Photographic Safari: Namibia Highlights

Route: Keetmanshoop – Aus – Sossusvlei – Swakopmund – Sesfontein – Etosha South – Onguma Game Reserve – Erindi Game Reserve

Duration: 15 nights / 16 days

Day 1: Quivertree Forest, Keetmanshoop          

Day Itinerary

Welcome to beautiful Namibia! 

After clearing customs, you will be met by a representative from the car rental company who will hand over your vehicle if you are visiting Namibia on a self-drive.

You will depart the capital for the south of Namibia to the town of Keetmanshoop. 

 Situated along the Trans-Namib Railway, in the ǁKaras region of southern Namibia, the town of Keetmanshoop is known as the capital of southern Namibia. Founded in 1860, this southern Namibian town is a living slice of history. German colonial architecture is dotted around the town and the local museum, housed in an old church, provides an interesting insight into the town’s heritage. Just a short drive out of town, the Quiver Tree Forest is a sea of spikes and twisted trunks, while the neighboring ‘Giant’s Playground’ is an evocative expanse of strange rock formations. Both offer superb opportunities for photography, particularly at sunset. Visitors can look forward to exploring the scenic and historic attractions of this amazing place and enjoy an array of wonderful activities.

Day 2: Quivertree Forest, Keetmanshoop          

Day Itinerary

Day visit to the Quiver tree forest (National Namibian Monument) and the beautiful rock formations at Giant’s Playground, is possible from sunrise till sunset, the most beautiful time to be in the quiver tree forest.

Some 14 kilometers from Keetmanshoop is a striking natural phenomenon that is well worth a visit: a natural forest of roughly 200 quiver trees, set on a large outcrop of blackish dolerite rocks. Named for the pliable bark that was once used by bushmen to craft quivers for their arrows, quiver trees are in fact not trees at all, but unusually large succulents with scaly bark and twisted branches topped with spiky, fleshy leaves. The most mature specimens here are between 200 and 300 years old, and some measure as high as nine meters. The forest, which was declared a national monument in 1955, is best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the soft, warm light further enhances this already captivating sight.

Night photography (star tracking) can be arranged beforehand.

Day 3: Aus   

Day Itinerary

Today’s drive is relatively short so if you would like to visit the Quiver tree forest for sunrise photography there is ample time. 

When you are ready depart into the Sperrgebiet towards Aus, a +/- 2 hour drive.

Perched above the plains of the Namib Desert and tucked away in the rocky Aus Mountains, the small village of Aus is located in the Karas Region in southern Namibia. The arid surrounding landscape is known for its unique botanical diversity. Aus serves as an excellent base from which to explore the area and to view the main attraction: the feral horses of the Namib Desert, which run wild and free in the sparsely vegetated plains. Catch a glimpse of these wild desert-adapted creatures at the water trough at Garub just twenty kilometers away from the village. Visitors can explore the Succulent Karoo with a visit to the beautiful Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park, home to the most biodiverse desert in the world, and take a scenic hike to discover fascinating indigenous fauna and flora. Don’t miss the opportunity to camp under the clear Namibian night sky and view the vast desert landscape on horseback.

Just east of Aus, there are several lodges nestled in the granite-gneiss hills with magnificent views of the landscape. This is the area where the Namib Desert begins to merge with golden grasses, where wild horses roam free and people once gathered with diamond dreams. 

Join on an afternoon Desert Tour in search of the Wild Horses of the Namib and/or relax on a scenic sunset drive making the best of light and landscape. 

Day 4: Aus   

Day Itinerary

Take a day trip to the town of Lüderitz which is just 120km away to visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop.

Amongst the sands of the Namib, the crumbling buildings of a small, once-luxurious town emerge from the drifting dunes. This ghost town is Kolmanskop, a reminder of the wealth of a time when diamonds could be picked by hand from the desert, and a remarkable photographic opportunity with few equals anywhere on earth.

20km from Aus, on the way to or back from Luderitz, visit the Garub water hole where the wild horses and several other animals of the desert plains can be found.

Wild Horses of the Namib

Fighting for a life in freedom they hold an irresistible fascination: The Wild Horses of the Namib in south-western Namibia. For centuries their origin was shrouded in mystery. Their habitat, the barren plains around Garub on the eastern fringe of the Namib Desert, is no paradise; nevertheless, they have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions. Their forebears, once in the service of man, gained freedom for themselves: a life in the vastness of the Namib, away from human civilization, according to the rules of their own horse society. Perhaps this is the reason for the fascination of thousands of visitors every year. Plans for moving the herd to farms have been discarded by now: it has been decided that also in future the horses’ place is in Namib Naukluft Park.

Day 5: Sossusvlei

Day Itinerary

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 meters-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.

Day 6: 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 chiseled 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 color of the sand is richer and the heat haze reflecting off the earth’s surface do not affect your images.

Day 7: Swakopmund      

Day Itinerary

After breakfast you will check out of the Lodge and make your way towards the Atlantic Ocean visiting the German coastal town of Swakopmund. 

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 harbor 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.

Self-drive: This road is in notoriously bad condition. We suggest departing as soon as possible and taking your time to drive the 350km road to Swakopmund. 

Day 8: 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.

Consultant Notes

Activities are generally sold out quite quickly and we recommend pre-book to secure your spot on any activity. 

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 9: Sesfontein, Damaraland

Day Itinerary

Today you will depart along the Skeleton Coast towards onto the fridge of Kaokoland. The immediate surrounding area of Damaraland has many rich and interesting activities including desert-adapted elephant and Himba settlements within easy reach.

Sesfontein, meaning ‘six fountains’, is home to six natural springs creating a lush oasis rising up from a barren landscape. Set in the Hoanib Valley and surrounded by mountains, Sesfontein is a harshly beautiful town dotted with acacia and mopane trees interspersed with spiky-leafed fan palms. The town serves as a good base from which to launch an exploration of the surrounding Kaokoveld. An old fort, constructed at the end of the 19th century, has been refurbished and converted into a comfortable lodge rich with atmosphere and makes a great base to explore the southern reaches of the Kaokoveld. Don’t miss a trip to a local Himba village to learn about local customs and traditions and observe how these communities live in peaceful coexistence with wildlife and the natural surrounds.

Day 10: Sesfontein , Damaraland

Day Itinerary

In addition to the outstanding natural beauty of this location, there are many other tours and attractions for guests. For example:

  • Search for desert elephant in the Hoanib river area
  • Rhino tracking
  • Nature walks in the Hoanib river beds and the area surrounding the lodge. Opportunities to view the smaller creatures, birds and beautiful sceneries by foot
  • Meet the indigenous, nomadic Himba tribe in their villages to the north of the camps
  • Half-day Birding drives with local experts
  • Rock Art Excursions in Kaokoland and Damaraland

Recommended

Himba Cultural Excursions

Damaraland and the Kaokoveld, as well as southern parts or Angola, are home to the Himba, one of the last truly traditional tribes on the planet. These friendly people are closely related to the Herero and lead a semi-nomadic life as herdsmen, breeding mainly cattle and goats. The community living among the majestic Makalani palms at Palmfontein invites visitors to learn more about their proud and ancient lifestyle and traditions. Visitors will be able to see their cone-shaped homestead made from palm leaves, mud and cattle dung and learn more about their unique customs and techniques. Due to the nomadic lifestyle of the Himba, the trip is not offered all year round.

Desert Elephant Experience

Khowarib Desert Elephant Experience is a full-day guided tour where visitors will be transported in 4×4 vehicles down to the Hoanib Riverbed, where the elephants frequently roam. Other wildlife that can be spotted include baboons, giraffe and a variety of birdlife. The day tour includes lunch and soft drinks.

Rhino Tracking

Khowarib Rhino Tracking is a full-day guided tour where visitors will be transported in 4×4 vehicles into the Palmwag Conservancy, which is home to one of the largest free-roaming populations of desert-adapted black rhino in Africa. Other wildlife that can be spotted includes mountain zebra, southern giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, klipspringer, black-backed jackal and small spotted genet. The full-day tour includes lunch and soft drinks.

Day 11: Etosha South       

Day Itinerary

Today you will travel to Namibia’s favorite wildlife destination, the Etosha National Park. 

Okaukuejo, located 17 km from the southern entrance of the Etosha National Park, is famous for its flood-lit waterhole, where visitors can observe at close quarters a spectacle of wildlife congregating and interacting.

Accommodation is basic but the waterhole is a must!

Please note: Single-use plastic is not permitted inside the park and will be confiscated upon entering. 

Day 12: Onguma Game Reserve         

Day Itinerary

Make your way through the park keeping an eye out for wildlife sightings. 

The roads are not in the best condition so take the day to make the 157km drive to the east and stop along several watering holes to take in everything. 

When visiting the Etosha National Park the trick is to choose a good watering hole and be patient. Who knows what you are likely to encounter, but mid-day is hot and animals need to quench their thirst so instead of looking for the animals, wait and let them come to you. 

Important: Please refrain from leaving your vehicle inside the park and obey all rules & regulations. 

Situated east of Etosha, bordering Fisher’s Pan, Onguma Game Reserve is one of Namibia’s best-kept secrets. The reserve offers visitors the opportunity to experience Africa in all her beauty and diversity. Onguma Game Reserve features over 34000 hectares of protected land scattered with a variety of wildlife including plains game, black rhino, kudu, giraffe, zebra, lion, cheetah, leopard and more than 300 bird species. The seasonal rains attract thousands of migrating birds to the Fisher’s Pan wetland area. The neighboring Etosha National Park is home to a rich array of wildlife, including four of the Big 5. Visitors can enjoy game drives, guided walks and rhino research drives within the private reserve as well as wildlife safaris into Etosha National Park to view the abundant game in the largest national park in Namibia.

There is a lovely flood-lit watering hole right great for nocturnal sightings. 

Day 13: Onguma Game Reserve         

Day Itinerary

Chose to spend this day either further exploring Etosha or stay on Onguma and spend their day in the Onkolo hide.

Onguma Onkolo Hide

Onguma Onkolo Hide features Onguma’s fabulous new water-level hide which affords guests an opportunity to sit and enjoy nature unobserved. There is a small ablution facility nearby, benches from which to view the surroundings and lots of windows and vantage points for creative camera angles.

Day 14: Erindi Game Reserve  

Day Itinerary

After breakfast make your way to the Erindi Private Game Reserve.

Located southeast of Omaruru, the Erindi Game Reserve is a spectacularly scenic protected reserve in north-western Namibia. ‘Erindi’, meaning the place of water boasts incredible lush scenery. Stretching over 79000 hectares, this natural wonderland features comfortable accommodation options and magnificent landscapes encompassing grasslands, savannah, and rugged mountains inhabited by an abundance of diverse wildlife. This idyllic retreat is also known for its ecotourism, rich cultural heritage, and community involvement. Visitors can look forward to cultural village tours, San rock art, guided bush walks and thrilling game drives to view elephants, giraffes, rhino, lion, hyena, zebra, kudu, wildebeest and many other animals.  Don’t miss the opportunity to jump on a night drive to catch a glimpse of the nocturnal species that thrive in the dark wilderness.

Day 15: Erindi Game Reserve  

Day Itinerary

Explore the self-drive route or join the Erindi team for a guided game drive. Guests are treated to a world-class informative game drive. Roam the expansive landscape of the Erindi Game Reserve with a qualified and knowledgeable guide in the comfort of an open 4×4 vehicle.

Erindi Private Game Reserve is world renowned for its private photographic safari as it presents an array of spectacular landscapes, wildlife, plants and birds for the keen shutterbug – and the ‘golden hours’ of early morning and late afternoon are the best times to capture these. If it rains between January and April, the insect life is particularly stunning.

Drone: Drone flying is not permitted in any Namibian National Parks, but at Erindi Private Game Reserve a unique activity has been created to allow guests with their own drones to head out into the wilderness to capture aerial footage. Specialized guides with knowledge of drone flying protocols conduct the experience. Flying is not permitted near the lodges or around large animals for safety reasons. Enjoy an amazing perspective of Africa from the sky.

Day 16: End of Itinerary

Day Itinerary

After breakfast you will depart Erindi back to the capital to the Hosea Kutako International Airport. 

Here you will drop off the vehicle and check in for a late afternoon/evening flight back home.