Drop us an email and provide us with some basic info such as interested country, group size, period and desired date of travel. We we will come back with some suggestions and questions so that you get a basic idea of costs involved, recommended times to come, places to visit etc.
It is recommended to plan custom itineraries up to 18 months in advance due to demand and limited space during peak times. Our fixed itineraries have more leeway and planning and cutoff periods are not as long.
The planning phase will take a fair amount of correspondence between us especially when wanting a unique tailored itinerary. We will discuss everything from dietary requirements to the number of bean bags required.
We also do have set and already held set itineraries in most countries two years in advance which we have tailored over the years with our partners and which we deem to be the best times of year and places to go to. This we have gained through our years of experience on the ground and data collected.
This is where the fun begins. From the time you land to the time you leave everything is taken care of. You will be collected at the airport, transferred to your hotel/lodge by air charter, boat or road transfer for a briefing and meeting with your head guide Alexander Rostocil.
He will be YOUR head guide and will be on 95% of safaris unless pre booked on another safari. In that case another Africa specialist head guide will take lead. The itinerary will have been tailored to maximise time in the field and catch as many golden hours as possible. After 1 – 2 weeks on safari it will be time to bid our goodbyes (till we meet again).
Photo Safari Set-UP
Namibia example Itinerary
Arrive in Windhoek, Namibia
Because most airlines routes take 2 days to get from a major US airport to Windhoek, I recommend a deliberate 1- or 2-day layover in a fun European hub city (Rome, Frankfurt, Paris, etc), so you can spend 1 or 2 nights exploring that city before continuing on to Windhoek. This has two advantages: it helps you acclimate to the new time zone, and allows you to have some fun in a European city before heading to Africa!
You should make your travel arrangements so that you will arrive at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia, any time before 8 pm on Tuesday, July 5th, 2018. If possible, we would like to coordinate our arrival so we are all on the same direct flight from Frankfurt, as the Windhoek airport is ~45 km from the city of Windhoek. On the first day, Alex will organize a tour in Windhoek. Lunch and dinner (excluding drinks) for those who will be in Windhoek earlier.
The Olive Grove Guesthouse
Luxury Room (Bed and Breakfast) for 1 night
Olive Grove is an upmarket establishment situated close to the city center in a quiet, peaceful area. There are 9 en-suite rooms all featuring Direct Dial Telephone, Multi-channel Satellite Television, Remote controlled air conditioning, coffee/tea making facilities and minibar & snack bar. Whilst each room caters for every need of the most discerning traveller, the emphasis remains one of simplicity and elegance. One of Olive Grove’s main features is the large veranda in front of every room, with tables and chairs for al fresco dining. The open-air lounge, spa bath, plunge pool and tranquil garden all invite the visitor to unwind and relax under Namibia’s open skies. The inside lounge is tastefully decorated, with comfortable chairs and a fireplace in front of which to relax and read a magazine. A guest computer is available, for people to check their emails and stay in touch with family and friends back home. Our friendly and efficient staff are always on hand to ensure that the visitors’ stay is a comfortable and enjoyable one. www.olivegrove-namibia.com
Okonjima Plains Camp
View Room (Lunch, Dinner, Bed and Breakfast) for 1 night
Upon departing Windhoek after a leisurley breakfast we will travel approximately 1 hour/80 km to Okahanja, where we will stop for a light snack or coffee and visit the local market (at one owns cost). We will then proceed another 150 km to Okonjima, arriving in time to settle into our rooms and have lunch. After lunch and perhaps a bit of siesta which is the norm on safari an afternoon game drive or activity provided by the camp will be had. Dinner will be had followed by a night cap and overnight Okonjima. Extra excursions may be available if time permits and if desired, at your own expense.
Okonjima Plains Camp is a luxury camp situated halfway between Namibia’s quaint capital city, Windhoek, and the Etosha National Park, the private Okonjima Nature Reserve, nestled over 200 square kilometres amongst the imposing Omboroko Mountains, boasts some of the most exceptional accommodation in Namibia, but the unequivocal highlights are the cheetah and leopard safaris. There are unlimited opportunities to see these beautiful carnivores in their natural environment within the huge Okonjima Nature Reserve, as well as to witness the critical conservation work undertaken by the AfriCat Foundation, which researches and rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs, and hyaenas. Okonjima offers a wide spectrum of accommodation options, ranging from well-appointed private camp sites to breath taking safari lodges.
Okonjima is so much more than just a luxury lodge. It is also home to the AfriCat Foundation, which is committed to researching and rehabilitating Namibia’s threatened wild cat population. AfriCat is known internationally after featuring in an award-winning documentary filmed for the Discovery Channel. Among the carnivores being researched and rehabilitated by AfriCat are cheetah, leopard, lion and caracal. Guests are given the opportunity of tracking cheetahs by foot or visiting the Cheetah Project.
Activities included are an afternoon game drive provided by the lodge. www.okonjima.com
Onguma Bush Camp
Waterhole/Poolside Room: 3 Night Package
We begin Day 3 with a morning game drive/excursion at Okonjima. Then after lunch we will depart Okonjima and travel approximately 4 hours/270 km to arrive at the eastern border of Etosha, arriving late afternoon. Checking into Onguma, you can then relax by the pool or simply enjoy a cold beer before dinner. Lunch on this will be had somewhere on the road.
In the morning of Day 4, we will explore the eastern part of Etosha and its waterholes, entering through the Von Lindiquist gate. Days will be long, so packed lunches will be provided.
Etosha National Park
Etosha was declared a game reserve by the German colonial administration back in 1907 and covers an area of more than 22 000 km². At a stage it covered a vast area of 93 240 km² and was the largest game reserve in the world. For various political reasons, the park was progressively diminished in size until by 1975 it had been reduced to its current size. In its centre lies a vast saltpan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopane bushland in the west and dry forest in the north-east. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake, fed by the Kunene River. However the lake slowly dried up because over time, the river changed its course. Today the pan is a shallow depression and has an approximate size of 5000 km². Of the 114 mammals species found in the park, several are rare and endangered, such as the black Rhino and cheetah. Etosha’s current population of +- 600 Black Rhinos represents one of the few growing populations in the world. The National Park has three Rest camps Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. These all have restaurants, stores and swimming pools. The main entrance to the park is called the Andersson Gate at Okaukuejo in the south and the Von Lindequist Gate in the east near Namutoni.
Originally part of the greater Etosha Game Reserve, Onguma Game Reserve is one of Namibia’s best kept secrets. Situated on the eastern side of Etosha, bordering Fisher’s pan, it has so much to offer visitors. The reserve covers an area of over 34,000 ha and incorporates ecological substrata such as savannah, bushveld, omuramba and dry pan. The reserve boasts over thirty different animal species. Plains game roam freely on the reserve and predators although not easy to spot are nevertheless common residents of the area. Lions are frequently seen and often heard. There is a healthy black rhino and leopard population and hyenas are also often seen. More than 300 bird species can be viewed at Onguma. The Onguma Reserve boasts 5 unique lodges for guests to choose from, catering to every traveler’s individual needs. There of the Onguma Bush Camp caters to families with classic safari styling. The lounge and dining areas overlook a stunning waterhole that affords great opportunities to see nature at play around the clock. You don’t even have to leave the camp to see game – they come to you!
Day 5 will include still more exploration of this wildlife treasure. www.onguma.com
Waterhole Chalet Double Rooms for 2 nights
Okaukuejo is located 17 km from the southern entrance of the park, and famous for its flood-lit waterhole, where visitors can observe at close quarters a spectacle of wildlife congregating and interacting. Accommodation is provided to suit every need, in premier bush chalets overlooking the waterhole; bush chalets and double rooms; or family chalets. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar, shop, swimming pool, kiosk and camping facilities.
Our plan is to reserve mornings for game drives and spend afternoons by the water holes where we can sit with our tripods waiting for elephants and other game to show up. Okaukuejo-Resort
Dolomite Camp – Western Etosha
1 night en suite chalets
After breakfast we will depart Okaukejo heading west towards Dolomite. Once again it will be a long day getting to Dolomite mid afternoon in time for a cold beer and relax. Overnight will be at Dolomite camp.
Dolomite Resort offers its clients an intimate experience of one of the most scenic areas of the Etosha National Park, an area where previously endangered species like the Black Rhinoceros and Black-Faced Impala have been successfully bred. With no fewer than 15 waterholes in the surrounding areas, Dolomite Resort presents an exhilarating wildlife viewing experience and with such abundance in animal diversity your only concern should be your photography skills. With the area having been virtually “tourist-free” for half a century, it is common to see high numbers of Zebra, Giraffe and antelope species such as the previously endangered Black-faced Impala roaming the plains below the hill.
Black and White Rhino can also be spotted in numbers at Klip –pan waterhole. Mirroring the animals in terms of sheer attraction, the Dolomite hill where the Resort is set presents a Botanists dream, boasting hundreds of plant species which bloom at different times of the year; giving Dolomite Resort its seasonal cadence of colours, aroma and mood. Dolomite-Resort
Mowani Mountain Camp
View Room: 2 Night package for 2 nights
On the morning of Day 9 we will be making the approximately 5 hour/360 km trip to Mowani. We will want to leave early enough to get to Mowani in time for Lunch. That afternoon, we will go out to look for the desert Elephants using lodge vehicles.
Day 10 will begin with an early morning elephant drive. Lunch will be at the lodge followed by an afternoon excursion of Twyfelfontein, rock art, organ pipes and perhaps a visit to a local village.
From the moment you arrive at Mowani, you will be spoiled with the services and attention of our excellent staff, which will go out of their way to make your stay as unique and enjoyable as humanly possible. Mowani Mountain Camp consists of 12 luxury tents, all with en-suite facilities, decorated beautifully in East African style. The luxury tents are a great source of relaxation. Comfortably hidden in your own private hide-away, you will be pampered by crisp white linen, en-suite bathrooms, and of course your own wooden deck offering an open view of the wonderful Damara landscape.
Activities will be Desert Elephant game drive with lodge vehicles, Organ pipes and rock art, and twyfelfontein. www.mowani.com
The Delight Swakopmund
Standard Room (Bed and Breakfast) for 1 night
We will leave Mowani for the trip to Swakopmund, arriving in time for lunch. It will be an approximatley 5 hours drive. The afternoon will be spent walking through town and seeing places of interest.
Our lodging for the evening will be at the “Delight Swakopmund.” Amongst the town’s captivating contrasts and old traditions, Gondwana’s Delight is a fresh breeze in the desert. Conveniently located within short walking distance of the ‘Mole’, our modern, uplifting and inviting hotel is the ideal base for your stay. Every effort is made to surprise and delight guests with thoughtful touches and locally inspired reasons to smile. From the easy comfort of our hotel, the warm and welcoming service Gondwana is known for, to the assistance provided by our knowledgeable Delight Host for anything from activity bookings to dinner reservations – your stay is always an effortless and memorable experience.
Swakopmund was of major importance as a harbour during the German colonial era even though the water at the coast is actually too shallow and the bay is unprotected. But Lüderitz was too far away and the seaport of Walvis Bay was in British possession in those days. On 4 August 1892 the crew of a gunboat named Hyena erected two beacons on a large dune, probably in the vicinity of the present lighthouse. This is regarded as the founding date of Swakopmund. The first settlers were 120 Schutztruppe with equipment and 40 settlers who offloaded from the Marie Woermann using four landing boats. The settlers had to build caves on the beach to protect themselves against hostile weather. Before a breakwater was built in 1898, which later became known as the Mole, all offloading was done with special boats The 325 metre long wooden jetty was only completed in 1905 and it was in 1914 replaced by a more solid iron construction. Swakopmund became the gate to South-West Africa and the entire supply for the colony was wound up through this little town. The narrow-rail train to Windhoek started operations in 1902 while at the same time, the station was built. It was completely restored some years ago and has become an entertainment centre, a casino and a luxury hotel. It is one of the best preserved examples of German colonial architecture in the world. The appearance of the town, with its 47 500 inhabitants, is characterised by numerous colonial buildings with the Woermann House from 1905 as its landmark. The former trading house in Bismarck Street with its 25 metre high Tower and its courtyard bordered by arcades today houses the city library and an art gallery. Swakopmund is a popular seaside resort with a slightly nostalgic atmosphere, many tourist attractions and a pleasant climate in summer. Swakopmund-Resort
Sossus Dune Lodge
Dune Chalet for 2 nights
Day 12 beings with about a 5 hour, but with the extraordinary payoff of arriving at Sossus. Once again we will either stop for lunch on route or arrive at the lodge in time for lunch. That afternoon, we will enjoy a sundowner drive with the lodge vehicles. The next morning, we will once again use the lodge vehicles for our first visit to the world-reknown Dead Vlei. This will require an early morning departure, to arrive before sunrise for the best possible photography. It will also require a short hike, so make sure to lighten your load! Mornings can be cold, so dressing in layers will be important. We will then have a bush breakfast and return to our camp. If time permits and the interest is there, we will visit the Sesirem Canyon as well.
Afernoon will be spent relaxing for our main objective, which will occur that evening when we will head back to the Dead Vlei to take capture sunset images.
Sossus lodge is built in an environmentally sensitive manner, primarily from wood, canvas and thatch, in an attractive ‘afro-village’ style, Sossus Dune Lodge offers guests an evocative and life changing experience. Situated within the park, guests benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise, and stay until after sunset, and on their return after an exhilarating day, relax in the tranquillity and splendour of the Namib Desert, under the spectacular African sky. Sossus Dune Lodge offers professional guided tours, fully unleashing the beauty and biological diversity of the desert environment to visitors, and offers the best beds in the desert. Please note: this is the best accommodation for visiting the famed Sossusvlei. Trips that do not include lodging at the Sossus Dune Lodge have a much, much longer drive to visit the vlei.
The Sossusvlei is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 325 metres, the highest in the world. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, does the vlei fill with water. As the clay layers hardly allow any water infiltration, a turquoise lake will remain for quite some time. The Dead Pan is a large ghostly expanse of dried white Clay, punctuated by Skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, about 600 years old. The dunes of the Namib Desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. It is thought that the vast quantities of sand were deposited into the Atlantic Ocean by the Orange River. This material was subsequently moved northwards by the Benguela current to be dumped back onto the land by the surf. The coastal dunes developed as a result of this and were shifted further and further inland by the wind. Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib Desert. The last 5 km are only negotiable with 4×4 vehicles. There are 4×4 Shuttles available for rent if you don’t want to hike there.
Sossus Dune Lodge – Guided Night Drive Excursion to Sossusvlei – included
Departing with the lodge Guide an hour before sunset into the Park to set up and have a private tour until 8:00 pm depending on the season! An hour before the excursion ends we will need to leave the Park.
Activities included will be deadvlei, afternoon sundowner drive and night visit to deadvlei. Sossus-Dune-Lodge
Return to Windhoek
The Olive Grove Guesthouse
Luxury Room (Bed and Breakfast) for 1 night
On Day 14 we will depart Sossus for the approximately 5 hour/400 km drive back to Windhoek. It is our intent to get to the guest house in time for lunch, relax, have a well-earned dinner, and return the vehicles.
Namibia’s capital Windhoek is often described as a city with a continental atmosphere. This can be ascribed to its architecture, cuisine, culture, dress codes and educational institutions. Windhoek combines the modern city architectural style with that of the German colonial era. Historic sites to visit in the town centre are the ‘Christuskirche’, ‘Alte Feste’ (Old Ford), ‘Tintenpalast’ (Parliament Buildings), Zoo Park, Museum and the Craft Centre. With 400 000 inhabitants, Windhoek is the biggest city in the country and also the commercial centre of the country.
You are free to fly out of Hosea Kutako International Airport any time on Day 15. Remember, flights to and from Africa are not included in this package—you must purchase those tickets on your own.
Transfer to the airport will be organised for all and is included in the price.
Note: In African culture it is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first.
You will be experiencing two styles of photography during this trip. You should be prepared for both.
The first is traditional landscape photography where a tripod and wide-ish angle lens (anywhere from 14mm to 50mm for a full-size sensor) would be appropriate. In addition, you may choose to use certain kinds of filters on your lens to allow you to drag the shutter, enhance water effects or cloud movement, reduce the dynamic range between sky and foreground, etc. For these shots, you will generally have plenty of time to select the lens, compose the shot, choose aperture to enhance sharpness and/or depth of field, focus accurately, and so on. For landscape photography, it’s best to shoot in manual mode where you have full control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Because you will want to pack light, your tripod choice should be light as well—this is not Norway! William Toti can provide recommendations if desired.
But this being a safari, you will also need to be able to take wildlife photos where none of the above-stated advantages exist. Although not absolutely required, for wildlife photography it’s best to carry two camera bodies, the first with a very long lens (a 200-400 or 300-500), and the second with a mid-range zoom for those animals that walk right up to the vehicle (it happens!). (You don’t need to purchase this expensive long lens—both the long lens and your second camera body can be rented at com or equivalent.) For wildlife, you will want a very fast autofocus system and very fast frame rate when you push the shutter button, and it’s best to shoot in manual mode where you can dial-in sharpest aperture and select your shutter speed, but unlike with landscape photography it’s best to use auto-ISO for wildlife shots. You will be hand-holding the cameras, so it will be best if you have some kind of strap system to carry the cameras around for walking safaris (something like the Black Rapid system will work). Again, William Toti can provide recommendations if desired.
One, or preferably two DSLR cameras, both with manual mode capability. As noted above, two camera bodies is better for wildlife photography, one with a telephoto lens and the second with a shorter lens. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun.
Camera lenses of your choice, but a 200 mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari, and a wide angle lens (or super-wide like the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8) will provide useful for landscapes.
Cable release or remote control for your camera (Mirror Up and Exposure Delay will also work)
Lens filters of your choice (ND, CPL, GRAD, etc.)
Camera manuals (and it’s best to read the manual before you depart on your trip!). You can download the manuals to your phone if desired.
Your international flights from/to your home to/from Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia
It is your responsibility to provide for your own travel, medical, and evacuation insurance. It is imperative that you accomplish this prior to your arrival in Africa. I highly recommend Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance
Beverages – Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic
Gratuities for the guides, staff at accommodations, and airport transfers
Personal expenses (i.e. souvenirs, liquor, telephone calls, internet, laundry etc.)
Single room supplement for duration of the Safari
Pre- and post-safari tours or activities, accommodations or meals before or after the safari
Airline baggage fees and other trip-related fees
Communication charges like international cell phone charges
Remember that Namibia is south of the equator so seasons are reversed. That means June is “winter” in Namibia, however “winter” isn’t usually very cold in Africa. Nevertheless, by June the nights are getting cooler and can drop below 50°F. In desert areas, it can actually get down to freezing. Daytime temperatures should still be pleasant around 68-75°F. The good news about June is Namibia is usually dry, making for a higher probability of pleasant excursions.
Please travel light. You should also bring a day pack to carry any essentials you might need whilst on safari. A camera backpack can serve this purpose as long as it has extra space for water, a light jacket, etc.
On safari, most people wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day and put on long sleeved shirts and long pants in the evening for warmth as well as protection from mosquitoes.
Should you be particularly sensitive to the sun a loose sun-protective shirt can help during the day.
Khaki, brown, olive and beige colors are best for and safaris and game walks. Avoid white and blue. Although tsetse flies are not generally a problem in Namibia, they are a problem in wetter places in Africa, and my experience is that they are attracted to blue coloration. White is not a suitable color for these activities. It both increases your visibility quotient to the animals you are wanting to get a closer look at, and it will get dirty very quickly.
Fleece or sweater and a windbreaker for game drives, because it is highly possible that you may go out on a hot day, but be faced with a chill evening on your return.
Some areas have a steep temperature gradient, i.e, very hot days and very cool nights. Remember that layering your clothing will keep you warmer than relying on one thick item.
You will note we recommend “drip dry” for all your clothes. If you need to wash something by hand or in the field, it’s best if the clothing will dry quickly because we will be moving often.
A light sweater or sweatshirt, or a very light, packable down sweater if you really feel the cold
A lightweight, waterproof windbreaker
A pair of sturdy ankle-high hiking boots (for sandy Sossusvlei)
3-5 short-sleeved, drip-dry T-shirts (avoid white or blue colors). When you layer, this will be your bottom layer and your long-sleeve shirt will go over it. If you get too warm, you peel off the long-sleeve leaving this T-shirt. If it gets colder, your three layers will be your sweatshirt or down sweater, over your long sleeve shirt, over your T-shirt.
5 changes of underwear and socks
Besides your hiking boots, a pair of comfortable shoes to wear around camp, and perhaps on your long-haul flights
A hat with a brim (Baseball caps might cover your nose but not your ears and neck. Tilley hats are highly recommended.)
A toilet kit including shampoo and soap
Optional: A light pair of gloves (if you really feel the cold)
Optional: swimwear (a few of the lodges have pools but it may be too chilly to swim)
Prior to departing on this trip for appropriate travel precautions and vaccinations.
Some physicians will provide you with a dose of antibiotic to be used in case of food poisoning. Although we expect the food from the high-end accommodates we will be using on this trip to be very safe, it’s ultimately your decision as to whether you think this is necessary.
If you are carrying prescription medicine, it should be in original bottle as provided by your pharmacy, and you should carry a copy of the written prescription with you so there can be no questions about what you might be carrying into their country
Please carry your prescription medications in your carry-on bags on your flights (not in checked luggage)
Ibuprofen or Tylenol for mild pain or headache
Moisturizer, lip balm(the dry air will cause unprotected lips to crack)
Imodium if needed for for diarrhea
Topical antibiotic (e.g. Neosporin) and a few band-aids
Note: some inoculations must be received two months or more before travel to be effective, so please make your medical preparations early.
Note: Namibia requires certification of Yellow Fever vaccines by means of a World Health Organization Immunization Record (Yellow Card) for visitors from certain countries. Although the United States is not a Yellow Fever zone, some Americans have been stopped by Namibian authorities and asked to produce a Yellow Card certifying they have received the Yellow Fever Vaccine. Because of this, the US Embassy in Namibia advises all travelers to receive yellow fever inoculations before traveling to Namibia and to be sure to carry proof of their inoculation when entering Namibia.
For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website travel.state.gov.
A valid passport is required for your trip. Your passport expiry date must expire no less than six months after your return from this trip (in other words, your passport should expire in February 2019 or later).
It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of the photo page and the entry stamp page of your passport as an additional piece of identification.
YOUR PHOTO-COPIES SHOULD BE STORED IN A DIFFERENT PLACE FROM YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS.
Note: a visa is not required for Namibia if you are a US citizen.
One other picture ID (e.g. driver’s licence)
Photocopy of passport page to carry in wallet. (If your passport is in a hotel safe, or in an embassy for visas, or if you were to lose your passport this precaution would prove invaluable.)
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