Fly-In Photography: Namibia's Diversity

Route: Sossusvlei - Swakopmund - Skeleton Coast - Kunene - Ongava Private Game Reserve
Duration: 12 Days / 13 Nights
Group Size: Small groups of 1 to 6 pax

Day 1: Sossusvlei

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 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.

Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted to 20 kg (44 lb) per person traveling 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

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 3: Swakopmund

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 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.

Day 4: Swakopmund

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.

For dinner, try your hand at some typical local German cuisine.

- 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 5: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

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 unrivaled 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.

Insider's Tip: Take a drive down to the Skeleton Coast and a scenic flight back to camp to see such a diverse area both on the ground and in the air.

Day 6: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

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 7: Hoanib Skeleton Coast, Skeleton Coast

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 surroundings as well as offers 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 8: Serra Cafema, Kunene

After breakfast, you will depart via a chartered flight to the Kunene river border with Angola via Doro Nawas.

Set under verdant trees on the banks of the Kunene River, Serra Cafema is one of the most remote camps in southern Africa. Guests can truly disconnect, unwind and relax to the sound of rushing water, and explore one of the driest deserts in the world. Respectful interaction with the semi-nomadic Himba community, fascinating nature walks, boating (water levels permitting), and low-impact guided quad-bike excursions complete the experience.

Bordering Angola in northern Namibia, Kunene is a region as well as the name of a river, which is one of just five perennial rivers in Namibia. The Kunene River is an invaluable source of water for the local Himba people, and it has been the mainstay of their existence for hundreds of years. For travelers, the river's most striking feature is the magnificent Epupa Falls, which cascade over a distance of more than a kilometer downstream, with an impressive vertical drop of around 60 meters. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are both popular pursuits in this area. Visitors can look forward to an array of exciting activities including learning about local culture with a trip to a traditional Himba village, hiking, sundowner cruises, canoeing, kayaking, game viewing and excellent bird watching.

Day 9: Serra Cafema, Kunene

Today you will visit a Himba community. In this isolated area, the Himba people continue their traditional semi-nomadic way of life and, when they are in the area, guests have an opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and customs and take some excellent photographs.

In addition, informative nature drives in open Land Rovers allow guests to experience the true Namib in its unbridled glory, while walking provides unique opportunities to see the smaller denizens of the desert, from the famous fairy circles to the desert chameleon.

Activities include enjoying the breathtaking landscape scenes with springbok, ostrich and gemsbok (oryx) dotted here and there, traversing the sand dunes in 4x4 Land Rovers and boating on the Kunene River. Walking in the remote mountain and river valleys is also a highlight. Serra Cafema is often visited by the native Ovahimba families who live in the nearby vicinity, which gives guests the opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and traditions. One of the highlights of Serra Cafema is the carefully guided quad bike excursions that tread lightly on the dunes while allowing guests to experience a true desert.

Day 10: Ongava Private Game Reserve

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

Depart Serra Cafema via a charted flight to the outskirts of Etosha National Park on Ongava Private Game Reserve.

Sharing the southern boundary with Etosha National Park, the prolific 30 000-hectare private Ongava Game Reserve is considered one of the top private game reserves in the region, enjoying global recognition for exceptional conservation, ground-breaking research and exciting safari experiences. The landscape is characterized by vast open plains dotted with salt plans and abundant wildlife.

Visitors can easily access Etosha through Andersson's Gate in the south. Known for its luxury lodges made out of natural materials, Ongava is a popular destination for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. The reserve offers visitors the perfect combination of wildlife safari experiences within and around the Etosha National Park. One of Ongava's top attractions is its rhino population and guests can experience the thrill of getting close to these majestic creatures. Popular activities include night game drives, guided nature walks, bird watching and 4x4 guided game drives.

Enjoy the excellent newly equipped photographic hide in the afternoon and enjoy dinner while keeping out an eye on the local watering hole.

Day 11: Ongava Private Game Reserve

After an early breakfast, a guide will take you into the Etosha National Park where you will spend a full day exploring various wildlife photographic opportunities.

Like Sossusvlei, it is important to consider the best time of the year to visit the Etosha National Park. You should really ask yourself what is it you are hoping to capture. The dry and peak season is from June until October. During this time wildlife can be seen in abundance because they all gather at water holes to quench their thirst. Though animals are relatively easy to be found the landscapes are often harsh, barren and unforgiving. During the green season, the landscapes transform into green pastures and flowering shrubs. The animals thrive and have that extra little bit of "umf" un their step. Animal sightings, however, become a little harder as they disperse in numbers and no longer have the need to gather at water holes as there is sufficient water in the thicker bush shrubs.

Day 12: Ongava Private Game Reserve

Today enjoy a guided drive or nature walk on the reserve.

Day 13: End of Itinerary

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

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.

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