A self-drive tour from 12 to 20 June 2021 (9 days, 8 nights)
Key tour experiences:
The wild desert horses of Aus - Incredible landscapes along the scenic D707 route - Beautiful veld around Betta - Sesriem Canyon - Sossusvlei - Dead Vlei - Red dunes of the Namib - A secret quiver tree forest in the Naukluft Mountains - The wild fig tree forest at Tsauchab River - A unique desert creature tour with Boesman Davids - The desert hamlet of Solitaire - Peace and quiet at the wilderness campsite Mirabib
Costs: R17 850 p.p.
Bookings: email@example.com or call Liezl on 072 243 5251
- Three meals per day (from dinner Day 1 to breakfast Day 9)
- The services of a professional tour guide, camp chef and photographic tutor
- All park entry fees
- Accommodation for eight nights
- Professional in-car radios
- The use of tents, crockery, and cutlery
- Personal vehicle costs like fuel, border tariffs, etc
- Personal drinks and snacks
- 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 Secrets of the Namib Tour was put together with photographers in mind. If you want to improve your photography and take photos of the best locations and sights in the Namib, then you will love this tour. (Not a photographer? No problem! You can just sit back and enjoy all the amazing sights anyway.) Well-known travel journalist Toast Coetzer is coming along as photo tutor and he'll be available 24/7 to answer all your questions about photography - now is the time to finally get to know your camera better! The tour guide is the experienced Douwe Vlok from Heuningland Tours. He is supported by a logistics team who will ensure that there is always a hearty meal ready when you are back at the campsite - and your tent will be pitched for you too. This tour makes exploring the Namib Desert easy. The Namib Desert is a photographer's dream, and our itinerary maximises the diversity of scenes and attractions to be found around the edges of this vast wilderness. We never go too deep into the bundu, but at the same time we show you a few secret spots not known to many tourists. We travel in such a way that we are always at the best sites during the best light to get the most out of the golden hour early in the morning, and before sunset. Our campsites are chosen with care, ensuring photographic opportunities are close at hand - just step out of your tent, and there it is, the Namib!
We meet at Klein-Aus Vista, just west of the village of Aus. The campsite at Klein-Aus Vista is famous for its dramatic location, with granite outcrops behind it, and the desert flats lying towards the west. When you arrive at the campsite a fire will be burning, and fresh coffee will be ready to serve. You can begin to relax your holiday has started!
Before sunset we drive to the nearby Garub, a watering point where the wild desert horses of Aus come to slake their thirst. Later, around the campfire, your tour guide will talk through the itinerary for the adventure lying ahead.
After an early morning cup of coffee and a rusk or three, we drive back to Garub for a second trip to the wild horses, and to experience sunrise out in the desert. Back at Klein-Aus Vista we enjoy brunch, followed by a photographic talk hosted by Toast Coetzer. All cameras are welcome on this tour, from smartphones to superzoom digital cameras and D-SLRs or mirrorless cameras. Toast will assist wherever he can and work towards ensuring that you get the best photographs from whatever camera you are using.
We start heading north from Aus in the direction of Betta. Our route hugs the contours of mountains like the Tiras Mountains to the east, with the red dunes of the Namib west of the road for long stretches of our journey. The D707 is known as one of Namibia's most scenic roads, so we take our time here and stop to take photos whenever something catches the eye.
Betta is nothing more than a farmyard with a campsite, coffee shop (they bake a very good carrot cake!) and fuel station but being situated in such an expanse gives it a real spirit of place. We camp nearby on the desert plains, where ancient camel thorn trees stand like sentinels.
Day 4 & 5:
From Betta we drive north to Sesriem, still following the edge of the desert. The road takes us through the Namibrand Private Reserve where good rains fell this summer. As a result, we will find wildlife like ostrich, springbok, gemsbok and Hartmann's mountain zebra on the grass- covered plains. We'll stop to take photos (pack your zoom lens!) whenever the mood strikes.
We camp at Sesriem for two nights. Sesriem (fuel and shop available) is the gateway to this section of the Namib Naukluft National Park, and we'll visit Sesriem Canyon with its unique geology. Sunset can be enjoyed at the campsite or at Elim Dune, close by.
We get up early the next morning and enter the park. This area, also called the Namib Sand Sea, is a World Heritage Site. We head straight to Dune 45 and climb it to the top to enjoy a spectacular sunrise. Back at our vehicles we enjoy hot coffee and a light breakfast before driving deeper into the desert to Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. Along the way we'll see evidence of 2021's good rains. Sossusvlei flooded towards the end of summer and we might still find some water in the vlei during our visit. Either way, photographic potential here is huge, with exquisite dune crests, tree silhouettes (especially in Dead Vlei), mud cracks and wildlife (the water has attracted birdlife, including raptors).
We eat lunch in the shade of a camel thorn tree at Sossusvlei. After lunch you can head back to Sesriem in your own time or stay on with Toast to wait for the late afternoon light in Dead Vlei. Magic hour, indeed!
We leave Sesriem and drive towards the Naukluft Mountains. We sleep at Tsauchab River Camp - the Tsauchab being the very same river which carries water down the Sesriem Canyon and into Sossusvlei. Our campsite has an unexpected attraction: a wild fig tree forest! We'll also photograph some of owner Johan Steyn's quirky scrap metal sculptures situated at the reception area.
Late afternoon we head out for a photographic treat when we explore a little-known but spectacular quiver tree forest on the lower slopes of the Naukluft Mountains. These charismatic tree aloes always make for striking photos.
We drive past the farm Bullsport and through a valley bordering the north-eastern side of the Naukluft massif. Here we stop to look at a "fossilized" waterfall before continuing to Solitaire, the unofficial capital of the Namib. Known for its fresh bread and Apfelstrudel, you can also buy cold drinks, snacks and books at the shop at Solitaire (they also have fuel).
We spend the night at the nearby farm of desert guide Boesman Davids and his wife, Yuri. Boesman is known for his Sossus On Foot excursions and will lead us on a short but very informative walk in the dunes on his farm, where we'll be introduced to the small creatures that inhabit this ecosystem.
At our campsite there are a few quiver trees which we can photograph at night, playing around with artificial light sources. The water trough here also attracts game like gemsbok, zebra and springbok.
Early risers can join Toast on a short trip to a nearby fossilized dune for a sunrise shoot. After breakfast we say goodbye to Boesman and Yuri and drive through the rugged Gaub and Kuiseb passes before entering the Namib Naukluft National Park again.
We'll soon see our destination in the distance. Mirabib is an inselberg which rises prominently from the quartzite plains. With luck we'll see game (even cheetahs periodically roam here) which eke out an existence in this extreme environment.
Mirabib is a wilderness camp (no running water, no showers - only pit toilets) where you will experience the Namib in all its peaceful glory. Most tourists race past this part of the park, eager to get to a bigger town at the seaside. But we won't make the same mistake and will spend sunset taking photos around camp before enjoying a night under the bright Milky Way. This is the middle of nowhere, and you'll love every minute of it.
After breakfast we say goodbye. Our tour is over, but we'll see you again next time!
- 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.