Every now and then, we all need a break. A few weeks ago I decided to take a much needed escape from the daily grind, and set out on a 3000 mile road trip through the south of Namibia.
I didn’t have a set itinerary, just a road map, my four wheel drive vehicle, cameras, and enough supplies to be self-sufficient for more or less two weeks.
Taking a break and traveling solo
I’ve always wanted to do a trip to Namibia. The country’s natural beauty, along with the vast, desolate expanse always appealed to me. I’ve never really gotten the opportunity to do a solo road trip before, and when I got the opportunity to do a solo road trip, Namibia was the perfect destination.
The main purpose of the trip was to visit Namibia to take some landscape pictures, and to take a bit of a break. Since I had limited time, I decided to focus most of my travels around the south and south-west of Namibia. I prefer focussing on fewer places in a country and travel relaxed rather than to rush and see too many places.
Traveling solo affords you a certain freedom that is void when traveling with other people - you travel on your own time and terms, and it’s amazing how different your experience of traveling is when you travel alone. You often meet people you would never have met if you were traveling with someone or in a group.
Namibia in winter
I visited Namibia in during June / July, which is in the middle of winter in Namibia. Since the country has a desert climate, it was cold on most days, with some days hovering around 5 degrees celcius, and most night time temperatures dipping to minus 5 degrees celcius. Some days were warmer, hovering around the low twenties.
Taking panoramas by shifting pictures left and right and then stitching it in Photoshop is a cinch with this lens.
Camera Equipment for Namibia
I took the following equipment with :
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L MK II
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L MK II
Canon EF 24mm t/s f3.5L MK II
Canon EF 85mm f1.2L MK II
Canon EF 100mm Macro f2.8L IS
2 x PocketWizard Plus X (for triggering camera remotely)
Pelican 1510 case (for sealing against dust and storing cameras)
I ended up taking the majority of pictures with the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L MK II, Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L MK II and EF 100mm Macro lens. The EF 24mm tilt shift lens also came in handy for a few shifted panoramas. I missed not having a 70-200mm zoom lens, as there were plenty of opportunities where such a lens would have been ideal.
If I could only take 3 lenses to Namibia, it would be a 16-35, 24-70 and a 70-200. This is my ideal choice for photographing landscapes and people.
If I intend on photographing wildlife, I would simply add a 500mm lens with a tele converter to the above selection of lenses.
There’s a lot of dust and sand in Namibia. I managed to shoot with my camera for well over a year without the need for cleaning the sensor, but towards the end of the trip, a number of dust spots started to show up at smaller apertures.
Spectacular landscapes in Namibia
The light in Namibia has a magical quality to it. The skies have a very rich blue, and the light is unusually warm, with the tones rich. Namibia is breathtakingly beautiful. There’s spectacular landscapes everywhere. It’s a photogenic country, a photographer’s dream.
This panorama of the Fish River Canyon was captured with the Canon EF 24mm t/s F3.5L II tilt and shift lens, by shifting left and right and stitching the pictures together in photoshop.
Remote, desolate beauty
Namibia is vast, desolate and beautiful. I really enjoyed the isolation of Namibia. Even in peak tourist season, you can pull over your car on the side of the road and not see a vehicle for a few hours. You can camp wild under African skies. Some roads are so isolated that you can literally be alone for a day or two.
I deliberately tried to stick to mostly gravel roads. The condition of the gravel roads are excellent. Towns are mostly small, often consisting of a fuel station and a shop, and a few camp sites or lodges scattered around it.
A lot of the roads don’t have any fences. I saw plenty of wildlife, often crossing the road. You quickly learn to look out for animals. It’s well advised to only travel during daylight hours, as night time brings a high risk of hitting animals.
For the most part, there’s limited or no cell phone coverage. Only the bigger towns and some smaller towns have coverage. The vast, desolate expanse of Namibia, coupled with a lack of communication to the outside world in many areas really allowed me to switch off, relax, and enjoy vistas of this beautiful country.
Panorama taken with Canon EF 24mm Tilt Shift lens.
Taken with the 16-35mm lens.
Once a fully operational mining town with a school, houses and a hospital, this town has been deserted. The town has been abandoned since 1954.
Why you should visit Namibia
I highly recommend Namibia as a destination to visit. It’s a fantastic country.
For photographers, there are so many opportunities. Namibia is a photographer’s paradise, and it’s easy to see why many of the world’s top photographers return to Namibia year after year.
For first time visitors to Africa, it’s a very safe and peaceful country. Namibia has a low crime rate, there’s no wars, and religious or racial tension in the country. It’s commonly known to be the safest country in Africa.
It’s easily the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. The people are warm and friendly too, always ready to greet you with a smile.
Accommodation was reasonable and top notch, with plenty of lodging and camping options to choose from.
The quality of the roads are great, with the gravel roads being the best I have driven on. Due to the wide open spaces, and excellent quality of roads, Namibia is the ideal self-drive destination.
There’s so much to see in Namibia, that it’s impossible to see everything in 2 weeks or even 6 or 8 weeks. It’s a country that demands at least one or two return visits.
If you’re someone that enjoys nature and spectacular landscapes, if you want to see world class game, if you want to have an adventure in Africa, or if you simply want to visit one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, Namibia should be at the top of your list of countries to visit.
I returned home from an epic adventure, refreshed and with my batteries recharged. I met some great people and returned with more good pictures than I thought I would have taken.
But I also returned with an urgency to go back and explore more of this amazing country. There’s so much more to see. Etosha, Damaraland, the Skeleton coast, and the rest of the country.
This time around I will travel with my family. Watch this space.