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Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Photo Tour

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Animals at the Different Etosha Waterholes …

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

Today we left Halali for our journey to Okaukuejo, but first we searched for the lions that we saw last night – the two that were chasing the single male. We found a lone male, moving rapidly through the bush. We positioned ourselves to anticipate where he would emerge, and then just as we saw him arriving from thick bush into a wide open grassy area he decided that he had enough of moving around, and after a cursory glance around, he lay down behind a bush and quickly fell asleep.

We moved on, with one vehicle electing to visit Rietfontein Waterhole again where a massive herd of zebra relaxed around the pan. They had finished drinking and were chilling in the morning air. The zebra were packed tightly together, and we took advantage of their standing around to photograph a series of different zebra patterns.

Our second vehicle opted to visit the New Brownie Waterhole where they found three male lions and some Gemsbok in the background staring intently at the lions. Another very successful shoot before moving on to our next rest camp.

This afternoon we visited the Okondeka Waterhole not far from Okaukuejo. Plenty of animals milled around – mostly wildebeest.

Three giraffe arrived and with the whitish surroundings we had a perfect setting for more high-key photography with giraffe as subjects.

After a successful day we are at Okaukuejo Rest Camp now and ready to visit the beautiful waterhole right here to see what evening visitors arrive – and in the morning we may check to see if those lions are still at the New Brownie Waterhole …

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Lions in Hot Pursuit …

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Ben Reports from Etosha on the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour – Lions in Hot Pursuit …

(Lion Image from back of Ben’s Camera)

At first our game drives in and around Halali were a little quiet. That is other than hundreds of zebra. It was a tremendous opportunity to practice high-key photography that turned out to be very impactful with the black and white colouring of the animals. We also photographed the zebras in the long grass, where they stood out beautifully against the green and yellow colours of their surroundings.

We came upon a magnificent Black Rhino on his way to the Sueda waterhole. The waterhole is right on the edge of the pan, with plenty of dried white mineral sand around. The dark rhino looked fabulous against that white. He really looked as though he was strolling through snow. He was alone, a single rhino in that moonscape of arid of whiteness. The stark contrast made wonderful compositions.

Things really started to improve as we came across a large cow herd of elephants with a number of little babies at the Rietfontein waterhole. We photographed them playing in the mud, playing in the water, thoroughly enjoying themselves as they and cavorted and splashed around. A large bull followed the herd and watched their antics at the waterhole.

We photographed a Pale Chanting Goshawk right next to the road. We sat quietly, waiting for him to fly away so that everyone could capture flight shots as he took off.

On the way back to Halali we stopped at Rietfontein again, where we found a journey of giraffes. They were drinking and we all photographed them as they adopted that stance that seems so clumsy and vulnerable when they bend down to reach the water.

On the drive back – actually at the turnoff to Halali, we encountered three male lions. Two of the males were in hot pursuit of the third, and they moved along rapidly and with grim determination. It was close to sunset by now, and the sun was about to touch the horizon. We were able to photograph the lions as they ran with the huge orb of the setting sun behind them.

So our day ended on a high with everyone fired up for our next stop at Okaukuejo …

 

 

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: From Swakopmund to Etosha

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

(Images from back of Brendon’s Camera)

In our last blog we described how our group split, and we take up again on the next day …

As planned our large group split into two groups again today and those who went out on the bay to photograph Pelicans and other sea birds before, today visited the desert in search of the unique and diverse wildlife to be found there and those who visited the desert yesterday were excited about the bay trip.

It looked like, and turned out to be a lovely sunny day when we set out early in the morning. Out on the bay, the Pelicans were as friendly as ever, and we all shot up a storm with dozens of the birds looking fabulous in that early morning light. The Pelicans and other seabirds flew around us, and visited the boat, probably hoping to encounter another fishing vessel. But they were not at all dismayed to see only cameras pointing eagerly at them. We had tremendous fun photographing them.

Meanwhile those in the desert had an equally amazing day, tracking down the creatures that thrive in that harsh environment.

 

After these incredible experiences it was time to move on – destination Halali in the Etosha Game Reserve.

Our journey northward went smoothly and we arrived at Halali Rest Camp in time for dinner and our first night, with everyone looking forward to our days here …

 

 

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Pelicans and Flamingos Galore for some and the Living Desert Experience for the others …

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

(Photos from back of Brendon’s Camra)

Because our Tusk Safari group is quite large we had to split up today so that each can get the best possible from the diverse activities in this area.

The first group went to the harbour after breakfast and then out on a boat to view the rich bird life here in Wallis Bay – with an emphasis on the plentiful, friendly Pelicans. We photographed Pelicans, Flamingos and different gulls. We had a fabulous time on that boat! We got superb wide-angle shots of the Pelicans flying past the boat. Gulls milled all around.

The early morning was a bit dull, so we used our flashes, but before long the skies opened and we had beautiful blue skies.

At one point we relaxed on the boat, just drifting along, surrounded by almost 200 Pelicans on the water, all around the boat. It was an amazing sight to see, and a very special, serene moment.

Plenty of flamingos could be seen flying around and on the many small islands, and as I mentioned before there were gulls everywhere.

That was an extra special morning and a memory to treasure …

The other half of our group did the ‘Living Desert’ Experience. They had an enviable time, with some extraordinary sightings.

They saw no fewer than three Sidewinder Snakes,-

– a Palmetto Gecko with its pastel colouring –

– and webbed feet, and an number of Namaqua Chameleons. Then there wa also. Burrowing Skink with its snake-like body and tiny limbs. It was fascinating, and everyone returned with a collection of images of the dunes, and the creatures that live there. They even managed to video and photograph a Sidewinder as it made its way up a Dune.

Finally they also photographed Tractrac Chats, so all in all they had an amazing time in the desert.

Everyone gathered in the late afternoon to head north to a salt mine where large flocks of Flamingos may be seen. We photographed the few hundred birds until the light started to wane, at which stage we returned to our hotel, quite tired after another very full and very successful day.

Tomorrow our group plans to switch around with today’s ‘bay’ group venturing into the desert and vice versa …

 

 

 

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Dunes, Stars, Helicopters and Overnight Sky Photography …

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Brendon’s News on Sossusvlei during the Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour …

(All images from back of Brendon’s Camera)

Last time we mentioned that we left our cameras overnight near the Dune Lodge to capture those magical star images through the night.

We left the Lodge long before sunrise the next morning to collect our cameras. We were delighted to find that our Star Trails and Time-lapse images turned out even better than we had hoped! The results were excellent.

Then our group split up again, with some taking the helicopter journey to the coast and around the area. This trip is a real highlight with breathtaking views, wildlife, and vistas from the air. The photography from the helicopter is also quite unbelievable, and everyone is keen to experience the trip at least once, if not more often.

Those not on this helicopter trip this morning took advantage of the magical scenes around the area – the dunes and the wildlife that lives on and around the dunes, including Oryx and Springbok that can regularly be spotted here. The sunrise colours tinted the whole area a deep golden orange to deep red, and with the animals in the foreground the scenes were staggeringly beautiful. Sometimes an individual Oryx, and sometimes small herds could be photographed against those deep red dunes and the lovely light coming off the dunes.

We returned to the Lodge for a short rest and lunch. Then a third group took off in the helicopter, and having seen what the others had seen and photographed, they were really excited about the trip.

The rest of the group visited Deadvlei for the afternoon, to photograph those tall dunes – described as the tallest in the world, and also the almost eerie shapes of the dead trees in what is left of the vlei – in the valley surrounded by those enormous dunes. The trees look wonderful silhouetted against the red dunes in the afternoon light.

People are always quite blown away by the scenery at Deadvlei and I believe that it should be on every natural photographers bucket list of destinations.

In the evening we again set up for star trails and time-lapse photography, again leaving our cameras overnight to capture those magical images.

Once again, before anyone else stirred in the early morning we shot off to Deadvlei to collect our cameras. Once again, with the cameras shooting from sunset to sunrise we ended up with fabulous images.

 

And of course being there at sunrise meant that we could again photograph more trees against those red dunes. We left the area just as all the tourists started to arrive for the day. On the way back to the Lodge we shot the famous Dune 45, a few more Oryx and more of the other towering, interesting dunes.

 

Then the last of the guests who had not yet enjoyed the helicopter trip did so. When everyone was together again in the evening there was a unanimous decision – because it is just so unique and beautiful – to return again to Deadvlei to set up again for even more star photography.

 

This morning we had a very early, short visit to Deadvlei to retrieve our camera equipment and for a few final photographs before we had to return to the Lodge and head off to Swakopmund.

 

We stopped at Solitaire for their justifiably famous apple strudel. Delicious! I defy anyone to drive past without sampling this tasty treat washed down with a cup of steaming coffee – or whatever you prefer …

 

There is a ‘car graveyard’ at Solitaire with a number of vintage cars rusting away in the desert air. Out came the cameras …

 

Now we are back in Swakopmund, happy to recharge our batteries before we start the desert experience and the bay cruise during the next couple of days here …

 

Namibia Landscapes & Wildlife Photo Tour: Under The Iridescent Stars …

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

After everyone met in Windhoek we left the city immediately after breakfast on the first day of our safari and headed to Keetmanshoop. After an enjoyable, leisurely drive we arrived at Quiver Tree Lodge and after checking in and unpacking we headed to the Quiver Tree Forest. We had a lovely shoot there with the vibrant sunset and the Quiver Trees creating a dramatic subject in the foreground.

There were Rock Hyraxes basking in the rays of the setting sun, and they also provided some super photo ops for us.

We returned to the Lodge and after dinner we returned to the forest for our nighttime shoot. We spent many hours photographing the trees with the Milky Way a bright slash in the dark sky above. It seemed that we could almost see each individual star in the Milky Way, it was so bright.

We did a number (6 or 7) of compositions of the trees, using front lighting, side lighting, back lighting, as we experimented with light painting. It was indescribably beautiful.

We arrived back at the Lodge in time to get into bed by about 01:00 – delighted with the fabulous scenery that filled our cameras. It was the best possible way to start our safari, and a very successful first day.

Our second day – this time in Sossusvlei proved to be equally rewarding.

After leaving the Quiver Tree Lodge after breakfast we drove to Sossusvlei. The scenery on the way was lovely and we stopped a number of times for photographs. We arrived at Dune Lodge and after unpacking quickly we shot off for an evening shoot of a dead tree close to the Lodge with the Milky Way blazing above. We did some light painting with the tree as well, and set up for star trails and time lapse photography before we headed back to the Lodge for Dinner, planning to return in the early morning to retrieve our cameras.

Some of the guests opted to take a two hour helicopter trip to the coast. They returned with amazing images, and were particularly lucky as there was no mist or fog. The clarity made each image outstanding.

So again, the day was fabulous, and although we are all in need of a bit of sleep after two wonderful days with just so much to see and photograph, we are all thrilled with our experiences thus far and we are looking forward to so much more …

 

Namibia Landscapes &Wildlife Photo Tour: Swamped by Pelicans

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Wim’s News from Sossusvlei on the Namibia Landscapes &Wildlife Photo Tour …

(Photos from both Wim and Hendri)

What an amazing, busy few days we have had since our last communication! Our days start early, crammed with experiences, dinner, and then bed.

We arrived in Swakopmund yesterday – and drove slap-bang right into a huge, really huge, sandstorm. But on the way we had two burst tyres on the road that is so rough that at times it seemed miraculous that all the tyres didn’t pop.

We made it through, driving through that gigantic sandstorm that obliterated the world around us. We had to peer through the murk, and concentrate to see where the road was! It was quite something to see, and driving through it defies description. Eerie, awesome, and we were all very aware that this was the tail end of the huge storms raging in the Cape to the south.

When we arrived we split up – half to enjoy the bay cruise and all the marine wildlife, and half went into the desert to photograph the creatures that inhabit the dunes. And then today we split again, and switched our trips.

And can you believe it – on both days each group had the most incredible, mind-blowing, satisfying time and returned with memory cards filled with images of a lifetime.

The desert experience revealed desert dwelling Chameleons, Side-winders that move across the sand in such a unique way, Horned Adders, Shovel-snouted Lizards with their long limbs, and the amazing rolling dunes all around. The photos that everyone collected are quite outstanding!

The bay cruise was equally incredible. The bay was flat, with very little wind, and the resident Pelicans took one look at our boat and on each occasion took the opportunity to befriend us, again giving us some really spectacular photographic opportunities. The pelicans were all around, flying back and forth, landing among us, flying, settling, befriending us and possibly hoping that we were a fishing vessel and not just tourists.

We photographed them fishing all around us, we photographed them against the light, with the light, banking around the boat, flapping around, and of course landing among us to demonstrate their friendship …

We also saw Flamingoes and Seals, but I must admit that the pelicans totally enchanted us and dominated the scene!

Tomorrow we plan to leave early for our long drive to Etosha and the wonderful wildlife that awaits us there …

Namibia Landscapes &Wildlife Photo Tour: Astral Photography Keeps us Up at Night

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Wim’s News from Sossusvlei on the Namibia Landscapes &Wildlife Photo Tour …

Namibia! This land of wondrous vistas – landscapes and seascapes, deserts, animals, birds, reptiles … it is all here. And no wonder it is on the bucket list of so many wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife photographers.

So here we are in Sossusvlei. Although our safari started a few days ago, this is our first chance to get through, what with late night photography and some areas that simply lack the necessary signals for a blog.

On Friday we all met at Windhoek and spent the night at River Crossing Lodge. We gathered together to photograph the beautiful sunset and to get to know each other … a lovely start to our trip.

On Saturday morning we left the Lodge very early and headed to the Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop, where we arrived at about 14:30.

We first spent some very valuable time doing a tutorial on the ins and outs of night photography, emphasising how to get the best images of those amazing Quiver Trees by starlight.

Then we set off for the forest for a sunset shoot, and returned to the Lodge for dinner and a snooze. At 01:00 we all headed out again and photographed for the remainder of the night. The reason for this approach was because the moon set at 1am, and we were keen on being there for the inky darkness and bright stars to provide a magnificent setting for the stark shapes of those trees. The Milky Way looked breathtakingly splendid and our astral photography turned out beautifully. The combination of Quiver Trees, Milky Way, and Stars is something that once witnessed, will never be forgotten.

Everyone was fired up after this and by the time the sun peeked over the horizon each and every individual had captured some wonderful treasures and lifelong memories.

Back at the Lodge we had breakfast and left for Sossusvlei where we arrived during the late afternoon. After checking in, some elected to take one of the spectacular helicopters flights around this incredible area. Tusk Guests took it in turns to experience these flights during our time here.

On the first night we mostly photographed Oryx and a few other wildlife subjects. But last night we went right into Deadvlei and set up our cameras which we left to photograph through the night. When we returned this morning we had captured the most amazing sequences of star-trails and time lapse photography. Another breathtaking addition to our photographic portfolios.

This afternoon half the group returned to Deadvlei to photograph a second round of those amazing sequences … star-trails, time-lapses, Milky Way images – all of it! The remainder returned to photograph Oryx and the incredible dunes around the area.

In the morning we will return to Deadvlei to fetch our cameras and then after breakfast we plan to return to Windhoek in our Tusk Vehicles that have been performing really well – on our way to our next stop ..

Brendan’s News from Namibia: Another Busy Day at the Waterholes …

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Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Safari:

Brendan’s News from Namibia: Another Busy Day at the Waterholes …

We headed out straight from Okaukuejo to the Brownie Waterhole, hoping that it would be a successful as previously.

Once again plenty of Springbok and Zebra frequented the waterhole. In fact, hardly a moment passed without animals arriving, drinking, and then leaving slowly. Gemsbok also visited in large numbers, and the busy little Namaqua Sand grouse are always a delight to see and to photograph.

2 Juan van den Heever-042-42

There was quite a bit of interaction as zebras galloped around, ostriches chased each other back and forth, and Springbok and Gemsbok challenged each other again and again, sparring with determination and then calling a truce as suddenly as a confrontation started.

2 Juan van den Heever-074-70

During lunch we heard reports of lions not too far away, and immediately after our midday break we headed out to find the big cats. We found them, but when we caught up with the pride they were lying flat in the midday sun, fast asleep. So we returned to the Brownie waterhole to photograph the stream of visitors that may be seen there all day long.

As the afternoon progressed towards evening we returned to lions and were able to photograph them in the golden afternoon light as they started to wake up. We got some fabulous shots this time.

Last night we enjoyed another fabulous time at the Okaukuejo Lodge water hole. Again large numbers of elephants arrived to bathe and drink. Numerous Black Rhino visited again, with giraffe also slaking their thirst.

And not only did we have Spotted Hyenas arriving quietly in the dark. A very special guest in the form of a Brown Hyena also arrived. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph this rather rare animal. It was simply amazing!

Tomorrow we would like to follow up on those lions …

 

Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Safari: Rhinos, Giraffe, and Lionesses Drink Together …

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Namibia Landscapes and Wildlife Safari: Lions hunt …

(Images from back of Brendon’s camera screen)

Brendan’s News from Namibia:

We left very early in the morning, very keen to catch up with the lions that we left at the Rietfontein dam the evening before.

To cover the area really well we split up, with some guests heading straight to the Rietfontein Dam to check that area while the remainder travelled along the Pan Road to check whether there were any signs or tracks that indicated that the lions had moved on.

Luckily for us we found the two lionesses with two youngsters along the Pan Road. The two youngsters were playing, gambolling around and enjoying a very boisterous game, which gave us some fabulous photo opportunities. The early morning light was beautiful as the two jumped around and on each other.

3 Bren Namibia Lions Playing_1679

We spent the next few hours with the lions as they moved along quite quickly. They were beginning to hunt, and every time they spotted possible prey they immediately went into stalking mode.

First they spotted a herd of zebra and the two adult lionesses flattened their ears, crouched low to the ground, and crept closer to the herd. We waited quietly for ages to see how the scene would play out, but after we waited with a lot of patience, we were rewarded with – nothing! The zebras simply walked away! However, our collection of images of the action is superb.

After the excitement we returned to the Lodge where we packed up and departed for our next stop – Okaukuejo, in the South of the reserve.

After our arrival and a quick unpacking to settle in we went straight to the New Brownie waterhole where plenty of elephants appeared, intent on having a bathe and a drink. Zebra herds milled around, while Gemsbok and Springbok pitched up as well. Birds were also plentiful – the Namaqua Sandgrouse were particularly present.

During the evening we enjoyed some great photography around the waterhole in front of the Lodge. We used flash to capture images of the nocturnal visitors that arrived to drink.

At one stage there were six Black Rhinos, two giraffe, and two lionesses, all drinking at the same time! It felt quite surreal!

We would like to repeat the incredible experience again tomorrow …