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Hide and Seek in Namibia

  
  

Just below Namibia's Etosha National Park, Andersson’s Camp has a ground-level hide that is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with some of Etosha’s wildlife. If you are a keen photographer, or just a nature lover, then read on as we will be telling you why you need to get yourself to this awesome wildlife watching spot.

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Zebras making their way to a waterhole with Andersson's Camp in the background.
(Photo via Wilderness Safaris


What is a Hide? 

A great way to catch undisturbed views of wildlife in Namibia is to spend a lot of time in a purpose-built hide. These hides are built so that they blend in with the natural surrounds and thus the local wildlife will be at ease and guests will be able to quietly see how these animals behave in their natural environments.

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A warthog, just chilling.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

At Andersson’s Camp Wilderness Safaris has set up an underground hide near a waterhole a few hundred metres from their main camp. A fenced-off passageway leads from the camp’s main area to the underground hide that allows guests of the camp to easily travel to and from the hide whenever they desire.

 

Ground Level Photography

Once in the hide you will be in a large airy and cool room that serves up panoramic views. In the hide there are benches allowing guests to get comfortable while they wait for and watch the animals around the waterhole.

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Ample space and surfaces to makes getting that shot that much easier.
(Photo courtesy of photographer 
Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

The hide at Andersson’s Camp is open on three sides and as a result it is always cool and pleasant. Unlike most hides, which are very cramped and often intolerably hot, there is a lot of space in the Andersson Camp hide and this allows photographers enough room to maneuver.

Etosha, Wildlife, Namibia, namibia safari, Ongava, Andersson's camp, namibia photography, Olwen Evans, Wilderness safaris

The ground-level hide offers guests unique viewing opportunities.
(Photo courtesy of photographer 
Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

So if you’re searching for that perfect shot then feel free to bring your tripods and other equipment into the hide as there is ample space in which to set your equipment up for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.

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You’ll need space for your tripod if you want the most from your low light shots.
 (Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

What to Look Out For

Once in the hide you will be about 6 metres away from the animals, close enough to hear the animals slurp the cool water and see their alert eyes blink. It’s as close as you can get to the majestic animals without putting yourself, or the animals, in real danger.

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Undisturbed and up close game viewing.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris) 

 

You can expect to see giraffes, black-faced impalas, hartebees, kudus, warthogs and other large antelopes and mammals. Along with these more common animals, lucky guests have also seen black rhino and lions coming to cool off at the shady waterhole.

Etosha, Wildlife, Namibia, namibia safari, Ongava, Andersson's camp, namibia photography, Olwen Evans, Wilderness safaris

Two adult hartebees at the waterhole.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris) 

 

Etosha, Wildlife, Namibia, namibia safari, Ongava, Andersson's camp, namibia photography, Olwen Evans, Wilderness safaris

You are so close to the action in the hide that even "smaller" creatures can be seen up close.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

Day and Night 

Anyone who has been on an authentic safari knows that animals tend to come and go as they please. This is why patience is so important when you are on the look out for wildlife. Luckily, the hide is open day and night and guests can stake out the waterhole by the light of the moon or the rays of the sun. 

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On the move.
Some herbivores spooked by the arrival of a larger animal.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris)

 

During the day you can expect to see general game like giraffes, zebras, black-faced impalas, kudus, warthogs and other antelopes. In the early evening (and often when dinner is served at the camp!) rhinos often come down for an evening drink. After darkness falls keep your eyes peeled for lions who sometimes come down to the hole for a night cap.

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A black-faced impala enjoying the cool water.
(Photo courtesy of photographer Olwen Evans & Wilderness Safaris) 

 

Where is Andersson's Camp?

If you want more information on how you can book some time at Andersson’s Camp then click on this link. You can find the camp in the Ongava Game Reserve, which is a privately run reserve right that shares a border with Etosha National Park.

Most travellers get to Ongava via the C38, but for the more adventurous there are less well travelled roads that will get you there as well… Just be sure to be adequately prepared! 

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(Map via Wilderness Safaris)

 

If you still aren't convinced then check out all the glowing tesitominals on Trip Advisor for Andersson's Camp and then begin planning a visit to this truly awesome spot in Namibia.

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There's plenty to explore and experience at Ongava and Andersson's Camp.
(Photo via Wilderness Safaris)

 

+++++++

The Mountains of Namibia

  
  

Namibia’s mighty dunes and rolling deserts often take centre stage, but there are other types of awesome landscapes in the Land of the Brave. This blog will be covering some of our country’s unique collection of mountains and mountain ranges where the adventurous can hike, explore, or simply take in the majesty of the world from a lookout point.

COVER

The Naukluft Mountain Range.
(Image via Agama River Camp)

 

Brukkaros 

This mountain looks like a volcanic crater but it was in fact formed by an upwelling of magma millions of years ago, this kind of formation is called a caldera and it is why the the mountain has its distinctive shape we see today.

BRUKAPP

Approaching Brukkaros by road.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

At 1,590m above sea level this mountain stands out on the plains of Namibia’s Karas Region, yet is often forgotten about in guidebooks and travel planners. This makes it a great spot to visit if you want to get off the beaten path. There are basic campsites at the foot, and on the upper slopes, of the mountain where travellers can spend a few nights.

WATERFALL

A stream running into some pools in the crater.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)

 

Please note, however, that you will have to come fully prepared. There is no running water, fuel, or places to stock up on food once you get to the mountain. If you are low on supplies then your only option is to stock up at the town of Berseba 12km away. 

OBZ

An abandoned solar observatory on the slopes of Brukkaros.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)

 

When you get to the campsite’s parking lot and have unloaded all your gear look for the signs showing you were the hiking trails begin and end. There are some incredible walks through and around the crater with the views from the top of the mountain being particularly stunning. 

RIMVIEW

The spetacular view from the rim.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)

 

Book at the campsite here

 

The Naukluft Mountain Range

The Naukluft are a well-known and well-travelled range of mountains south west of Windhoek. The mountain range is situated in the Namib-Naukluft National Park and thanks to this it has more well-developed campsites and walking trails than Brukkaros.

INTROVIEW

The Naukluft are found in a parcticularly beautiful part of Namibia.
(Image via Audley Travel)

 

Hiking is one of the main reasons people visit the Naukluft and there are several trails that criss-cross through the range. Some of the most famous trails are the 4km Olive Trail, the 17km Waterkloof Trail and the mammoth 8-day Naukluft Hiking Trail. You will need to secure permits from NWR for all hiking (and camping) in the Naukluft, so be sure to do that well in advance.

describe the image

The trails are all cleary marked.
(Image via Info Namibia)

 

WKVIEW

The ever-changing landscapes of the Naukluft are always awe inspiring.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

The range is famous for its abundance of wildlife including Hartmanns mountain zebras, African wild cats, klipspringers and leopards. There are also several small streams and waterfalls that can be found throughout the range. These streams attract a lot of birds to the region and with over 190 species having been spotted you'd best bring your binoculars!

ZEBRA

Hartmann's Mountain Zebra.
(Image via Blaine Harrington III)

  

There is a fantastic 4x4 route for those of you who want to explore this rugged landscape from behind the wheel of a tough and capable vehicle. Take note though, that this route has been closed since October 2013, however, keep checking on it as it will be opened once it safe again. For updates on this over-night 4x4 trail click here.

The Naukluft Campsite, managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts is a great place to stay if you intend on exploring the Naukluft and its surrounds. The campsite has six rooms available as well 21 camping spots. So if you want to sleep under a roof you should book far in advance.

PURDY

The sun setting over the range.
(Image via Audley Travel)

 

Book at NWR’s campsite here

 

The Spitzkoppe

The Spitzkoppe are probably the most well-known site on this list. For years mountain climbers, cyclists, hikers, geologists and star gazers have been coming to these unique granite formations to satisfy their thirsts for adventure. If you are at all interested in mountains, or the outdoors in general, then you must make a stop at these peaks.

INTROSP

The Spitzkoppe from afar.


Camping is a breeze at the Spitzkoppe and accommodation at the community run Spitzkoppe Campsites, ranges from tented campsites to thatch huts, all in close proximity to the formation. The great thing about staying at this campsite is that the locals will be able to help you plan out some activities while you stay in the region. They offer stargazing, birding and mountain climbing.

EXPLOR

Even a fairly easy walk will get you to astonishing places in the Spitzkoppe.


For those of you who are more seriously into climbing, check out his page for a detailed description of what routes there are on this famous mountain.

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Conquering Namibia’s Matterhorn.
(Image via Travel News Namibia)

 

If, however, you’d rather take it a bit easier then do not fear, there are three walking trails through the Spitzkoppe on which you can take in the beautiful scenery and even catch a glimpse of some ancient San rock art. 

ISO

Enjoy the isolation and the long deep quiet of nature.


There is the Pontok Route (4 – 5 hours), the Matterhorn Route (6 – 8 hours) and the Bushman Circle Route (6 – 7 hours). All these routes must be done with guides in order to ensure there is a minimal impact on the fragile ecosystems around the Spitzkoppe.

WALK

The area is a national heritage site- so be mindful of where your feet fall.


Book as a day visitor or an overnight guest here

 

BY NIGHT

The Spitzkoppe by night.

 

+++++++

Gross Barmen Resort: An ancient hot spring brought back to life

  
  

Namibia Wildlife Resorts has reopened the doors to the hot springs of Gross Barmen. The once much-loved resort fell into disrepair, but is now back with brand new facilities and is sure to be a holiday hotspot once again. Whether you’re looking for a weekend retreat or just a day-get-away, there’s something for everyone at Gross Barmen...

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The Facilities

Take a long relaxing soak in the inside pool, which has been cooled from it’s natural temperature of 65°C to a heavenly 40°C. At 25°C, the outdoor swimming pool is sure to be a hit with the kids – not to mention the tennis courts and children’s playground.

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop   
The indoor pools offer a break from the midday sun.


Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

While the outdoor pool lets guests recline in cool water while taking in the surrounds.


If you’re looking to just get away from it all, the health and hydro/medical spa centre provides a wide range of treatments, massages and health activities.

Enjoy a meal at the newly renovated restaurant or just enjoy watching the sunset as you sip on an ice-cold rock shandy after a good hot soaking.

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

The restaurant treats guests to awesome food and beautiful vistas.

 

Around the Resort

If you feel like striking out from the resort you can take a wander along the banks of Swakop River or set out on a bush walk to clear your mind. With the natural springs that the resort is built near comes a very different type of ecology – the humid climate and concentrated area means you have a chance of spotting one of the 150 bird species at Gross Barmen. So bring your binoculars and bird books if you are a keen birder.

If you’d like to soak up the atmosphere for more than just a day, there’s plenty of refurbished accommodation at the resort to choose from:

Premier Chalet

Bush Chalet (2 Beds)

Family Chalet (4 Beds)

Premier Family Chalet (4 Beds)

Bush Chalet Single

Camp Site

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

From private Jacuzzis...

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

To beautifully appointed interiors...

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

The refurbished resort is a must-visit.


Where to find the Gross Barmen Resort

Gross Barmen is located 100km from the capital city of Windhoek. It is also just 25km from Von Bach Dam (if you’d like to take a break from all the watersports!). If you’re a cyclist, you could even take a ride out to Gross Barmen from Okahandja - it’s about 27kms of peaceful road.

Click here to find Gross Barmen on Google maps,

To book a room or find out more info, visit the Gross Barmen page on the Namibia Wildlife Resorts website here.

 

Gross Barmen, Namibia, Hot springs, NWR, Namibia resorts, namibia spa, birding, swakop

 

+++++++

Where to eat: Windhoek Restaurants

  
  

Whether you’re a local on the hunt for a good meal, a business traveller away from home or a safari tourist en route to your next Namibian adventure, you’re sure to find some of the best meals in town in these Windhoek restaurants and cafes.

 

Breakfast in Windhoek

   

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Photo via weckevoigts.com
 

Wecke & Voights

Gustav Voigts Centre, Independence Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 377 000

Smack bang in the center of town, on the bustling Independence Avenue, lies a piece of German history. Wecke & Voigts has been in operation in Namibia since 1892, and is still going strong. Grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a just-made Brötchen (bread roll) or a sweet tooth pastry for a scrumptious morning munch. Don’t forget to try their famous German ‘Rohhack’ Brötchen… And when you’re done with breakfast, you can take a gander through the specialty Wecke & Voigts department store.

 

Utopia

Photo via Fresh n Wild @ Utopia
 

Utopia

64 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 402 007/6

The Utopia Boutique and Medispa lies in the tranquil suburb of Klein Windhoek. The Fresh and Wild restaurant makes a great spot for informal meetings or lazy morning coffees. The food is made using only the freshest and healthiest ingredients. For an even fresher start to the day, try out the celery, apple, cucumber and spirulina detox juice.

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Photo via Panoramio
 

Fresh & Wild Village

The Village, Cnr Liliencron Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 24 0346

Fresh & Wild is an oasis of fresh food in a lush garden in Windhoek. There is also free wifi for those of you who are looking for a morning sanctuary to get some work out the way before hitting the day. 

 The Joy of food 3
Photo via  The Joy of Food
 

The Joy of Food

Unit 9, The Village, Lilencron Street, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 301159

If you’re looking for a good kick-start to your morning, then head to the Joy of Food for a cup of locally brewed Slow Town coffee. The team takes just as much pride in their cuisine as they do in their coffee, so be sure to taste some of their gastronomical delights while you’re sitting in the cool morning shade of the leafy camel thorn trees.

 

 VIntage cafe Tripadvisor
Photo via Tripadvisor
 

Vintage Cafe 

Cnr Luther Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia

If you’ve got kids, this is where you want to head. Most of the restaurant is set in a shaded area outside. There’s a jungle gym, swings and playroom to keep the little ones happy. And plenty of good food and drinks to keep the parents happy…

 
 

Lunch in Windhoek

   

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Photo via Skippy Peanut  
 

Cafe Schneider

Levinson Arcade, Independence Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia

Café Schneider always seems to be busy around lunch hour, with locals in search for a quick bite to eat as it’s conveniently situated in the middle of town. If you’re after the German food flavor for lunch, or just an easy place to have a lunch meeting, this is where its at.

Yaelis
Photo via pinsta.me/myfirstnameisalicia
 

Yaeli's Bistro Health Bar

Maerua Mall, Corner of Jan Jonker and Centaurus Road, Windhoek, Namibia,  +264 81 748 5293 

Get a health blast on the go from this one-of-a-kind Israeli bistro. Freshly baked goods, amazing falafels and taste-bud tingling juices are the order of the day. Don’t forget the coffee! And sneak in a brownie if you can. The food taste so good you’ll still feel guilty… In which case you can just pop back into the gym opposite.

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Photo credit CSMonitor
 

Cemetery Chicken or Kapana in Katutura

It might sound ominous, but its mighty tasty. And don’t worry, “cemetery chicken” gets its name from the location and not the ingredients! If you’re driving down Hochland road pick up some freshly grilled chicken from the side of the street on the corner of Goshawk street. It’s a favourite take away spot for the locals who are zooting around town. And if you like street side BBQs then definitely try Kapana (frilled beef) from one of the many street food stalls in Katutura.

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Photo via NICE.com.na
 

NICE Restaurant & Bar

2 Mozart Street, Cnr. Hosea Kutako Drive, Windhoek, Namibia
+264 61 300 710 

NICE is the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education – a chef finishing school to give up and coming talent an opportunity to hone their skills in the culinary industry. 

 
 Windhoek tourism, Windhoek Africa, Windhoek, Windhoek Namibia Africa, Windhoek Namibia tourism, Windhoek attractions, city of Windhoek, Windhoek restaurants, olive grove Windhoek, restaurant Namibia, Namibia restaurants, restaurants in Namibia, Namibia restaurant
Photo via Xwama.com 
 

Xwama

 

Independence Ave, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 210270 

If you’re looking for a traditional Oshiwabo meal, then this is the place to head. When you’re done eating ombidiomagunguoshifima andmatangara, you can browse the crafts of the cultural village. Nestled in the heart of Katutura, you’ll get a taste of the indigenous cultures too.

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Photo via Fismonger's
 

Fishmonger’s

14 Adler Street, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 304583 

If sushi and fresh fish are the  order of the day, head down to Fishmonger’s to satisfy your fishy cravings. Try some grilled Norwegian salmon, sizzling prawns or just grab some take away sushi for a night in. 

 
 

Dinner in Windhoek

   

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Photo via Big Sky Lodges
 

The Olive Exclusive Boutique Hotel

 

22 Promenaden Street, Klein Windhoek, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 23 9199

Not only is The Olive Exclusive a luxury, boutique hotel in a tranquil corner of Windhoek, but it boasts a quality restaurant featuring a seasonal menu, with inventive signature dishes. Not to mention a classic selection of fine whisky at the bar. Another reason why it was voted as one of the “Best new hotels in the world” by Travel & Leisure magazine.

Garnish

Photo via Garnish Restaurant
 

Garnish Restaurant

 

Trift Towers, Trift Street, Windhoek, Namibia,  +264 61 25 8119

Windhoek’s Garnish Restaurant offers the spices and flavours you’d expect from a great Indian kitchen. And with some tasty non-meat dishes, it’s sure to be a hit with the vegetarians. It’s a favourite take-away joint for the locals, but there’s plenty of room if you decide to sit in.
Daisho
Photo via: Daisho
 

Daisho Sushi & Wine Bar 

 

Hebenstreit Ludwigsdof, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 81 431 8434 

Head to the new sushi bar in town, Daisho, for good Japanese Cuisine. Be sure to try the sushi, sashimi and tempura. If you’d rather enjoy the food in the comfort of your own home or hotel room, then give them a shout – they offer take aways and even a delivery service.

Stellenbosch wine bar

Photo via Stellenbosch Wine Bar 
 

The Stellenbosch Wine Bar & Bistro

 

Bougain Villas, 78 Sam Nujoma Drive, Windhoek East, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 309141 

Set in a mini villa space, with beautiful trees and open air tables, Stellenbosch boasts a handpicked selection of private cellar wines from Southern Africa. The restaurant is perhaps as famous for its wine as it is for its delectable steaks – some of Namibia’s finest beef. And if you’re in the mood for some pizza, just head to the sister restaurant next door, “The Tasting Room”.

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Photo via Hotel Heinitzburg 
 

Hotel Heinitzburg

22 Heinitzburg Street, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 24 9597 

Count von Schwerin commissioned castle Heinitzburg for his fiance, Margarethe von Heinitz in 1914. The castle has been beautifully preserved, and has a top notch restaurant with beautiful views of the city to boot. Choose to indulge yourself at the Garden Terrace, the Wine Cellar, the Knights Room or the gourmet restaurant Leo’s at the Castle. Let’s face it, it’s not everyday you get to dine in a castle in the middle of Africa.

describe the image
Photo via Zanzi
 

Zanzi

5530, Claudius Kandovazu Street, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 81 250 1462

In a modified home hidden in Katutura township you’ll find the traditional restaurant, Zanzi. It’s a great way to sample the local food, or just soak up the local atmosphere with a wide range of drinks available at the bar. Zanzi manages to be both cosy and fresh; a great place to hang out with some mates.

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Photo via Joe’s Beerhouse
 

Joe’s Beerhouse

160 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Windhoek, Namibia, +264 61 232 457

Joe’s Beerhouse is an institution. Even if you’re just passing through, you have to have at least one meal there, or at least an ice cold draught of Namibian beer. The many nooks and crannies are safe havens for countless old relics and memorabilia Joe Gross collected over the years on his travels, and some that were to Joe’s by friends and guests. Be sure to have a look around carefully, and ask about them – just about every item has a story. Locals will be happy to hear that they’ve also recently revamped their menu!

The National Parks of Namibia- /Ai /Ais and Bwabwata

  
  

A few months ago we had a look at two national parks in Namibia that you may not have been familiar with (you can find that post here). Today we will once more be looking at two less well-known parks that you can visit in Namibia: The /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and Bwabwata National Park.

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The /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park at sunset.
(Image via Safari Bookings)

 

/Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

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A lone quiver tree in the transfrontier park.
(Image via Peace Parks)

 

This park can be found at the southern most tip of Namibia and is jointly managed by Namibia and South Africa. This peace park straddles the border of the two countries and was formed when the /Ai /Ais Hot Springs Game Park was merged with South Africa’s Richtersveld National Park in 2003.

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A map of the peace park.
(Image via Peace Parks)

 

The reserve is part of the Succulent Karoo biome and is famed for its variety of strange and wonderful flora with the biome being home to almost a third of the world’s succulent species. The bizarre looking “halfmens” (Afrikaans for “semi-human”) can only be found in this part of southern Africa.

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Seen from a distance these rare plants appear human-like.
(Image via Ask Nature)

 

Further from the border, on the Namibian side of the park, is where you will find Africa’s largest (and the world’s second largest) canyon: The Fish River Canyon. This mighty and ancient formation is a well-known attraction to many in Namibia and the world over and is always worth visiting if you find yourself in the south of the country.

Namibia, namibia accommodation, namibia national parks, caprivi, richtersveld, peace parks, nwr

The mighty Fish River Canyon.
(Image via Freedom Territory)

 

It’s not just the flora and the scenery that draw visitors to this park. There is an abundance of birdlife at the Orange River mouth which has led this area to be designated as an official Ramsar site. This wetland area is home to the Cape cormorant, Damara tern, Ludwig's Bustard, the Lesser Flamingo and Hartlaub's gull. The site is of particular ecological value as it is a wetland in a largely arid region.

Namibia, namibia accommodation, namibia national parks, caprivi, richtersveld, peace parks, nwr

The mouth of the Orange River seen from the air.
(Image via Dlist)

 

While this park is one of the most biodiverse and plant rich arid biomes in the world it is unique for another, and very human, reason. It is one of the few places that the nomadic Nama people of southern Africa still live out there traditional lives.

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A group of Nama people in front of a hut in 1906.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

Click here Namibia Wildlife Resort’s hot-spring spa that you can stay at while exploring this transfrontier park. 

AI AI

The resort is located on the Namibian side of the Orange River.
(Image via NWR)

 

Bwabwata National Park

BWAINTRO

A view of the lush naitonal park.
(Image via Foto Community)

 

This national park was officially opened in 2007 when the Mahango Game Reserve and the Caprivi Game Park where merged to form one park that is located in the riverine and lush Zambezi and the Kavango regions of north east Namibia.

MAPBWAThe location of Bwabwata.
(Image via MET)

 

As we have mentioned a few times before, the north east of Namibia is ecologically very distinct from the rest of the country. It is criss-crossed with perennial rivers and is teeming with loads of flora and fauna. In Bwabwata one of the main attractions are the migratory elephants that journey through the park.

ELLIE

A small herd of migratory elephants.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

The park is also home to lions, cheetahs, leopards and several other large mammals including (but not limited to) African buffalo and sable antelope. As with much of Namibia’s north-east there is also an abundance of birdlife within Bwabwata’s borders. The western part of the park has been declared an Important Bird Area and is home to hundreds of species of bird.

WATTLE

Two Wattled Cranes flying into the sunset.
(Image via Travel News Namibia)

 

The park is also unique in that it is home to over 5000 people who live within the park. The permanent residents of the park have always lived in this region of Namibia and are mostly from the Khwe San Bushmen minority group. The Namibian government co-manages the park with these people and there are several community-based tourism co-ventures within the park. This ensures that people who have always lived on this land enjoy the benefits and profits of having a fully functioning national park. 

Life in the park.

 

If you want to stay a few nights within in the park then you should check out Namibia Wildlife Resort’s Popa Falls Resort.

POPA

The Popa Falls Resort seen from across the Kavango River.
(Image via NWR)

 

While exploring Namibia it can be very rewarding to veer a little bit off the traditional tourist routes, and to augment your travel itinerary with visits slightly less well-known locations like these two national parks. 

Happy planning! 

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Birding on Namibia's Rivers with Mark Paxton

  
  

Today we travel to the Kavango Region. This part of Namibia is famed for its incredible biodiversity and, in particular, its birdlife. We figured the best way to find out about the amazing birds you can spot in this part of Namibia would be to interview a local expert and bird guide, Mark Paxton, who runs Shamvura Camp on the Okavango River.

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African Openbills, African Darters and hippos on the Okavango River.
(Photo by Ethan Kistler via Nature Travel Network)

 

Mark, could you share with our readers who you are and what you do… 

I own and run a tourism venture called Shamvura Camp that is situated on the Okavango River about 120kms East of Rundu. I have been actively involved in professional bird guiding for almost 15 years, and I personally conduct specialized birding groups from Shamvura Camp into the surrounding regions. Before that I was a qualified game ranger.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

The Okavango River, near Shamvura Camp.
(Image via Shamvura Camp)

 

What makes the Kavango Region and the Caprivi Strip such an amazing place for birdlife? 

This region boasts about 450 bird species this is close to half the entire South African Birdlist. Although this region is low on endemics we have almost 30 “near endemics” with close to 100 “sought-after birds” some of which are found nowhere else in the Southern African sub-region.

 

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

If you’re keen-eyed you even catch a glimpse of Shelley’s Sunbird when staying at Shamvura.(Image via The Flacks)

 

With three major river systems (Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando) this region is the last stop-over resting place for most migratory birds from the Northern hemisphere before they disperse and embark on the last long and largely waterless journey South.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

The African Skimmer.
(Picture by Ethan Kistler via Nature Travel Network)

 

If you could pick your three favourite bird species in the region what would they be?

Souza’s Shrike, Sharp-tailed Starling and Rufous-bellied Tit are certainly the three most challenging species.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

Souza’s Shrike- The Kavango region of the only places in Namibia
where you can catch a glimpse of this illusive bird.
(Image via Outdoor Photo)

 

the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now

A young Sharp-tailed Starling photographed near Shamvura Camp.
(Image via Niall Perrins)

 

the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now

The ever bustling Rufous-bellied Tit.
(Image via Responsive)

 

What are some tips you could recommend to birding enthusiasts when they are exploring the Kavango and Zambezi Regions?

In the Kavango Region because of the increasing human population factor, the birding is quite difficult and confined. This necessitates the services of a professional guide who knows the area and the habits, movements and preferred habitats of particular birds. Most woodland birding is confined to feeding parties which follow certain islands, routes or corridors amongst the inhabited and badly farmed woodland.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

With guides you are sure to get the most out of your birding adventure.
(Image via Shamvura Camp)

 

Are there any guided birding tours that visitors can sign up for? 

In the Kavango Region only Shamvura Camp offers specialized birding tours with professional guiding. Most other lodges offer birding tours with local guides who although partially trained have limited knowledge but still manage to give a good experience. In the Zambezi Region, Caprivi Birding offers professionally guided tours.

 

What time of year is best for birding, and why?

The best months of the year which offers a large diversity of birding overall is September, October and November. The majority of the breeding is then in full swing with the sparsely leafed trees offering excellent visibility. A lot of the migrants are then starting to arrive adding to the diversity factor. The Okavango and Zambezi rivers are still low with sandbanks for waders and other water birds still available.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

Exposed river bank with some Southern Carmine Bee Eaters going about their business.
(Picture by Ethan Kistler via Nature Travel Network)

 

On the other hand the slower flowing Kwando at a higher level again has a different birding aspect. River birding on the Okavango and Zambezi systems picks up during January, February, March and April when water-logged floodplains offer ideal feeding and breeding habitat for the Gallinules, Rails, Crakes, Herons, Egrets and some Storks.

Caprivi, Namibia, Shamvura, Zambezi region, Kavango Region, africa birding, Namibia birding, Mark Paxton

When the river rises look out for the Gallinules.
(Image via Travel News Namibia)

 

+++++++ 

Mark Paxton is the current Chairman of the Kavango Open Africa Route (KOAR), and the Namibian Chapter of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA-Nam). He is also the Co-ordinator of Poisoning of Wildlife Action Group (POWAG) and also heads up the Biodiversity Working Group for the Okavango Basin Management Committee.

 

For a full list of the birds you can see in the Kavango Region click here.

To book at Shamvura Camp click here.

If you want to read more about Namibia's north east then click here.

Tags: ,

Where to Stay in Namibia's Lush North East

  
  

Staying in the north east of Namibia is a great way to add something a little bit different to your itinerary when exploring our vast country. However, because of the distance from Windhoek, you will not be able to simply pop in for the day. So, to help you explore this extraordinary place we’ve picked out five lodges you can use as a base when exploring the Zambezi and Kavango Regions. 

Namibia, where to stay namibia, caprivi, zambezi, elephant, caprivi region, zambezi region, birding, namibia birding

Paddling out on to the Zambezi River.
(Picture via Shamvura Camp)

 

Lush, green, riverine… These are not words that people usually associated with Namibia as our country is famed more for its seemingly endless arid landscapes than for its verdant river-crossed Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi) in the north.

 

1. Shamvura Camp

Situated on the banks of the Okavango River, in the Kavango region, is Shamvura lodge. It is a paradise for bird watchers with over 60 species of wetland birds (as well as several rare reptiles and amphibians). The lodge itself is situated on a large sand dune between the Cuito and Okavango rivers and commands awesome views of the river and the Angolan floodplains.

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One of the bungalows at Shamvura.
(Picture via Shamvura Camp)

 

Whether you are into birding, angling (there are over 90 species of fish in the waterways around Shamvura), or just good old-fashioned relaxing by the pool as the sun sets over the criss-crossing river waterways, Shamvura Camp has something for just about everyone. The camp has a restaurant but guests are also welcome to self-cater. 

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Two guests and their best friend, cruising down the waterways.
(Picture via Shamvura Camp)

 

Check out Shamvura's website for more pictures and information on how to book.

***

2. The Ngepi Camp

Our friend Rachel Lang (BushBound Girl) has covered the Ngepi Camp before, but no list of where to stay in the Zambezi Region would be complete without this unique camp. Ngepi Camp offers both award winning campsites, bush huts and, of course, their famous tree houses.

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The view from Ngepi is something to behold.
(Photo via Ngepi Camp)

 

Guests at Ngepi are also able to take part in a whole range of activities offered by the camp. If you feel like getting out into the delta you can go on sunset cruises, rent a fishing boat, take a guided walk, enjoy a game drive, or for the more adventurous you can sign up for their famous dragon river rafting experience. 

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Getting the blood pumping on the Dragon Boat Rafting Experience.
(Photo via Ngepi Camp)

To book visit the Ngepi Camp website here.

***

3. Mahangu Safari Lodge

Not many people are familiar with this lodge and all the awesome things it has to offer. We're hoping in time this will change because this place is fantastic! There are four en-suite luxury air-conditioned safari tents, seven en-suite air-conditioned double bed bungalows and three guide bungalows with shared facilities.

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Who wouldn't want to relax on this deck overlooking the pituresque river?
(Photo via Mahangu Safari Lodge)

 

The lodge is ideally situated for those guests who want to experience both river safaris and more traditional game drives. The game drives are through the nearby Mahango National Park where it is not uncommon to catch sighting of crocodiles, hippos, elephants and fish eagles.

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Elephants making there way through the Mahango National Park.
(Photo via Mahangu Safari Lodge)

 

If you’d rather spend time on the water then you’re in for a treat: The water around Mahangu is teeming with bream and tiger-fish and the lodge offers guided fishing trips for anyone who wants to do some fishing in one of Namibia’s most beautiful and diverse regions.

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A prize catch!
(Photo via Mahangu Safari Lodge) 

For more information and bookings click here.

***

4. Popa Falls Camp

This camp was revamped and reopened last year much to everyone’s joy. Popa Falls is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Namibia’s Zambezi Region and the nationally run Popa Falls Camp does its astounding surroundings justice. We ran a piece on it in January that you can read here.

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We know that you'll fall for these falls...
(Photo courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)

 

There is not a lot of perennially flowing water in arid Namibia so any lodge or camp that puts you close to a series of cascading rapids like the Popa Falls Camp does will be a special place to visit.

Namibia, where to stay namibia, caprivi, zambezi, elephant, caprivi region, zambezi region, birding, namibia birding

The 'golden hour' as seen from the banks of the Zambezi.
(Photo courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)

 

The camp is, like Mahangu Safari Lodge, is very close to the Mahango National Park and you can visit that park on a guided tour if you enquire at the Popa Falls Camp reception. It also has access to all the beauty of the surrounding river networks with all the bird, plant and animal life that you could hope for.

Book your spot via Namibia Wildlife Reorts here.

 ***

5. Mazambala Island Lodge

Found on an island in the Kwando River this lodge boasts 12 comfortably appointed thatched bungalows. There is also a 12-metre high viewing deck on the island which gives guests unrivalled views of the amazing and diverse plant and animal life of the Zambezi region.

HUT describe the image

The lodge are the perfect mix of unspoiled and luxurious.
(Photo via Temba)

 

Mazambala pride them selves on employing local guides that have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the surrounding area’s birdlife and wildlife. Given the sheer numbers of birds that call this part of Namibia home it is massively helpful to have a guide who knows what to look for and how to find it. 

This lodge is near the Bwabwata National Park and you can hop on a safari drive through this park that is famous for it’s large herds elephants migrating over the Angolan and Namibian borders.

ELEPHANTS  BOATS

Boat cruises and game drives- just another day at Mazambala.
(Photo via Temba) 

To book a few nights on this island retreat click here.

***

The Zambezi Region is truly a place of diversity and the unexpected. If you plan on visiting Namibia and want to get a totally different experience to what is considered “traditionally” Namibian, then you should consider making a trip up north to the border.

Namibia, where to stay namibia, caprivi, zambezi, elephant, caprivi region, zambezi region, birding, namibia birding

Visit the Zambezi Region and let go!
(Photo via Ngepi Camp)

 

++++++

 

Are you a birding enthusiast?
Well here’s a blog on the birdlife you can find in the Zambezi Region (and other parts) of Namibia:

 

BIRDLIFE IN NAMIBIA

african pygmy goose

The 2014 Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge

  
  

The small coastal town of Luderitz in the south of Namibia is renowned for it’s laidback atmosphere and friendly locals. However, every year around October, the sleepy seaside community hosts one of the wildest water sports events in the world: The Luderitz Speed Challenge.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Sunshine and speed on the Luderitz Channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)


Since 2007 some of the world’s most renowned kitesurfers and windsurfers have been coming to Luderitz with one aim: To reach ridiculous speeds on the purpose-built channel just outside Luderitz.

The first two days of the event were characterised by mild winds, but despite this some speed sailing legends were on hand to entertain the curious crowds that had gathered at the channel. Sébastien Cattelan, two times world record holder and the man who helped design the Luderitz channel, managed to reach a hair-raising 50.07 knots (90km/h or 60m/ph) on his second run on the very first day of the competition.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The veteran kitsurfer in full flight on the channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)

 

The following day Erik Beale (who in the 80’s was the first windsurfer to reach 40 knots) made his long awaited comeback to competitive windsurfing on the Luderitz channel. The participation of these two veterans was a testament to lasting appeal that the event has for both seasoned and younger competitors.

 Windsurfing legends Erik Beale and Thierry Bielak. 

 

The Calm 

The days in the middle of this year’s competition were characterised by the riders waiting for the exact right conditions to maximise their speeds. While a few personal bests were set over this period of the competition, during this time most of the competitors fine-tuned their equipment and got used to the conditions in and around the channel.

 

There was also time for the guys and girls to relax a bit and soak up some of Luderitz’s famous hospitality at the world-class Crayfish Bar & Lounge in the Lüderitz Nest Hotel. The contestants even managed to get a little bit ridiculous on the water... 

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The world's first kitesurfing leopard.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

The World Record

On Day 6 of the competition, while most spectators (and competitors) were not expecting too much in the way of serious record attempts, a spectacular record was smashed by Frenchman Chris Ballois.

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Chris Ballois, World Record holder.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)


Chris managed to hit a top speed of 42.92 knots on the famous channel and in doing so became the undisputed World Record holder for disabled kitesurfers. The record-breaking run was ratified by both the WSSRC and ISAF-IFDS and confirms the Luderitz Speed Challenge as one of watersport’s premier events.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The Frenchman flying toward a new world record.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

Chris Benz’ passion for the sport has motivated him to gain the skills, strength, and mental conditioning to achieve speeds that many non-disabled kite surfers can only dream of. Check out Chris' record run by watching the video below:

 

Chris was not the only record breaker this year though and even though wind conditions this year were far from ideal the riders managed to make the most of their time on the channel. Over 11 New National Records (and of course one World Record) were broken by the 34 Windsurfers and Kite Surfers with the field representing 17 different nationalities. The results of this year’s Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge once again confirm that the event is one of the premier competitions on the world speed sailing circuit. 

 

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

20 riders, 1 leopard and a whole bunch of sun and fun.
 (Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

More than just a flash on the water 

Beyond the surfing the LSC is about community. The participants and fans who went to watch this annual event are all testament to that. On the slow days when the wind is down, to keep spirits up, the riders got involved with some of the local children and showed some of these kids the basics of windsurfing and kitesurfing.

In the video below the riders express their love for the tiny Namibian town they call home for a brief period every year:

 

The event would not be possible without the local community, especially the offical partner hotel, the Nest Hotel. It’s great to see that the participants and the communities work so well together and it is this cooperation and mutual benefit that has seen the Speed Challenge go from strength for the last seven years.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Here's looking forward to next year!
(Photo by 
Greg Beadle)


 +++++++

 

 

Check out this video of the 2014 event for a more in-depth look at all the fun:

 

 

RECORDS BROKEN AT THE 2014
CHRIS BENZ LUDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE

Andrew Redfern (Fiji) with 40.87 kts (75.5 kph average speed over 500m)

Andrew Redfern1 280x200 (1)

Roger Ornvang (Sweden) improved his national record - Kitesurfing - with 43.19 kts (80kph)

Roger Ornvang 22000

Remo Diethelm (Switzerland) with 48.31 kts (90 kph)

REmo 88 280x200

Franz Grabner (Austria) smashed the National record with 47.88 kts (88.5 kph)

Franz Austrian

Martin Tóth (Czech Republic) broke his country’s record often and finally ending with 46.73 kts (86.5 kph)

Martin Toth 280x200

Mark Grinnell (South Africa) set a new South Africa and all Africa record in Windsurfing with a truly impressive 49.92 kts (92.5 kph) – just short of the magical 50 knots

South AFrican 76431 280x200

Alain de Gendt (Belgium) - new Production Board Record of 46.66 kts

Alain De Gendt

Christian Bornemann (Germany) - new record in Windsurfing of 48.82 kts (90.4 kph)

christianright 280x200

Zoran Jovanovic (Serbia) - new national record (Kitesurfing) of 40.31kts (74.5 kph)

Zoran

Patrik Diethelm (Italy) achieved the TOP windsurfing performance at the 2014 event by improving the Italian National Record with a very impressive 51.18 kts (94.7 kph) just 0.8 knots of the World Windsurfing Record!

PATRIK Diethelm 280x200

Christophe Ballois (France) set a new Disabled World Record (Kitesurfing) with a superb and inspiring performance of 42.94 kts (80 kph)

Speed Chris Ball 280x200

 
To stay up to date with all the latest news visit the Speed Challenge's Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or watch more of their excellent videos on their official Youtube channel.

Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Chris Schmid

  
  

Award winning photographer Chris Schmid has always tried to express his feelings by sharing his experiences and emotions through the images he has captured. We recently spoke to the Sony Global Imaging Ambassador about the time he spent capturing images in Namibia, and here’s what he had to say…

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

  

1. Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.

Namibia is such a paradise for photography that it’s difficult to choose just one, but one unforgettable moment happened in Etosha. We were waiting at a waterhole observing a lonely bull elephant. After a few minutes we turned our heads and we saw a herd of 30 elephants, with babies in two, coming straight toward us rapidly. It was such an impressive moment and it delivered such amazing images thanks in part to the unique blue pastel colour of the Etosha sky.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

2. Every destination has its challenges and rewards; how does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?

Well, in Namibia you must be ready to drive a loooooonnnng way through some of the most amazing landscapes in the world. The main challenge we had was being at the right place at the right time of day. You’re travelling around through so many magical landscapes, but very often with a very strong light. So it can be sometimes frustrating because the place is so beautiful but you’ve got to get there at the right time to get the magic light.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

If I can give one tip to a traveller it is this: Prepare carefully for your itinerary to be sure to that you are at the right place at the right moment. Do keep in mind though; Namibia requires more than one visit. That’s for sure. The first time you will get only begin to get an idea of what you really can achieve. 

 

3. Which 3 photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of and why?

One of the three is this image about the elephant herd coming straight to us. It was such impressive and emotive in the same time.* 

*This image is posted above.


I would say the second one is from my aerial shooting over the Namib Desert. I really love aerial photography because it gives so different images compared to inland images. And flying over the Namib Desert is unbelievable! You can hardly concentrate on your camera because it’s so amazing! It’s on my to do list when we’ll be back in Namibia probably next year.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

Finally the third one is my image of the red hartebeest captured very early in the morning in Etosha. I really love to play with shadow and contrast in my photography, keeping the image simple, like a shadowgraph. The light was absolutely magic; the grassland was gold, and this in combination with the silhouette of the antelope makes this one of my favourite photos.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

4. When going on a Namibian photographic expedition, what is your equipment of choice? And what do you never leave home without?

Namibia requires a large variety of lenses, because you will be shooting amazing landscapes as well as a variety of wildlife. I travel with a Nikon 500mm and a 70-200mm, both mainly for wildlife images. I also take a wide-angle zoom like a 16-35mm or 14-24mm and a fixed focal 35mm 1.4.

For landscape imagery I love the new Sony A7r that allows me to travel light without compromising quality. For wildlife photography I mainly use a Nikon D4s, a D810 or also a Sony A77II on a 70-200mm. I always prefer staying far away of the animals, respecting them and it gives a more natural comportment. I love also to include them in their environment.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

5. A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them? 

First you must read, read, read about Namibia and really choose what you want to see and be focused on. You can’t see everything in one visit. I always tell to my friends that it is better to be concentrate on a small part of the country than travelling all around the country. In my opinion if you really want to know a country you visit it minimum two times.

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

The second tip I would give is that you must be really patient when observing the wildlife in Etosha. Don’t try to move everywhere if you don’t see anything. Just wait and be patient: Something will happen for sure.

The last tip I would give is to wake up early, very early. Shoot during the golden hours. The light in Namibia is magic and precious so you must take care of it!

Chris Schmid Photography, namibia photography, namibia, etosha photography, etosha, elephants, aerial photography, capture namibia

Image © Chris Schmid / schmidchris.com

 

You can follow Chris on Facebook, or you can visit his website by clicking here.

  BIOPIC 

A few words on Chris Schmid...


Chris is a self-taught photographer and visual storyteller. He believes hard work, persistence, and little else will get a photographer where he or she wants to go.

"My body of work is the result of learning from mistakes and by experience. Most of all, I seek, appreciate, and respect a solid critique. There is nothing more humbling (or inspiring) than hearing an honest opinion of my work from a friend or other photographers."

The last couple of years his work has been more and more recognized and it this has given him the chance to win some prestigious awards around the world.

Since August 2014, Chris is very proud to be part of the Sony Global Imaging Ambassador program.

 

More Photographer Tips

This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.

Follow us to get the latest in the Capture Namibia series:

          

Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa

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Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Richard Garvey-Williams

  
  

Published photographer and nature enthusiast Richard Garvey-Williams has been to Namibia twice on photo safaris. Richard was kind enough to sit down with us and tell us about his experiences in Namibia and how you can get the most out of your photography in the Land of the Brave.

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Two gemsbok in dramatic scenery in the Namib-Rand Reserve 

 

Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.

There were so many, but I did receive a parting gift that has certainly stayed with me. On my last evening, on the Namib-Rand Reserve, I decided to relax after dinner instead of rushing off to finish downloading images and get to bed ready for an early rise. I leant back in my chair and really took in the night sky for the first time that trip. I’ve seen night skies in a number of countries but this was special. I resolved to make some time for some night photography too on my next visit.

 

Every destination has its challenges and rewards; how does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?

Namibia is vast, relatively unpopulated spaces and the arid landscapes particularly strike those of us from more temperate climates. The rugged mountains and towering sand dunes provide some wonderful back-drops for wildlife photography. The colour palette is quite unusual being dominated by yellows, oranges and blues. There’s certainly variety too with the coastal regions, Fish River Canyon and the Waterberg Plateau just a few examples of locations offering different photographic opportunities. Etosha National Park is also great for photographers, particularly in the dry season when you are able to witness the whole cast of its dramatic wildlife taking turns visiting the many waterholes.

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Wildebeest seeking refuge during the course of the day on the Etosha Pan


One of the challenges we photographers have to face is that of heat haze. Photographing at the ends of the day when the air is cooler helps and it’s also important to get nearer to your subject if there is a risk of haze. However, when using very long lenses, there are bound to be a few images blurred by its influence. The other elements that we need to respect in these sorts of environment are the dust and sand- extra precautions are certainly recommended. Planning your travel itinerary can also be a challenge as the distance between locations are great and many of the roads are not tarred. I tried to always travel during the middle of the day to avoid eating into the precious morning and evening photography sessions. 

 

Which 3 photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of and why?

1. One of my favourites is the one of the Black-faced Impala drinking.

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This was taken early on during my tour at one of the waterholes towards the Eastern Gate of Etosha. I watched through the viewfinder mesmerized as the impala came in one at a time to drink, eventually lining themselves up to form a wonderful composition. The late-arrival, nervously looking around before lowering its head really makes the photograph as it breaks the pattern established by the others.

 

2. Another is the silhouetted elephant drinking.

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This was taken at Halali waterhole in Etosha. I was half-way into my time in the park and had yet to see an elephant- which is unusual. At sunset, I hurried on foot to the waterhole and was over-joyed to find a whole herd of elephants drinking there. I set to trying to capture some interesting shapes and outlines by silhouetting them against the glowing water beyond. I fired off a sequence as this one raised its head. The alignment of its head with the gap between the trunk and the reflection on the left made this one a particularly balanced and appealing composition.

 

3. Finally, I’ll go for the one I call Elephant Communion.

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I approached this waterhole to find these two bull elephants standing there coated with drying white mud. They looked as if they had been sculpted out of marble. I spent a good hour watching them as they gently swayed from side to side, occasionally turning to each other and gently resting their heads together. They had arrived together and I saw them leave together – clearly a close bond between them.

 

When going on a Namibian photographic expedition, what is your equipment of choice? And what do you never leave home without?

There are opportunities to use the full spectrum of focal lengths with long telephotos being useful for many wildlife encounters and in particular the bird life. Wide angle lenses will enable you to include foreground details in some of your landscape shots and to get ‘creative’ with rock formations, quiver trees and sand dunes. I’d also strongly recommend a polarizing filter. These will often work wonders in this context by lifting and emphasizing the wonderful colours in the scenery. 

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Sculpted sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

 

Another essential item is a beanbag. Much of your photographing will be done from a vehicle so a beanbag to rest your camera and long lens on will make life a lot easier. It will also give you the stability you need to use slower shutter speeds when the light levels are low early in the morning or when you need a small aperture for a greater depth of field.

 

A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top three tips would you give them?

Firstly, as with any destination, it’s important to do your research and plan your travel itinerary with your photographic ambitions in mind. Make good use of an operator or contact with local knowledge. Factor in a little extra time as road conditions can be a little variable.

Namibia, namibia photography, Richard Garvey Williams, etosha photography, photography, mastering composition, elephants, photo safaris

Deadvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park


Secondly, you must protect your equipment from dust and sand. Dust covers or simple plastic bags fixed over your camera and lens with rubber bands or tape are a good idea. A blower brush to keep the optics clean, and cloths and cleaning fluid are also essential. Remember to put your cameras and lenses away in your camera bag and to zip it up when you’re on the move.

Finally, when lining up each shot, make a point of asking yourself about the fundamentals of lighting and composition. The aridity of the surroundings provides for some lovely uncluttered scenes, enabling you to simplify your compositions and to experiment with some precise placement of the elements contributing to the photograph. It’s not surprising that many of my images from Namibia were used as examples illustrating various points in my book, Mastering Composition – the definitive guide for photographers (Details of which can be found on my website).

Namibia, namibia photography, Richard Garvey Williams, etosha photography, photography, mastering composition, elephants, photo safaris 

Namibia, namibia photography, Richard Garvey Williams, etosha photography, photography, mastering composition, elephants, photo safaris 

Richard spent his childhood years in East Africa and was so in awe of the beautiful wildlife of that region that now, many years on, he still feels the draw of the African continent and the safari experience. As a professional wildlife and landscape photographer, he uses his skills to share with others these wonders and the empathy and respect that he feels for the natural world. Through his photography workshops he also welcomes others to share in the exhilaration of the safari experience. He is now busy working on another photography book.

Visit Richard's website, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook. You can also check when his next photo safari is happening here

More Photographer Tips

This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.

Follow us to get the latest in the Capture Namibia series:

          

Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa

Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa

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Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, Marsel van Oosten, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa  Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, Christopher Rimmer, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa  Namibia photography, photos Namibia, Africa photography, Paul van Schalkwyk, photography tips, photography in africa, photographs of namibia, photographs of africa, hasselblad masters

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