Namibia – Aus to the desert

Our drive to our next destination was estimated at only a couple of hours, so before we left we went in search of an abandoned old car that I’d read about.  As we were in no rush we took the time to photograph the scenery and another wild horse who came right up to us.

I was photographing the landscape when I suddenly realised that the horse had come right up to me to admire the view too..

After many twists and turns on the track we finally found the car and had great fun taking photos of it.   I wanted to take a photo of all of us so set up my tripod and put the camera onto self-timer and ran in. 

Deb then suggested that we should pretend to be looking in the bonnet, and my caption for this one is ‘we were a bit disappointed with our rental car on this trip’

Back onto the main road for a couple of kilometres, then we turned onto a minor road, which instead of being black tar was bright orange dust and gravel, gradually turning paler the further we went. 

Again, stunning scenery with plenty of photo stops.  We had seen flat topped mountains for miles and didn’t know what had caused them to be like this.  They look like somebody has taken a huge knife and sliced the tops off.  Later in our trip we found out that the rocks are very porous and the rain breaks them down, and then the wind literally blows it off, resulting in flat tops. 

We also saw our first Oryx near to the road, (I think they have the most magnificent horns and beautiful faces)

and on our entire journey we saw less than 10 cars.

Another turn onto an even more minor road meant that I was driving on sand and I had to concentrate hard not to loose control.  We also had to keep a good lookout for the turnoff to our home for the next two nights.  When we found the gate we turned onto a track that was barely visible through the open plain, but when we finally arrived and were taken to our rooms – wow, what a view.  It’s set in an ever changing landscape (due to the light that seems to change by the minute)  of 33,000 hectares of unspoilt nature with the emphasis on conservation, and our rooms were built of wooden structures with semi-permanent canvas ‘tents’ on them.  Very luxurious tents they were too with en-suite shower rooms, a glass front door, and canvas flaps that peeled down to let the air in and reveal the stunning view. The lodge is set into a rocky hillside which is quite unattractive, but its position is all about what you see when looking out at the view.

The canvas sides had ‘windows’ that were revealed when the canvas was pulled down.  With just bug screens and no glass, they let in plenty of fresh air.

That night I had my first attempt on this trip at photographing the Milky Way and was really pleased with the results.  Just being outside in the warmth of the nighttime, listening to the sounds of the insects and looking up at the millions of stars that can ben seen when there’s no light pollution are moments to treasure.

We had a 0500 start the next morning to go and watch the sunrise.  I must admit I wondered why we would drive for 90 minutes when we could see the sunrise perfectly well from our own rooms, but I soon realised why – another incredible and peaceful landscape which made it absolutely worthwhile.  Sitting on blankets sipping coffee or hot chocolate we watched in awe and took dozens of photos between us. 

We loved the way the sun hit the clouds above – they really were bright red like this.

We then took the slow way back to camp via small sand dunes and amazing trees. The colours are ever changing and my photos don’t do it justice.

During breakfast on the terrace we watched some guests going out for a horse ride.  They looked tiny but I love the feeling of vastness and how inconsequential we are in  this shot.

We then had free time to relax for the first time on this trip, potter around, edit our images and take a few more too. 

At 3 p.m we then went to visit the two resident cheetahs who are there because they were orphaned at a very young age. They will probably never be able to be released as they haven’t been taught how to hunt by their mum, but I was very pleased to see the size of their ‘enclosure’ – it’s a whole hill, absolutely massive and allows them plenty of space to roam and run, warm up in the morning on the dune, and cool down in the afternoon under the shade of a tree.  You can just about see the fence on the left slope in the photo below, and their enclosure extends a long way to the right too and over the back of the hill.

After they had been thrown hunks of Oryx they ran off with them and a short time afterwards we were able to go into their enclosure and photograph them.   I’m not a fan of animals in captivity but when there is good reason and they are looked after well with plenty of space I’m OK with it.

The day ended with a sundowners drive which again took in some stunning scenery and ended with the brightest orange sky I’ve ever seen.  I have not changed the colours in these photos at all and had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t believe that such colours were real.

The new moon made its appearance

A leisurely dinner ended with the Namibian waiters, waitresses, and kitchen staff singing and dancing for us.  The waiting staff were very young, seemed a bit lacking in confidence, and quietly spoken and we always had to listen hard to hear what they were saying.  We couldn’t believe the difference when they opened their mouths and sang – wow, there were 8 of them and the volume and confidence was incredible and fantastic.  I so wish I had my phone to record them but have to commit it to memory. 

The following morning I woke up early even though we didn’t have to leave early, and this was the view from my bed. How stunning are those colours!  This is one of my favourites.

Here’s the panorama, and the dramatic colours have calmed down.

This is the other side of the hill – one of the owners had been to stay overnight and this is him leaving ! Yes, it’s hard to see but that is a little private ‘plane…..

I’m running another tour of Namibia in September 2018.  If anyone is interested in joining me check out the details here.  You can come to learn how to take better photos as I’ll happily teach you how to use your SLR or mirrorless camera creatively, or just come with me and see all these great locations. 

“The trip that Julie arranged to Namibia hit all the right notes. Her attention to detail ensured that we had a perfect itinerary with lodging that at times was nothing short of decadent. One could not imagine a better guide and Julie’s preparation was meticulous. You will find no better or encouraging tutor if you are looking to improve your photography skills. Among her many gifts, Julie never forgets that taking photography should always be fun. If you want a once-in-a-lifetime trip to an amazing country with opportunities to visit breathtaking landscapes and see extraordinary wildlife, I whole-heartedly recommend a journey with Julie.”     Gary – Tennessee, US.
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