Namibia has some beautiful, unique, and extraordinary scenery and after a first visit there a few weeks ago, it became my number one favorite place as a photographer…
The lights and colors are surreal there, to the point that the photography work is not to enhance further the reality but oppositely to try to get as close as possible to the unbelievable reality of the light
So, my post aims to provide a view of some of the amazing places to discover in Namibia, with no illusion to be exhaustive as I’ll for sure get back there to discover more…
So, with no preference order here are some amazing places (from South to North)
Do a Sleepless visit to the Quiver tree forest.
The Quiver Tree Forest (Kokerboom Woud in Afrikaans) is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers, 15 km north-east of Keetmanshoop in the south of Namibia.
The permanently changing light makes that place really surreal, especially during twilight
Call it a “sleepless shooting place” as you should see it .. during sunset…
For the glow after sunset …
Under the moonlight…
… in the morning glow at twilight …
Of course, at sunrise 😅 …
Oh, by the way, don’t even bother sleeping, it is great to be there in the middle of the night as well for astrophotography 😢😂
Clearly endless opportunities and a stary sky to die for
If you are lucky to stay in the popular Quivertree Forest rest camp, you may have the opportunity as a bonus to see the Cheetas that are protected there
as they are fed by the crew there, it is obviously a bit easier to get them posing for you that finding them in Etosha 😊
Look for diamonds in Kolmanskop ghost town
This is probably one of the most world-famous ghost towns for good reasons
That old, deserted diamonds-mining town is located around 8 miles east of Luderitz on the B4 highway and is a must-see especially if you’re a photographer
A railroad worker called Zacharias Lewala discovered the first diamond in 1908 and then Kolmanskop grew fast into a prosperous German-style architecture mining town.
As mentioned already, unreal light happens in Namibia around twilight. You can get in for sunrise (ish 😊) with a special permit and this is worth it for some magic glow moment…
Of course, the real shooting opportunities are inside, not outside 😊
The large buildings were decorated with color and style in mind making now amazing images with the sand …
After World War I, the mines were stripped dry, and the town was abandoned in 1954. Since then, the desert slowly began reclaiming its land…
Some buildings have now a lot of sand …
You can (and should) spend at least a full day there to discover some of the amazing buildings 🤩
it is full of unique, beautiful photographic opportunities.
And again, remember that the light is magic there early and late …
As you head up North from Kolmanskop, have a stop some 20 km west of Aus (on the B4) at Garub desert wild horses. The horses come to drink from the trough at Garub.
The herd of horses was originally part of the South African cavalry in World War I. The animals have since adapted to the desert conditions and are the only feral herd of horses to survive in the desert.
Despite starving, those animals are truly beautiful!
Explore the Namibrand landscapes
The all area on the way north between Helmeringhausen and Sossusviei offers amazing panoramas
Again, surreal light happens during twilight …
I was asked by our guide not to be too specific around some of those locations but the entire region is stunning with endless photography opportunities 🤩🤩
As you keep going north, you’ll end up in Sossusvlei, which boasts the highest and some of the most beautiful dunes in the world. This is clearly an iconic part of Namibia so I’ll give a few specifics below
Visit Deadvlei … morning and evening
Deadvlei, the large white salt pan with its blackened fossilized Acacia trees is arguably the most famous place in Namibia.
The morning glow offers unbelievable colors
and as the sun comes, endless photography opportunities
Some of those trees are around a thousand years old, making them some of the oldest trees on earth
Sand and wind can create some magic moments …
As the light is permanently changing, it is a good idea to go back there end afternoon as well (yes climb again the dunes, don’t be lazy😊)
The light in the evening is as well amazing 🤩
The park is not accessible at night, unfortunately (as there were some dump visitors that did very stupid things including doing a fire with the 1000 years old trees 😤). If you manage to be there slightly past sunset, you’ll see the magic that will start to happen…
Of course, you need to respectfully go back in time and can’t wait for the full darkness for astrophotography. But already amazing, isn’t it?
Get an aerial perspective of Sossusvlei …
Discovering the oldest desert on earth (5 million years !) from the sky as a once in a lifetime opportunity
The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400m…
The best moments to fly are obviously early morning or late afternoon when the light creates some magic on the dunes
You can really appreciate from the sky some of the amazing shapes of the dunes
Those create endless photography opportunities
One of the highlights is Saint Francis bay when the desert reaches the Atlantic ocean
The landscape form above is clearly surreal
You should be able to fly over a huge colony of seals!
Of course, those tours are not cheap but truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience…
Explore Dune 45 area
Dune 45 (the 45th kilometer of the road that connects the Sesriem gate and Sossusvlei) is one of the most photogenic dunes in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert.
It is famous for the great shots you can get at sunrise of the trees at the bottom of the dines. So not the most original shoot as most people would get the same but you probably still want to do that as well (why not 😊 ?)
Especially if the wind is blowing, this is cool …
Not a surprise that those dunes are permanently moving and changing. The wind does the hard work …
That dune is standing over 170m ish and it is composed of 5-million-year-old sand. Again, amazing photos opportunities everywhere 🥰
To the risk of being repetitive (who said boring 😳?), wake up early to benefit from the amazing glow light …
Have a look at the Kwessi Dunes area
On the C27 road toward Sossusvi (before the airport), there are as well some great spots for sunrise photography
In that area, you can often spot animals like the zebras below
…and of course Oryx with dunes background 🤩
Find a car at Solitaire petrol station
As you leave Sossusvlei toward the north, have a short stop for something different at Solitaire Petrol Station (intersection C19-C14)
The (many) old vintage rusted cars there are a nice photography playfield
Some of them might get difficult to re-start but I like them 🤩
As you’re in a mood for “something different to photograph”, on the C14 north of Solitaire, you can see very colorful houses made of recycled materials that are worth a short stop
Strange to see those “in the middle of nowhere” there but pretty cool in my view.
Enjoy the shapes from Kuiseb Canyon
If you leave the M36 in the area of Kuiseb pass, you’ll eventually get into some Mars planet landscapes for twilight …
This is not a straightforward to-reach place (especially to get there before sunrise through a dirt road in the park 😅) but worth the effort …
That gorgeous place will the light up at sunrise with beautiful colors We were lucky that a lot of rain this year has allowed the yellow grass to grow
Visit the flamingos of Walvis Bay
The coastal city of Walvis Bay 30 km south of Swakopmund is situated in a wide lagoon with innumerable seabirds. This is considered the most important swamp in southern Africa.
Observing and photographing the greater flamingos there is a pure joy 🤩
again, sunrise and sunset light creates some magic there
When the sun goes up or down, the Greater Flamingos go crazy so be ready for action shooting 😂
Ride Walvis Bay dunes
The dunes of Walvis Bay are the tallest in the world, rising more than 1,000 feet above the desert.
More importantly, the area of Sandwich Harbor is where the dunes meet the Atlantic ocean, creating a landscape from a different planet 🤩
Here, the twilight is even more surreal than in other places
The usual Namibia beauty of light is reinforced by the sand in the air creating again colors from a different planet …
Talking about the wind, a sand storm is both a killer for photo material (and photographers -yes; I’m trying to create a bit of empathy 🦄 …) as well as creating conditions for the “perfect shot”
Two weeks after that shooting, however, I can still hear and feel the sand grains in the camera when turning my (expensive) camera lens 😢
but as the camera (and the photographer) survived, I still feel it was worth the pain 😂
There are some great specialized 4-wheel drive tours that can organize a full day in the dunes
This is another highly recommended (and very fun) activity to do if you go there
if you are lucky (and suffering long enough up and down the dunes 😂), you’ll eventually spot some Oryx…
I guess the image below gives a perspective on how huge are those dunes …
and observing Oryx running in the sand is beautiful …
You can of course spot as well flamingos around sandwich Harbor, giving again some perspective of the size of those dunes (and the car going up and down them is more than fun)
If you can spend a full day, sunset is another great time to be on top of the dunes 🤩
One more day in photography paradise with the twilight light …
Drive the Skeleton Coast Road toward the north
As you keep heading north, you may find a few fun short stops on the C34 road. I did not have the time to truly explore that area but for something different, have a look at the colorful beach houses of Wlotzkasbaken
Not as fancy as “my” Saint Tropez area (I know, I might not be objective) but it gives a nice end-of-the-world Skeleton Coast feeling
As you keep going north near Swakopmund, you’ll see the famous abandoned shipwreck of the stranded Zeila vessel
Camp under the stars in Spitzkoppe
The Spitzkoppe (german for “pointed dome”) is often referred to as the” Matterhorn of Namibia” for fair reasons 😊
This is a group of bald granite peaks located between Uskos and Swakopmund in the Namib desert. The rocks there are spectacular and the most famous is the famous arch 😊.
Again, the light is a blessing for photographers and nature lovers
This is as well a great spot place for astrophotography (yes, another sleep-less night)
And, like a broken record, morning dusk light is amazing (yes I know, short night again)
Do a game safari in Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park in northwest Namibia (Kunene region) spans an area of 8.600 sq miles. It is the best place for game viewing in Namibia
The best wildlife viewing in Etosha is obviously at its many waterholes (Especially during the dry season)
Etosha is known for its population of black rhinoceros.
and you’ll have a chance to see there very (very) close 🥶…
The back-faced impala is another great animal to spot there
But even a “common” Springbok can become cool with some grass glow 😊
Etosha is also home to four out of the Big Five animals.
and many other cuties like that Cape squirrel playing soccer
Of course, try to do a few games mornings and evening and you will for sure see a lot
But I stop here as I have a lot (read too many) of images from that amazing place.
Visit a Himba tribe
The Himbas are an African tribe from North Namibia and South Angola.
That nomadic tribe has chosen not to conform to the (so-called -?-) modern society and to maintain their traditions and ways of living fully alive.
Some of the villages will welcome tourists to share their ways of living
of course, it is always some good and bad to bringing tourism to those places so be respectful and mindful
So here it is for what I saw after a first epic trip to that amazing country. I hope these images would engage you to go and see some of those places and hopefully I’ll complete with more Namibian locations and wonders in the coming years 🤩.