Category Archives: Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Photo Tour

Into the Night with Rhinos, Elephants, and …

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Dawie Reports from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

We left Swakopmund after a leisurely breakfast and drove to Etosha where we arrived during the afternoon. We immediately started to prepare for our first evening shoot at the waterhole next to the camp.

After dark we settled at the waterhole with our cameras – and our first visitors arrived almost immediately. A couple of elephants pitched up for a long drink and they were barely out of sight when the first Rhinos arrived. In total we saw around five Black Rhinos. We used our flashes to get some superb images of the huge animals in the inky blackness.

We remained at the waterhole until five or six lions arrived. At the time a female Black Rhino was at the water with her calf, and the lions showed more than a passing interest in the little calf. But the Rhino mother was very protective and the lions heeded her angry warnings and retreated without attempting any attack.

We didn’t only see elephants and Rhinos – giraffe, a pack of hyenas, and Springbok also visited the waterhole and many of the guests remained to see who would arrive next, although a few opted for bed after the lions had left.

The hardier guests actually remained through the night and joined the morning game drive with plenty of coffee but without any rest.

We headed to one of gathering points for animals not far from the camp. At this waterhole we had an almost nonstop procession of animals that arrived to drink. Plains animals like zebra, springbok, and Oryx arrived. We waited for any cats to appear, but when we saw none, we decided to move to a different waterhole.

And wow! That was a superb move. We saw a total of three Honey Badgers that were out foraging. We photographed them digging in the sand.

When we returned to the waterhole we had left earlier we found plenty of zebras running hither and thither, creating dust and plenty of action. Then another herd of zebras arrived and marched in an orderly single file to the water’s edge. Ostriches and more oryx completed the idyllic picture.

For our afternoon drive we headed in a different direction. We passed plenty of Plains game again, and when we neared the waterhole at our afternoon destination we were taken aback to see so many Black-backed Jackals. They moved in all directions and some even came to investigate our vehicles. As we looked around we spotted two lionesses on a nearby ridge. There were zebra, wildebeest and oryx wandering around, but although the lions kept an eye on them, there was no actual hunt.

Then one of the jackals wandered too close to the lions, and a lioness leaped up, ready for action. The jackal got quite a fright and retreated in a flash – the lions settled down to sleep. They were disturbed from time the time when different animals wandered close to them, but again, the lions were spotted as soon as one lifted a head, and they were given a wide berth.

On our way back to the camp we passed Kori Bustards and jackals.

After dinner we went to the waterhole where we again found visitors. A female rhino was there with her calf (maybe the same one from before), but there were no elephants. A male rhino stood right next to the water’s edge and seemed to claim the water for himself. He was reluctant to allow the female and calf closer.

The safari guests who remained for much of the night were able to photograph giraffe drinking in the night and then four zebras arrived, lined up and drank together in a line. And many Rhinos appeared through the night, keeping those alert enough to remain awake busy until the early hours of the morning.

As tomorrow is our final full day here, we really want to make the most of every opportunity …

Where the Sea Meets the Desert …

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Brendon Reports from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

On our final morning at Sossussvlei some of our guests decided to experience a beautiful and rather thrilling two hour helicopter excursion. The light was magnificent as they took off, and conditions were perfect to see and to photograph the different wildlife species from the air. And wow! There was so much to see from that vantage point. Oryx were dotted over the dunes, Hartmann’s Zebra could be identified against that deep red colour of the sand, and were distinguishable from the Plains Zebras hat roamed close by. In addition wildebeest, and even an aardvark were photographed.

After the flight, we all packed up for our journey to Swakopmund. Having travelled this road many times we naturally enjoyed our traditional stop at Solitaire for the most delicious Apple Strudel imaginable.

We arrived at Walvis Bay in the late afternoon, and relaxed at the Strand Hotel before we met on the beach to enjoy sundowners while overlooked by a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins.

The next day we were up early and headed to The harbour where we boarded our charter boat to enjoy the marine life. Pelicans, flamingos and seals dominated, but there were plenty of gull species and other sea birds to keep our cameras busy without a break.

Pelicans flew past us again and again, hoping that we were a fishing vessel with the opportunity to grab a fish or two. They were quite tame and it was easy to capture many full frame shots as they investigated us.

We reached Seal Point where the sight (and smell!) of thousands of seals is amazing. They were everywhere, and we watched as they sunbathed, cavorted in the waves, and created a raucous, deep throated din that vied with the incessant crash of the waves. They swam around our boat, and the youngsters popped up again and again to eye us, and to also hope that we were a clumsy fishing vessel given to conveniently dropping our catch.

On the way back to the harbour we found a pod of Benguela Dolphins – or maybe they found us and also came to investigate. They are smaller than their Bottlenose cousins, and they, too provided us with plenty of entertainment and photographic opportunities and they swam around us, caught our bow-wave, and frolicked non-stop.

We were accompanied to the harbour by ever present Pelicans and a few gulls, so there was no chance at all to put our cameras down – there was too much action!

We had a short break during midday and then headed to the salt pans to photograph flamingos. The light was magnificent, followed by a breath-taking sunset. The flamingos flew back and forth against that incredible backdrop, or gathered together in the shallows to create a most beautiful shimmering kaleidoscope. We could not get enough of the sight, and there was an audible sigh when the sun dipped below the horizon and colour starred to disappear into the night.

Our next day was completely different. Tommy’s Tours picked us up bright and early at the hotel to take us into the desert for our encounters with the ‘Small Five’ of the Living Desert.

Our guide ensured that we saw Palmetto Geckos, Tractrac Chats, Namaqua Chameleons, a Horned Adder, and nearly a dozen different Sidewinders that were busy during the warm weather that we were lucky to experience. In addition, our guide pointed out Shovel-nosed Geckoes, and gave a description of each creature’s life and adaptations to the harsh desert.

We drove deep into the dunes where the isolation and dramatic scenery had an impact on each of us.

We were amazed again and again at how different creatures survived in such harsh, arid conditions.

 

After a quick lunch we all wanted to return to the flamingos for more photography in that unbelievably beautiful setting.

 

After our wonderful sojourn in Walvis with such varied, unique experiences, our next stop takes us to Etosha …

Unusual Lighting in an Unusual Setting …

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Dawie’s News from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

 

The very early ghostly pre-sunrise morning we visited a house close to Kolmanskop. The little house is on a railway line and it was a fabulous subject for our early, eerie shoot. The starts were still bright in the still dark sky and our photos were as impactful as the scenes we we captured. We practised light painting and then as signs of the morning sunrise started to appear in the sky we moved over to Kolmanskop town to photograph the many ghostly houses there.

There is sand everywhere – inside and outside!

After a few hours we headed back for breakfast. We rested for much of the day as we were keen for lots and lots of night photography. The hospital provided a particularly successful shoot, with long, abandoned corridors, light streaming through doors and sand tinted windows, and the beautiful colours of the ubiquitous sand reflected everywhere.

We returned to the hotel for dinner before we set out for the abandoned railway station – Grasplatz –  where the first diamond in the area was discovered. We had all different ideas regarding lighting and our photos as we tried the different approaches turned out really well. We tried to light the buildings from inside to give the impression that someone was home. This made each photo look even more abandoned and neglected.

Then we photographed the stars and Milky Way through windows, and through an old train. Wow! They all just worked out so very well.

We returned to the Lodge to get some rest before another day dawned …

A Ghostly Ghost Town Gradually Engulfed …

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Brendon’s News from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

We left Windhoek after breakfast on the first morning of our trip and after a pleasant drive we arrived at Keetmanshoop in time for lunch.

Before long we were ready to visit the famous Quiver Tree Forest for our first real shoot on this trip. The light was beautiful, and the trees are all budding, creating something extra special to photograph. The sunset was truly amazing, and with the unique Quiver Trees in the foreground the scene was set to start a collection of awesome photos. The rock formations, green trees, and vivid sky were simply beautiful.

Then after dinner we prepared for our evening shoot.

We returned to the forest and remained there until the early hours of the morning. We used different techniques, aimed our cameras as different angles, and created some fabulous night time shots. Light painting, photos of those unbelievably bright stars hanging just above the trees, it all worked out so well! With no light pollution the sky out here is totally beyond description.

When we woke up in the morning we enjoyed a latish breakfast and then set off for Luderitz. Another picturesque drive saw us arrive at the town in time for lunch.

And then we were off for something different again – a shoot at Kolmanskop – a ghost town in the desert. It is so eerie to walk around and see how the sand dunes do not halt their relentless march on the town and large, beautiful buildings that have stood for more than a hundred years are gradually being engulfed.

The light was magnificent and clear again, and was the best for photography. It has to be a photographers dream to visit here even once to experience and take advantage  the day and night photographic opportunities.

More tomorrow …

Star Photography and a Ghost Town …

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Brendon’s News from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

On our first morning we arrived at Windhoek where we spent night before we departed after breakfast the next morning for our drive to Keetmanshoop. The drive was smooth and we arrived at our destination safely.

After we checked in at the Lodge, freshened up, and had a bite to eat we went to the Quiver Tree Forest in time for sunset. The trees are such a unique and interesting shape and they make for interesting, impactful photographs. Rock Hyraxes scurried around and sat on rocks to capture the last of the sun rays. We remained until after sunset and only then returned to the Lodge for dinner.

Well after sunset, when it was really dark outside we returned to the Quiver Tree Forest to photograph the magnificent, glittering stars. I know the stars here are always magnificent to see but this time they just seemed to be extra bright, extra radiant and our photos show that. I know what writers mean when they say that the Milky Way blazed across the sky.

It was so phenomenal that we remained from around 20:00 until well after midnight.

The next morning we were back in our vehicle after breakfast and drove through to Luderitz where we arrived in time for lunch.

In the afternoon we wanted to visit some local sites like the Kolmanskop Ghost Town, but the wind blew at almost a gale force, so we returned to the hotel. Not only was it quite unpleasant to be beaten and stung by the sand and the wind, the dust storm is very damaging to cameras.

This morning we headed back to Kolmanskop where we arrived before sunrise. Wow, the ghost town is certainly eerie at that time of day. Strange shadows loomed everywhere. Photography during the blue hour and then later during the golden hour was fabulous.


Now we are having breakfast before we return to Kolmanskop, but not for very long as high winds are predicted again for this afternoon …

The Lions Meet Up …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour:

As we left after our early breakfast we decided to first check the area where we saw the Lioness with her three Cubs. We found two young male Lion at a waterhole in that area, while a large male Lion had finished his morning drink and was walking away. First we photographed the two youngsters at the waterhole as they played, then drank a little, then romped around again. They were such fun to watch and to photograph.

When we all had a collection of decent shots of the two we went in search of the large male. We caught up with him without any bother and found that he was accompanied by two other adult males. The three walked about and roared intermittently. The sound was most impressive and quite spine chilling from a few meters away.

The Lions returned to the youngsters at the waterhole together, and on the way they met up with the female with the cubs. The young males then started a boisterous game with the little cubs with much batting, tumbling around, stalking, and leaping on each other. The interaction was incredibly endearing and our photography was punctuated by plenty of oooohs and aaaahs from our group.

As always we saw plenty of Zebra, Giraffe, Gemsbok, Springbok, and all the other Plains animals.

After an afternoon siesta we visited the waterhole in front of the camp to photograph the Elephants and Springbok drinking there.

Our afternoon drive started quietly, with plenty of Plains animals again. We returned to the Lions for late afternoon shots.

Our drive back to the camp was leisurely, and we stopped regularly for spectacular photographs of animals against the setting sun.

Tomorrow we bead back to Windhoek …

Lion – Ostrich Chase …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour:

Sunrise found us at a waterhole quite close to the camp. We sat watching the changing sky and the peaceful, gradually lightening surroundings but that only lasted for few minutes.

Suddenly we saw animals streaking across the open plain in front of us. Two Lionesses were in pursuit of some Ostriches. We watched them for a further forty minutes or so, and although our photographic opportunities were poor, it was great to watch drama and interaction between the Lions and their reluctant, swift prey.

When it appeared that there would be no further developments in the failed hunt we left the scene to take a drive around. We saw plenty of Plains animals, and stopped to photograph Zebra and Giraffe.

Because of our late night last night with very little sleep before we ventured out on our early morning drive we found ourselves becoming very weary as the morning warmed up. We decided to return to the camp for a midday nap, especially as we have planned another nocturnal visit to the waterhole.

This afternoon we visited a few water holes where we saw Elephants and Giraffes together. Then we headed towards a different waterhole to photograph the sunset. Luck was certainly on our side as we came upon a Lioness with three small cubs right next to the road.

We stopped to photograph them and then to our amazement saw that just a few meters away a group of Bat-eared Foxes were wandering around. They came to examine our vehicle and totally ignored the Lions that were so very close. And the Lions? They behaved as though they could not even see the foxes. They didn’t even glance at them.

After that interesting sighting we returned to the camp for dinner and to prepare for our moonlight visit to the waterhole. There will be a Blue Moon tonight, that promises good visibility in the dark.

And the moon was bright and gave a wonderful, mysterious glow to the countryside.

Visitors came to the waterhole in droves. A large number of Elephant bulls arrived and milled around the water for ages. They were followed by Zebra, a large herd of Giraffe, and then five Black Rhino arrived together. The rhinos were in a sparring mood and staged a fight next to the water, creating plenty of dust. They looked formidable and it was almost unbelievable to see each combatant walk away unscathed after the encounter.

Then a White Rhino arrived for a long, leisurely drink. After he left we felt that it would be the ideal time for us to also get some sleep before our early morning start …

Night at the Waterhole …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour:

We started out late – it was about three hours after dinner when we made our way to the waterhole for some nighttime photography.

And what a night!

When we arrived at our strategic spot we found a herd of Elephants already at the water. We were still sorting out our flashes and settings when a Black Rhino arrived for his evening drink. We hurried and yes! Our photographs were good. Just in time!

Then the action started. Something about the Rhino annoyed the Elephants and they ganged up on the single animal. He didn’t resist too much, and as he had managed to have a quick drink he gave way and lumbered off into the darkness. Having chased the Rhino, the Elephants also left the scene.

After a short break we saw figures looming out of the darkness. As they came closer we saw that they were Spotted Hyenas. They slunk down to the water’s edge and started to drink. Our cameras captured every moment and movement and then we spotted another large shape that started to materialise silently from the darkness – another Black Rhino joined us for the shoot. Wow! We were more than delighted!

Then a trickle of different animals arrived. There were mostly elephants. But what was that? As it came closer we identified a Brown Hyena. He enjoyed a nice long drink and we were able to get some good images. He was interrupted by a Black-backed Jackal.

We looked up and saw an unmistakeable silhouette in the distance. Slowly but surely it came closer and closer. The Giraffe was so very cautious, and then it stopped completely. The lofty animal stood stock still and stared and stared, no longer moving.

And then we saw what had the caught the giraffe’s attention. A large male Lion walked steadily to the waters edge and there it stopped to drink and to stare at us between laps.

Having satisfied its thirst the Lion departed and at last the Giraffe could approach. And as if from nowhere, a whole herd of Giraffe appeared to enjoy a long, awkward drink at the waterhole.

Then we looked at our watches. We needed to get back to the camp for a short sleep before our morning game drive that will probably start right back at the waterhole …

Three Cheetah Cubs Alone?

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour:

After another phenomenal day it is difficult to know where to begin.

So let us start with our early breakfast at the camp. Then our game drive started and we could hardly believe how many zebras there were. They were everywhere and around every corner – thousands of them.

Then to our amazement we spotted three tiny cheetah cubs in the road. They were alone. All three looked at us as our cameras captured their cuteness. Then they dashed into the grass next to the road where we saw their mother after about ten seconds. She was walking along next to the road. The little ones tumbled over each other as they tried to keep up with her. We followed, photographing each adorable interaction until all four disappeared into a Mopane thicket.

We traveled around, stopping frequently when good photographic subjects appeared such as Red Hartebeest, Oryx, Springbok – and more Zebras.

It was almost midday when we found four large Elephant bulls walking towards a waterhole. We watched as they bathed in the cool water and then dusted themselves with the surrounding sand. They looked quite ghostlike and very beautiful with the white Etosha sand covering them. We positioned ourselves to photograph them walking together towards us. What fabulous photographs those turned out to be. Four huge males, covered in white sand – just fabulous!

After a shortish lunch break back at the camp we set out for our afternoon drive. After cruising around for a while we stopped at a waterhole to see what animals would visit for an afternoon drink. And they arrived, herd after herd! Oryx, Zebra, Impala, and Wildebeest all took their turns. In between the animals there were plenty of birds, including Bateleurs and Kori Bustards.

We were about to return to the camp when a Black Rhino arrived for a drink, so we simply had to delay for photographs and to watch him as he drank his fill.

On the way back to the camp we saw another herd of elephants and arrived back ready for dinner and to check our photographs from our very productive day.

Tomorrow we may start at one of the waterholes to catch the dawn visitors …

Lions Hunt Zebra – …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour:

What a fabulous day ..

After an early breakfast we left Halali Camp and took a leisurely drive along, stopping for any animal that caught our attention. And there were plenty. Among the Plains animals we saw Red Hartebeest, plenty of Giraffe, Springbok and large Zebra herds.

We arrived at a waterhole and sat there, watching and waiting to see if any different animals would pitch up for an early drink. We were the only humans there, and with our vehicle engine turned off all one could hear were birds twittering and a light breeze rustling a few leaves.

We were relaxed, looking around peacefully when suddenly a silhouette appeared on a ridge. That unmistakable shape – a lion. Then another – and another. The whole pride was there. There were two males with four females and three little cubs. They relaxed in the early rays of the sun, and watched the waterhole from a distance.

Then a herd of Zebra arrived for a drink. The lions looked up with interest, but no, they looked away again. A herd of Springbok arrived next. The lions looked up, but again there was no real interest. When Gemsbok and then Wildebeest arrived to drink, the reaction from the lions was the same. Only a perfunctory glance or two, followed by zero interest.

When the different animals had moved away from the waterhole we also took a quick break for coffee and snacks, but returned very quickly. We were not going to miss any action! But luckily the lions had not moved. They were dozing peacefully.

Until a large herd of Zebras arrived. I am not sure what was different about this herd, but they immediately had the lions focused on their every move. As the Zebras approached the waterhole the lions spread out in full hunting mode. Tension mounted. We could scarcely breathe! The excitement! The adrenaline! We could almost hear our own heartbeats …

The lions crept closer and closer … whew! We were sweating, cameras ready and trained on the predators! Then something spooked the zebras and they dashed away in a cloud of dust.

But that was not the end – a standoff developed. Almost three hours with the lions crouched, watching the zebras intently, while the zebras stared fixedly back at them. Each lion movement elicited a reaction from the zebras, and if a zebra so much as twitched a muscle, all the lions’ attention focused on that animal.

And so it continued – until eventually the zebras gave up, and left, thirsty, but alive.

The lions went to lie down and we thought that they would nap for some time. But to our surprise one of the males started mating with one of the females …

On the way back to the camp we saw a magnificent Kudu bull at a waterhole and Giraffe could be seen everywhere …

In the morning we would like to return to the lions to see if they decide to hunt again …