inside the park.

Etosha National Park covers 22,270 km², of which approximately 5,000 km² 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 4,760 km² in extent. It is nowadays filled with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north in Angola, inducing floods to flow southward along the Cuvelai drainage system.

The Park consists of grassland, woodland and savannah. The waterholes tend to concentrate wildlife, bring a number of species together (often uneasily) as they seek to drink and bathe! 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.

Three nights Andersson’s Camp. All meals.


Andersson’s Camp

Set against a backdrop of the low Ondundozonanandana Mountains, Andersson's Camp is located within the private Ongava Game Reserve which borders onto Etosha National Park. The Ongava Game Reserve is typified by white calcrete soils, rocky outcrops and scrub-covered plains which support a rich variety of game such as giraffe, lion, rhino and various antelope species. The Camp overlooks a waterhole where guests can enjoy the interaction of wildlife coming and going throughout the day and night. The design and construction of Andersson’s Camp was guided primarily by the principles of environmental sustainability – reduce, reuse, recycle. The old farmhouse now forms the main dining, bar and swimming pool area of Andersson's Camp, with the tents radiating outwards into the secluded Mopane woodlands typical of the region. Each tent has been constructed using a clever mix of calcrete stone cladding, canvas and wood, with double-door entrances and a small verandah that is an extension of the elevated wooden decks on which the tents are raised. The open air en suite bathrooms continue the unique design.

May 27: Etosha National Park to Damaraland


Time for a change of scenery and a change of focus! We depart for Damaraland where we’ll find Mowani Mountain Camp perched atop a high hill, with rooms nestled among weathered boulders. From this base, we’ll explore the dramatic weathered igneous geography of Damaraland, creating amazing landscape images. We’ll go out in quest of elusive desert elephants which concentrate along old washes adorned with camel thorn trees. We’ll find and create artful compositions of petroglyphs left by hunters and gatherers thousands of years ago. And we’ll “work” the night sky with our cameras – creating images that place dramatic boulders and weathered snags in juxtaposition with the milky way!

This afternoon, after moving into our new lodgings, we’ll explore Damaraland in search of dramatic compositions and strong afternoon light. We’ll find stark white barked trees set against weathered rock formations and wide open skies. We’ll return to the camp in time to create sweeping panoramas as evening colors top layers of distant rock formations. After dinner we’ll have our first opportunity to work on dramatic night sky images. We’ll learn to control light from off camera flashes to subtly light weathered boulders or craggy snags against the milky way!

Overnight Mowani Mountain Camp. All meals.


Mowani Mountain Camp

Mowani Mountain Camp is ideally located a short drive from the local attractions in the Damaraland area. The Camp is nestled amongst giant granite boulders, overlooking the ephemeral Aba Huab riverbed where desert adapted elephants often traverse. The thatch dome-shape structures echo the shape of the rough textured granite boulders amongst which they are built, a theme complemented by African wood carvings and artifacts. Mowani’s main complex consists of a reception area, bar, spacious alfresco dining room and lounge overlooking a waterhole with an inviting fireplace nearby to relax beside in the evenings. A refreshing swimming pool and fantastic sundowner viewpoint with its own bar also complement the Camp. Guests are accommodated in luxury East African style en suite safari tents built on raised wooden platforms, each with a private verandah and splendid views over the Aba Huab valley.

May 28: Desert Elephants & Petroglyphs, Damaraland


Today we explore the remarkable natural beauty of Damaraland, seek the elusive desert elephants, and create images among ancient rock art. We’ll start the morning with an off-road search for desert elephants. We’ll work our way through a series of scenic dry washes, looking for fresh tracks, droppings, and bushes mangled by feeding elephants. This is a fun adventure as our quest will require the four-wheel driving skills of our guides to navigate deep sand and steep embankments as we follow the signs to where the elephants are feeding today!

This afternoon we’ll set out to read the messages sent over thousands of years by hunters and gatherers who once sought game in these same hills and valleys! Strewn over a hillside at Twyfelfontein in the southern Kaokoveld, boulders and slabs of red sandstone hold some 2 500 prehistoric engravings that depict wildlife, animal spoor and abstract motifs. It is perhaps the largest and finest collection of petroglyphs in Africa. The engravings show animals such as elephant, giraffe, kudu, lion, rhinoceros, springbok, zebra and ostrich that once used to drink from a fountain at the bottom of the hill. In some cases footprints were engraved instead of hooves or paws. The abstract motifs feature mainly circles. Stone tools and other artifacts found at Twyfelfontein suggest that hunter- gatherers occupied the site over a period of perhaps 7,000 years. Twyfelfontein is a national monument and was recently named a World Heritage Site.

Overnight Mowani Mountain Camp. All meals.


May 29: Himba, Damaraland


After an early breakfast we make our way along a winding and scenic route to a local Himba settlement near the Grootberg Pass. We will learn about the customs and traditions of this very proud nation, and will be given insight into their beliefs, way of life and everyday routine.

Our guides will interface the Himba, on our behalf, as set out parameters for photography. The Himba will be wearing traditional garb (our visit will not be scheduled in advance with them) and going about daily activities when we arrive. We’ll be challenged to create photographs as they move in and out of shade and intense sun – and often sit in dappled light (an opportunity to improve skills). Our goal will be to work through the technical challenges to capture the beauty and dignity of a people who have not embraced modern technology, western dress, or global notions of how to look and act.

The Himba, Tjimba and other Herero people who inhabit Namibia’s remote north-western Kunene Region are loosely referred to as the Kaokovelders. Basically Herero in terms of origin, language and culture, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists who tend to tend from one watering place to another. For many centuries they have lived a relatively isolated existence and were not involved to any noteworthy extent in the long struggle for pasturelands between the Nama and the Herero. The largest group of Kaokovelders is the Himba, semi-nomads who live in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region.

They are a tall, slender and statuesque people, characterized especially by their proud yet friendly bearing. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba of Kaokoland are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. The men build the structures, while the women mix the clay and do the plastering. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night, to keep away insects and provide light and heating. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle. Men, women and children wear body adornments made from iron and shell beads.

A Himba woman spends as much as three hours a day on her toilette. First she bathes, then she anoints herself with her own individually prepared mixture which not only protects her skin from the harsh desert sun, but also keeps insects away and prevents her body hair from falling out. She uses another mixture of butter fat, fresh herbs and black coals to rub on her hair, and ‘steams’ her clothes regularly over the permanent fire. Men, women and children adorn themselves with necklaces, bracelets, anklets and belts made from iron and shell beads.

Overnight Mowani Mountain Camp. All meals.


May 30, 31 & June 1: AfriCat Foundation


This morning after breakfast, we’ll change camps and focus once again, making our way to Okonjima and AfriCat, located at the base of the Omboroko Mountains near Waterberg, arriving at our camp in time for lunch.

For the next three days Bob and Diane will work with the Africat guide(s) to arrange a mix of activities including extensive drives in search of radio-collared leopards and cheetahs, visits to hides where we can photograph uncollared leopards, cheetahs, and lions relatively close up, to night drives to find animals and photograph landscapes and night skies.

Okonjima is home to the AfriCat Foundation, a wildlife sanctuary founded in 1991 that is dedicated to creating conservation awareness, preserving habitat, promoting environmental educational research and supporting animal welfare. Their main focus is Africa's big cats, especially injured or captured leopard and cheetah. AfriCat runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world. In the last 17 years over 1 000 of these predators have been rescued with over 85 % being released back into the wild. Close encounters with leopard and cheetah are an unforgettable highlight.
Three nights Okonjima Main Camp. All meals.


Okonjima Main Camp

Okonjima Main Camp was the original Hanssen family farmhouse, reconstructed as a lodge in 1993 and renovated in 2008. The farmstead layout includes a reception, dining lapa, bar, large outdoor boma and entertainment area with open fire, a peaceful garden and a refreshing swimming pool. The ‘view rooms’ lie a short walk from the main boma and lapa area, affording guests a magnificent view of the surrounding bush-veldt and the Omboroko Mountains. Each view room (just completed in June of 2014) is equipped with a mini-fridge for your own drinks, tea/coffee station, safe, telephone, roof fan, spacious en suite bathroom with twin basins and a large shower, and a balcony to relax and soak up the peaceful setting.

June 2: Windhoek to Sossusvlei


Today we have a big commute as we reposition from Africats north of Windhoek to the Namib Desert south and west of Windhoek! It’s an early start this morning as we depart Okonjima to drive to Sossusvlei via Windhoek. We will travel southwest through the scenic Khomas Hochland highlands before heading down the Great Escarpment into the Namib Desert below. Today will be a long day but we will stop en route as well as a stop for lunch in Windhoek. Arrive at Sossus Dune Lodge in the early evening and overnight. All meals.


Sossus Dune Lodge

Situated within the Namib Naukluft National Park and close to the Sesriem Canyon, this lodge provides sweeping vistas of the dunes to the west and guests benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise, or to stay until after sunset. Chalets are interlinked by elevated wooden walkways, and consist of 23 well-spaced en suite desert chalets, equipped with tea stations and small fridges. All rooms offer magnificent open vistas of the surrounding landscapes.

June 3 & 4: Sossusvlei & Namib Desert


Today we have a full day of photography in the dunes with an early morning excursion. Since our camp is already inside the park, we can get into Sossusvlei before everyone else and we’ll see the sun rise and 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. Our guides will give you an insight on the formation of the Namib Desert and its myriad of fascinating creatures and plants that have adapted to survive these harsh environs. The most frequently visited section of the massive 50,000 km² Namib Naukluft National Park has become known as Sossusvlei, famous for its towering apricot colored sand dunes which can be penetrated by following the Tsauchab River valley. Sossusvlei itself is actually a clay pan set amidst these star shaped dunes which stand up to 300 meters 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 55 km 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. 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 1 km 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. Once you have explored to your heart’s content you can enjoy a relaxing picnic breakfast under the shade of a camel thorn tree. We’ll return to Sossus Dune Lodge in the early afternoon for a late lunch. We’ll head out again mid-afternoon to seek more photographic opportunities combining dramatic light, towering dunes, gnarled trees, and perhaps even a small canyon!

On June 4, we rise before dawn for a remarkable hot air balloon flight over the dunes. The balloon rises as the sun rises. The first light hour of the day is known to be the most spectacular, especially in the desert with the rich contrast of color and shape on the towering sand dunes of the Sossusvlei Area, on the vast desert plains and surrounding mountain ranges. The flight itself takes about one hour and ends with an exclusive champagne breakfast at the landing spot in the midst of nature. Return to the lodge on a nature drive and after lunch we may elect to return to the dunes in the afternoon to capture more images in this truly amazing scenery.

Two nights Sossus Dune Lodge. All meals.


June 5: Windhoek


We have one more early morning outing, seeking the first rays of light spilling dramatically across the dunes surrounding Sossusvlei. Then we’ll return to our rooms to pack up and begin our journey back to Windhoek. Our last night is back at Galton House. All meals.


June 6: Depart Africa


We will be transferred to the Windhoek Airport to meet our departing flights home. Breakfast.


Rates - 2016
Dates Per Person Double Single Supplement
May 23-June 6: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received before May 23, 2015 $13,430.00 $1,070.00
May 23-June 6: Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received on or after May 23, 2015 $13,900.00 $1,070.00
Wildlife and nature photos copyright to Diane Kelsay and Bob Harvey and may not be used without written authorization by the photographers.
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