peeks at the world through my lens

Namibia

Etosha National Park II, Namibia

It breaks my heart to say that this is my LAST post from my trip to Africa. It was truly the trip of a lifetime, both as an incredible family adventure as well as a photographers dream destination.

Days 13-15. As mentioned in my previous post, the tail end of our trip was in Etosha National Park. The last three days were spent in the Erindi Private Game Reserve with such creature comforts as a cool bed, air conditioning, and all you can eat buffets surrounded by clean smelling tourists. It really felt odd to be experiencing Africa in this manner, and we frequently longed to get back to the true bush. The morning and evening driving safaris were now with the private Erindi team (our FANTASTIC guides Sascha and Jimmy from Southern Cross Safaris had left us in Erindi and headed back home to prepare for their next trip).  These tours now felt a little more like theme park rides in that many of the larger animals were radio tagged for easier tracking, and there was often a number of vehicles surrounding the larger animals. Overall, it was still a fantastic experience and we were treated to a huge and diverse variety of animals on every tour.

Finally, I want to thank Southern Cross Safaris for an epic experience.  Sascha and Jimmy made us feel like family, and their wilderness knowledge and experience opened up a world to us that few get the opportunity to see.  We can’t wait to return!

Click to enlarge images.

10 Lion

11 Giraffes

Drinking

12 Momma and baby Elephant

Momma and Baby

13 Lionesses

Out for Dinner

14 swainson's spurfowl

Swainson’s Spurfowl

15 Baby Elephant

Baby Elephant

16 mongoose

Mongoose

17 Weaver Bird Nests

Weaver Birds Nests

18 Rhinos

Momma and Baby Black Rhino

19 HelmetedGuineaFowl

20 Rhino

Black Rhino

21 Croc 222 Elephant23 Croc

24 Baboons

Baboons

25 Sandgrouse

Sandgrouse

26 Lioness

27 The Gang

The Gang

28 Girls and me

Me and the Girls

29 Sunset 2

Our Last Namibian Sunset

30 Girls

Goodbye Africa…

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Etosha National Park, Namibia

 

Days 11-12.  When planning our trip, we designed the last few days to be a little on the easier and more comfortable end of the safari spectrum. Rather then set up our own tents and cook our meals while isolated in the deep wild, we decided to stay in two different safari lodges (complete with hot showers and beds…and crowds of clean tourists and all you can eat buffets overlooking watering holes). It was a bit of a shock, and we felt awkward experiencing Africa in this more controlled and catered manner. The first two days were spent at the Halali Camp, and luckily our original guides stayed with us at this camp and also took us on the early morning and evening game drives in Etosha National Park. Click to enlarge images.

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Black Nosed Impala

Black Nosed Impala

Earths shadow

Earth’s shadow

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Etosha Pan

Etosha Pan

Evening Springbok

Evening Springbok

Giraffe Momma and Baby

Momma and baby Black Nosed Impala

Momma and baby Black Nosed Impala

Pale-Chanting Goshawk

Pale-Chanting Goshawk

Giraffe

Pale-Chanting Goshawks

Pale-Chanting Goshawks

Pan

Etosha Pan

Shayna and Greg and Birgitta

Southern black korhaan

Southern Black Korhaan

Springbok

Springbok

Solveig, Ali, Shayna

Grandma and the girls

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

Pan Posse

Etosha Pan Posse

Etosha Sunset

Etosha Sunset


Rainbow Sunset Over Palmweg Concession in Damaraland, Namibia

 

The long day 7 drive through the concession area was a slow, difficult, and at times uncomfortable (very steep terrain mixed with heavy rains) journey. As we arrived and searched out a campsite, the clouds began to clear and we were treated to a spectacularly beautiful double rainbow sunset over the camp. We were now as far out of touch from the rest of the modern civilized world as I have ever been. Over dinner our guide Sasha described the “lion” protocol for the camp (imagine him telling us this at night as light from the small fire flickered on half of his face):  Never leave your tent alone at night. Need to pee? Take the bucket from outside your tent door into your tent, pee, put the bucket back outside of the tent. Need to do a #2? Wake the three men up and walk as a group to the makeshift toilet as you scan the surroundings with headlamps for reflective “eyes” around camp. Hear something at night creeping outside your tent? Don’t move, make a noise, or turn on your light. Do not call for anyone. Follow these rules, and you likely will not get eaten. We all slept great after that. And for the record, we did hear some hyenas not too far from camp as we were falling asleep.

This is my favorite photo from the entire trip. Click to see it in full resolution!

 

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Erongo Mountains, Namibia D5

 

Day 5 in Namibia found us setting out at sunrise on a hike through the Erongo plains to visit Phillipps Cave, a shallow cave hidden in the steep granite cliffs of the Erongo mountains. The cave, which is a national heritage site, is famous for it’s cave paintings by the nomadic San People (Bushman), which include hunting scenes, antelopes, giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, antelope, springbuck, kudus, zebra, the famous white elephant, and 6 imprints of human hands. Some of the paintings date back to approximately 3368 BC. As always, click to enlarge.

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Sunrise Hike to the Cave

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Man Hunting Ostrich

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Antelope

White Elephant

White Elephant.

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Men Standing in Cave

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Man Sitting in Cave

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Family Sitting in Cave

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View from Phillipps Cave

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Stone tools dating to 3500 years BC,

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View from Phillipps Cave

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Bearded Dragon protecting the cave

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Ants drying their grass seed harvest, a morning ritual.

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Greater Kudu

Female Greater Kudu welcoming us on our return to camp

 

 

 

 


Tinkas Plains to Erongo Mountains, Namibia D4

Day 4 in Namibia had us setting out from our first wild campsite in the Tinkas Plains and driving to the Erongo Mountains. Throughout the day we were treated to extraordinarily beautiful landscapes and the most amazing wildlife. As always, click to enlarge.

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Breakfast in Tinkas Plains

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Three generations welcoming the morning sun

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On the road again

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Rock formations in the Erongo Plains

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Quiver Tree, a succulent plant indigenous to Southern Africa, get its name from the San people practice of hollowing out the tubular branches to make quivers for their arrows. Quiver tree numbers are in decline as a result of climate change.

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The dried leaves also make for great Commedia dell’Arte masks

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Ostriches

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Springbok herd

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Shieldback Katydid. These pests covered almost every bit of foliage and fencepost throughout all of the Tinkas and Erongo plains.

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Safari Guide wannabe

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Sascha with his new friend which he narrowly avoided while driving down the road

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Chameleon

monitor lizard

This massive monitor lizard strolled across the road an hid from us in this tree. Our guide Sascha says that this was one of the largest monitor lizards that he had ever seen.

Warthog

Warthog

Tinkas to Erongo


Puff Ader in Tinkas Plains, Namibia

Puff Ader

Look who came to camp this morning to wish us well on the next leg of our journey! A cute little ol’ Puff Ader, a card carrying member of the venomous viper snake species which is considered responsible for the majority of snakebite fatalities in Africa.


Milky Way Over Tinkas Plains, Namibia

Milky Way over Tinkas

Night three found us in our first remote (very remote!) wilderness campsite. Namibia is one of the darkest locations on earth, and the desert’s extremely dry weather and pristine skies make for the most astonishing views of the heavens. Here is my shot of the Milky Way over a rock arch and cave in the Namibian desert. The girls and Sascha can be seen contemplating life in the cave. Their pow-pow was soon cut short when Shayna found a large scorpion crawling nearby.


Sossusvlei to Tinkas Plains, Namibia D3

Day three in Namibia had us setting out from the dunes of Sossusvlei and headed to our first wild campsite in the Tinkas Plains. Our path brought us through Solitaire, a “settlement” that consists of a general store, a small lodge, the only gas station for miles, and the world famous “Moose McGregor’s” bakery. Located on the crossroads of long dusty roads from Sossusvlei, Swakopmond, and Windhoek, Solitaire was the perfect spot for the scottish adventurer and baker Percy “Moose” McGregor to open a bakery and begin to sell, among other delicious desserts, his (soon to be legendary) German style apple pie made from an old  family recipe. After hours of dusty and bumpy driving on endless rutted desert roads, a piece of his pie (à la mode, of course!) came in as one of the most delicious and gratifying meals (yes, meal) that I have ever eaten. Pie score: 11 out of 10.

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Eerie Skeletons and Towering Red Dunes of Deadvlei in Sossusvlei, Namibia

Deadvlei (Dead Marsh) is a white clay pan in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib desert, Namibia. Surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, Deadvlei was formed when the river Tsauchab flooded it’s banks and formed shallow pools. Camel thorn trees once grew in abundance here, but decades of drought and the advancement of the nearby dunes ultimately blocked the water source, and the trees in the vlei were unable to survive. The trees are believed to be up to 900 years old and have been dead since the 14th century. Scorched black by the intense sun and able to stave off decomposition due to the arid climate and lack of insects, these bizarre skeletons along with the white clay pan and surrounding red dunes together make for one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on earth. Click on any image to view Hi-Res version.

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Epic view from the top of Big Daddy dune of the Deadvlei pan and surrounding landscape.
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Entering the Deadvlei pan

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Skeletal remains of long since dead camel thorn trees

 

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Skeletal remains of long dead dead camel thorn trees

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Some life stubbornly persists in the pan

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Scorched black by the intense sun

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Too dry to decompose

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Barren forest amongst towering red dunes.


Climbing Big Daddy Dune, Namibia

Sossusvlei, with it’s massive red dunes and bleached salt pans, is Namibia’s most recognizable landscape. Big Daddy, the tallest dune in the Sossusvlei area and one of the highest dunes in the world, towers over the surrounding dunes at 325m (1,066ft). Extremely high heat and perpetually cloudless skies makes for an extraordinarily arduous 2 hour trek to the top, however climbers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Click on any image to open Hi-Res copy.

Approaching Big DaddyExtreme temperatures and long travel time to the dune mandates a very early predawn start to the trailhead. To grasp the scale of the dune, click on the above image to open a larger image, and look for the specks of people over our heads that have started up the ridge.

 

Starting Ascent

10 minutes down, almost 2 hours to go.

 

Dune Ridge

Windswept ridge.

 

Big Daddy Ridge

Almost to the summit, but about to get sandblasted by heavy winds.

 

BD View

Epic views of the Deadvlei and surrounding landscape.