Photo Tour:
Damaraland, Kaokoveld & Etosha

A guided, self-drive (4x4) tour from 22 June to 5 July 2021


Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha

Key destinations:
Spitzkoppe - Uis - Brandberg - Damaraland - Ugab River - Goantagab River - Twyfelfontein - Aba-Huab River - Palmwag Concession - Mudorib River - Hoanib River - Sesfontein - Warmquelle - Ongongo - Opuwo - Kaokoland - Epupa Falls - Kunene River - Etosha

Accommodation: Comfortable tents
Costs: R23 850 p.p.
Bookings: info@heuningland.com or call Liezl on 072 243 5251

Included:

  • Three meals per day (from dinner Day 1 to breakfast Day 14)
  • The services of a professional tour guide, camp chef and photographic tutor
  • All park entry fees
  • Accommodation for 13 nights (camping)
  • Professional in-car radios
  • The use of tents, crockery, and cutlery

Excluded:

  • Personal vehicle costs like fuel, border tariffs, etc
  • Personal drinks and snacks
  • Bedding
  • Visa (South African citizens don t need one)
  • Covid test (you must have a negative Covid test result no older than seven days without it, you won t be allowed across the border)

The Itinerary:
This 14-day camping tour is an adventure from start to finish, and will appeal to 4x4 owners who want to improve their photography skills in spectacular settings across north-western Namibia. We visit iconic destinations like Etosha National Park, Epupa Falls and the Twyfelfontein engravings but we also see seldom-visited corners of Damaraland and Kaokoland. Landscapes will vary from desert plains where welwitschias flourish to ana tree lined dry riverbeds where we might encounter desert-adapted elephants. We will traverse rugged mountains, sandy plains and many kilometres of gravel road. The tour reaches its northernmost point at the Kunene River, where riparian forest includes makalani palm trees.

Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha


Although photography is a focus of the tour, you don't have to be a photographer to enjoy the trip. Well-known travel journalist Toast Coetzer will accompany us, and he will be available 24/7 to assist with photographic queries, whether you are shooting with the latest mirrorless camera or simply your cell phone. He will make sure that you get the best out of your gear, no matter what you re shooting with. ll also pitch your tent, don't worry!).
The tour is great for nature fans who have been keen to explore Damaraland and Kaokoland but would prefer to do it with the peace of mind provided by the presence of a qualified guide. Douwe Vlok (Heuningland Tours) has decades of experience across southern Africa, and he is backed up by a logistics team who will ensure that there is always a hearty meal ready to enjoy back at the camp (they

Day 1:

Our meeting point is Spitzkoppe near Usakos. Spitzkoppe is an inselberg a huge rock outcrop that stands out dramatically from the surrounding desert floor. You'll see Spitzkoppe for a long time as you drive towards it and no doubt get out a few times to take photos but once you're at the campsite right next to the granite boulders you'll begin to experience its almost magical appeal. We'll take photos at the Rock Arch by sunset, and you'll have time to just sit in silence and soak up the grandeur of this very special place.



Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha


Day 2:

After an early breakfast and some first light photos around the campsite we head to the small desert town of Uis, where you can fill up and buy provisions if needed. We now see Brandberg in the distance (it is Namibia's highest mountain), and drive past it on our way further north. We cross the Ugab River and head along sandy jeep tracks towards the Goantagab River, driving through dry but picturesque Damaraland.

We reach the Twyfelfontein area where we'll stop at the geological sites known as Burnt Mountain and the Organ Pipes before heading to our camp next to the Aba-Huab River. Tree- lined riverbeds such as the Aba-Huab is the perfect place to see elephants - maybe we get lucky!



Day 3:

After breakfast we visit the Twyfelfontein rock art site, which is one of Namibia's two World Heritage Sites. The art here consists of thousands of engravings, which decorate huge boulders - some panels are several metres long! You'll see everything form the "Dancing Kudu" to a picture of a penguin!

From Twyfelfontein we keep pushing north, heading for Palmwag, the gateway to Kaokoland. Along the way we might see zebra and giraffe. We sleep at Palmwag where we can enjoy hot showers or a dip in the pool - luxuries we won't see for the following few days!

At Palmwag we will fill up with fuel and drinking water for the wilderness section which lies ahead.



Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha


Day 4:

We head into a concession area to the northwest of Palmwag. We ll spend three days here - it's 4x4 country and you need to be fully self-sufficient, which is why so few tourists ever see this area. Rare wildlife like black rhinoceros survive here - hold thumbs that we see one!

Our first wild campsite is near a spring called Xai-As, where animals come to drink. You are responsible for your own drinking and washing water, but our team will set up a bucket shower and bush toilet.



Day 5 & 6:

Our route eventually follows the course of the Mudorib River. The dry riverbeds of north- western Namibia are unique ecosystems. Lined by huge ana trees, camel thorn trees and thickets of mustard bush they provide habitat for mammals as big as elephant and giraffe while predators like lion and brown hyena also roam large territories intersecting with these rivers. Also look out for rare raptors like Augur buzzard, and don't forget the small creatures like Namaqua chameleons.

We'll see the strange welwitschia plants, some of which can live to 1000 years. Where patchy summer rain has fallen, we could see antelope like gemsbok, springbok and steenbok.

We make a wild camp along the Mudorib River and use it as a base from where we will drive out to look for animals, going as far as the Hoanib River and a waterhole called President's Water.



Day 7:

The dry Hoanib River is our "road" to the town of Sesfontein where we can fill up with fuel again (there is a shop too). We drive past nearby Warmquelle to Ongongo, a campsite laid out next to a natural pool which will certainly see some swimming action, considering our past few days of roughing it!



Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha


Day 8 & 9:

We head out early as we have a lot of distance to cover, crossing the rugged Joubert Pass on our way to Opuwo, the biggest town in Kaokoland. Along the way we'll encounter the OvaHimba, nomadic cattle farmers who call this area home.

After stocking up in Opuwo we continue to the Epupa Falls on the Kunene River, where we will camp for two nights. The sudden lushness along the Kunene makes for a refreshing, oasis-like experience after all the dusty terrain we have covered so far.

By late afternoon we'll be in position with cameras in hand on the koppie looking out over the falls, which stretch over a wide section of the Kunene, all the way to the far bank where Angola lies.

Tonight, we fall asleep to the gentle rumble of the nearby falls. Bliss!

Early the next morning we go on an excursion to visit an OvaHimba settlement where we ll learn more about their culture, traditions and farming methods. By lunch we are back at camp where you can relax until late afternoon when Toast will lead a photo walk below the falls for those who are keen to stretch their legs.



Day 10:

Today we turn south, but our tour is far from over! We drive back to Opuwo where we ll take the tar road to Etosha's Galton Gate in the far west of the park. We camp at Olifantsrus for the night, where animals come to drink at a waterhole which is lit up at night.



Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha


Day 11, 12 & 13:

This part of the tour is excellent for wildlife photography as Etosha National Park is packed with animals which are very used to the presence of humans and cars. This means we ll get good shots, especially around waterholes, of which there are plenty. We drive to Halali camp, where we will spend three nights, using it as a base for game drives.

On the way we enjoy lunch at the waterhole at Okaukuejo rest camp.

Halali's waterhole is a short distance from the rest camp which means the animals aren't disturbed by the presence of tourists. The vantage point is slightly elevated, providing different photo opportunities than, for example, Okaukuejo.

For three days we enjoy the animals of Etosha. The park received good rains in the summer of 2021 and we should see plenty of plains game plus some lions, elephants and cheetah (with luck: leopard!). There will also be enough time to book a feedback session with Toast if you want to discuss and show some of your trip photographs.



Day 14:

After two glorious weeks our adventure winds down - until next time!



Practical information:

  • Currently only the two big border posts (Vioolsdrif/Noordoewer and Nakop/Ariamsvlei) are open between South Africa and Namibia. Don't try to use one of the small ones, you' ll waste your time.
  • You must have a negative Covid test (not older than 7 days) with you to cross the border. Double check all the latest Covid regulations before leaving home.
  • There are Covid test facilities at the border. These quick tests cost in the region of R350 and although results are available quickly there is only one testing station, so if you happen to be there at the same time as 10 other people who require a test then you'll end up wasting a lot of time.
  • Always wear your mask at the border post and at all other times when appropriate. There are slight delays because of added health protocols but the border crossing is still straightforward and typically doesn't take longer than an hour.
  • The best vehicle for this tour is a comfortable 4x4 bakkie or SUV with good ground- clearance. A 4x4 is compulsory as we will drive off-road.
Damaraland, Kaokoland and Etosha