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Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Jan & Jay Roode

  
  

Jan & Jay Roode are the husband and wife team behind Skyhawk Photography. These two avid conservationists and adventurers have been taking to the skies to capture the best of Namibia. We caught up with them to find out what makes photographing Namibia such a soul stirring experience.


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Defiant – An ancient Camel Thorn tree stands defiant to both time and the extreme elements on the blinding white salt pans of the Sossusvlei complex. Photo by: Jay Roode


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

In the Nama language “Namib” means vast which is really the only word that truly captures the infinities of space, sky and solitude of this timeless place. For us it is a special environment for inspiration and a unique place to ponder the human soul.

Trying emotively to put into words what it feels like to take off with the sunrise on cool desert air and fly low over rolling dune fields, golden prairies covered in Oryx and Springbok or along the mist cloaked Skeleton coast is one that I am going to have to leave for our images to convey.

We have many unforgeable moments from our shoots in Namibia, on the ground and in the air so it is hard to single out a particular one, but some that stand out are; finding ourselves alone one afternoon at Deadvlei with a silence so deep we could hear our own heartbeats, watching the wind bound through a never ending sea of swaying grasses, waking up to the calls of the Namaqua Sandgrouse and the Barking Gecko, taking off with the dawn into a pale blue desert sky and watching the landscape turn to burnished gold beneath us …... the list is impossibly endless.

 

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River of Life – a salt water estuary spreads inland on limbs of pastel blue and green south of Walvis Bay. Photo by: Jay Roode

 

"Namibia is one of the most photogenic places on earth, it is a place made up more of sky than of earth and its vastness never fails to touch our souls" - Jay Roode

 

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The Wanderer – A lone Ostrich wanders the brazen orange dunes of the Naukluft. Photo by: Jay Roode

 

How does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?

Namibia is incomparable to other destinations we have travelled; it is a cosmos of form and colour and a photographers dream. The diversity of its landscapes, people and wildlife could keep any photographer busy for a lifetime.

As one of the worlds least populated countries, it is a a place where a person can revel in timeless isolation and can explore the pursuit of beauty and silence without distraction.

Namibia has well established roads, accommodation for every taste and budget, is safe to travel through and is populated with some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet which makes it an extremely “photographer friendly” destination. However one does need to prepare for extreme distances between destinations and set aside a good chuck of time to truly explore this enchanted land.

 

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Nama Starburst – we only just recently discovered what the purpose of this star-burst pattern is thanks to a man named Bertie Kotze. These are apparently the remains of a discontinued Decca navigation system/Radar station. The grid pattern is a system of underground cables. …..... and here we were getting overly imaginative with explanations that included extra terrestrial life forms and an eccentric yet highly motivated German artist. Photo by: Jay Roode

 

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Mysteries – An undiscovered salt pan, not unlike Deadvlei lies like a pearl in the swirling dune sea of the Naukluft. Photo by: Jay Roode

 

Which photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of?

We have taken some gob smacking images from the air in Namibia so we would be hard pressed to choose just three. However here are three we particularly love....

 

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Spirit Rising, Photo by: Jay Roode

The Eduard Bolean shipwreck, an old German Woermann-Linie steamer that ran aground near Conception Bay on the Skeleton Coast in 1909. The shadow seems almost more solid that the ship itself and is the only indication what this vessel must have looked like in its heyday.  

 

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On Wings of Stillness, Photo by: Jay Roode

This image was taken on the jet black brine pans found south of the harbour town of Walvis Bay on the Namibian coastline. 

The Walvis Bay Ramsar Site is regarded as the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa, not only for the large numbers of resident species found here, but particularly for the vast numbers of both intra-African and Palaearctic migrants. It is renowned for the large numbers of both Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingo, and has been listed by RAMSAR as a Natural heritage site. 

Our aircraft is so silent that the normally exceptionally sensitive Flamingo are left undisturbed allowing us to capture these tranquil and undisturbed moments from above.

 

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Suspended, Photo by: Jay Roode

Where the golden dunes meet the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on an exceptionally calm day.

 

What is your equipment of choice for your Namibian expeditions?

On our photography expeditions essential items we always include would be; our Bose noise reduction headsets and some seriously laid back music (Bob Dylan and some Mark Knopfler normally hits the spot), Fisherman’s Friend extra strong mints, a weird and wonderful selection of bits and bobs such as an emergency locator beacon, an extra fuel bladder, first aid and survival kits and of course a hair dryer (just kidding). A warm jacket and thermos of coffee for those cold desert mornings and a good pair of walking shoes are also essential.

But from a photography perspective we never leave without two camera bodies and a plethora of lenses ranging from super wide angle all the way up to a prime 300mm with extenders. Spare batteries and a fist full of very large memory cards are also on the list.

 

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Colours of Salt – A truck drives along a road dividing two deep pink salt pans near Walvis Bay. Photo by: Jay Roode 

 

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

#1: Make time – set aside a decent amount of time to photograph Namibia, it is a vast place with so much to see and experience. We would recommend a month.

#2: Take your time – don't rush from destination to destination in search of that perfect image. Enjoy each destination for what it is, search for the magic. Breath and feel the vastness – take time to plan your shots - it will reflect in your images

#3: Make use of the golden hours of dawn and dusk, that's when the desert really comes alive

 

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Splendour –  A desert transformed - this image was taken in 2011 just after some of the heaviest and most prolonged rains in Namib history. Photo by: Jay Roode

 

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About Jan & Jay Roode from Skyhawk Photography

Husband and wife team Jan and Jay Roode are avid conservationists and adventurers and having left their successful corporate careers now dedicate themselves full-time to photographing Southern Africa from above.Jan is the man in the pilot’s seat of a light aircraft which has been specifically modified for aerial photography, and Jay wields the Canon. They work together constantly to get the best angle on a particular scene.

For the Roode's their obsession with aerial photography comes from the unique angle aerial photography gives us; it challenges our perspectives of the world and allows us to truly grasp the beauty and magnitude of the African landscape.

Most importantly it allows us to see whole landscapes and ecosystems as living breathing entities to be conserved. A percentage of the sale of each of their images goes back to a conservation cause in the country from which it was taken.

Find out more about Skyhawk photography on their website www.skyhawkphotography.com Facebook page or on Twitter @Skyhawkphoto 


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

 Featured Photographers  

   
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 Marsel van Oosten 

 Christopher Rimmer

Paul van Schalkwyk

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Bill Gozansky

 Roy van der Merwe

 Hougaard Malan

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 Matthew Hood

 Ted Alan Stedman

 Jan & Jaye Roode

 



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Who’s won a Landscape Escape to Namibia?

  
  

After a grueling few weeks of voting, the judges have made their selection from the top 5 entrants. Thanks to everyone who participated, the competition was tight! But we’re pleased to announce that Kevin Read from Canada is going on a landscape escape to Namibia.

 

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Ruth & Kevin

Here’s what Kevin had to say: 

“I’m going to take my wife, Ruth. We're now 51 years old, with two adult children, one grandchild and another on the way. We sold our house back in the fall of 2007 (so the kids couldn't come back!) and bought a motorhome. We figured that since we still had the family dog, it was a great way to explore and be able to do it with a pet. And it was. We spent five years traveling in the motorhome, including many of the winter months exploring all of Mexico.

But in the fall of 2011, our dog Whiskey passed away at age 15 1/2. As much as we missed her, this left us more free to travel the rest of the world. That's what we did and that’s what we intend to keep on doing. 

It was so exciting just to get a phone call from Africa, let alone one that tells you you've won a free trip to visit Namibia and go on safari! We're thrilled to have been chosen, because this is one of those bucket list items that people dream about crossing off!"

Kevin and Ruth are going to be writing about their adventures in Namibia - follow them here:

http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/

 

Are you desperate to visit Namibia? Want to enter our competitions? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep on top of the latest competitions and you could be the next lucky winner!

                                    

 

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Namib Sand Sea a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  
  

We’re proud to announce that on Friday 21 June 2013, UNESCO enlisted the Namib Sand Sea as a World Heritage Site. It is a triumph for not only for Namibian tourism and conservation, but for this beautiful desert that has already dazzled many visitors with its vastness and beauty. 

 

Namib Desert 2

Namib Sea Sand 

As UNESCO put it: “Namib Sand Sea (Namibia) is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares, the site is composed of two dune systems, an ancient semi-consolidated one overlain by a younger active one. The desert dunes are formed by the transportation of materials thousands of kilometres from the hinterland, that are carried by river, ocean current and wind. It features gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which  endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches.”  

This is the second World Heritage Site in Namibia after Twfelfontein, home to the world's largest concentration of rock art, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007. The Namib Sand Sea is the first natural site in Namibia to be inscribed.

“The desert scenery, natural beauty and large dunes of the Namib Sand Sea as well as the diversity of life form that have evolved and adapted to the Namib Sand Sea are unique in the world. Hence the nomination” - Marius Kudumo, The Secretary General of the Namibia National Commission for Unesco via The Namibian

 Namib Desert Namibia 1

The Namib Desert

The Namib Sand Sea met all four criteria for becoming a natural World Heritage Site, making it the first natural site for ten years to do so. That puts the Namib Sand Sea on a par with The Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America and the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia that also fulfilled all four criteria when they were added to the list in 1978 and 1981 respectively. Of the 13 sites nominated this year, eight fulfilled only one or two of the categories.

In order for a natural site to be listed, it must meet one of the following four criteria 

- To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

- To be outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth's history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

- To be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

- To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Last year, The Namibia National Commission for Unesco secretariat submitted part of the dunes of the Namib Naukluft Park (known as the Namib Sand Sea) to the World Heritage Council Centre to be included on the World Heritage List.

Thanks to all the Namibians and partners who helped to make this possible!

 

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Let the Namib desert enchant you:

Read more about Deadvlei and the 8th wonder of the world here or click here to vote for Deadvlei each and every day! 


75 nights in Namibia up for grabs with Gondwana & VW

  
  

If you love your VW and Namibia, then this is just the competition for you...

In Namibia, we love our driving - probably because we have to do so much of it in a country that's as big and empty as ours! So what better way to win a holiday in Namibia than to remember our trusty cars that take us to all four corners of this beautiful land.

Celebrate 75 years of Volkswagen and win 75 Gondwana nights by entering the Gondwana Volkswagen Jubilee Competition.

The Gondwana Collection includes a host of top accommodation spots in Namibia from the river world of the Okavango to the highest dunes in Sossusvlei. Picking 75 nights will be easy!

All you have to do is post your favourite Volkswagen photo on Facebook or via email to pr@gondwana-collection.com, add a short description and your email address. Upload as many photos as you like! But make sure each photo is less than 2MB. 


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Photo: Holger Grüttemeyer and his trusty VW


The top 3 photos with the most votes will each win a prize of 25 nights with breakfast at the Canyon Roadhouse or any other Gondwana lodge. Winners will be notified by email and receive a voucher for their respective share of the prize. Vouchers are valid until 31 December 2014. Vouchers are transferrable but cannot be exchanged for cash.

Please note: By participating in the Gondwana VW competition you are releasing your photos for publication on Facebook and other social media. We recommend that you keep the files rather small (200–400 KB) in order to guard against abuse. 

The competition started on 10 June and closes on 31 August 2013. So hurry… Enter here and good luck!

 

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A Bicycle Tour through Katutura

  
  

To pass through Windhoek and not experience the bustling life of Katutura is to miss out on what is everyday life for most Namibians living in the capital.  

Katutura means “The place where people do not want to live” in Otjiherero, and was Windhoek’s former “blacks only” suburb during Apartheid rule. Today, the township is home to 60 % of the people living in Windhoek, and represents the vibrant soul of the capital.  

Travelling through Katutura by bicycle shows a side of the township you wouldn’t get by just passing through by car – you can smell the lunch at the food markets and watch the kids run alongside you on their way home from school. And best of all, it’s environmentally friendly.  

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Anna & Eric from Katu Tours

There are some serious hills in Katutura, as we discovered on our bicycles… but luckily the tour is for people of all ages and fitness levels, so you can take it at your own pace. In fact, the slower you go, the more you’re likely to see.  

Friendly guides like Eric take you on a route through Katutura and give you all the history and behind the scenes stories of the township, its people and the various landmarks you’ll pass along the way. From more politically relevant locations like Single Quarters, to the tastes of Soweto market, the shebeens of Eveline street and the crafts of Penduka, you’re in for an educational and cultural treat.  

Cycling through Katutura for a taste of Namibian history and everyday life is an experience not to be missed. Adventure tourism at its best.

Additional Tour Information:

  • Departs: Tuesday to Sunday at 8:30 am but (be there at 8:00 am sharp for a tour briefing and instructions!)

  • Numbers: 3 people minimum/12 maximum

  • Start/end point: Penduka Project at Goreangab Dam, Katutura (See map here)

  • The tour takes 3.5 hours and covers a total distance of around 7km at a relaxed pace

  • The tour includes a bicycle and helment hire, so no need to bring your own!

  • Make sure you pack light (not too big a camera either) and bring a bottle of water because it gets pretty hot out there

  • All schedule tours to be booked and confirmed 48 hours prior tour departure date

  • Katu Tours also offers tailor made tours to large groups and families, just make sure you request them 5 working days in advance

  • For more information visit the Katu Tours website at katuturatours.com

     

 

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Find out how Wanaheda got its name (here’s a clue: its got to do with the four largest cultural groups in Namibia)

 

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The tour takes you through all the different parts of Katutura and gives you a bit of a history lesson while you're at it


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Watch as Herero women make the subtly-sweet-but-oh-so -elicious Herero bread at Soweto market

 

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Meet the local shop owners in the bustling markets


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Get anything you need from Soweto market, from the freshest fruite to the best quality hair braids in town

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Wind through the streets to see the colourful homes


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Visit Oshetu Market for a meat extravaganza – every thing from fresh cuts to the delicious Kapana straight from the grill

 

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The streets are lined with carwashes – a good form of business for local entrepreneurs, and conveniently located close to the shebeens so customers aren’t twiddling their thumbs while waiting

 

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Check out the community upliftment and bicycle repair project The King’s Daughters

 

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Have a traditional Oshiwambo meal at Xwama before finishing up your tour

 

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Round it up with a look at the Penduka Women’s project where you’ll find extraordinary crafts, including glass beads made by deaf women from recycled bottles

What’s Up Windhoek! Discover Hidden Gems in new City Guide

  
  

Looking for a Windhoek City Guide? We have just the thing! The Namibia Business Innovation Center (NBIC) has produced a Windhoek City Guide to help you navigate this dynamic capital.  

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Exploring Windhoek is great fun, it is a safe city and everyone can feel comfortable exploring it on foot.

But don’t be surprised if you get out of breath, Windhoek sits in the Khomas Highlands at 1,700 meters above sea level (a great place to train for a marathon!). 

400 000 people live in Windhoek, which makes it Namibia’s largest city.  It’s a city of numerous boroughs and sharp contrasts, from the lush gardens and quiet streets of Klein Windhoek, to the bustling Katatura township and the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to pervade Windhoek West, the city has many faces. 

The guide is especially helpful in suggesting you how to get around and to see the city economically (check out their special section in Windhoek for $100; that’s $100 Namibian dollars…).

Where to get it

City Guides are only N$20, and available at NBIC, Stellenbosch Wine Bar, Pure & Simple and Mao. Or you can access the online version here: http://nbic.polytechnic.edu.na/windhoek-city-guide/

 

Any hidden gems missed?

If you know of a great place that the guide missed out on, leave us a comment so we can share your favorite spots with our community! 


Where to Eat in Windhoek

For more great ideas on where to head for breakfast, lunch and supper click here to read our post on Where to Eat in Windhoek.

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Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Ted Alan Stedman

  
  

We got a chance to chat to Ted Alan Stedman, on a short but wildlife-packed trip to the north of Namibia for a CNN Travel piece. Here is just a taste of what he shot and a few tips on how to capture your next Namibian adventure.


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

There were several instances that are etched in my memory. Maybe the one that stands out most occurred in Namibia’s northeastern panhandle – the Caprivi strip region – within the Mayuni Conservancy. This is a liquid labyrinth of islands, narrow water passageways and thick forests that make up the Kwando River floodplain. I was staying at the Susuwe Island Lodge, and after one of our land safari drives, we enjoyed that African safari tradition: the sundowner. While we were celebrating the day’s sightings of hippos, elephants, antelope and so many other creatures, a small herd of elephants marched across the river and filed by, one by one, in a procession just yards away from our temporary encampment. We all just froze and stayed silent while the elephants continued past us. Remarkable.

 

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Kwando River Elephant by Ted Alan Stedman


How does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?

I’ve been on safari in seven African nations. Namibia ranks very well. In the dry Etosha region, you can get the big sweeping views similar to Kenya’s Masai Mara. But there is more to the topography, like wooded ravines and small mountains that provide cover for some species. The waterholes are the best places to stake out. In the evenings the lions tend to water here. In the Caprivi, the land is defined by the wetlands and the Kwando River. The big species here are elephants, hippos and many, many birds like the majestic fish eagle. So all in all, Namibia has a fairly diverse habitat for photographers. 

 

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Etosha lions at waterhole  by Ted Alan Stedman

 

Which photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of?

I have three sequences of similar photos I like: hippos, elephants and tribal people dancing. They all seem to be images that are iconic Africa, images that you cannot capture anywhere else.

 

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Hippo at Mayuni Conservancy by Ted Alan Stedman

 

What is your equipment of choice for your Namibian expeditions?

I’m using Canon gear. My set up includes EOS 5D Mark II camera bodies that have full-frame, 22 megapixel sensors; a 100-400 f/4-5.6 zoom lens; smaller focal-length zoom lenses ranging from 17mm to 70mm (for scenics, landscapes and people); a dedicated flash and softbox diffuser; a remote shutter release; plus all the digital gear you need such as a netbook computer, external portable drive and extra memory cards. One item that I always have is an external flash. Even during the brightest sunlight, I’ll use a flash for fill light. Africa has harsh daylight and the flash helps reduce the contrast of subjects, mainly people.

 

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Himba Culture by Ted Alan Stedman 

 

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

#1: Bring the best gear you can afford (or rent it, because you’ll be disappointed if you don’t have quality gear)

#2: Shoot, shoot and keep shooting. Electrons are free, and unlike film, you can take hundreds of photos on cards without interruption.

#3: It’s all about the light. Daybreak and late afternoons yield golden light, and images look much, much better as the light becomes softer. It’s not always possible to shoot during these timeframes, however, so don’t be deterred from shooting during mid-day. Try using warming and polarizing filters to help deal with the harsh light. You can also do this in the digital post production phase as well with Photoshop.

 

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Chobe River sunrise by Ted Alan Stedman

 

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About Ted Alan Stedman

Ted Alan Stedman is a Colorado-based writer/photographer who’s reported on travel related themes professionally since 1994. Early on, he covered outdoor sports such as skiing, cycling, mountaineering and other active pursuits, which led to extensive domestic and international travel. Nowadays, he covers the broader contexts of travel to include culture, wildlife, environmental aspects and adventure that appeal to consumer audiences. His work has appeared in Outside, Sport Diver, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Western Journey, Islands, Outdoor Photographer, CNN, MSNBC and many other outlets.

Find out more about Ted at www.tedalanstedman.com or view his photos on Flickr and Facebook


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.

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Bizarre Desert Plants of Namibia

  
  

Trees that cut their own branches? Jurrassic plants? The Namib Desert sure is home to some of the world’s rarest and most interesting flora and fauna. Guest blogger K Kristie has pulled together the facts on these strange life forms found in Namibia...

 

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Namib Desert, photo courtesy of TravelNewsNamibia.com

 

The Namib is a largely unpopulated and inaccessible desert in Namibia and southwest Angola which forms part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Nicknamed the world’s oldest desert, it stretches 1,200 miles in length with an average width of only 70 miles along the coast of Namibia to form one of the most spectacular and richest deserts in the world. It’s also called the Skeleton Coast as many ships have been marooned on its treacherous coast. The Namib Desert is also home to the highest sand dunes in the world and some of the world’s rarest and most interesting flora.

 

Welwitschia Mirabilis

 

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Welwitschia mirabilis in Namibia (Damaraland) photo by Nanosanchez via WikiCommons

 

This plant is one of the few things on earth that can be truly called one of a kind. It consists only of two leaves and a stem base with roots. Both leaves that grow from opposite sides of the stem will continue to grow and never drops and instead gets brown by the sun and torn by the wind which will eventually look like lots of individual leaves. The stem gets thicker rather than higher although it can grow up to six feet high and twenty-four feet wide. At the age of 20, cone-like flowers appear. The female plant produces up to 100 flowers in a season, while the male produces an abundance of pollen.  Its lifespan is estimated to reach 2000 years.

Welwitschia mirabilis was discovered by botanist, explorer and medical doctor, Friedrich Welwitsch, in 1860 in the Namib Desert. He wanted to name it Tumboa, its native Angolan name but the plant was still named in his honor. The specie mirabilis means marvelous or wonderful in Latin. This plant is considered a living fossil and Charles Darwin was reported to have described it as “the platypus of the plant kingdom.”  

Click here to see one of the biggest Welwitschia caught on camera.

 

Halfmens

 

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Pachypodium namaquanum, photo by Winfried Bruenken from WikiCommons 

 

Pachypodium namaquanum, more commonly known as elephant’s trunk, clubfoot, halfman or halfmens is a succulent plant that can sometimes look like a tree when fully grown. The name halfmens (this is how they spell it) is an Afrikaans word meaning semi-human which came from the fact that from a distance the plants look like people walking up a slope. This spiny cactus-like plant which can reach up to 4m tall can also attain an unmistakable bottle-like appearance. The flowers which appear from July to September are red on the inside and yellow-green on the outside. The crinkled leaves found at the top are velvety to the touch.  Fruits are horn-like and brown in color. Halfmens are found in dry rocky deserts at altitudes from 300-900 m above sea level. It can live up to more than a hundred years old. The name Pachypodium is a Greek word meaning ‘thick foot’, an allusion to its swollen base, while namaquanum is a reference to Namaqualand, an arid region in South Africa.


Baobab Tree

 

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Baobab in Northern Namibia (Kunene) photo by Hans Hillewaert from WikiCommons

 

If there’s one tree you will never forget, it’s the Adansonia digitata. This is the most amazing plant in the planet. It’s capable of providing food, water, shelter and medicine for both animals and humans giving it the title “The Tree of Life.” It’s been called “grotesque” and “botanical monster” by some. The tree is leafless during most time of the year giving it an appearance as if its roots are sticking up in the air thus one of its common name—the upside-down tree.

The humongous white flowers last only a day and are pollinated by fruit bats. The fruit, called monkey-bread is a large, egg-shaped capsule covered with grayish green to yellowish brown hairs. It has a hard, woody outer shell with a dry, powdery substance rich in vitamin C which when soaked in water provide a refreshing drink that resembles lemonade thus giving another one of its common name—lemonade tree. This drink is also used to treat fever and other common ailments. The cork-like bark is fire resistant and is used to make cloth and rope. The leaves are used for condiments and medicines. The tree is capable of storing hundreds of liters of water, which is tapped during dry periods.

Mature trees are frequently hollow, providing living space for animals and humans. Trees are even used as houses, prisons, pubs and barns. Its broad trunk which can measure up to 15 meters in diameter doesn’t have annual growth rings. Its age can only be measured through radio carbon dating which found that baobabs can be over 2,000 years old.

The name Adansonia was named in remembrance to French naturalist Michel Adanson; the specie digitata meaning hand-like refers to the shape of the leaves. Other nicknames include cream of tartar tree, bottle tree and even dead-rat tree from the fact that it’s woody seed pods with furry coating look like rats hanging by their tails. Adansonia has six species in Madagascar and one each in mainland Africa and Australia. The biggest specie is the digitata or the African Baobab.

See images of a Baobab toilet and a Baobab pub.

Read about the different uses of one particular Baobab in the Owambo region of Namibia

 

Quiver Tree

 

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Quiver tree forrest, photo courtesy of TravelNewsNamibia.com

 

Another bizarre desert plant is the Kokerboom or Quiver tree. It has smooth branches covered with a thin layer of whitish powder that helps reflect away the hot sun rays. The bark has beautiful brown scales with razor sharp edges. The tree has blue-green leaves and the flowers which bloom in the months of June and July are bright yellow in color. The branches and bark are used by Kalahari San Bushmen to make quivers for their arrows thus the name. Large trunks of dead trees are also hollowed out and used as a natural refrigerator where water, meat and vegetables are stored inside. The fibrous tissue of the trunk has a cooling effect as air passes through it. The branches and trunk of the quiver tree are filled with a soft fiber that can store water. But in severe drought, it seals off its own branches to save moisture loss through the leaves. The branch end looks like an amputated limb. The quiver tree is in fact not a tree but a giant aloe. Its height can reach up to seven meters and has a lifespan of more than 80 years old.

 

About the author

K Kristie is a full-time mother of two and a part-time freelance online content writer from Malaybalay, Philippines. Her subjects are mostly about health and nutrition, plants, animals, and geology.

See K Kristie's full profile here

Follow K Kristie on Twitter @HeyKKristie

 

This article was originally published on scienceray.com and has been republished with consent from the author, K. Kristie.

 

To learn more about the weird and wonderful plants and animals of Namibia, visit our website for more info here or follow us:

            

Is Deadvlei the 8th Wonder of the World?

  
  

With tree skeletons, hundreds of years old, lost in the middle of the desert, it’s little wonder Deadvlei has been nominated as the 8th Wonder of the World. Click on the image below to vote for Deadvlei and read on to learn more about this natural spectacle.

 

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The Wonder of Deadvlei

Amidst the towering red dunes of the Namib Rand, just outside Sossusvlei, lies the haunting and spectacular Deadvlei. The name Deadvlei means dead marsh (from the English dead and the Afrikaans vlei). What once was a marsh, is now a dried white clay pan, surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world that have literally rusted over thousands of years, giving them their fiery complexion. 

It is believed that the clay pan formed more than a thousand years ago, when the Tsauchab river flooded after heavy rainfall and created shallow pools of water. In these marshes camel thorn trees began to grow. But after around 200 years, the climate changed. Drought struck the area. The sand dunes that encroached the area soon blocked off the Tsaucheb river and any water from the once luscious marsh.

With no water, the trees were unable to survive. But they did not disappear. So harsh was the climate that the trees dried out instead of decomposing, and the desert sun scorched them into blackened bones, never to vanish from the earth.

Now all that remains are 900 year old tree skeletons trapped in a white clay marsh, set against red rusted dunes and a brilliant blue sky. A forest frozen in time.

 

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Help Deadvlei become the 8th Wonder of the World!

To make sure Deadvlei secures the prestigious title of the 8th Wonder of the World, we need as many votes as possible! If you’ve been to Deadvlei, and its left you speechless or just standing in awe at the beauty and strangeness of it, vote for Deadvlei please vote for Deadvlei by clicking onhereVoting is now open, and remember, you can vote everyday, once every 24 hours, until September 30th! 

 

Amniótica - Deadvlei's Winter Dream from Amniótica on Vimeo

 

Visiting the Deadvlei

  • Deadvlei is located near the famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. View it on Google Maps here

  • The park gate is just past Sesriem, and is open between sunrise and sunset. From here, the 65km drive to Sossusvlei takes about an hour.

  • At the base of Dune 45 - 45km from the gate - there is a small parking area and a dry toilet. Sossusvlei has a larger parking area with more toilets and a picnic area. There is no water here, so bring plenty.

  • The route beyond this parking area (another 4km to Sossusvlei) can only be covered in a 4WD vehicle. Alternatively, there is a 4WD transfer service, or you can walk.

  • The climate here is extreme, even in winter. Visitors should bring at least two litres of water, sunscreen, a sunhat, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirt. Be aware that the sun is also reflected upwards from the sand!

  • Sossusvlei is one of the most visited destinations in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, but visitors can also enjoy hot air balloon rides, quad biking, desert hikes, paragliding and sand boarding. Download our Adventure Travel Planning Guide to find out more!

 

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The tree skeletons pose for the keen photographers

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Tourists from around the world come to witness this natural wonder

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Cracked white clay of the Deadvlei

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Deadvlei with teasing clouds, Photo courtesy of TravelNewsNamibia.com

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Deadvlei at Sunset, Photo courtesy of TravelNewsNamibia.com

  

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