[This page is a work in progress]
We visited Namibia in August of 2021 for a period of almost 3 weeks. We traveled close to 5000 miles around the country, visiting Keetmanshop (Quiver Trees), Kolmanskop (0ld diamond mine ghost town), Sossusvlei / Deadvlei (Dead Trees and Sand Dunes), Walvis Bay (Flamingos), Etosha National Park (Safaris), The Himba Tribe, and the Sans Tribe. We also spent a couple of days on safari in South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the border of Namibia and South Africa.
Namibia is a large country (about 20% larger than our state of Texas). It provides a variety of types of photography from wildlife and safaris, to landscapes, to architecture of ghost towns, to culture and portraiture (local tribes), to flora such as desert plants and very unique trees. The predominant language is English, and the roads are straight forward. Driving is on the right side of the road (opposite of the USA). Potential photography locations are spread apart and require significant driving. Although many of the main roads are tarred, over 90% of the roads in the country are not tarred. Namibia is largely desert. It is extremely dry and dusty. For some locations, a 4WD is required to drive in deep sand (e.g., Deadvlei, Sans Tribe).
Internet connections are scarce as is cell reception. Accommodations are primarily in bush lodges. Food is German based and consists of meats, sauces and root vegetables. There is an opportunity to try many types of game (e.g., Eland, Springbok, Warthog, Oryx, Kudu, Impala, Crocodile, etc.)
When to go?
Our summer (July /August) is Namibia’s winter. It offers the driest and coolest weather and for that reason is a good time to visit. It is also the most popular time for tourists.
What to see?
Sand dunes – Sossusvlei
Red Dunes that are some of the highest in the world at close to 400m. Hiking the dunes is possible. Dunes can be captured from the road.
Dead Trees (Camel Thorne) – Deadvlei
Deadvlei is located within Sossusvlei. The park is opens at sunrise. To access the park at sunrise stay inside the first gate otherwise the first gate does not open until later. There are a couple of lodges and campgrounds within the first gate. It is a 40km drive to the access point to Deadvlei. Then there is a 5Km drive through deep sand. One of hte lodges provides a shuttle from the end of the tar road to the trail to Deadvlei.
Quiver Trees – Keetmanskop
Flamingos (Pelican / Terns) – Walvis Bay
Safari / Wildlife – Etosha National Park
One of the largest wildlife parks in Africa.
Ghost Town – Kolmanskop near Luderitz
Kolmanskop was one of the richest town in Africa (if not the world), around 1911 due to their diamond mining.
- Info Namibia: Kolmanskop: https://www.info-namibia.com/activities-and-places-of-interest/luederitz/kolmanskop
- BBC Article: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170104-the-diamond-rush-ghost-town-buried-in-the-desert
- History: https://assignmentpoint.com/history-of-kolmanskop-city-namibia/
Native tribes – Sans Tribe, Himba Tribe, and others
It is possible to visit (and photograph) the Sans Tribe and the Himba Tribe through “Living Museums” that preserve their way of life.
- Long lens for wildlife: minimum 400mm
- Wide angle for architecture: Ghost Town and Quiver Trees, and star / Milky Way shooting (suggest 14mm)
- Tripod – can probably get away with a good travel tripod, but make sure it can handle sand
- Consider a bean/sand bag for safari driving. We also used pipe insulation which was cheap and easy to pack and worked great going over the edge of a rolled down glass window.
- Two camera bodies: minimize changing lens in dusty environment. Provides ability to quickly switch from details to big picture as an animal approaches.
We visited in August, which is “winter” for Namibia which is located in the Southern Hemisphere. Northern Namibia (Etosha) was warm during the midday and cooled off at night. Kgalagadi (South Africa) was cold at night (freezing) and warmed to temperate during the day. Pack clothing that can be layered.
- Rent a vehicle with a refrigerator and enough gas for long stretches of unpopulated areas.
- In July & August there are very few bugs / mosquitos. Information provided by Etosha states that it is malaria free. Most locations will not require anti-malaria medication. Check with your travel health clinic /consultant.
- Women will find hair dryers all but non-existent. Plan to bring your own or adjust your hairstyle.
- “Car guards” often provide assistance in public parking areas and will request a donation for their efforts. Plan to have some loose change available.
- To access “Deadvlei” early in the morning, stay inside the first gate. There are two lodges and a couple of campgrounds.
- Two camera bodies are very helpful. It enables you to minimize changing lenses and to be able to quickly change focal lens with moving animals on safari.