Wilds of Northern Namibia 2017

Wildlife, Tribes, Desert Adapted Elephants, and Dramatic Landscapes

April 1 – April 15, 2017

15 days

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Filled with incredible photographic opportunities unique to this corner of Africa, Northern Namibia is the road less traveled and photographed. The wilds of the north are home to the rare desert elephant, the exotic Himba tribe, and the world’s oldest tribe, the San Bushman. It also encompasses Etoshia National Park, renowned for its wildlife photography. Although Namibia contains a remarkable infrastructure of well-kept roads and luxurious accommodations, of which we will take full advantage, we will also veer off those roads, using 4X4 Safari style Land Cruisers, on a journey of discovery, amidst dramatic scenery and the true spirit of its people This photographic expedition is an incredible mix of wildlife, tribes, and pristine wilderness.

During this life-enriching photographic safari, we will venture into the wilds of Kaokoland, a vast stretch of land, bordered by Angola to the north and the Skeleton Coast along the Atlantic Ocean to the west, where the “nomadic” Himba still lead a traditional life. A special team will be sent ahead to assemble a proper mobile-tented camp, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves with this unique tribe in the heart of their land, and far away from the tourist lodges that boarder this vast region, rarely offered in an itinerary.

We will visit Etoshia, one of the largest game parks in Africa and a premier wildlife photography destination with over 114 mammals and over 340 bird species. To take full advantage of all the wildlife and scenic photographic opportunities in this photographer’s paradise, we will stay in two areas, in luxury tented camps, for an authentic African bush safari experience. In the remote north, you will have a real adventure, tracking the rare desert elephants, roaming completely free in the wild, not in a reserve. They are one of only two populations of “desert” elephants in the world (the other is in Mali, Africa). The opportunity to capture them against the dramatic red mountainside, coming across the yellow sands of the desert, makes your heart race.

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At our remote tented camp in the northeast, we will spend time with Africa’s oldest tribe experiencing their healing dances, hunting and gathering of food, craft-making, as well as trying to learn the skills of shooting a bow-and-arrow.

Piper Mackay has invested time, with boots on the ground, to passionately design this unique Northern Namibia itinerary, filled with spectacular and diverse photographic opportunities, outside of the more highly visited, landscape destinations of the South. We will be using traditional 4X4 Land Cruisers, keeping in the ‘true African Safari spirit, which are best for wildlife photography and getting into the more remote regions. This safari is limited to 8 only participants for a more intimate and exclusive experience, better group dynamics, and the ability to focus on creating compelling images, which is difficult in a larger group.

Upon request, we will be happy to plan a private extension for you to visit the iconic landscape destinations of the south: Sossusvlei, the quiver tree forest, and Kolmanskop, the famous ghost town. Unlike the wilds of the North, you can easily visit these areas on your own, with one of our experienced naturalist guides.

Itinerary

April 1, 2017

After landing at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, 40 km outside Windhoek, you will be greeted by our professional representative, who will transfer you to the Hilton in the heart of Windoek, Namibia’s capital. You will be nestled among rolling hills, bounded by the Eros Mountains in the east, the Auas Mountains to the south, and the Khomas Hochland in the west. Take some time to relax, recover from your long journey, and prepare for the amazing adventure that lies ahead. The group will meet for dinner and a safari briefing.

Accommodations Hilton Hotel

April 2, 2017

After breakfast, we will hop in our private safari vehicles, make our way through Windhoek, and head north to Okonjima Game Reserve, a beautiful wildlife sanctuary, founded by the AfriCat Foundation in 1991. Focusing on Africa’s big cats, they run the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world. Close encounters with leopards and cheetahs are an unforgettable highlight. In the afternoon, you may to go out for an afternoon game drive to track leopards or have the rare opportunity to track on foot to look for the large carnivores: cheetahs and wild dogs! This allows you to take photographs lying flat on the ground for a dramatic perspective. In the evening, after dinner, you may view nightlife, such as porcupine, honey-badgers, and caracal from the night-hide. This is the perfect way to ease into safari life.

Okonjima Bush Camp, our accommodations for the night, is situated at the edge of the wilderness area in the Omoborko Mountians. The camp consists of only nine charming thatched African chalets, completely private with green canvas walls, which can be rolled up to give you a 180-degree view; you can lie in bed and watch life in the bush going on around you. You may also choose go for a refreshing swim or breathe in the fresh wilderness air, relaxing around the pool.

Accommodations; Okonjima Bush Camp

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Rise early, take a moment to soak in this incredible environment, and prepare for an exciting morning, filled with exotic wildlife. You will return to camp for a sumptuous brunch before we continue our journey onwards through Tsumkwe to the region previously known as Bushmanland, stopping in route to have a picnic lunch. We will arrive at camp in time to settle before being introduced to the San Bushman community, where the magical photographic possibilities begin.

During our stay, you will be given in-depth insight into the lifestyle, beliefs, ancient skills, and traditions of the Bushmen, gaining a deep understanding of their unique world.

A century ago, there were thousands of clans throughout the desert; now there are only a few dozen remaining. Their unique traditions and hunting skills maybe lost in the next generation. There is no scheduled activity program. We will immerse ourselves into their daily lives, witnessing and taking part in their activities as hunters and gathers. You will be able to join them tracking game with bow and arrows, looking for honey, and foraging for edible or medicinal plants. If honey is found, the hunt will come to a stop, until this desirable substance has been collected. You may join or observe their daily activities of rope and fire making, preparing and cooking food, building their nomadic homes, and enjoying their pastime activities and games, all with camera in hand. This is only possible due to the limited number of visitors, allowing individual attention, the location of our camp, which is close to the village, the remoteness and wildness of the surrounding area, the natural friendliness and spontaneity of the community, and the impromptu activities that take place.

Piers-L'Estrange-04Late afternoon and evening, the community will come together and participate in their traditional games. This may be followed by the powerful Giraffe or Elephant healing dances, a traditional method of curing the sick members of the community. The healing dances are not necessarily a daily occurrence; however, if we are lucky, they will take place at some time during our two-night stay.

Nhoma Safari Camp: Nhoma Safari Camp is a semi-luxury tented camp, situated in the north-east of Namibia within the communal land of the Ju/’hoan Bushmen. The camp is spread over a vegetated dune with views over the Nhoma omuramba (fossil river bed) and is a short walk from the Ju/’hoan village by the name of //Nhoq’ma. Guests are accommodated in spacious Meru-style walk-in tents with private verandas. The safari tents, shaded by large Zambezi teak trees, provide basic luxuries, such as comfortable beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot water. At the highest point of the dune is the thatched dining area, where wholesome meals are served buffet style.

The camp is owned and was built by Arno Oosthuyen with the community with whom he has had an exclusive working agreement since 1999. Tourism allows the community to earn cash in order to buy food and supplies not provided by the surrounding environment. Without tourism, the community may have left their ancestral land and moved to settle in other areas.

Accommodations – Nhoma Camp 

April 5-6, 2017

We will say good bye to the San Bushmen before jumping into our extended Land Rovers and heading off to Etosha, a premier destination and one of the largest game parks in Africa. Lunch will be served at a scenic location en-route. We will have time to settle into Mushara Bush Camp, before heading out for our first game drive.

We will rise early the next morning and “Go on Safari!” Due to the dry desert conditions, photographing wildlife in Namibia is different from other safari destinations in Africa, where water is more plentiful. Normally, on safari, a photographer drives through the landscape, searching for and photographing wildlife as it is found. In Etosha, one may simply wait by a water hole to photograph the never-ending parade of animals forced to visit the water holes at the same time for everyday survival. It is normal to see giraffe, elephant, gemsbok Zebra, rhino, and more, visiting at the same time. Etoshia constitutes some of the greatest diversity of mammal species seen anywhere, boasting 114 mammals and over 340 bird species.

Unique to Namibia is what has become known as the “great white ghosts.’ To keep cool, the large elephant herds stain their leathery skin with white clay and calcite sand, making them look like ghosts, haunting the sun-drenched savanna, which makes for unique and dramatic fine art photographs.

Our accommodation offers a down to-earth, tented bush camp experience. The main area is thatched and has a true bush camp feel. A campfire is lit in the early evenings for guests to gather and exchange stories of the day’s wildlife sightings in Etosha. Meals are served on the thatched verandah, overlooking lovely bush surroundings. The custom-made en-suite tents have their own large private verandah and roof to floor windows; these rooms are spacious and airy. Each en-suite bathroom boasts an oversized window and shower, looking into the surrounding bush.

Accommodations – Mushara Bush Camp

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April 7-8, 2017

Etoshia National park consists of grassland, woodland, and savannah. It covers 22,270 km, of which approximately 5,000km is made of saline depressions or pans; the largest pan lies on the north-western edge of the Namibian Kalahari Desert. To take full advantage of all the wildlife and scenic photographic opportunities in this photographer’s paradise, today, we will game drive through the breadth of the national park, making our way across the Park via Okaukejo, Jalali, and Namutoni to our new camp that sits on the southern border. We will have one full day to explore this side of the park. In the evening, you will have time to relax at the camp’s floodlit waterhole, where you may continue to watch the groups of wildlife coming and going, testing your night photography skills.

Anderson’s camp, a former farmstead, has been tastefully redesigned into a luxury safari camp that was guided primarily by the principles of environmental sustainability. The old farmhouse forms the main dining, bar, and swimming pool area, with guest tents radiating outwards into the secluded Mopane woodlands typical of the region. Tents are constructed, using a clever mix of calcrete stone cladding, canvas and wood, with double-door entrances and a small verandah that is an extension of the elevated wooden decks on which the tents are raised.

Accommodations: Anderson’s Camp

April 9, 2017

After breakfast, we will game drive through the western side of Etosha National Park and onward to Uukwaluudhi Safari Lodge. The lodge is situated on a reserve that forms part of the core wildlife area of the conservancy, approximately 100km North of Etosha. Its name means “small group of one clan.” The 6000ha reserve is a joint venture between the Opuwo Country Lodge and the Uukwhaluudhi Conservancy and is fenced to protect its valuable endemic wildlife. This partnership ensures tourism revenue is fed back into the community and allows conservation efforts to be rewarded through financial returns. An open veranda-like main area is thatched and situated on top of a small knoll, overlooking a large savannah plain, periodically dotted by antelope, zebra, and giraffe that graze along the fringes of the surrounding Mopani and Terminalia woodland.

April 10-12, 2017

After an early breakfast, the adventure truly begins as we drive through the incredible Van Zyl’s pass to Namibia’s most pristine wilderness area, known as Kaokoland. We venture into the heartland of the exotic Himba Tribe, where there are no tourist accommodations, one of the last authentic tribal experiences in Africa.

Special arrangements have been made to set up a comfortable mobile-tented camp in this remote location, which will allow us to immerse ourselves into Himba life. Rarely offered in an itinerary, this will enable you to have an extraordinary experience that few will ever have, except through the pages of an exotic travel magazine or a glimpse during a village visit near a tourist lodge. Spending quality time with the Himba will also enable us to capture unique, compelling, and artistic photographs that are otherwise difficult to obtain.

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For many centuries, the semi-nomadic Himba tribe has lived a relatively isolated existence. The homes of the Himba of Koakoland are simple, cone –shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. Unlike many nomadic tribes throughout the African continent, the men help build the structures, while the women mix the clay and plaster. A fire burns in the headman’s hut day and night to keep away insects and provide light and heat. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle.

They are a tall, slender, and statuesque people, characterized by their proud, yet friendly, bearing. Known as the iconic red women of Namibia, the Himba women are striking, covered in a mixture of ochre and fat, called Otijize. They spend as many as three hours a day maintaining their beautiful appearance. First, she bathes over the smoke of a fire that is laced with natural perfumes made from herbs. Then, she anoints herself with the Otijize, which protects her skin from the harsh desert sun and keeps away insects. She uses another mixture of butter fats, fresh herbs, and black coal to rub on her hair and steams her clothes regularly over the permanent fire. They are keen to cling onto their ancient traditions and are fiercely proud of their dramatic hairstyles, traditional leather clothing, and handmade jewelry.

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Our simple safari mobile-tented camp will be assembled prior to our arrival by a special crew and are fully serviced to ensure the guests are extremely comfortable. Our walk-in canvas tents are equipped with solar powered lights, bedside table, robust standard height camp beds, and mattresses, made with proper linens (sheet, duvet and pillows). Towels and soap are also provided. We consider good food and wine an important part of your overall experience, so our catering in the camp is a very high standard, with delicious, wholesome meals, using fresh produce and local delicacies where possible. When we relax around the campfire at night, sharing our safari experiences, you will revel in the feeling of space and solitude that make Namibia so special. You fall asleep, hearing the tranquil silence of the desert, and wake up to nature’s chorus that announces the start of a new day, an intimacy only achieved by staying in the wildest and most remote places.

Accommodations – mobile tented camp

April 13&14, 2017

After breakfast, the journey continues through the mesmerizing, serene landscape of one of the last truly wild areas in the Northwest of Namibia. Depending on the season, your guide will either head along the Hoarusib and Khumib Rivers, hopefully, spotting desert adapted wildlife, including elephant and giraffe or, should the season not allow, you will head through the western vast and silent plains. After a scenic picnic lunch stop, under the welcoming shade of towering camel thorn and trees, you will make your way down the river.

IMG_0840Early in the morning, you will have a quick cup of coffee or tea and biscuits, and then hop into our private 4X4 Safari vehicles for our excursion along the ephemeral river systems, such as the Hoarusib valley, an amazing, untouched wilderness area, where the wildlife still roams free with no fences or borders. Taking advantage of the beautiful morning and afternoon light, we will track lion, rhino, giraffe, and the rare desert adapted elephants, one of only two places in the world to see them. The opportunity to capture them against the dramatic red mountainside, coming across the yellow sands of the desert, makes your heart race.

Our luxury lodge that sits in the middle of the pristine desert landscape is one of my favorites in Africa. There are only seven luxury double cottages, all facing the stunning wilderness, with their private gazebo and daybed. The main area of the lodge consists of several open air rooms, from the lounge to the library to the dinning area, each decorated in a unique African style, which surrounds the infinity edge pool. It is here we will relax during the harsh daylight hours; you may even witness the elephants crossing the desert from your lounge chair.

Accommodations – Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

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 May 15, 2017

On our last morning, we will wake up slowly and enjoy the beauty of our environment, while eating a delicious breakfast. We will fly by private charter to Windhoek, to avoid a long, tedious two-day drive. Our ground team will help you with your transfers to your international flights home.

If you would prefer to break up your long journey, we highly recommend adding one or two nights at the incredible Naankuse Lodge and wildlife sanctuary, set in the stunning African savannah, but only thirty minutes from the international airport.

The Cost

The cost of this unique photographic expedition photo safari is

$10,295.00 7-8 participants

$10,995.00 5-6 participants

The price is based on double occupancy. We will try our best to match you up with a roommate of the same gender if needed and available. If we are unable to match you up with a room, the single supplement will apply.

Single accommodations are very limit. Single supplement is $1,495.00, if available.

A USD $2,200 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration to secure your spot. You may purchase travel insurance that will refund your deposit if you have to cancel your trip.

Price Includes:

  • One Charter flight
  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodations on shared basis
  • Guaranteed row and window seat in private 4×4 Land cruisers
  • All National Parks fees, Game Reserves entrance fees, and taxes
  • All meals, starting with breakfast on April 2 up to breakfast on April 15
  • House wine, local beer, Soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea
  • Photographic fees
  • 3 Nights fully supported mobile tent camp
  • Photographic guiding and instruction by Piper Mackay
  • A registered and experience naturalist safari guide in each vehicle

What’s Not Included:

  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal purchases (such as curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls, internet, laundry…)
  • Gratuities for the guides, staff at accommodations, and airport transfers
  • Optional extra activities (balloon rides, walking safaris, etc.)
  • Pre- and post-safari tours
  • Meals and accommodations before or after the safari
  • International flights to and from the African continent
  • Premium alcoholic beverages

Payment Terms

  • USD $2,200.00 non-refundable deposit to confirm your place on this safari
  • 2nd payment of USD $3,500.00 is due September1, 2016
  • Final payment/balance is due December 1, 2016
  • We highly recommend trip and cancellation insurance
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Please Understand

Traveling in remote locations can present challenges that may require slight changes to the itinerary. We will always try to run the tour according to the initial itinerary. In the event of circumstances beyond our control—such as political unrest, natural disasters, overbookings by the lodge where a change is required—we will do our best to keep you close to the original shooting location. It is our intention for you to have the best possible experience. We will try to notify you of any changes as soon as we are made aware of them. If, however these changes cause an increase to the price, the increase will be passed onto the participant.

How do I register for this safari? 

If you are excited to join this unique Migration safari, then now is the time to register. To secure your spot, both the registration form and the non–refundable deposit must be completed. Use the link and button below to access the e-registration form and to make your deposit. Once the safari is full, you may add your name to the waitlist.

REGISTRATION

Click THIS LINK to access the e-registration form. At the end of the form you will be asked to confirm you email. Once you have confirmed your email, a copy of your registration will be emailed to you and our agent.

DEPOSIT

Use the button below to make your deposit. You do not need to have a Paypal account to use this payment service.

Maximize your time in Namibia by continuing South. We will be happy to help you plan a private extension to photographic the highly visited iconic landscapes  in the south. These destinations are easily accessible.