Fascinating Nature Experiences | Namibia Tours

Photography tours in Namibia

Namibia is a photographer's paradise!  With dramatic landscapes, a variety of wildlife and exotic people groups, there is something here to entice any photographer. 

For photographers, having a guide who knows Namibia and understands the needs of a photographer is vital.  At Frantic Naturalist we've worked with photographers frequently, and even snap a few images here and there ourselves. 

African Elephant, Namibia
A desert elephant bull

Where might you want to photograph in Namibia

Namibia has a variety of options for the photographer.  Here is a list of places that might interest you. 

Etosha

What's it about

Etosha is Namibia's premier high profile game national park.  The park is mostly flat and has a number of big open pans, including the Etosha pan itself.  There is white all over from the dust of the pan and the white limestone soils.  This white is somewhat unique when compared to other African great game reserves. 

Etosha hosts a number of Africa's evocative wildlife species, including African Elephant, Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, a large number of giraffe and plains zebra.  Springbok numbers can be really impressive sometimes.  A local special is the black-faced impala. 

When to photograph Etosha

The traditional ‘best time’ to visit Etosha is the late dry season.  The drier it gets, the more wildlife congregate near water sources.  The dry season is usually at it's most dry in about October. 

This is the best time for most people, but there are some alternatives to consider.  October can be really busy in the park, and the bush is dry and without much color.  If you really have your heart set on seeing a lot of wildlife and having a good chance at the iconic species, it's still the best time for you. 

However, the greener season has a few advantages despite less game.  The bush can be stunningly beautiful when it's green.  Clouds also make Etosha so much more beautiful...provided it isn't raining!  And some of the early season you might have the park to yourself.  Just understand that you might not see many lions or elephants, and my need to focus on such species as Zebra for your photography. 

Accommodation and travel in Etosha

Etosha offers some nice lodges on the margins of the park, both on the eastern side, and in the southern side of the park.  There is comfortable upmarket establishments, and a few other alternatives.  Inside the park there are also the park rest-camps, offering everything form camping through to nice accommodation. 

When traveling to Etosha it's worth moving through the park, staying two or more days on the south-west, and two or more days in the east.  I'd recommend at least three nights in the area. 

Etosha Elephant

Etosha is worth adding to your list of Namibia destinations to visit. 

Sossusvlei

What's it about

Sossusvlei is the iconic photography stop for any photographer visiting Namibia.  Sossusvlei is a region in the Namib desert where a ephemeral river system cuts it's way between the dunes of the Namib Sand Sea.  On the margins of this river valley one finds massive towering red dunes. 

Where the river is finally cut off by the dune system there are a number of pans, called ‘vleis’.  Sossusvlei itself is just the very last of these pans that the river can still reach in exeptional rainfal years.  Deadvlei is a massive pan that has been totally cut off from this river system a few hundred years ago.  It still has some living vegetation on it's margins, but on the one side of the pan some 70 dead trees stand in the clay pan. 

When to photograph Sossusvlei

You really can't go wrong, Sossusvlei is worth a visit any time of year.  Perhaps the light is best after the rains have finished in May, but this is very variable.  The late dry season can be very hazy, but I've found most photographers have no issue with this, provided you get into the park early. 

Accommodation and travel in the Sossusvlei area

Sossusvlei is in the Namib Naukluft National Park, and the only access to the area before sunrise and after sunset is from accommodation within the park.  This includes the campsite at Sesriem and the Sossus Dune Lodge. 

For many a photographer these places are a must just to get the early morning light, but they are far from the nicest places to stay in the area.  The NamibRand Nature Reserve is also highly recommended if you're in the area, where the eastern margin of the dunes are also worth exploring for any photographer. 

Sossusvlei Dunes Sandstorm

Dead tree at Deadvlei

Photography at Sossusvlei really is a treat for any serious photographer!

Luderitz and Kolmanskop

What it's about

Luderitz is best described as 'strange'.  A little town situated far from almost everything.  But area near Ludertiz is important for one prized commodity...diamonds. 

In 1908 a railway worker, probably familiar with diamonds from his days as a worker in South Africa, found Namibia's first diamond.  This gave rise to a diamond rush.  The aluvial diamonds could be picked up right from the sand! 

Soon outside Luderitz a little diamond operation grew into a small town named Komanskop (or, more correctly, Komanskuppe in German). 

For the day, Kolmanskop soon had many modern trappings and a vibrant community life.  The town operated until the mid twenties, when diamonds were found in greater abundance further south. 

From then on the operations at Kolmanskop grew to a holt, and the last people finally moved away in the 1950s.  From then on, the strange town was left to the desert. 

These deserted houses make for some really fun photography.  Sand is blowing through many of the houses. 

Ludertiz itself offers a few points of interest for the photographer.  It can be fun, but rather tricky, to do photography from some of the boat trips on offer out of the town's harbor.  Most notable is the chance to view the only Penguin colony you can view in Namibia. 

When to visit Luderitz area

You can really visit Luderitz any time of the year.  It can be foggy, and there are frequent sandstorms, so you might want to organize a couple days, just to increase the chance that you've got decent weather. 

Accommodation and travel in the Luderitz area

Some people visit Kolmanskop by staying at a town further east called Aus, but for photographers this isn't advisable.  So the only option is to stay in Ludertiz itself. 

The main hotel most people stay at is the Nest hotel, which is the ideal base from which to visit the area. 

Visitor times to Kolmanskop are limited to a certain period in the morning.  The exception is visitors who have acquired photographic permits beforehand, which we do standard on any photographic trip. 

Slat house at Kolmanskop

Komanskop is certainly worth spending almost the whole day at, since some of the houses are most interesting when the sun comes through the roof. 

Others

There are a number of other areas that are also worth a visit by photographers.  These include the quiver tree forest, Twyfelfontein, the north-west where desert elephants are found, the Caprivi strip, Swakopmund and the central coast, and many smaller places in between.  For more specifics, please contact us. 

What’s a basic photographic kit

You'd be much better off asking proper photographers this question, but I can make a few suggestions. 

The first crucial thing to think about is how much space you'll have.  If you're flying, it's not going to be much unless you're on a photographic trip that has extra space booked for gear. 

For camera bodies, I'd suggest bringing two bodies at least.  One big thing you want to avoid is changing lenses in dusty or sandy conditions, and having two camera bodies allows you to have at least two different lenses ready to go. 

If you’re doing wildlife, it’s fairly obvsious that you should bring a long lens.  You’ll want at least a 400mm.  Just remember that even if you’re doing a landscape trip, you will often encounter some wildlife, even if it’s only desert Orxy.  But those animals can make fantastic photographic opertunities. 

You’ll want a good selection of other lenses. 

You should also bring along a good solid tripod.  Desert conditions can be very windy and often you’re taking images from very unstable positions. 

For game drives, also bring along a photography bean bag.  You can travel with them empty, and buy rice in Namibia while you're here. 

The rice can be donated afterwards provided it didn't get to dirty. 

A good cleaning kit is also vital. 

You’ll want to be well prepared for days without power.  In remote lodges it’s possible to have power cuts even at places that usually have power, so be prepared. 

Good bags are a must.  You want something lightweight since you'll often need to carry it.  You also need to make sure you have something that's tough, since you'll often be packing it into vehicles as you travel.  Gura Gear make bags that are favored by many photographers we've encountered. 

You can bring a laptop, but also bring enough memory cards, especially if you shoot raw.  On a good photographic trip there is often some time set aside for comparisons and processing. 

Who we work with

We’re keen photographers, but far from professionals.  However, we do work with a number of really professional operators, and we’re happy to refer them for those who would like the best help available. 

We've worked frequently with Shem Compion and C4Images.  Shem is on of South Africa's young up and coming photographers, and runs a very professional operation. 

We also run some tours for Andy Biggs.  Check out this page for tours and workshops they will run to Namibia

One of our past guests who took some great images at Sossusvlei was kind enough to recommend us on his photography website

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