Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Quiver Tree Forest, Kolmanskop, and Etosha
March 19 – 31, 2024
Namibia boasts some of the most spectacular and varied landscapes on the planet. Situated along the far western edge of southern Africa, her extensive coastline is bathed by cold Atlantic Ocean currents. Raucous colonies of sea lions can be found here, as well as the wooden “bones” of shipwrecks lost in the region’s frequent dense fogs. A bit inland, onshore winds push desert sands upwards into the highest (and oldest!) dunes on Earth. This harsh environment nevertheless contains a wealth of extraordinary desert-adapted plants and animals. Rich opportunity for wildlife spotting also exists in Etosha National Park—home to many Africa’s most iconic species, including elephant, zebra, giraffe, lion, and even rhino. Farther afield, other rare landscapes, such as the bizarre Quiver Tree Forest and the ghost town of Kolmanskoop, provide additional unique photo opportunities.
We’ve been leading safaris in Namibia for many years. Together with local guides, we have designed an itinerary that will take you from coast to dunes and from game parks to ghost towns, covering the best that Namibia offers. You’ll travel on foot, in custom-designed game-viewing vehicles, and even by helicopter and stay in comfortable and exclusive accommodations. Days will be long and productive, and with a small group, you can expect plenty of instruction in the field and during our signature image reviews.
Ready for a desert adventure like no other?
About the wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
March 19, 2024: Arrive at any time today in Windhoek, where one of our representatives will greet you and transfer you to our hotel in Windhoek. We will have a short introductory meeting, a question-and-answer answer session, and a group dinner tonight.
March 20, 2024: After breakfast this morning we transfer to the domestic Eros Airport for our private charter flight to Keetmanshoop. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your Ultimate Safaris guides and have a short transfer to your lodge, the Quivertree Forest Rest Camp on the outskirts of Keetmanshoop. Lunch will be enjoyed either at the lodge or at restaurant in town. From here you will have the perfect base from which to photograph Quiver trees at different light intensities.
Quivertree Forest: A popular subject for photographers, the Quivertree Forest harbors around 300 Quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma), also referred to by its Afrikaans name Kokerboom. Although more of an aloe plant than a tree, these attractive succulents reach skywards with graphically forked branches, splitting into pairs, hence the name ‘dichotoma’. The Quiver Tree is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants of Namibia in the very hot and dry southern regions. The name Quiver Tree refers to the traditional use of the branches by Bushmen and Hottentot tribes to make quivers for their arrows. On average, the trees are about 3m to 5m tall (reaching up to 9m in height) and can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The larger trees in the forest are around 200 to 300 years old. They produce bright yellow flowers during the winter months (June and July) and their trunks are smooth and shiny with light creamy to silvery-grey bark which peels, and forms intricate rectangular and diamond-shaped patterns as the tree matures. The Quiver Tree mostly occurs in black rock formations (dolerite), needed to anchor the plants which have a shallow spread root system.
March 21, 2024: Today, we will be up before the sun to capture the Giants Playground: Across the road from the Quiver Tree Forest is the Giants Playground, an impressive jumble of dolerite boulders that are roughly 180 million years old. It’s called the Giant’s Playground because of the way the massive dolerite boulders are placed on top of each other, like a giant’s building blocks.
Molten magma pushed its way through fissures in the underlying rock, creating dolerite dykes that have since been exposed as the surrounding sedimentary rock has eroded, leaving the harder dolerite boulders to undergo further weathering into the bizarre formations we see today. Wandering through the maze of boulders is fascinating, but care must be taken not to become lost in the extensive rocky labyrinth.
Then, after breakfast, we will make a short ride to the lovely coastal village of Lüderitz and spend the afternoon and evening photographing the famous Kolmanskop Ghost Town. Our drive today is approximately three hours, with plenty of photo stops. The houses of Kolmanskop are being slowly overtaken by the desert and make very compelling photo subjects.
March 22, 2024: It’s up early this morning for a memorable and fascinating excursion through time to visit the historic ghost town of Kolmanskop once more. The aim is to reach Kolmanskop early enough to set up your equipment in time to see the sun rise and to capture the dunes and remnants of yesteryear at best light. You then leave the coast and Lüderitz behind as you make your way north into the Namib Desert. Continue with your journey east, keeping a lookout for the legendary feral desert horses along the way until you reach Aus. From Aus you head north through the spectacular scenery of the Tiras Mountain Conservancy and a section of the NamibRand Nature Reserve before entering the Namib Naukluft National Park to reach Dead Valley Lodge in the late afternoon, stopping for scenic photo shoots along the way.
Here you will stay for three nights whilst you explore the remarkable sights of the Namib Desert with your guide/s. Dead Valley Lodge is one of only two lodges that affords you prime location within the boundaries of the Namib Naukluft National Park. If there is still time today, your guide will take you to visit Sesriem Canyon, a nearby geological attraction, or explore Elim Dune. However, if you prefer, you can just relax and soak in the scenic and tranquil surroundings at Dead Valley Lodge or head out on a photographic excursion.
March 23–25, 2024: For the next two days, we will explore the remarkable Namib Desert with our guides. Namib Naukluft National Park is home to the largest sand dunes in the world, as well as the famous Deadvlei with its dancing dead camelthorn trees. Here you will also have a chance to do two optional helicopter flights, sixty and ninety minutes each, for sunrise and sunset light over the dunes and the skeleton coast.
March 25, 2024: After our sunrise shoot, we will drive along the coastal road into the Skeleton Coast National Park to reach Walvis Bay. Here we will stay one night to photograph the enormous flocks of flamingos at sunset and again the following morning.
March 26, 2024: After breakfast and our morning flamingo shoot in the lagoon, we’ll drive up the Atlantic coast through the towns of Swakopmund and Henties Bay. After a brief stop to photograph a beached shipwreck, we’ll soon arrive at Cape Cross, the location of a giant colony of Cape fur seals, the largest such colony in the world. Here we will photograph tens of thousands of seals until the sun drops over the Atlantic Ocean. We will spend the night in the oceanfront Cape Cross Lodge.
March 27, 2024: Our journey will take us northeast and inland today, towards Etosha National Park. You will be treated to your first game drive and sundowners in the park in the afternoon. We will then return to camp for dinner.
March 28–29, 2024: Our luxury camp is our base for the next few days, and we will embark on photo safaris in the morning and evening with guided game drives through Etosha. The Park consists of grassland, woodland, and savannah. Game viewing centers on the numerous springs and waterholes where several species can often be seen simultaneously. The Park boasts some 114 mammals and over 340 bird species. Wildlife that one might see includes elephant, lion, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, gemsbok (Oryx), zebra, rhino, cheetah, leopard, hyena, honey badger, and warthog, as well as the endemic black-faced impala. The camp has an active floodlit waterhole for photography and wildlife viewing through the night. We can expect to see lions, zebras, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, and much more wildlife. Etosha is a world-class African wildlife destination. On our full day of safari, we added an extra guide and vehicle to today’s drive so that each participant has a row to themselves.
March 30, 2024: After an early breakfast, we will set off on our journey back to Windhoek, passing through small towns and farming communities and stopping at a local market. We’ll be transferred to the Windhoek International Airport in time for our onward international flights. Flights can be scheduled anytime after 5:00 PM—if this necessitates an extra night stay, we’d be happy to arrange that for you.
Safari Camp Life—What To Expect
In short, you'll feel like you're in a luxury hotel! We've hand picked our camps for comfort, knowledgeable and friendly staff, great food and convenience to our main objective, the wildlife. We also place a huge value on isolation and exclusivity. You won't find us in areas where there are dozens of other vehicles at a sighting—rather, you'll feel like you own the land, and the animals are there just for you! Typical tented accommodations feature twin beds or queen bed, high thread-count linens, storage for clothing, sitting area, verandah, and of course en suite bathrooms, with toilets, hot water and showers. They are enormous in size, bright, open, and airy.
Our days start early, before sunrise. We'll have a quick coffee or tea, maybe a cookie, and off on our first game drive of the day. The animals are just starting to stir as the day starts, and we want to be there, and in the best light. We'll stay out for a few to several hours, depending on the sightings. After a mid-drive coffee break, we'll continue on until mid to late morning. We typically have breakfast in the field, so as to maximize our game-viewing and photographing time. Back in camp, it's time for offloading cards, one-on-one instruction, or just taking time to relax and do nothing. Read a book, take a walk, or take a nap and recharge. Of course there will be lunch, and then In the mid to late afternoon, we'll again head out for another game drive, chasing the best sightings. Enjoying your favorite drink while watching and photographing the sunset is a popular activity. Arrive back at camp after sundown, enjoy a hot shower if you like, and then join us by the campfire or in the living area for cocktails followed by dinner.
Food in our camps is superb—you'll be served foods that you know as well as local specialties—and of course any dietary needs can be accommodated.
We've arranged for the best safari vehicles—custom Land Cruisers which feature ample room for you and your gear, and great visibility. And only one photographer per row of seats (note that front seat next to driver counts as a row). All of our camps feature optional daily laundry service (but not on days we travel in between camps).
Why a Muench Workshops Safari?
We know you have choices, and yes, you can find other safaris where you'll spend less. We aim to give you the best possible experience, maximizing your time and minimizing the hassle, while providing the best photographic experience and instruction available anywhere.
Photography and Safari Guiding: We've personally chosen only the best local safari guides for this photographic safari.
Details Matter: Our itinerary is carefully set to bring you the all the best that a region offers. We're in areas that are not overly crowded with other safari vehicles, and we get off-road when possible, close to the action and our subjects.
Photography Instruction: This is a workshop, not just a tour. You will work hard on this safari, with instruction in the field and in camp. Many evenings feature critiques and post-processing instruction after dinner, and during the daytime, we offer one-on-one instruction as needed. You'll come away with a wealth of new knowledge on how to create great images, and how to best process those images in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Years of Experience—Happy Repeat Customers: We've been leading, guiding, and teaching photographers for a long time, and many of our customers come back on our workshops again and again. If you'd like to speak to someone who has been with us on a workshop or safari, just let us know—we'd be happy to arrange a phone call.
Moderate: You must be able to get in and out of the custom land cruisers and ride for several hours on possibly bumpy terrain. Optional hikes in sand up to 2 miles.
Arrive Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), Windhoek, Namibia anytime on March 19, 2024. Flights out can be made after 5:00 PM on March 30, 2024. Air travel delays are common. Please arrive early, possibly even the day prior, so you don’t miss any of the workshop.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $1,000 supplement.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop.
- All permits and park fees.
- Internal flights during the workshop.
- All transportation during the workshop.
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides.
- Guided camping with custom meals and comfortable tents.
- English-speaking local guide throughout the workshop.
- Photographic guiding and instruction from Richard Bernabe.
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction.
- Travel to and from Windhoek, Namibia.
- While not expected, we do reserve the right to add a surcharge for possible fuel cost increases.This can happen even right up until the time of the expedition, but we try to get as much notice as possible.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Medical Evacuation Insurance (required).
- Travel Medical (required).
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $1,000 supplement.
- Your non-refundable deposit of $4,995 will hold your space in this workshop.
- Further non-refundable payment of $5,000 is due by August 1, 2023.
- The non-refundable balance is due not later than December 1, 2023.
- In addition to our standard Terms and Conditions, for this workshop all payments are non-refundable, and this is why we recommend comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancelation.
- Need special payment arrangements? No problem, just ask us.
“A fantastic experience I will never forget. Learned a lot--that's what I really like about the Muench trips. Frankly, I really only want to do photo workshops with the Muench group. ”
“I LOVED our holiday in Namibia and grateful to you for all you did to make it such a lovely trip. I'm very grateful for all the time and patience you both provided me as I stumble through learning photography. ”
“The workshop not only met my expectations but exceeded them. The Muench Workshops instructors gave good direction in both photography and editing and tailored it to my ability plus taking it one level up. Both had a good feel for my abilities. The instruction was perfect. The sequence of photo shoots culminated at the Eagle Festival and we were well prepared to be on our own. I learned some night photography and improved my action shots. ”