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Namibia

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The Photographic Beauty of Namibia

Namibia has all the right attributes to make it an ideal photographic destination with a rich variety of subject matter - from spectacular landscapes to endless wildlife encounters both large and small.

When one thinks of classic Namibia scenes, the Namib Desert probably comes to mind: picture-perfect sinuous red dunes. This is best experienced at the red sand sea of Sossusvlei or the skeletal tree remnants at the equally captivating Deadvlei in southern Namibia. Other landscape highlights include the plains of the Hartmann’s Valley and the Marienfluss with their mysterious fairy circles and granite inselbergs, the Fish River Canyon and the flat-topped Etendeka Mountains and vast open space of Damaraland.

Namibia is not all about landscapes though and is one of the best countries on the planet for photographing wildlife. Etosha National Park, dominated by a huge pan extending 5000km?, has to be the country’s top wildlife photographic destination. The open nature of the topography with awesome backdrops, coupled with large concentrations of wildlife including elephant, giraffe, large herds of oryx and springbok together with predators such as lion make for exciting photography. In the dry season, there is almost a constant procession of wildlife coming to drink at a well laid out network of waterholes throughout the park, and the rest camps themselves have some of the best floodlit waterholes anywhere in Africa for photographing of black rhino, lion, leopard, elephant and other smaller animals.

The remote regions of Damaraland and Kaokaland with their world-leading community conservancies offer opportunities for photographing the last remaining herds of desert elephant and rhino in some of the most unique landscapes on earth. Then there is the mythical Skeleton Coast where apart from the mesmerising vistas and dune fields one can photograph large Cape fur seal colonies, the remains of shipwrecks and possibly even find the rarely-seen brown hyena.

There are some 650 bird species recorded in Namibia, many colourful and visually interesting from a photography point of view. These include the enigmatic Dune Lark in characteristic habitat, large flocks of flamingos at Walvis Bay, the vividly spectacular Crimson-breasted Shrike and other regional endemics like the odd White-tailed Shrike, Rockrunner and Violet Wood-hoopoe. There are some excellent lodges that allow close-up portraits of some star birds such as Rosy-faced Lovebird, brightly-coloured finches and waxbills.

The smaller desert creatures of the Namib are just as fascinating to try and capture on camera. These include the likes of Peringuey’s ‘side-winding’ adder, fog-basking tenebrionid beetles, shovel-snouted lizards, the translucent web-footed gecko and Namaqua chameleon — unique low-angle shots of these often-seen animals are fun!

No photographic trip to Namibia would be complete without capturing some of its unique arid-adapted plant species. The most well-known and remarkable is probably the welwitschia, often described as a living fossil. Other plants that add drama to any landscape photograph include euphorbias and quiver trees or the colourful mesembs of south-west Namibia.

Coastal towns such as Luderitz (nearby Kolmanskop) and Swakopmund are perfect at trying your hand at capturing the preserved out-of-place Bavarian-styled architecture of the latter or the haunting remnants of an old mining town being reclaimed by the Namib of the former.

The local cultures of Namibia are just as interesting from a photographic point of view, when done tastefully and with respect, and these include the distinctive ochre-daubed Himba still following their traditional lifestyle to the elaborate and colourful dress of the Herero to the expressive facial features of the Nama.

All in all, Namibia offers some of the most spectacular wildlife and scenery photography in the world. It’s an absolutely unique land that any serious nature photographer has to seriously consider visiting at some stage or another.