Fly-in Photography: Best of Skeleton Coast & Namib Desert

Route: Sossusvlei – Skeleton Coast
Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Group Size: Small groups of 1 to 6 pax

Day 1: Sossusvlei

Day Itinerary

Welcome to beautiful Namibia!

Upon clearing customs, you will be met by a representative of Wilderness Air who will take you to their guest lounge. Here you will have the opportunity to repack your luggage into soft bags and relax until time of departure. 

Your chartered flight will depart the capital and take you to the South of the country. 

Located in the scenic Namib-Naukluft National Park, Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red dunes to make this one of the most scenic natural wonders of Africa and a photographer’s heaven. This awe-inspiring destination is possibly Namibia’s premier attraction, with its unique dunes rising to almost 400 metres-some of the highest in the world. These iconic dunes come alive in morning and evening light and draw photography enthusiasts from around the globe. Sossusvlei is home to a variety desert wildlife including oryx, springbok, ostrich and a variety of reptiles. Visitors can climb ‘Big Daddy’, one of Sossusvlei’s tallest dunes; explore Deadvlei, a white, salt, claypan dotted with ancient trees; or for the more extravagant, scenic flights and hot air ballooning are on offer, followed by a once-in-a-lifetime champagne breakfast amidst these majestic dunes.

Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg (44 lb) per person travelling on chartered flights.  Only soft bags will be accepted – no frames or rigid structures can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft. Wheels on a bag are only permissible if they are not part of a solid frame or rigid structure. A collapsible wheeled luggage frame/trolley (separate to the bag) is allowed, as long as the basic dimensions are similar to that of the bag.  The maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 25 cm (10 inches) wide x 30 cm (12 inches) high and 62 cm (24 inches) long. Should your guest require a bag, we do have a supply of soft canvas carry-all bags at a reasonable cost. These bags are ideal for use on light aircraft and are the correct dimensions. Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are only 25 cm high (10 inches), so the pilots must have the ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment.

After landing you will be transferred to your Lodge where you will have the opportunity to relax for the remainder of the day. 

Day 2: Sossusvlei

Day Itinerary

The early bird gets the worm and, in your case, the best light! 

You will depart for Sossusvlei for some sunrise photography opportunities.  Waiting for the sun to rise over Deadvlei, watch as the dunes transform from indiscriminate mounds of sand to chiselled ribbons of flushed red and dancing shadows. If your feeling energetic visiting the likes of Dune 45, Big Daddy and Elim Dune.

Escape the heat and awaiting crowds by returning to the Lodge for lunch. 

Due to the extreme afternoon temperatures, Deadvlei is usually empty in the afternoons, so if you want to experience this place at its best (alone and silent) then brave the heat and visit in the afternoon. 

You will also be permitted to stay within the park until just after sunset if sunset photography is on your to-do list. 

Choosing the right month of the year to visit Sossusvlei is of utmost importance. Deadvlei is often crowded during peak season from May to August and one hardly experiences the complete silence and emptiness it has to offer.  Temperatures could reach some 45 degrees during November to February so if your sensitive to heat, best to avoid these months too.  During March and April tourism is still relatively low and after a good rain season there may still be some greenery among the dunes.

The best time to photograph the dunes is early morning and late afternoon, this is when the dunes cast shadows and images do not look flat as they do in the middle of the day with less shadows, the colour of the sand is richer and the heat haze reflecting off the earth’s surface do not affect your images.

Day 3: Sossusvlei

Day Itinerary

This morning we return to Deadvlei as there are so many different shots to be taken and it takes a while to understand how the play of light and weather works in this special location. 

For a different experience, join a Hot Air Ballooning Safari for a morning in the skies with endless views, or an afternoon scenic Helicopter flight. 

Optional
Namib Sky Balloon Safaris

Situated in the heart of the Namib Naukluft Park, Sossusvlei, one of the most fascinating landscapes in Namibia, is a photographer’s dream. Gigantic orange dunes, dramatic shadows, undulating plains and rocky mountains create a magical kaleidoscope of colours and shapes.

To the east, Namib Rand Nature Reserve vast sandy plains are surrounded by towering granite mountains and rolling dunes.

Here, in the oldest desert on the planet, amazingly adapted animals and plants come together to form one of the most visually stunning ecosystems in the world. And truly the best way to experience the heart of the Namib desert is with a hot air balloon safari.

Watching the spectacular sunrise over this magnificent landscape from a silent hot air balloon is the experience of a lifetime, never to be forgotten.

At landing, you come back to earth with an “Out of Africa” style Champagne breakfast set up in the middle of nowhere.

Your pilot will present you with a flight certificate before you take a leisurely nature drive back to the pick-up point.

Sossusvlei Helicopter Flights

Guests at Sossusvlei have the unique opportunity to discover the majesty of the Namib Desert from a magnificent bird’s eye view via helicopter. The lodge offers a range of adventurous and scenic flights over the breath-taking grass plains to the towering dunes of Sossusvlei and the hidden mysteries of Deadvlei as well as amazing views of the wildlife that roam the vast desert landscape.

Day 4: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast            

Day Itinerary

After breakfast, you will check out of the Lodge and then be transferred back to the Geluk airstrip. 

Here you will depart via a chartered flight to the Skeleton Coast via Swakopmund over the Namib Desert and coastal shoreline and over Damaraland to Doro Nawas.  In a remote area of the Kaokoveld, with gravel-strewn plains and dry riverbeds that draw fascinating wildlife, lies Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

Be sure to keep your camera handy on this flight and capture some fantastic aerial photography of the Namib Desert, the Brandberg and several shipwrecks. 

Stretching from the Swakop River to southern Angola, the Skeleton Coast is known as the ‘Land God Made in Anger’ and is remoteness at its best. Thousands of miles of sandy desert dotted with shipwrecks meet with the cold waters of the Atlantic and somehow an amazing array of wildlife and flora manages to survive in this harsh but beautiful environment. Ocean fog creeps over the shoreline caused by the warm dry air of the Namib Desert colliding with the cold Benguela current. This otherworldly area is home to a diversity of wildlife including seabird colonies, Cape fur seals, zebra, gemsbok, desert-adapted elephant, lion and much more. Surfing enthusiasts are drawn to these powerful waves and photographers flock from around the globe to snap a shot of this eerie shipwreck graveyard and for the unrivalled maritime photographic opportunities. This coast is desolate but breathtakingly beautiful.

Day 5: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

Day Itinerary

Hoanib Skeleton Coast’s location – close to the Skeleton Coast and within the true Namib Desert – is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, boasting the Kaokoveld’s best viewing of desert-adapted wildlife and access to vast, remote and isolated wilderness. Almost miraculously it seems, in this stark environment, enormous elephant thrive along with giraffe, lion and brown hyaena. Gemsbok (oryx), springbok, steenbok, scrub hare, and inquisitive ground squirrel are also seen. Entirely different to the rugged mountains and valleys inland, the Skeleton Coast hosts Cape fur seals in their thousands along with black-backed jackals and brown hyaena. Birds are equally diverse, with regular endemics like Rüppell’s korhaan, Benguela long-billed lark and lark-like bunting. Towards the coast, the bird community changes and Tractrac chat can be seen, as well as jaegers and skuas found around the seal colonies.

Nature drives showcase the magnitude of the landscape and offer the best possibilities of seeing desert-adapted wildlife. Morning or afternoon drives are available, as well as full-day excursions.

Day 6: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

Day Itinerary

Further day trips include a visit to desert oases. These oases offer an inviting respite from the dry surrounds of the desert and the chance to see wildlife coming to drink, as well as plenty of birdlife. These full-day trips are undertaken in our semi-closed game drive vehicles, with a stop for a picnic at a scenic spot along the way.

Nature walks from camp take in the magnificent surrounds as well as offer a glimpse at vestiges of the Strandloper (Beachcomber) lifestyle from hundreds of years ago. It is also a good opportunity to study the smaller creatures and the fascinating plant life of the concession. 

Day 7: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast  

Day Itinerary

On a stay of three or more nights, full-day excursions to the Skeleton Coast are offered. The fascinating 4×4 trip to the coast takes you via the wilderness of the Hoanib River and floodplain, the dune fields and Klein Oasis, while the Skeleton Coast itself reveals huge Cape fur seal colonies and shipwreck remains. Weather-dependent, a scenic flight back to camp offers a magnificent perspective of your journey from the air.

Day 8: End of Itinerary

Day Itinerary

After breakfast, you will depart camp via chartered flight back to the capital of Windhoek via Doro Nawas. 

Once back at Hosea Kutako International Airport you will have the opportunity to visit the Wilderness Airport Lounge again before checking in on your return international flight back home.