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Namibia Full Circle with Jeremy Woodhouse – June/July 2021

Overview

Namibia is a vast country, even by African standards, covering an area approximately four times the size of the United Kingdom but with a population of a mere 2 million – one of the lowest densities in the world. It is also an ‘ageless land’; visible through our heritage of rock art created by stone-age artists and geological attractions such as the petrified forest where fossilised tree trunks have lain for over 280 million years. Added to the space and silence, these all contribute to a feeling of antiquity, solitude and wilderness.

The climate is typical of a semi-desert country. Days are warm to hot and nights are generally cool. Temperatures are modified by the high plateau in the interior and by the cold Benguela Current that runs along the Atlantic coastline. Except for the first few months of the year, the country is generally dry with very little rain.  This guided Namibian safari affords you the chance to experience this magnificent and memorable country in a very personal way. You will have your own professional and experienced safari guide who will enhance your enjoyment of this unique country by making it a fascinating and stress-free journey of discovery amidst very dramatic scenery. The knowledge, experience and attitude of our guides are critical to a successful safari which is why we ensure that they are both personable and very professional.

Your safari guide will have an intimate knowledge of each area and camp/lodge that you visit, allowing them to share the local highlights whilst adding continuity and depth to your safari. It goes without saying that they know exactly what a “True African Safari” is all about. Not only are our guides highly qualified, each has a specific area of expertise. Together they possess the breadth and depth of knowledge to allow them to answer questions and satisfy the particular interests of each of our guests. Your guide will turn your safari into an experience of a lifetime!

Itinerary

Day 1: June 25
This tour starts and ends in Windhoek, Namibia. The best way to reach Windhoek is to book your flight to Africa through Johannesburg. We will meet at OR Tambo Intl Airport and fly to Windhoek. On arrival in Windhoek, the group guide will be there and all will transfer to the lodging. Situated in the leafy suburb of Klein Windhoek, the bed and breakfast is a fresh and modern accommodation where we’ll overnight.

Day 2: June 26
After breakfast, our group will be driven south to Keetmanshoop, arriving late afternoon and having lunch en-route. Keetmanshoop is the administrative center of Namibia’s largest region, Karas. Situated 38 km north-east of the town is the Mesosaurus and Fossil and Quiver Tree (Kokerboom) Dolerite Park, set in a photogenic area that includes the Mesosaurus Fossil Site and the Quiver Tree Forest and eroded dolorite rock formations. It’s here, during the pretty afternoon light, that we’ll photograph the quiver tree (Kokerboom) forest scenery. Overnight in Keetmanshoop.

Day 3: June 27
Today we’ll enjoy the full day of shooting at the quiver tree forest and the Giant’s Playground. The night sky here is one of the clearest, least light-polluted in the world—there will be no moon. So this evening is a chance to try your astro photography skills. Overnight at a rest camp in Keetmanshoop.

Day 4: June 28
After breakfast and a morning shoot at the Kokerboom forest, we’ll depart to Luderitz. En-route we’ll have spectacular views of boulder strewn hillsides across wide open plains and stop for a picnic lunch. Overnight in Luderitz.

Day 5: June 29
This morning, our group will be driven to the nearby “ghost town” of Kolmanskop where we will photograph till lunch time. Following lunch, our destination is a former diamond mining town of Elizabeth Bay.  Our final night in Ludertiz.

Day 6: June 30
After breakfast, we’ll depart for Sesriem along a scenic route and enjoy a picnic lunch en route. The route passes through the Namib Naukluft National Park with spectacular plains and mountain scenery and there is plenty opportunity to stop and photograph. In the evening, we’ll arrive at our lodge which was built primarily from wood, canvas and thatch, in an attractive ‘afro-village’ style. The lodge is actually in the park so we’ll spend three nights relaxing in the tranquility and splendor of the Namib Desert, under the spectacular African sky. Overnight in a Lodge in Sesriem.

Days 7 -8: July 1 & 2
We’ll take advantage of these days to photograph one of the most enduring impressions of the Sossusvlei area – vivid orange dunes, developed over millions of years, the wind continuously refashioning the contours of this red sand sea.   Some reach 984 feet.  Nearby the world-famous Sossusvlei is an enormous clay pan, flanked by the famous red sand dunes that stand out starkly against the blue sky.  The ‘vlei’ itself only fills after rare heavy rainfall when, in a complete turnaround, it transforms into a spectacular inland lake. Photography of the dunes in the early morning and late afternoon is particularly stunning with rich reds and dark shadows completing the extraordinary vista that is the enormity of the Namib Desert. Overnight in a Lodge in Sesriem.

Day 9 : July 3
After an early breakfast, we’ll drive across the desert to Walvis Bay and stay overnight there.

Day 10 : July 4
This morning, our group will tour Sandwich Harbor. We’ll be driven along a beautiful dune chain, adjacent the Atlantic Ocean, seeing the original railway line between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. This is an opportunity for a detailed look at the formation of ‘the world’s oldest desert’ – its origins, its composition and its movements. Our first stop is at ‘Bird Rock’ – a guano island inhabited by 200,000 birds and one of the first examples of man’s efforts to utilize the rich natural resources of the area. The Lagoons we’ll photograph have been designated as ‘Wetlands of International Importance’, while the ‘Bird Paradise’ at Walvis Bay is also a key nesting and feeding site for thousands of visiting and resident birds. Many species may be seen, such as: Flamingo, Plover, Tern, Pelican, Avocet, Turnstone, various waders, Dune Lark and the Damara Tern.

Today’s next destination is Kuiseb Delta, a unique ecosystem is dotted with archaeological sites, 450 year-old animal tracks, windblown graves and magnificent dunes. There is evidence of ancient and recent gathering, harvesting and trading by the Topnaar, an indigenous Namibian community descended from the Khoi group.  As the day progresses, we’ll approach to Sandwich Harbor. This crosses barren salt pans and vegetation covered hummock dunes, which shelter small groups of Springbok, Ostrich, Jackal and Brown Hyena. Peregrine Falcons, Pale Chanting Goshawks and Black- breasted Snake Eagles.

This section of the journey is as dramatic as the landscape, and it soon becomes clear why Sandwich Harbor is often described as inaccessible!  Spring tides and shifting sands ensure an unpredictable route, but as you approach the towering, wind-sculptured dunes at the edge of Sandwich Harbor, there is a sense of entering a different world. All that is left of the old whaling station and its community of traders and fishermen is the freshwater lagoon, a solitary deserted building, and the strange greenery of this unique coastal wetland. This is the setting for our picnic – a large hamper full of homemade cakes, savories, salads, fruit and drinks – and a spot of bird watching. Some 40,000 birds – 34 different species – were recorded in this area during recent surveys. Walking around the Lagoon (an official marine sanctuary), may present the chance to photograph seals, dolphins and even whales. After the drive back, we’ll enjoy a final night in Walvis Bay.

Day 11: July 5
Today being the longest drive of the tour, we’ll head out early dawn. We will drive north up the Skeleton Coast and partake in breakfast en route. Our first photo stop will be the Zeila Shipwreck, a fishing trawler that got stranded in 2008 after it came loose from its towing line shortly after leaving Walvis Bay. The next stop is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, the best-known breeding colony of Cape fur seals along the Namib coast. Thrilling photography ensures with 100,000 seals basking on the beach and frolicking in the surf. Today’s mid-meal will be a box lunch en route to Fort Sesfontein by sunset. If time affords, we’ll stop to photograph some Herero ladies, resplendent in their Victorian-style dresses.

Our lodging for the next three nights situated in the center of Sesfontein in the old German fort that was abandoned in 1914. It is now restored as a lodge from where visitors can explore an ephemeral river bed, recently discovered rock engravings, and the nomadic Himba people. A gap in the mountains gives access to the valley basin of Sesfontein, (six fountains) where green gardens give the landscape its special character. In 1896 the government built the Fort of Sesfontein to oversee check cattle disease, arms smuggling and illegal hunting. Now the Fort has been restored to a tourist lodge. Use of building materials, characteristic for the region, such as clay walls, stone floors and reed linings, convey a very special and original atmosphere.  We’ll spend the first of three nights in a lodge at Fort Sesfontein.

Day 12 : July 6
Exploring and photographing an authentic Himba Village and different Herero communities in the area will occupy our morning. Then after lunch, we’ll be driven down the Hoanib Riverbed to photograph various animals: desert-adapted elephant, giraffe, ostrich, and perhaps the resident pride of desert-adapted lions. Overnight in the lodge in Fort Sesfontein.

Day 13 : July 7
Today our group will visit and photograph local Herero communities and daily life in the region. The day’s flexibility gives us maximum opportunity to capture photogenic moments/scenes. Final night in the lodge in Fort Sesfontein.

Days 14- 16 : July 8, 9, 10
Today we’ll set off early to Etosha National Park, translated as the ‘Place of Mirages’, Land of Dry Water’ or the ‘Great White Place’.  This remarkable park covers 22,270 km², of which over 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. Three-million years ago it formed part of a 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, though nowadays it is filled with water only when sufficient rain falls to the north. The Park allows for an extraordinary photography of grassland, woodland and savannah. There are game-viewing centers around the numerous springs and waterholes, where several different species can often be seen at one time. In fact, the park boasts some 114 mammal and over 340 bird species. During our time there, we may see: an elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, oryx, zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger, warthog, or even endemic black faced impala.

For three nights, our group will overnight at Okaukuejo Rest Camp, a former military outpost founded in 1901 (stone tower added later). It’s famous for its night time floodlit waterhole- offering a hub of animal activity starting in the early hours of the morning. After sunset, floodlights illuminate the waterhole. It’s the best time and place to possibly see an endangered black rhino which can often be seen drinking alongside lion and elephant. The number and interaction of the animals is one of the major attraction of where we’ll be staying. Tonight will be our first night there.

Days 17 – 18: July 11, 12
After our morning photography game drive, we will spend the day driving through the park, often skirting the edge of the vast Etosha Pan, until we reach Namutoni. Built into an old German, Fort Namutoni Camp has a unique atmosphere. From within this fort, we’ll enjoy an elevated view of the King Nehale Waterhole, allowing for animal viewing and sunsets without leaving the camp. There is hardly a better way to end a day in the bush and Namibia than to photograph and relax under the rich colors of the setting sun. Overnight in Fort Namutoni for both nights.

Day 19 : July 13
Today will be spent driving south towards Windhoek with an overnight at the Erindi Private Game Reserve. This sustainable natural wonderland is a protected reserve of 70,719 hectares of pristine wilderness. This very special reserve is home to prolific amounts of endemic species and multiple conservation projects. Erindi is an idyllic retreat boasting two camps, a rich cultural heritage, knowledgeable guides and unmatched hospitality. We’ll enjoy one night here.

Day 20 : July 14
This morning, we’ll take a game photography drive at Erindi, then transfer to the Hosea Kutako International Airport at Windhoek for flights home.

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