BEST OF NAMIBIA Photo Safari
06 – 21 June 2018 (16 days)
US$ 8,250 per person sharing
Isak Pretorius + Hougaard Malan
Landscape and wildlife
6 – 10 photographers
On the South West coast of Africa lies one of the world’s most desolate, intriguing and photogenic natural areas – The Namibian Desert.
Namibia boasts countless incredible landscapes as well as being one of Africa’s best wildlife destinations. From the Towering red dunes of Sossusvlei to the granitic spires of the Spitzkoppe mountains, one could believe that these landscapes were created for the sole purpose of being photographed.
Namibia is home to some of the world’s most regal and adapted fauna and flora, like the Oryx Antelope and the Quiver Tree. In the South lies the abandoned site of one of the greatest diamond rushes in human history – the sand filled ghost town of Kolmanskop. At Walvis Bay one can bear witness to one of the largest congregations of flamingoes in the world.
In the greener Northern parts one can find wildlife on par with that of Namibia’s neighbours, Botswana and South Africa.
It will be our 8th year organizing dedicated photographic tours to Namibia. Join us in 2018 for the opportunity to experience and capture this amazing destination from the ground, water and air.
* ULTIMATE CONVENIENCE – All you have to do is pack your bags and book your plane tickets
* FOURTEEN DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY – Some of the world’s most unique landscapes
* COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURES – The winter temperatures in Namibia is very manageable
* LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS – Tutoring by two highly experienced guides
* AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY INCLUDED – 120 minutes of doors-off aerial photography over the world’s highest dunes, from a helicopter
* SMALL GROUP – Only 10 participants for maximum creative freedom
* STRONG WILDLIFE FOCUS – The itinerary is designed for both landscape and wildlife photography
* Request a PDF brochure under “Booking Information”
What People Say
I have traveling and photographing for much of my life, but I consider this year’s Intimate Namibia trip the experience of a lifetime. Namibia is a landscape photographer’s dream – vibrant and varied. Isak and Hougaard made sure we were in the right place, at the right time, with the right light. Equally important, they had us prepared with the right equipment and worked with us individually in the field to help us get the captures we were after. In addition, their presentations throughout the trip were very well done and informative. I learned a great deal on the trip from being prepared, to composition and field technique to post processing. I can’t recommend this trip strongly enough!
Rick Workman, from Rockport, Texas, USA
Namibia has been on my list of places to visit for a long time and I am so glad that I made it. In fact I have fallen in love with the place. Unbelievable scenery, it is a landscape photographer’s dream location. This tour was my first foray into landscape photography having spent a good few years concentrating on wildlife. I am now well and truly hooked on landscape photography. The tour itself was well organised; Hougaard and Isak are the perfect hosts and teachers. Their combined knowledge of photography is remarkable, I learned a heck of a lot from them with their lectures that took place at regular intervals throughout the tour. I unreservedly recommend this tour to any photographer thinking of visiting Namibia. I have already signed up to do it all again 2018.
David Battensby, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
DAY 1 | 06 JUNE 2018
* Arrive at Windhoek Airport
* 1 night at River Crossing Lodge
DAY 2 – 3 | 07 – 08 JUNE 2018
* 5 hour drive to Keetmanshoop
* 2 nights at Quiver Tree Forest
DAY 4 – 5 | 09 – 10 JUNE 2018
* 4 hour drive to Luderitz
* 2 nights at Kolmanskop
DAY 6 – 8 | 11 – 13 JUNE 2018
* 8 hour drive to Sossusvlei
* 3 nights at Sossus Dune Lodge
DAY 9 – 10 | 14 – 15 JUNE 2018
* 4 hour drive to Swakopmund
* 2 nights at Hansa Hotel
DAY 11 – 13 | 16 – 18 JUNE 2018
* 3 hour drive to Erindi Game Reserve
* 3 nights at Erindi
DAY 14 – 15 | 19 – 20 JUNE 2018
* 3 hour drive to Spitzkoppe
* 2 nights at Spitzkoppen Lodge
DAY 16 | 21 JUNE 2018
* Transfer to Windhoek Airport
* Journey home
Photography and Tutoring
IDENTIFYING PERSONAL REQUIREMENTS
As we kick off the workshop, Hougaard and Isak will spend one-on-one time with each participant to identify what level they are at and what areas they would most like to focus on. We will then explore the different components of photography with them as we get different light and travel to various destinations. There is no better learning opportunity than photographing so many world-class landscapes day after day, in the ideal season, under professional guidance. The constant presence of a guide guarantees that your questions are answered immediately and this ensures a fast learning curve. Shooting day after day also ensures that all these lessons are fresh in the mind and are applied until programmed into your subconscious.
SUBJECTS TO BE COVERED
We will look at the basic technicalities like shutter speed, aperture and focus and how these should be creatively manipulated in certain situations. E.g.to get the right amount of blur in golden grass. Composition is always the most important subject and it is best taught in the landscape, where the learning can be applied instantly. Hougaard and Isak will always be looking over your shoulder to point out how you can improve your composition and give you the technical breakdown behind their chosen advice. As we are presented with different weather and light conditions they will teach you to study the skies and how to make a pre-emptive decision on where to shoot when the light peaks. One of the greatest aspects of Namibia is that it is a world dark sky reserve, meaning that we will spend plenty of time shooting at night. Shooting the Milky Way and star trails can be daunting, but we’ll show you how easy it actually is when you’re in the right place.
PRESENTATIONS AND EDITING
Whenever there is time available, we can sit down for an informal presentation on editing or any other subject. The digital darkroom has become a crucial part of photography and the guides will present various techniques using images taken by the participants of the workshop.Hougaard and Isak both have extensive experience with Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge and Nik Color Efex, but they will also do their best to help with your program of choice.
ONE-ON-ONE ATTENTION AND CREATIVE FREEDOM
The fact that there will only be nine participants means that over the course of 10 days, each client will get plenty of assistance, guidance and tutoring from Hougaard and Isak. This also means that there will be far less tripods at each location than on normal workshops. This gives you a better chance to explore your creativity and to shoot the landscape from all angles.
On every workshop we always discuss everything from the most fundamental principles, through to the philosophical and abstract. Whatever it is you would like to learn, were happy to help out. Our goal is to send you home with great images, new knowledge, fond memories and feeling inspired.
Why travel with us
Isak and Hougaard are both sought-after photographic guides, well known and highly acclaimed in the industry. Their awards and published work in the world’s leading landscape and wildlife publications is a testament to their knowledge, skill and creativity. We believe we are the best in the industry and are continuously looking to improve our skill and workshops. Hougaard Malan is generally considered South Africa’s top landscape photographer.
This landscape workshop, designed by Hougaard, has fine tuned the typical Namibian Landscape itinerary to create a unique product that excels in quality on every level – from the moment you are picked up from airport, the quality of the accommodation, the photographic locations, activities like helicopter aerial photography, and the transport in the best 4X4 vehicles on the market. The goal is to take you to the best spots and get you to take your own great photographs while enjoying the best comfort and hospitality that Namibia has to offer.
Hougaard specializes in landscape photography exclusively and this is the biggest differentiator from other workshops. This means he selected the best time of the year and photographic locations to get you the best landscape photographs.
Both Isak and Hougaard are at least 6th generation African. Who better to show you the African continent than people who live there? They have explored Namibia as travellers even before digital photography and workshops became popular, and with a camera have spent more than 400 days chasing landscape photographs in Namibia. Therefore they know the people, the culture and we have developed relationships with the local people that gains them access to special places.
With a client repeat booking rate of 60% it means they must be doing something right!
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN WINDHOEK
Upon arrival on the 6th of June, you will be collected from Hosea Kutako International Airport by a private driver and taken to our guesthouse, just outside Windhoek city. Once the whole group has checked in, we’ll meet for dinner. Everyone will have a chance to tell their photographic story and the guides will give a breakdown of the days to come and what to expect.
If you wish to fly in a day or two early to sleep off the jet-lag, we are more than happy to arrange all the logistics for you.
DAY 2,3 – QUIVER TREE FOREST
On the second morning, we’ll have breakfast and then hit the road South towards Quiver Tree Forest, where we’ll spend the next two days. Found only in Southwestern Africa, Quiver “Trees” are actually very large succulent plants. Their cracked golden-white bark and remarkable shape make for fantastic photos. While Quiver Trees are found throughout much of Namibia, they aren’t always easy to get to as they prefer rocky high-lying terrain like mountain ridges. Quiver Tree Forest offers two locations that have a high density of Quiver trees amongst interesting rock stacks on low-lying, level ground. Both locations are within 5 minutes of our accommodation and easy to explore.
DAY 4,5 – KOLMANSKOP
After two days with the special trees, we have a 3.5 hour drive to the West, where we’ll get a break from the heat in our hotel on the rocks in Luderitz Bay. Situated just 10 minutes from Kolmanskop, this hotel will be our base for the next two days.
Kolmanskop is the long forgotten site of one of the greatest diamond rushes in human history. Luderitz bay was established as a harbour by the Germans in the late 1800’s and by pure luck, someone stumbled upon a diamond under a full moon in 1908. This quickly led to a ood of prospectors and it was soon clear that just inland of Luderitz was the world’s greatest and easiest ever find of diamonds. Within a few short years there was a full blown diamond rush and the German mining companies invested a fortune building an entire town in the middle of nowhere. Everything from the door frames to the paint was imported from Germany. The hospital had the Southern Hemisphere’s first X-ray machine and they had so much money they could a ord to ship water from the mountains near Cape Town as the local supply was too brackish for their liking.
In a few short decades, nearly 1 million carats of diamonds was mined just from processing the surface sand. By the 1930’s the yields were dropping sharply and there were more promising nds further South near the Orange River. The mining companies withdrew their funding and the town was quickly abandoned. The last families left in 1956 and today the desert is reclaiming this once-glorious town. Despite being ooded with sand, the dry climate has done a magni cent job of preserving the colourful rooms.
There are well over 25 rooms worth photographing, so even a large group can all go exploring individually and feel like they have the ghost town to themselves. Thanks to around 50 visits (and counting), Hougaard knows Kolmanskop like his own house. On the rst afternoon he will show everyone all the best rooms, varying from the iconic to the unknown. In early March the tourism season has barely begun in Namibia and we should be able to nd a couple of rooms with rippled sand. Perfect Kolmanskop shots don’t just happen… we have a few secret tricks up our sleeves that only our guides and past Namibia clients know of. We go to really great lengths to ensure that you get the iconic shots, perfectly lit and with powdery smooth sand. We also arm you with the knowledge of the location to go exploring for new and unique photos.
We pay a special fee, included in the tour price, for a special photographic permit that allows us free access to Kolmanskop. The normal visiting hours are just from 09:00-13:00.
DAY 6,7,8 – SOSSUSVLEI
After a nal morning in the ghost town, we’ll hit the road North towards Sossusvlei. This is the longest and most exhausting drive of the trip, but the scenery along the way is spectacular. We’ll stop at the first of two places who claim to have the best Apple pie in Namibia.
The colossal orange dunes and the dead trees of Sossusvlei are without a doubt Namibia’s most famous and visited landscape. The area within the park that is so famous is the ancient valley that the Tsauchab River cut through these colossal dunes on its journey to the Atlantic. Many millennia ago, the dunes started to block the river’s path to the sea and today the result is a wetland amongst the world’s highest dunes. This special culmination of geographic and meteorological circumstances has resulted in one of earth’s most unique and interesting landscapes. It is the last life of a landscape, dying a slow death on a timescale much too large for us to appreciate.
THE FAMOUS DUNE SPINES
The photos of dune spines that seem to rise up into the sky are all taken along the 40km drive into Deadvlei. Thanks to the valley’s East-West orientation, sunset creates deep black shadows on the Eastern side and bright red colors on the Western side of the dunes (and vice versa in the morning). This o ers great opportunities for telephoto shots of dune spines that dwarf the trees below. While shooting these photos we will also be on the lookout for some Oryx and if we nd one we’ll do our best to frame it below a dune in the right spot.
The real highlight at Sossusvlei is Deadvlei – Situated at the end of the Tsauchab valley, this section of the wetland was cut off from Sossusvlei by a low dune an estimated 700-800 years ago. The lack of water, arid climate and hard wood of the Namibian Camel Thorn tree has kept the trees from decomposing. The result is a collection of ghostly trees rising from a cracked white clay pan.
The pan is deceptively large and offers about 50 of the oddly shaped trees to photograph. The location can be overwhelming at first, but our guides know the location well and will assist everyone to find the best trees and photograph them adequately.
All participants will have at least 3 opportunities to visit Deadvlei and for those willing to brave the afternoon heat, we will happily take an afternoon group. It is usually empty in the afternoons as tourists prefer doing the hike over sand in the mornings, when the temperature is more pleasant.
NIGHT SHOOT IN DEADVLEI
Photographing Deadvlei at night is a very controversial subject. Permission used to be granted as a commercial lming permit, but this avenue has been closed down to all but commercial lming companies. Nowadays there is an alternative way to arrange night time access and we have been allowed access for the past three years without any trouble. We hope that this arrangement stays in place going forward, but we can’t and don’t want to make promises that we can’t keep. We don’t see any reason why our arrangement will fall through – we have been taking tours to Sossusvlei for almost ten years now and we have an excellent relationship with the park’s sta . We simply want anyone booking for this tour to be aware of the fact that a night shoot in Deadvlei simply cannot be guaranteed (by us or any other company) due to factors beyond our control.
This tour includes a 120-minute doors-off helicopter flight over the Sossusvlei park. Flying over this landscape and capturing it from above is a once in a lifetime experience and it offers amazing photographic opportunities. The helicopter operator has two Robinson Raven II R44’s, which can take 3 passengers at a time. The standard route over the park is a 60-minute ight, which doesn’t o er much time to deviate from the route and circle above subjects of interest. A custom-route 120-minute flight offers the opportunity to fly a much more photogenic route and still have spare time to circle above subjects of interest.
NB – Reaching Deadvlei requires walking 1.1km on soft sand and over a dune that is about 50 meters high. The climb is very gradual and we’ll tentatively only do it in the mornings when it is still cool. For a person of reasonable tness it won’t be a problem. The guides will always be available to help carry heavy camera equipment when the going gets tough.
DAY 9,10 – SWAKOPMUND
After a nal sunrise at Sossusvlei, we have a 4-hour drive Northeast to the coast. We’ll stop along the way to conclude who has the best applie pie in Namibia.
This beautiful seaside town will be a welcome break from the heat and physical exhaustion of Sossusvlei.Situated on the icy Atlantic coast, you can expect temperatures no higher than 25c even in high summer.
During our two nights here, our photographic focus will be on the birds and animals of Walvis Bay as well as optional helicopter flights along the coast. Situated just a short drive South of Swakopmund, this town ish home to very large congregations of amingo and can be photographed in the rolling dunes or in the estuary. On our full day there we will go for a private chartered cruise of the Bay, to photograph pelicans that come to the boat as well as seals and dolphins.
In the evenings we’ll take a stroll to one of Swakopmund’s fantastic restaurants for a seafood dinner and in the mornings you can wander town for a perfect cup of freshly roasted and brewed coffee.
During our stay here, you will have the option to go for a helicopter flight along the coast to shoot aerial images of Flamingoes in Sandwhich harbour and shipwrecks like the Eduard Bohlen.
DAY 11,12,13 – ERINDI
Erindi Private Game Reserve is Namibia’s #1 Privately owned wildlife destination. It covers 175 000 acres which comprise an amazing array of diverse landscapes – from golden savannah to dense bush with mountains, natural waterholes, grasslands and pans. More importantly, it is home to an amazing collection of African wildlife.
You can expect to see (and capture) Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Giraffe, Cheetah, Zebra, most antelope species and a lot of special smaller animals. Erindi is also home to an impressive 300 species of birds.
One of the greatest perks of Erindi is that it is officially free of Malaria, meaning that you don’t have to take a prophylactic for your journey. We will be staying at their main lodge, which is situated on a large watering hole where you can enjoy an endless variety of wildlife coming to drink. The lodge o ers large comfortable rooms, air-conditioning, wifi, high tea and delicious meals.
We have put a lot of thought into the debate of Erindi vs. Etosha as our wildlife destination and Erindi is the obvious choice. The wildlife sightings are better and much more likely, the service and quality of everything is better, they have more amenities, it is malaria free and only a few hours from our other destinations, compared to a long day’s drive to Etosha.
DAY 14,15 – SPITZKOPPE
After our stay at Erindi, we have a 2-hour drive back South to Namibia’s most spectacular mountains.
This is one of Namibia’s most photogenic destinations, but was until recently inaccessible to photo tours because there wasn’t a lodge or hotel nearby. That changed with the completion of the new Spitzkoppen Lodge, situated just a 5-minute drive from the iconic arch and water pools.
These granitic spires rise from level plains like the spine of a subterannean dragon. The highest peak reaches up to an incredible 1780m/5300ft. On stormy summer days, thunderstorms approach from the East and can bring exciting and dramatic light to this iconic destination.
DAY 16 – RETURN TO WINDHOEK
As Spitzkoppe is just a 3-hour drive from Windhoek, a departure night at the end of the tour is no longer necessary. On the last day, we will get you to Windhoek airport with enough time to comfortably catch your international flight direct from Windhoek or to transfer to Johannesburg for a late night international flight.
Should you wish to spend a departure night in Windhoek, we will be happy to arrange it for you.
US$ 8,250 per person sharing
* US$ 1,500 per single supplement
* 30% deposit confirms your place
* Balance payable 60 days prior to the start of the safari
THE ABOVE COSTS INCLUDE:
* Two persons per room (i.e. shared double occupancy), unless single supplement option is exercised and secured at the time of payment of deposit
* Ground Transport for the entire duration of the tour in a comfortable, air-conditioned 4×4 vehicle, driven by a professional Namibian driver
* 2 hour doors-off helicopter flight at Sossusvlei in Robinson R44 helicopter or similar
* Half-day private boat cruise in Walvis Bay
* All tourism taxes and park entry fees
* All meals commencing with dinner on 06 June 2018 and finishing with breakfast on 21 June 2018
* All beverages excluding premium wines and liquors
* All accommodation/lodging costs
* Continuous assistance with your photography and image processing by the guide
* The services of a highly experienced local guide and driver
* A highly experienced tour leader with great knowledge and experience of landscape photography
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE:
* Airfare to and from Windhoek
* Travel insurance
* Non-meal-time snacks and drinks
* Optional activities like additional helicopter flight time or balloon flights
* Travel visas and associated costs, if applicable
* Expenses of a personal nature, not specifically included above
* Credit card surcharges
* Guarantee of any specific weather conditions or wildlife sightings
* Terms and conditions are clearly described in the PDF brochure under “Booking Information”
The following list of equipment is the ideal, but it is not an absolute necessity. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your equipment.
Full Frame DSLR Body – Full frames produce much better image quality than crop-sensor cameras. The newer your camera is, the better. This means you can use a higher ISO at night and having live view makes instructions about composition easier as both the client and the guide can see ‘through the lens’. We recommend a Nikon D750, D800/ D800e/D810, D4, D4s or Canon 5D3,5Ds, 5DSr, 1Dx or 6D. Two bodies are always better than one, so bring two bodies if you can.
Graduated filters aren’t a necessity, but if you own them and know how to use them you can bring it along. A circular polarizer will come in handy, so make sure you have one in your bag that fits your wide angle and telephoto.
Namibia is a very dusty and sandy place, so expect to clean all your lenses daily. Bring enough cleaning liquid and cloths. The kits that the optometrists sell work just as well and cost 10% of what you’ll
pay in a camera shop.
Wide Angle f/2.8 lens
A wide-angle lens is a must when it comes to landscapes. The extra stop of light that f/2.8 will give you makes a big difference at night. We recommend the Nikon 14-24mm or Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 mk II. There are a lot of primes and third party lenses that are also great.
Mid-Range Zoom Lens
The Namibian landscape doesn’t stand out at a specific focal length, but offers many opportunities across the whole range. I highly recommend Nikon or Canon’s 24-70mm lens. I’m not a big fan of Canon’s 24-105mm lens as it is very soft at the wide and long ends.
Telephoto Zoom Lens
Telephoto lenses are critical for destinations like Sossusvlei, Swakopmund and Erindi. Please get in touch with us to discuss your gear. Basically, you need everything from 16mm to 500mm for this safari.
It is obvious that you need a tripod for a landscape photography workshop, but this is an area that a lot of people neglect. Magical moments can come and go when you’re still struggling to set up.
I recommend Gitzo carbon fiber legs. The models with a baseplate instead of a center column (Gitzo GT3542LS) allows one to set up very close to the ground, which is crucial in Deadvlei.
When it comes to tripod heads, there are way too many products on the market. The brands I know and trust are Kirk, Arca-swiss and RRS. I’ve used the Kirk BH3 for years and it works quickly and simply.
An L-bracket allows you to mount your camera to the head in portrait mode. Any landscape photographer will confirm that this is an invaluable piece of equipment. L-brackets are made specific to each camera model, so make sure you purchase the right one.
Is Namibia safe?
Fortunately Namibia doesn’t share the reputation of neighboring South Africa. I have travelled Namibia extensively and never encountered the slightest problem. While it is never advised, I have left valuables in my
car and hotel rooms many times and never been the victim of any crime.
Do you need a VISA to enter Namibia?
Most of the major countries in the world do not require a visa to enter Namibia, please see the chart the bottom of this page to determine if you need a visa.
Will I have cellphone reception?
You will have good cellphone reception at all but one destination – Namib Rand.
Will I have Internet access?
There will be WIFI of various speeds and standards at different hotels. Before and during the trip we will keep you diligently informed of what to expect. If you’d like a sim card for the local cellphone network, we will provide one for you at no extra charge.
What about medicines, diseases and vaccinations?
The south of Namibia doesn’t have any diseases you need to worry about. We do however recommend that you take the basic medical supplies like painkillers, antihistamine, insect repellant, disinfectant cream and plasters. Sun tan lotion and lip balm are crucial in the hot and dry environment.
Will there be fresh water available?
The tap water is drinkable at all destinations, but it is safer to drink bottled water as this might avoid a disagreement between your stomach and the local water supply. There will be bottled water available everywhere.
Will I be able to purchase snacks?
We will stop at grocers and cafes on a regular basis so everyone can stock up on drinks and snacks.
What food can I expect?
Namibia’s cuisine is primarily of British influence with a slight German element. All our destinations serve a hot English breakfast and it usually accompanied by breads, cold meats, fruits, yoghurt and cereal. Most places have an a la carte lunch menu offering sandwiches, salads, burgers etc. Dinners will mostly be three courses, consisting of a salad or soup starter, a meat main course served with a starch and vegetables, followed by a sweet dessert.
What about allergies or dietary preferences?
Most of the lodges are prepared to handle basic allergies and dietary preferences like vegetarian meals. If you have a very rare allergy, please inform us so that we can make the necessary preparations.
Are there any luggage restrictions?
Not really, but please pack considerately. One large suitcase or bag, a large camera bag and tripod is the norm. Most of the lodges offer laundry services, so you don’t need to pack a fresh set of clothes for every day.
Do I need to bring spending money along?
Although most of your expenses are included, you will need some cash to buy snacks, drinks and souvenirs. You can use Namibian dollars or South African Rands and it is very unlikely that you’ll need more than 10 euro per day.
Do I need a laptop?
A laptop isn’t an absolute must. If you want to learn editing from the guides, you’ll need one. If you are happy just to look while the others practice and to store all your images on memory cards, then you can leave the laptop at home.
Click on the icons to get a glimpse of the photos you could be taking, the accommodation that you can expect, and what life on a Namibia Landscape Photo Workshop is like