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Namibia 2017: firsttimers a bit rushed trip


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Dave Williams

 I have to return when the sun shines every day, I agree with Xelas stunning stuff!

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16 minutes ago, Dave Williams said:

 I have to return when the sun shines every day, I agree with Xelas stunning stuff!

Thanks for kind words.

I also need to go back when there are clouds and t-storms. They can create such a dramatic landscape.

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Really beautiful photos, enjoying this a lot!

Edited by michael-ibk
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Wow, awesome! Great sightings, what a powerful coalition of lions! You are very lucky :-) 

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Thanks. Lucky I was, for sure. To meet lions 4 times a day with only 2 days spent in Etosha, how was that even possible :huh:

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Peter Connan

I am also hooked. Beautiful!

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Let's continue...


That day was not over yet. After dinner at the camp we were coming back to our chalet. My wife and son were faster than myself and my daughter and they decided to still have a look at what was going on at the waterhole. We headed to our room, but promptly my wife jumped inside screaming they saw a rhino. As I learnt later, they were slowly approaching the waterhole and saw a giraffe. My wife quipped that only a rhino was now missing on our last day there. As soon as they looked over the fencing they spotted the rhino him(her)self ! So, Magda sprinted to let us know about it, but in all that hurry she almost forced the door of another chalet :P.




I took my camera and speeded to join them. Not more than five minutes later to the left we saw a whole bunch of Ellies. They gathered there and then moved in to drink some. They were virtually surrounding the waterhole. When we counted them it turned out there were over 40. They chased the rhino out and he had to wait patiently until the access freed up.




They were drinking, playing and even fighting a little bit. Alot of fun to watch them in such number. Too bad it was at night and flood lit. It's almost impossible to have decent quality of pics in such conditions, unfortunately.




After an hour or so most of them left, but the second rhino came to fill in the gap. What a day, What a day !

We deserved some good rest in bed after all those emotions.






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The room looks awful familiar :mellow:. Good job in PP removing the dreaded floodlight stripes.

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Stunning photos - such clarity! And a very relatable report so far. Glad you've decided to join!

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Day 5


So, in the morning we had to leave Okaukuejo and Etosha, which we did extremely grudgingly. Two, at least, lessons learnt:

1. 2 days in Etosha do not do any justice to this gorgeous place

2. Any number of days spent there is not enough

Still we enjoyed our time in the park a lot and consider ourselves extremely lucky with the sightings we happenned to have.


After breakfast, shortly before 9 am, we went out through the gates and took a direction to Outjo. Our first stop was at Vingerklip when we turned from excellent C39 to D2743. Driving on this D road was not bad, but quite dusty. We arrived at the Vingerklip, but the gate was closed with a padlock. After a minute we realized we probably had to go to the Vingerklip Lodge and try to access from there. Indeed, this was the case. Short ride on a sandy road got us to the rock. The views were great and we spent there about 30 minutes.






Already at home I planned to have a lunch on this day at the Ugab Terrace Lodge. From the Vingerklip it is about 8 km and we reached the gates of the lodge pretty quickly. But the drive to the lodge itself was quite an adventure to us. You need to drive up the hill and in two or three places it was very steep (by my standards) and narrow. All went good, even without engaging a low range, but I dreaded to think what would have happened if there had been someone else driving down at the same time. Anyway, it was worth the effort. The lodge looked very nice and the views from a terrace where we had lunch were just out of sight.






On our way down the hill we were just as lucky as previously, so we started our next leg. W came back to C39 and continued on it up until Khorixas. From Khorixas it became a gravel road and we had hard time driving on it. The road was not in good condition with potholes and corrugation almost all the time. It was far worse than driving gravel in Etosha. Our average speed was like 50 km/h at best, I mean driving alone, not taking into account stops. Our plan was to get to the Organ Pipes well before 5 pm in order to catch good light on the rocks. At such pace we were having I was a bit worried if we could make it. Especially, that after turning onto D2612 everything was even more difficult. We felt like we were falling into pieces on these last 25 kms. An absolute nightmare. Every couple of minutes either of us was just asking how many more kilometers were left. But we did it, finally. At about 4.30 pm we parked at the venue, paid for it and went straight down to see the formations. The light was fabulous and the rocks were glowing orange-red. I reckon half an hour later it would be too late for such favorable conditions.










Ok, but we had 30 kms to go to get to Doro Nawas where we were staying. And again on that road! Very exhaustive. Yet, it's never too late to snap an occasional landscape here and there on the way:




We arrived at the lodge right at a sunset at 5.30 pm.




We were greeted with awesome singing made by the lodge crew. After a welcome drink we went to our chalets. On that very day we had our wedding anniversary and we found a bottle of wine waiting for us in our room. There were accompanying wishes on a nice postcard left next to it. It was very kind from the lodge, we thought. Before going for a dinner I managed to take some pictures, which do not reflect what I could see with my eyes.




The lodge in the evening looked very nice and cosy.




But another surprise waited for us, still. Instead of sitting in the common dining hall were were requested to go up to a terrace. The team prepared for us a table there, so that we could have a dinner under the stars.




It was an absolute killer. Having meal on a warm Namibian evening with a black canopy dotted with stars over our heads was surreal. The menu was explained to us both in English and in click language and that was so entertaining. The quality of food was superb, needless to say. When we finished we heard more singing coming from the dining hall. We also went there and listened to several great songs that the local choir performed for their guests. And then they were even dancing asking everybody to join.




That was a fantastic way to celebrate our anniversary and an amazing experience with all the lodge was offering on that evening.







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Day 6


Next morning was crisp and cool. And it was again so quiet, but only until I heard a scream of my daughter in the adjacent room: get it off, get it off !!! I rushed there immediately and I saw her tucked in the other end of a bed pointing her finger up. She told me she had seen something in the mosquito net when it started moving. She then realized it was a scorpio. And scorpio it was, indeed. It was nestled between two layers of a net up over the bed.




It must have crawled there during night and possibly it could have been in the bed for some time. You never know who you're sleeping with. :P I separated the net's layers and shoke it off on the floor. Then  used a lid from a dust been and swept it out of our room. From that moment onwards we were always checking our boots before we put them on.

The morning was still glorious, however:




Before we went for breakfast we had admired the surroundings from our terrace.




I could see some people in other chalets rolled their beds out to the terrace. I do not know if they did it in the morning or they spent the night under the stars, but certainly I wouldn't do it myself in winter.

After breakfast we were ready to go and on departure we heard a farewell song performed by the lodge team. I know they do it for every single guest as a routine, but still it was a very nice experience and all four of us appreciated it greatly.

We were supposed to visit Twyfelfontein in the morning, but here we started to make our compromises. We knew if we had had to spend some time there we would have had less time at Spitzkoppe which was our next stop. Although the route on this day was not so long we finally decided to skip the Twyfelfontein. Too bad, but lesson learn again.

On our way to Spitzkoppe we were admiring the views of Damaraland.




And there were new landscapes unfolding in front of us.




For lunch we stopped in Uis to visit the Cactus Coffee, which was recommended by so many people. And yes, this is a place worth of spending some time at and having great cakes and juices / shakes. Definitely we enjoyed it.




At this point I need to please my wife and post a picture she took herself in Uis. She's very keen on flowers of whatever kind, so was very impressed by what she could see there.




Such views in Uis are quite common and the city itself looks very tidy and colourful.

Before 3 pm we started to the Spitzkoppe mountains on a horizon. The closer we were getting the nicer the vistas were.




When we arrived there it was after 3. We were staying in the new lodge and the impression it made on us was great. We were quickly checked in, then we left our luggage in the room. Having no time to lose we decided to go to the rock bridge and stay there until sunset.

We went there by car using a map which we got at a reception. When I was planning our stay at Spitzkoppe the Googgle maps were not reflecting a vast span this place extends on. We were a bit surprised by the distances and making it without a car would be much harder. We showed up at the bridge after 4 pm. The light was great and so was the sky. Still I would prefer some clouds, but you cannot have everything. We enjoyed climbing the rocks and just exploring the area.








The sun was setting quickly which made some nice opportunities:




We also saw some rock dassies sunbathing in the afternoon light.




and the photographer doing exactly the same ;)




 On our way back to the lodge the colors were quickly changing from orange to red.








Really, it was a beautiful afternoon and evening. We could call it a day.




Edited by garito01
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50 minutes ago, garito01 said:

At this point I need to please my wife and post a picture she took herself in Uis.


And I am glad you did it as it brings colours to the mix :). Spitzkoope is impressive; your photos of the bridge are excellent specially the sunstars one!


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@xelas , Spitzkoppe is a must in our opinion. We fell in love with this place. Thanks for comment.



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The day was definitely over, but whole night was ahead of me.


What I wanted to do was to go to the rock bridge at night and do a shooting for timelapse there. About two hours should be enough for roughly 8 seconds of a timelapse. And I wanted this timelapse to also include the Milky Way. Conditions were very favorable as the sky was cloudless and the moon had already set at around 7 pm. The sooner I could get to the bridge, the better, because the elevation of the Milky Way would be higher and higher and no lens would be capable of covering such angle that would make both objects appear in the same frame. Yet, the dinner was taking us longer than planned and later on my way to the bridge I realized I had forgotten to take my tripod. Tripod is mandatory for such shooting, so I had to go back. I got from the reception keys to the gate and went to my target location. It was about 9 pm when I was there. After a short climbing I reached the bridge and found a good place for shooting. The problem was I saw a few people around the bridge as well. As long as everybody stayed low profile, I mean no torches in use, all was good. But when they were using lights it was messing up my long exposure shots. This place is for everybody and you have to take it into account and live with that, but as everywhere, still some people are careless and do not pay attention to others. There was one guy who came to 'my' side of the bridge and asked if he could take some pictures. Of course I did not mind. And then he took out a big beamer and started heavy light painting on the bridge. It lasted for good 25 minutes and my shots from that section are all screwed. On top of that there were 2 overlander buses in campsites nearby and people were having fun around campfires. That alone would not be a problem, but they were using their headlights and just for fun they were using them to play and light the rocks all around them. At around 10 pm the situation improved and I could easily continue. Probably I should have come at 2 or 3 am when everything was dark and calm, but that would mean I would be bothering those people when climbing to the bridge (which I did not want). Or alternatively I should have stayed at the bridge all the time, started my shooting at around 2 and finished it about 5. Then I could leave early morning. But I was clearly not prepared to spend the night out on rocks :D

I'm not complaining, really, just trying to share my experience and say how difficult it is sometimes to realize your plans especially when you have only one night to do that. Anyways, it was great to spend 2,5 hours at the rock bridge and watch the sky with so many stars. It was a fantastic feeling, in fact.

Here is the picture I took before I started my timelapse:




And this is a panorama I made after my timelapse was over. As you can see there is clearly less light pollution there. The shot is not perfect as I had to aim the lens high up and I did not have pano head, but still it's plenty enough for me. I really like this picture.




After 11 pm I was back at the lodge which seemed to be all asleep..






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Peter Connan

Excellent star shots!

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Thanks Peter,


I was really amazed at how little PP it involved compared to my trials with the Milky Way and stars back at home. Light pollution-free environment not only is beautiful to our eyes, but it helps tremendously in getting a better final result.



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Peter Connan

Indeed, it does help a lot!

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Those photos are fantastic. A lot of effort to get them, but so worth!

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Thanks @xelas, from today's perspective not so much effort. But to remember about everything needed to do that on location, that was a challenge :).



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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 7


Next day seemed to be as busy as previous ones, but straight in the morning we had a discussion on what to do. Myself I was opting for leaving early to Ameib Ranch and spend about 2 hours there and try to see the Bulls' Party, the Elephant's Head and possibly the Philip's Cave. Quite ambitious I admit, especially that we then were supposed to go to Swakopmund where at 2 pm we had our Sandwich Harbor tour organized. Still, though, we have not seen some interesting places around Spitzkoppe. Kids voted for staying longer at Spitzkoppe and having more relaxed trip to Swakopmund. My wife slowly tended to favor this choice, so being in minority I finally gave up. Which means another compromise was done as compared to our initial itinerary. On the other hand this is one more reason to cover Ameib Ranch some when in the future, right ? Ok, with the decision made we were ready to further explore the area. We quickly ordered our tour, as some places could only be seen with a guide. Uno was our guide and he turned out to be a very knowledgeable and easy-going person. He picked us up at the chalet and we headed towards the gate. But before still we could admire outstanding views in the morning light.






First we visited the Bushmen Paradise. To reach it we needed to climb up the rocks which took a fair bit of effort and at times we had to resort to using chains as a help on our way up. It was a cool morning, slightly after 7 am, so it was not bad to make this exercise. Slight wind gusts provided nice conditions, so it did not feel arduous at all. However, probably I would change my mind if I had to do the same path in the summertime at whatever time different from an early morning or a late evening. On top of the rocks the view was splendid.






Inside the cave we could admire rock paintings made by ancient bushmen. Although not as iconic as the ones of Twyfelfontein those paintings made up for our missed opportunity from the previous day.






Going out of the cave we could see droppings of klipspringers, but were not lucky enough to see the animal itself. They are kind of elusive and more of a nocturnal specie, thus the chances were rather thin. How about your experiences with klipspringers ? Is it really difficult to see them out in the wild ? This time we had to be happy only with this: :lol:




Later we descended using chains again and went to the Small Bushmen Paradise where we watched other rock paintings.




From there we moved to the Zebra Pool. Despite winter and a dry season there was still some water in it and we could see some tadpoles as well. We sat there for a while just to take in the views around. Really, we could have spent there an eternity. It's such a great place, Spitzkoppe.




Next we went to see the Golden Snake painting which was well hidden among the rocks. Uno told us they do not sign post it to prevent occasional visitors from unauthorized access. He told us stories about guests sprinkling the paintings with water and what not to improve contrast and take better pictures. We also saw some 'contemporary paintings' or rock carvings made by careless tourists.






We enjoyed the Golden Snake quite a lot, but it was already a time to leave. We came back to the camp to have a late breakfast and then were back to our rooms to quickly pack up.




After 11 am we were on our way to Swakopmund. Apart from a gravel connection part the road was tarred and very comfortable to drive. We let know our guide from the Desert Tracks that we would be able to start our tour around quarter past 1 pm. Having arrived at Swakopmund Guesthouse we quickly dropped our stuff in the room. Right after that Jaun came in his vehicle and we were ready to go. We first went to Walvis Bay where we made a short stop to enable Jaun to deflate the tires. In the meantime I tried to spot flamingos in the area, but they were pretty far away and strongly back-lit. There were both greater flamingos and lesser flamingos there.








Then Jaun suggested that we drive some smaller dunes in the vicinity to see if we were all fine to do that before moving to to Sandwich Harbor. No problems for us, fortunately. We came to a nice vantage point from where we could see salt works. Later we were driving among those salt fields, but the views from up above were plain spectacular.










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Better a little rushed in Namibia than completely relaxed on your couch at home.  What a marvelous lion encounter you had for your kids.  The whole family (of lions) was there, including very young cubs, and some roaring! 


Let me echo that nice light comment.  Trust your illness was short-lived.


Your account of the speeder and the elephant could have had a horrific ending.


I do like that golden snake too.  Thanks for your comments on the night sky shots.  You got some good ones despite the setbacks. 


I bet you'd never guess who you'd be sleeping with on your anniversary.  I hope the poster who was asking about insects in the accommodations does not see that scorpion in the netting.  That's very rare.


Salt fields are stunning! 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks a lot @Atravelynn for your comments and I am really glad you liked the pictures.

Regarding the speeder these were exactly my thoughts during those 20 minutes we stood there.



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