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Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Photo Tour

Our First Game Drive at Etosha …

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

After another early breakfast we left Swakopmund for the long drive to Etosha. We arrived after midday and checked into our accommodation as quickly as we could so that we could start our first game drive.

The drive was really worthwhile. We saw so much in that short time. We found Bat-eared Foxes and because they always look so appealing in photographs we spent quite a while with them. There were Springbok and Wildebeest looking fabulous against the vibrant colours of the setting sun.

In addition we saw plenty of Plains animals. Giraffes and Zebra looked particularly striking in the golden light and then later with the iridescent sky as a backdrop.

On the way back to the camp we saw a female Black Rhino with a small calf. There was just enough of the waning light for photography and we used every last bit of the remaining light for those images.

Now that we have experienced the abundance of the animals in the park and the lively settings for viewing and for photography, everyone is really looking forward to our morning drive …

On the Trail of the Desert Little Five …

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

What a fabulous day in the desert!

We had breakfast very early again and were ready to depart for our desert experience by 07:00. We were in search of the Little Five and hoped that we would see some or even most of them. Yes, we saw the five – and more …

First we saw a beautiful Palmato Gecko. We crawled around to photograph the colourful little lizard from every possible angle.

Then our guide spotted Desert Chameleon tracks in the sand. We jumped out of our vehicle and there it was. Once again we crawled around in the sand to get those perfect eye level shots, oblivious to anything except what we could see in our viewfinders. Next our guide took out a few mealworms to give the little creature a treat and of course we were able to photograph the Chameleon as it ate the little tidbits.

Next came a Fitzsimmons Legless Skink skulking in the dunes, pretending to be a snake. Down again into the sand we went and were rewarded again with outstanding closeup eye-level photographs.

We continued our quest for the Five, and our next find was when we came across a Shovel-shouted Lizard. Out came our wide-angled lenses again and we found ourselves on the desert floor once more.

Aha! The one that many think of as synonymous with the Namibian Desert – the Sidewinder. Of course we saw the snake! He was well camouflaged in the sand when we first found him, but he very cooperatively gave us time to photograph his excellent attempts at hiding from us before he emerged from the sand and to our delight started to make his way up the dune with that typical side winding motion that gives the species their descriptive name. At the top of the dune he dug his way back into the sand, so we left him in peace.

After accomplishing our Little Five Quest we took a slow drive back to our hotel in Swakopmund, where we arrived happy and satisfied and in time for dinner.

In the morning we depart for Etosha …

Pelicans vs Seals …

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

We had an early breakfast before we arrived at Walvis Bay where are chartered boat waited for us. We clambered on board, cameras and gear all ready and then went out to sea for a lovely long trip that lasted for about five hours.

And wow! Was that ever fabulous. Once again words simply fail me – everyone enjoyed every moment so much! There were nonstop photographic opportunities and our cameras were kept busy for the whole journey.

Pelicans flew around the boat. We could photograph them with different lenses and from every possible angle.

Out came wide angle and different long lenses. It seemed at times that the Pelicans actually enjoyed the attention, they were so cooperative. There were also cormorants, gulls, and plenty of other bird species. There is plenty of fishing here, and the wildlife associates boats with food that they can pilfer.

We spent time with Seals that jumped up and down next to the boat and played in the water around us. Then a small drama erupted when our skipper threw a few fish overboard, causing an intense competition between Seals and Pelicans. The Seals tried to chase the Pelicans while the Pelicans tried to outsmart the Seals. The interaction was amusing and gave us many fine photographs.

As we traveled close to the beach we saw two Black-backed Jackals on the beach. They were strolling along slowly and we were able to photograph them from the boat.

Then it was our turn to be spoiled. Out came platters of sea foods – including oysters and different snacks, and we filled up before we returned to the hotel to download memory cards and recharge batteries.

Then it was time to go out again. We photographed the flamingoes along the Lagoon at Walvis Bay. It was so beautiful! The birds flew back and forth, and gathered in groups. We spent the whole afternoon with them before we returned to enjoy a very welcome and delicious dinner at a restaurant in Swakopmund.

Now we are ready for bed and too exhausted to even think about the interesting and very different activities planned for tomorrow …

Star Trail Success …

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

We dashed off before dawn to pick up our cameras that we had left over night at Dead Vlei. Apprehension! What would our photos be like? Would they be successful? We arrived and peeked anxiously. Aaah! Brilliant! Our star trails turned out even better than we had hoped.

We remained at Dead Vlei to photograph the rising sun and the vibrant, almost dazzling colours. The red dunes glowed in the early light, and the dark tree silhouettes against those dunes looked fabulous.

The morning was rather misty, and that created a different, moody aspect to our pics.

We remained until all the trees were in bright sunlight and no longer suitable for the type of photography we were after. We returned to the Lodge for a meal and to relax for a while after that ultra early morning start.

When we went out again this afternoon we were lucky enough to enjoy multiple sightings of both oryx and springbok. The animals were running through the dunes. The oryx spent quite some time duelling. They locked those fearsome horns and sparred with one another. It seemed miraculous than none appeared to be injured, and after an encounter, all would end in peace and the two contestant trotted off together.

All in all the day was superb again. Tomorrow some guests have planned an early helicopter trip, and when they return we travel to our next destination … the picturesque town of Swakopmund …

More Star Photography – and a Cooperative Oryx

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

Everyone was so delighted with the results of our star photography and star trails that we simply had to make a plan again. It was too far to return to Dead Vlei, so we decided to set up our cameras closer to the Lodge where beautiful dunes dominate the skyline. So that is what we did – we went out and after a bit of star photography we set up our gear for star trails, and then returned to the Lodge.

Even before we retrieved our cameras one of our Tusk guests left for his two hour helicopter tour of the area. He returned absolutely delighted with the amazing sightings and photography during those hours. He saw numerous herds of oryx, many zebra herds, and had a thoroughly memorable, stupendous time. He focused on wildlife, and returned with great images.

The remainder of our group went out to retrieve our cameras and once again our results are fabulous.

Everyone is delighted!

Then, to add to this, because the morning was so beautiful and luck was on our side, we were able to photograph oryx and springbok all the way back to the Lodge. At one stage we came across a very relaxed oryx. He didn’t mind our presence at all and we were able to grab our cameras and get out of the vehicle to lie flat on the ground. From that perspective and with the dunes behind him, we captured some shots of the animal that we are all very proud to add to our growing collections.

After checking out of the Lodge we drove to Swakopmund. We arrived and settled into our beach hotel. We are enjoying the beautiful view with sundowners before we move to the dining room for dinner.

After those late nights and early mornings in Sossusvlei we plan to enjoy an early night especially as we have a full programme waiting for us tomorrow …

Sossusvlei from the Air and on the Ground …

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

The drive from Keetmanshoop to Sossusvlei started after a hearty breakfast, and turned out to be an easy trip. We arrived in good time – in fact we were in time for a late lunch.

Three guests then enjoyed a helicopter excursion to take in the amazing, dramatic sights from an aerial perspective. The helicopter took them all the way over the dunes to the ocean where the awesome sight of the waves crashing onto the dunes provided photographic opportunity after opportunity.

They then experienced Dead Vlei from the air and soon after they spotted a jackal and later some gemsbok.

A guest who opted not to take the helicopter trip accompanied me to the Sossusvlei Park. We took the opportunity to capture the different moods and angles of the beautiful dunes and were delighted to find Springbok to complete our photographic compositions. We positioned ourselves to snap the buck as they moved along the ridge of the dunes … simply wonderful!

All too soon it was time to pick up the guests from their helicopter ride and to return to the Lodge for dinner.

Tomorrow we plan to spend much of our time in the park again …

Dunes, Desert Animals, and Star Trails …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour
(All Photos from back of Dawie and Tusk Guest Cameras)

What a beautiful morning we woke up to this morning … and what a setting to experience it! It was glorious.

After a sumptuous breakfast at our hotel and fortified with coffee we set out for the dunes. We were really hoping to see a few animals and had our fingers crossed that an oryx and/or a Springbok would put in an appearance.

Well, luck was fully on our side. We collected great photographs of Gemsbok (Oryx) running around, and were then lucky enough to see a number of springbok as well. The setting was exactly what we hoped for and we certainly took full advantage of each moment.

We spent 3 to 4 hours photographing oryx in different locations. We drove up and down the road as we searched for them, and stopped regularly to photograph the beautiful dunes, notably the dune spines that curve so sinuously and create such beautiful shapes.

Back at the Lodge we spent time going through our images, and used the day’s photos for our Lightroom workshop.

We relaxed for a while before we left for Dead Vlei for late afternoon shots. It was quite a breezy afternoon, with dust swirling around. The dust clouds created ever changing patterns, together with the stark dead trees, the magnificent dunes, and the vibrant sunset colours meant that our photography was ultra successful. The golden light with the eery, stark tree silhouettes looked amazing and our pics turned out brilliantly!

As darkness took over we set up our cameras and left them out in the desert to capture star trails through the night. When we return at first light to retrieve our camera equipment we will be able to see to what extent we have been successful …

The Magic of Night in the Quiver Tree Forest …

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Dawie’s Update from the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour
(Photos from back of Dawie’s Camera)

Everyone arrived yesterday and after a delicious early breakfast at our hotel in Windhoek we drove together to Keetmanshoop. After checking into the Lodge we grabbed our camera equipment … all ready for the famed Quiver Tree Forest.

The Quiver Tree Forest is really something to be experienced. The shapes of the trees create unique photographs and we scouted around, searching for the best possible compositions for our images.

The sun was getting close to the horizon by now, and the vibrant colours created a perfect backdrop for our photos. As the sky changed from vivid yellows and oranges to deep purples and blues and then finally to a deep black, we captured each magical moment. We soaked up the beauty and the silence before we returned to the Lodge for dinner.

After dinner – around 10pm – we headed back to the forest for star photography. The stars were exceptionally bright and the Milky Way cut a bright swathe across the glittering sky. It is indescribably beautiful, and although our photographs turned out really well, they somehow don’t really do full justice to the reality of actually being there.

With our fabulous images in our cameras we returned to the Lodge after about two hours, delighted with our day and more than ready for bed.

In the morning we leave for Sossusvlei …

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Lions Set a Successful Trap While Hunting …

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Ben Reports from Etosha on the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

(Photos from Back of Ben’s Camera)

During the night we could hear lions roaring intermittently and thought that they were the ones that visited the Okaukuejo Waterhole before dawn this morning, and they continued to roar when they left the Waterhole. Because they were probably not too far away, we went in search of them.

We searched all the roads around Okaukuejo, and all those leading to the nearby waterholes, including the road that runs to New Brownie, but there was no sign of the lions at all.

Then we tried Gemsbokvlakte, and there we found one lion very close to the road. We thought that it was probably the same one that we spotted at New Brownie yesterday. He was just lying around, totally inactive, so we left him to rest while we departed to check the next areas.

As we left a female Springbok was pronking next to the road. We saw her and kept pace with her as she pronked – and carried on pronking. As we drove along we photographed her for several hundred meters. Her prongs were high and sustained – probably the most impressive I have ever seen.

We moved on to Okondeka Waterhole where we found a pride of ten lions. They were stalking anything in sight, but were not hunting seriously at first. Their heads were up with ears alert. We remained with the pride, hoping that they would do some serious hunting, and because they were active, we returned to the scene after our midday break.

We found three lionesses watching a herd of zebra. The lionesses were on the crest of a ridge with the zebra grazing contentedly, and unaware of any danger, on the flat area adjacent to the ridge. The herd gradually moved closer and closer to the lions, totally oblivious to their presence.

We positioned ourselves close to the zebra, believing that when they got close enough, the three lionesses would ambush them and chase them towards us.

No, it did not happen that way. The wily pride outwitted the zebra – and us!

Suddenly as the zebra approached the lions they broke into a run. But what? That were running directly towards the lions on the ridge! What on earth was going on? We could not believe it!

Within seconds we saw what happened … another lioness, that neither we nor the zebra had seen, had crept up behind the herd and was sprinting furiously towards the zebra, causing the herd to panic and run away from her …

And now the zebra were trapped between the lioness that chased them at full sprint, and the three on the ridge. They ran straight into the trap. We saw the lioness sprinting after one of the zebra, joined quickly by the three that were waiting for this. They jumped onto her back but fell off. Just then, they disappeared over a ridge. We moved forward as rapidly as we could, but by the time we cleared the ridge to catch up a few seconds later the lions had already grabbed and pulled down the zebra. The zebra was kicking furiously, while all ten lions jumped on the kill, and after killing it they settled down to feed.

Whew! What an experience! We were shaking from the sheer excitement of the event! Luckily we all remembered to capture images …

By this time it was very late and we needed to get back to the rest camp. We made time for a few sunset shots – one with a long line of wildebeest walking across a plain blowing dust that coloured an iridescent orange with the backlighting provided by the setting sun.

We also stopped to photograph two rutting male springbok with that bright orange background. They stared at each other and head-butted from time to time, looking quite beautiful in that setting.

This is our final night at Etosha as we return to Windhoek in the morning for farewells – until next time …

 

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Success Through the Night at the Waterhole …

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Ben Reports from Etosha on the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

(Photo from back of Ben’s Camera)

As we planned, we headed straight to New Brownie when we woke up in the early morning. There we were lucky enough to find a sole lion. He is a member of a coalition of three, but the other two were nowhere to be seen. The lion was right at the edge of the parking space. He was yawning and grooming himself before deciding to move about fifty meters away, where he lay down and started roaring. He was contact calling for his brothers and we hoped that they would arrive to join him, or that maybe he would decide to have a drink at the water. Neither happened. He eventually got up and sauntered off in the opposite direction away from the water.

As we waited for some activity from the lion we photographed Oryx chasing each other, while Springbok sparred, and ostriches packed shoulder to shoulder to drink at the waterhole.

In the afternoon our two groups split up. One group visited Okondeka Waterhole where two male lions lazed around in the afternoon sun. We couldn’t see the second lion as he was obscured by bushes, but there were plenty of clues that pointed to his location. There were fixed stares and alarm calls galore from the Oryx, Springbok, and Giraffe as they came down to the water to drink.

About half an hour before we had to leave the waterhole, the second lion sat up, yawned, stretched, got up and walked around with the seeming never-ending vista of Etosha pan behind him.

After a while he lay down facing us and stared in the direction of his brother. So our images of the handsome fellow with that immense pan behind him look really good.

Our second vehicle wanted to see elephants and with this in mind they visited Olifantsbad. And as if on cue, the elephants arrived to drink at the waterhole.

We all met up again back at the camp, each group more delighted than the other with the day’s sightings and photography. We all went to the Okaukuejo Waterhole to see which nocturnal visitors would arrive. We were very lucky to see a Black Rhino emerge from the darkness for a leisurely drink.

Most of the group went to bed at around 03:00, but those who stayed up were rewarded when the two brothers of the coalition arrived in the early hours of the morning. And when the lions left a Brown Hyena arrived for a drink – well worth the effort of staying up so very late …

And by now it was time to start the next day …