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The goal of this safari is to photograph the breathtaking desert landscapes of Namibia in an overland fashion. This will be an overland photographic journey and you will have complete flexibility to stop to take photographs at any time along the way. This photographic safari will have a good balance between flexibility, photographic opportunities, and comfortable accommodations. This approach will also enable you to carry more than enough amount of camera baggage, so bring what you need!
Galton House is one of Windhoek's newest accommodation establishments. Named after the famous explorer Sir Francis Galton, this house has a relaxed but efficient style which creates a very welcoming atmosphere. Impressive wildlife photography adorns the walls while the rest of the interior is a combination of modern minimalistic and understated decor. By being reached only a 10-minute drive from the center of town and perched on the edge of Windhoek's northernmost affluent suburb of Eros, guests staying here will be ensured of peace and tranquility.
In Galton House, there is a delightful 'al fresco' dining area by the pool where freshly prepared meals are served. There is Wi-Fi throughout the property and all eight guest rooms have wired internet connectivity plus satellite television. The communal areas consist of a large lounge, swimming pool, early arrival / late departure day room (including toilet, shower, changing, and re-packing facility), indoor and outdoor dining areas, as well as understated garden areas.
During your stay in Keetmashoop, you will be accommodated in a guest house.
At Lüderitz, you will stay at Nest Hotel situated perfectly on the edge of the ocean. There is good landscape photography right in front of the hotel and also the architecturally styled town.
Located at a private 20,000-hectare wilderness reserve within the NamiBrand Nature Reserve, this lodge is designed to offer the ultimate wildlife and desert experience. The lodge itself offers 6 spacious, comfortably furnished, en-suite rooms and a generous central lounge / dining area which is built of local stone - ensuring warmth in winter and cool in summer. A west facing terrace and small sparkling swimming pool complete the package.
Kulala Desert Lodge is located near the entrance gate of the Namib Naukluft National Park. Shaded by ancient camelthorn trees, the lodge bears testimony to the ingenuity of an eco-friendly design. This accommodation is in en-suite bedroom units with two occupancy in each room. After an exciting day in the desert, you can shake off the desert dust with an ice-cold local lager in the unique bar, take a refreshing dip in the sparkling pool, or browse through the curio shop. Excellent cuisine under the guidance of an executive chef is the order of the day in the restaurant and on an al fresco terrace.
This photographic safari will be very informal and fun. Dean Tatooles will be shooting alongside you at all times. This safari is about shooting - lots of shooting. There will be no classroom sessions, no lectures, no slide shows, and most importantly, no unnecessary egos. All the participants will all work closely together, sharing your knowledge and experience.
Upon arrival in Windhoek, you will be met and transferred to Galton House to have an overnight stay.
An easy 5-hour drive south of Windhoek will bring you to the small town of Keetmanshoop. You will arrive in time to settle into a guest house and then head straight into the main attraction - Quiver Tree Forest for which this area is quite famous. These ancient trees are in a protected reserve where you are able to walk freely among them, photographing their intricate forms from every angle. There will be an opportunity to photograph the trees at night creating beautiful silhouettes against the night sky, as well as star trails.
Today, you will start your day early and have another early morning session in Quiver Tree Forest. After breakfast, you will head off towards Lüderitz visiting the wild horses of Aus along the way. The drive time is 4 hours. In Lüderitz, you will stay at Nest Hotel. The main reason for this visit is to photograph the deserted mining town of Kolmanskop.
Today, you will have an early morning shoot in Kolmanskop as well as an afternoon shoot. The ghost town's crumbling ruins bear little resemblance to its former glory. The former stately homes, their grandeur now scoured and demolished by the wind, are gradually being enveloped by the encroaching sand dunes. These scenes make for wonderful photography. You can expect soft lines, old ruins, ripples in the sand, light shafts, and scenes of a time gone by. You will have special photographic permits to enable you to be in at sunrise before regular visitors. The same applies for the afternoon where you will be allowed to stay until sunset.
After your morning breakfast, you will head north into the famous NamibRand Nature Reserve and to Drifters Green Fire Desert Lodge. The drive time is approximately 5 hours. You will be spending 2 nights in the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve among the dunes, grass, and camelthorn trees for 4 twilight shoots and some nighttime light painting below a milky way so bright that it casts a shadow below the African trees. Here, you will have full freedom of movement. With the reserve being exceptionally photogenic, you will be led to some of its most scenic locations to capture truly classic desert scenes.
The open grasslands are stunning for photographs. Use the mountains as backgrounds or one of the large camel thorn trees that seem to dot the plains in an almost always-picturesque spot. These provide perfect subjects in amongst the grass fields especially if you have a dramatic sky behind them. Due to the heat of the desert land, rain often falls from the sky but does not make it onto land, getting caught in updrafts of heated air. This often happens once a storm’s intensity has just passed or the following morning when most of the storm has dissipated but there is still rain in the atmosphere.
The phenomenon that occurs is called “ghost rain” and happens when the sunlight catches the rain in the air, painting beautiful colors of pink and orange. Coupled with this, it almost guarantees a rainbow in the sky. During the rainy season, "ghost rain" and rainbows are regularly seen after storms and quite a climatic feature of the area. Photographically, this is like winning the lotto and you need only “place a subject in your frame” in such instances to make a stunning image.
Many of the rocky mountains and hills are very dark brown / black in color. This contrasts very nicely against the color of the grass. You can either photograph these from the grasslands themselves or walk up onto the hills to get some perspective over the whole area. Either way, the color contrast works very well. One of the highlights of the area is the large camel thorn trees. These often grow along the water drainage lines, but sometimes are free standing. Their large form and graphic shape make them excellent photographic subjects - either as the main interest in a photo or just as part of a scene. Being in a reserve where you can stay out at night these trees, due to their graphic and well-defined branches, also become perfect subjects for night-time star images.
You can either ‘paint’ the trees with a torch to bring out the detail in the tree or photograph them as a straight silhouette against the night sky. Their striking shape often makes up for the lack of detail the light paints in. Night skies here can only be described as remarkable. If no moon is about, you will not see better stars anywhere else in the world. With subjects such as camelthorn and quiver trees to use as subjects, you will have a great ability to capture the beauty of the night skies in all their splendor.
Today, you will have a full day of photographic activities in the desert. Then, you will overnight at Drifters Green Fire Desert Lodge.
Today, you will have a short morning drive to Sossusvlei after your last photo shoot in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. In Sossusvlei, you will be accommodated at Kulala Desert Lodge. The Namib-Naukluft National Park covers 19,215 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) of desert savannah grasslands, gypsum and quartz plains, granite mountains, an estuarine lagoon, a canyon and huge, drifting apricot-colored dunes. The five main regions of the park are the Namib, Sandvis, Naukluft, Sesriem, and Sossusvlei areas.
The Kuiseb River runs through the center of the park from east to west and acts as a natural boundary separating the northern grayish-white gravel plains from the southern deserts. Herds of mountain zebra, gemsbok, springbok, and flocks of ostrich roam the region. Many small, fascinating creatures have uniquely adapted to this environment and help make this one of the most interesting deserts in the world. The dunes are home to numerous unique creatures such as the translucent Palmato gecko, shovel-nosed lizard, and Namib golden mole.
Sossusvlei, in the southern region, has the highest sand dunes in the world exceeding 1,000 feet (300 meters). The base of the second highest sand dune in the world can be closely approached by a vehicle. The hike along the knife-edge rim to the top is strenuous requiring 60 - 90 minutes of taking two steps up and sliding one step down. The view from the top of other valleys and of the mountains beyond is marvelous. Even up there, colorful beetles, ants, and other desert critters roam about. Sunrise on these magnificent and colorful dunes is spectacular.
Today, you will rise out of bed early and head towards one of Andi Biggs' favorite shooting locations in Namibia, Dead Vlei. The camel thorn trees contained within the dry lake bed of Dead Vlei are reported to be more than 800 years old and they make for fantastic photographic subjects in the early morning light. As the sun rises in the sky, the shadow from the towering sand dunes rakes across the desert floor. The photographic drama is always a highlight of a Namibia trip. In the afternoon, you will continue your photography among the tallest sand dunes on Earth.
Today, you will have another full day of photography among the smaller dune areas. These provide excellent miniature landscape opportunities as well as abstract type images.
After your last breakfast in Sossusvlei, you will head back to the town of Windhoek and onwards to the airport for the international flight back home. This will be, unfortunately, the end of a fantastic landscape safari.
Note: Because of the workshop’s unique locations and comfortable accommodations, this workshop adventure is open to spouses as well as photographers. Even non-photographers will find the locales visited and the wildlife viewing opportunities to be thrilling. The cost for non-photographers is the same as for active participants.
On the Southwest Coast of Africa where the icy Atlantic Ocean meets the world’s oldest desert, there lies a place that is known for its landscapes as much as the Serengeti is known for its abundant wildlife. The unique combination of desert, grassland, and cold ocean current form a one-of-a-kind terrain found only here. For this reason, landscape photographers from all over the world flock to the Namib Desert to try and capture its ethereal beauty.
In this captivating region of Namibia, there lies a maze of mountainous valleys that look like they were carpeted from slope to slope by ivory colored grass, crisscrossed by ancient riverbeds, and dotted with a collection of photogenic acacia trees. The final unique touch is added by the large snake like dunes that rise from the grasslands like the roof of some subterranean world. These stark and compelling landscapes are something to behold with the human eye but when it’s sweeping meadows, barren mountains and blood red dunes are captured and transformed into a two-dimensional image, it becomes obvious why this place is so beautifully addictive to photographers.
During your visit to Sossusvlei, you can enjoy a hot air ballooning session at an additional cost.