Fly-in Photography: Best of Namib Desert

Route: Sossusvlei – Swakopmund – Skeleton Coast – Palmwag
Duration: 11 Days / 10 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 of 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 the 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 fewer 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 Lodge Helicopter Flights

Guests at Sossusvlei Lodge 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: Swakopmund      

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 chartered flight over the Namib Desert to the coastal town of Swakopmund.  Nestled between the Namib dunes and the Atlantic ocean lies this small German town.  Whether you’re looking to photograph old colonial buildings or simply experience a variety of cultures and tickle your taste buds with some of the best seafood Africa has to offer, Swakopmund will be sure to deliver. 

Set along Namibia’s spectacularly scenic coast, the seaside town of Swakopmund is known for its wide-open avenues, colonial architecture, and its surrounding otherworldly desert terrain. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, Swakopmund is often described as being more German than Germany. Now a seaside resort town, Swakopmund is the capital of the Skeleton Coast tourism area and has plenty to keep visitors happy. The quirky mix of German and Namibian influences, adventure options, laid-back atmosphere and cool sea breeze make it a very popular Namibian destination. Visitors can look forward to a number of exciting activities including quad biking, horse riding, paragliding, fishing, sightseeing and fascinating desert tours.

Day 5: Swakopmund      

Day Itinerary

Swakopmund caters for all sorts of adventures. 

We recommend joining our team of specialized guides for an Eco Dune Tour better known as “Living Desert” tour for some macro photography and the opportunity to photograph desert-adapted wildlife up close and personal.

Alternatively, enjoy a morning boat cruise to photograph some marine wildlife with some local oysters and champagne and join our team in the evening for a Night Walk.

Recommended

Morning Catamaran Charters
Afternoon Batis Birding Safaris Eco Dune Tour
Evening Batis Birding Safaris Night Walk
Catamaran Charters

The Catamaran Charters Team invites you aboard the 45ft Royal Cape Sailing Catamaran Silverwind, or the 60ft Simon Sailing Catamaran Silversand, or the 40ft Admiral Motorised Catamaran Silvermoon, to enjoy an adventure-packed tour to Pelican Point and Walvis Bay’s beautiful bay area.

The chances of encountering dolphins, whales, turtles, seals and Mola Mola (sunfish) make the search for the marine big 5 and adventurous tour by enjoying sparkling wine, fresh oysters and other mouth-watering snacks aboard the spacious and comfortable catamarans.

Batis Birding Safaris Eco Dune Tour

This excursion takes place along the eastern part of the major dune belt which lies between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. A wide selection of desert animals can be seen during the excursion, including the Namib sand diving lizard, web-footed gecko, Namaqua chameleon, Peringuey’s Adder, red-capped larks, Gray’s larks, and Stark’s larks.

The excursion explores an area known as the “Horse Graveyard” where the mass slaughter of South African military horses marked the turning point of Namibia’s involvement in the First World War. The excursion offers excellent photographic opportunities.

Batis Birding Safaris Night Walk

The night walk offers a glimpse into the nocturnal theatre of the unique eco-system of the Namib gravel plains. Various animals roam the desert at night and those who go on the night walk can expect to see various species of geckos, spiders, gerbils, and scorpions.

Day 6: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

Day Itinerary

Today you will depart Swakopmund on a chartered flight over Damaraland and the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, towards Doro Nawas before continuing towards the Skeleton Coast into the Hoanib Valley. 

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.

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. 

Day 7: 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 8: 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 9: Palmwag   

Day Itinerary

After breakfast you will depart the Skeleton Coast. 

In a wide valley sometimes flush with grass, within the enormous Palmwag Concession, trackers patrol and protect one of Africa’s largest free-ranging populations of Critically Endangered desert-adapted black rhino. Rhino tracking on foot and by vehicle with these dedicated conservationists is a unique and exclusive wilderness experience; other activities include exploring the area on full-day outings, nature drives or walks.

Palmwag is a nature reserve idyllically located along a palm-lined tributary of the Uniab River. Water is scarce in this area, so the river’s presence often lures elephants closer to the camps. Palmwag is situated halfway between Swakopmund and Etosha, and is the ideal base from which to see the sights of the Kunene region or embark on one of the many local hiking trails. The reserve is notable for its unusual species of palm tree, the hyphaena pertesiana, and for being home to the largest population of south-western black rhinos in Africa. Animal lovers can also get a peek at leopard, lion, cheetah, mountain zebra, Angolan giraffe, springbok, kudu, and African bush elephant.

Day 10: Palmwag   

Day Itinerary

Set out in the morning by vehicle to follow the Save the Rhino monitors as they track one of their charges – the desert-adapted black rhino. Due to the vast terrain, long distances can be covered, with other wildlife to be seen along the way.

Alternatively, game drives showcase the landscape and offer the best possibilities of seeing desert-adapted wildlife including rhino, elephant, giraffe, antelope such as springbok or oryx, zebra and possibly even predators.

If you wish to learn more about the lesser-known flora and fauna that survive in this harsh environment join a guided nature walk. Adaptation is a necessity for desert wildlife and walking through the desert environment offers unique insights on this phenomenon.

Day 11: 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.