Namibia Tour Highlights:
• Morning and afternoon shoots at Kolmanskop, a diamond-mining town now reclaimed by the desert.
• 2.5 days exploring Etosha National Park, world famous for its enormous saltpan, attracting incredible wildlife at close quarters.
• An afternoon visit with the Himba tribe, one of the last truly nomadic tribes in southern Africa.
• Sunrise at Sossusvlei, some of the most spectacularly beautiful dunes in the world.
• Sunrise visit and shoot at Deadvlei, one of the most striking photographic opportunities in southern Africa.
• Cross Damaraland to visit Twyfelfontein, rock carvings over 5,500 years old designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Access to sites late night and/or early morning that require special permissions.
• Some of the most spectacular night skies on Earth!
• Senior Tour Leader Temu Nana as your personal trip leader. (Temu spent three weeks scouting Namibia in 2016, and leading two photography trips in 2017.)
Included with Registration:
• Guided sightseeing throughout the itinerary.
• Unique Photo's own Michael Downey as your professional photography instructor.
• Private vehicle/s with pop-up roofs, each with an English-speaking driver/guide as described in the itinerary.
• All accommodations as described in the itinerary.
• Meals as noted in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
• A Destination and Travel Information Packet – including a recommended reading list– to assist with pre-departure planning.
• Open Sky Expeditions Senior Tour Leader and Photographer Temu Nana as your personal host throughout.
• A complimentary travel notebook for each traveler (or alternative gift for past travelers).
• Gratuities to all guides, drivers, and wait staff for group meals.
Comments from Travelers on previous programs with Michael and Temu:
"Just as Wendy and I have said that we will tour anywhere that Temu goes, we will always check to see what trips Michael is taking." – Hap M.
"Michael was terrific. I was thrilled he was there and I learned a lot for him both camera & computer. A sweet, helpful & lovely person. A real asset to the tour!" – Karen S.
"Temu was born to be a tour leader! He was a pleasure to travel with & did everything he possibly could to smooth the way for us. His communication skills are top notch. I look forward to taking another trip with him in the future, because I know we'll be in good hands." – Wendy M.
"You guys are simply the BEST. Thank you for an amazing, one-of- a-kind, never-to- be- forgotten, awesome, experience." – Sally S.
Sunday, May 20: Depart Home
Monday, May 21: Arrive Windhoek, Namibia | WINDHOEK
Arrive to Windhoek and checkin to Villa Vista Guesthouse. A light lunch will be made available before taking time to settle in. In the afternoon, we’ll take in the city of Windhoek, exploring the central business district as well as the outlying township area. Dinner will be at a classic Windhoek institution, Joe’s Beerhouse.
Accommodations: Overnight at Villa Vista Guesthouse in Windhoek. (L, D)
Tuesday, May 22: Windhoek | LUDERITZ
Take an early morning flight to Luderitz, arriving an hour later on the southwestern coast. We’ll make the short hop from the airport to our hotel and check-in, enjoying lunch as we wait for our rooms to become available. Following a rest in the early afternoon, we will take an orientation walk around the small, unusual seaside town. We have intentionally left this afternoon light on activities, as we have several very full days ahead! After our walk, we'll return to the hotel at sunset and take in an early dinner, in preparation for our pre-sunrise departure the following morning.
Accommodations: Overnight at Nest Hotel in Luderitz. (B, L, D)
Wednesday, May 23: Luderitz | Kolmanskop
We will rise early to be at the site of Kolmanskop just before sunrise. The deserted diamond-mining town, now reclaimed by the shifting sands, promises compelling images no matter the conditions or time of day. Though sometimes foggy, the diffused morning light creates interesting conditions to capture the sand-strewn, pastel-colored interiors of the deserted buildings. We'll return to our hotel for a late breakfast following the morning shoot, then rest during midday. We'll have a very light lunch and return to the site in the mid-afternoon for a short, guided tour and another few hours of shooting until sundown. Dinner will be independent this evening, and there are options both in the hotel and within town.
Accommodations: Overnight at Nest Hotel in Luderitz. (B, L)
Thursday, May 24: Luderitz | SOSSUSVLEI
Following breakfast, we'll begin to drive east to the small town of Aus, known for the wild horses found in the surrounding desert. We'll make a brief stop to search for these gentle, wild creatures (along with wild ostrich, oryx, springbok, etc) before turning north and making our way through changing, rocky landscapes to the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, Sossusvlei. We'll check-in to our lodge and rest in our independent cabins. Time permitting, we can take a short walk in the nearby Sesriem Canyon before meeting for an early dinner.
Accommodations: Overnight at Sossus Dune Lodge near Sossusvlei. (B, L, D)
Friday, May 25: Sossusvlei
We'll rise early in the morning to make our way to the small salt pan known as Deadvlei, arriving just before sunrise to capture the morning light contrasting with the white salt pan, orange dunes, and black camel thorn trees (long since dead from lack of water). It's a striking place to shoot and we'll spend several hours here, watching the light change as the morning lengthens. Following our morning shoot, we'll have breakfast and return to the lodge to rest for the remainder of the morning and early afternoon. After lunch, we'll slowly return to Deadvlei, stopping to photograph several of the large dunes en route. We'll enjoy a sunset shoot of Deadvlei and return to the lodge for a late dinner.
Accommodations: Overnight at Sossus Dune Lodge near Sossusvlei. (B, L, D)
Saturday, May 26: Sossusvlei Dunes | SWAKOPMUND
Following breakfast, we'll continue our exploration of the western side of Namibia by making our way to the coast and turning north to the towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. We'll stop to photograph flamingos and other shore birds at the salt works around Walvis Bay before continuing the short distance north to Swakopmund. We'll check-in to our hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, The Jetty 1905.
Accommodations: Overnight at Strand Hotel in Swakopmund. (B, L, D)
Sunday, May 27: Swakopmund | DOROB NATIONAL PARK
Our day begins with a fascinating, half day exploration of the Dorob National Park desert ecosystem and its smallest inhabitants! We'll have a chance to photograph and learn about endemic species, as well as the overall dune ecosystem. Following our morning excursion, we'll return to the hotel for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Optional excursions - such as scenic photographic flights or boat rides - can be arranged if you prefer not to rest and relax. Dinner will be independent this evening, and the hotel offers three restaurant options.
Accommodations: Overnight at the Strand Hotel in Swakopmund. (B, L)
Monday, May 28: Swakopmund | TWYFELFONTEIN | PALMWAG DESERT
Following breakfast, we'll begin to make our way up the Skeleton Coast, viewing a shipwreck en route, before turning inland and making our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein. Upon arrival, we'll have lunch and photograph the rock carvings - between 2,000 to 6,000 years old - set among the striking landscape of Damaraland. We'll then continue north to our lodge for the next two nights in the Palmwag Desert.
Accommodations: Overnight at Palmwag Lodge Damaraland. (B, L, D)
Tuesday, May 29: PALMWAG DESERT
We will depart early for a full-day rhino-tracking excursion in the hopes of finding and photographing the increasingly rare desert black rhino. It's also possible we'll see desert elephants and lions (as well as certain herbivores), all of which are uniquely adapted to survive in this environment. We'll return to the lodge after sunset and enjoy dinner in the evening.
Accommodations: Overnight at Palmwag Lodge in Damaraland. (B, L, D)
Wednesday, May 30: Palmwag Desert | OPUWO & THE HIMBA
After breakfast we'll begin a drive due north through the changing landscapes of Kunene until we reach the city of Opuwo. This small town is the part-time hub for the Himba tribe, one of the last truly nomadic people in sourthern Africa. Upon arrival in Opuwo, we'll enjoy lunch an check-in at our overnight lodge before going off-road to visit one of the nearby Himba villages. We'll have the afternoon to visit and photograph the villagers, learning a little bit about their traditional way of life in the process.
Accommodations: Overnight at Opuwo Country Lodge. (B, L, D)
Thursday, May 31: CENTRAL ETOSHA
Following an early breakfast and departure, we'll drive about two hours before enterting the western gate of Etosha and beginning several days in the park! While we observe the wildlife in the more rugged western topographies, we'll slowly make our way to the central area of Etosha, near Okaukuejo. We'll enjoy a quick lunch en route, ending at sunset as we arrive to our lodge for the next two nights. Following dinner, keep an eye out for noctural wildlife at the lodge's well-lit watering hole!
Accommodations: Overnight at Okaukuejo Lodge in central Etosha. (B, L, D)
Friday, June 1: CENTRAL ETOSHA
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives with lunch and a short break in between. We will spend the whole day shooting amongst the plentiful wildlife around the gigantic salt-pan that comprises the main portion of Etosha National Park. We'll finish at sunset and return to the lodge for dinner and more night viewing around the watering hole.
Accommodations: Overnight at a Okaukuejo Lodge in central Etosha (B, L, D)
Saturday, June 2: Central Etosha | OKONJIMA
We'll rise early again to spend as much time in Etosha as possible before we begin to make our way south on some of Namibia's major highways, arriving to our lodge in the early afternoon. We'll enjoy lunch upon arrival, in time for an afternoon game drive in the reserve. Okonjima Lodge is the site of the AfriCat Foundation, maintaining habitats and conducting research specializing in cheetah and leopard. With luck, we'll have a chance to photograph some fo their big cats!
Accommodations: Overnight at Okonjima Lodge in Okonjima. (B, L, D)
Sunday, June 3: Okonjima | Depart Namibia
Our final morning together will include a possible visit to a local market (time permitting) en route to the airport in Windhoek in time for your international flights home.
Monday, June 4: Arrive Home
Do I need to be an experienced photographer to participate?
No. The trip is intentionally structured to accommodate travelers with varying levels of photography experience. Beginners are welcome. The only requirement is that you bring a camera with adjustable settings (a DSLR would be ideal, but anything more than a point-and-shoot camera only capable of automatic mode will do).
I am an experienced photographer; will beginners “cramp my style”?
They certainly won’t. The group is small enough that you will have plenty of one-on-one time with our instructor, Michael Downey. Moreover, prior to departure we’ll send out a questionnaire asking everyone about their prior photography experience and what they are looking to get out of the trip. This will factor into the final stages of planning and we’ll make sure to attend to everyone’s needs.
Is this a tour? A photography workshop? What is it?
Well, it is more a hybrid of the two--a combined tour & photo workshop. We have taken what would on its own be an amazing tour and carefully structured it with photography in mind. Dedicated workshop time, best times of day & sufficient time for photography in each place, tour content in each location, etc., have all been thoughtfully taken into consideration. Both the instructor Michael Downey and OSE’s Temu Nana, a photographer himself, will be on hand throughout the tour, as well as an experienced Namibian guide.
Do I need a visa to go to Namibia? Is is safe there?
Yes, U.S. citizens need a visa to enter the country and it can be obtained easily on arrival. Namibia is a generally a very safe country, especially for tourists. Rates of violent crime are quite low, with the only real concern being petty theft, mostly in the larger cities.
What’s the weather like in Namibia on the tour dates?
At that time of year, the weather is usually ideal. Temperature-wise, it is very comfortable. While our itinerary will take us to places varying in climate, it will average between 70-75°F during the day, and dip down to between 45-50°F at night. Please note that we plan to be out late at night and early in the morning, during the coldest parts of the day. Dressing in layers is recommended, and you should pack for variable climate.