Namibia 2016 Gallery

Namibia 2016

I’ve finished processing my photos from a trip to Namibia, Africa last year (yeah, sometimes it takes a while to get everything processed). Here is a gallery of some of my favorite shots.

Several plains zebra line up to drink at the Okaukuejo waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

It was a truly amazing trip, as I was lucky enough to

  • Watch endangered black rhinos congregating around a waterhole in the dead of night
  • Walk among the tallest sand dunes in the world (over 1000 feet) in the world’s oldest desert
  • Witness a rare lightning storm in the desert as thunderclouds rolled over endless dune fields
  • Visit Deadvlei, an ancient river valley dotted with 700 year old desiccated tree husks in the heart of the Namib desert
  • Drive 2500 miles (mostly on dirt roads) over 11 days, see a good variety of countryside
  • See the desert-adapted bush elephants of Damaraland
  • Check out the gallery this and much more, including numerous birds and wildlife. Click each image to see the next, or use your keyboard arrows to navigate.

    The Etosha Pan

    A camel-thorn acacia grows next to the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    The Etosha Pan is a large dry lake bed in Namibia, which due to heavy mineral deposits forms a dry salt pan. The name “Etosha” comes from an Ndonga word meaning “great white place”. While the pan rarely sees water, it is surrounded by savanna and sparse forest, teeming with wildlife. The pan is 75 miles long and just shy of 3,000 square miles. Here you can see the white expanse of the pan stretching into infinity.

    A blue wildebeest wanders out alone onto the Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    Occasionally the wildlife that lives at the edges of the lake bed wander out onto it to gather surface minerals, making up a portion of their diet. A blue wildebeest is dwarfed by the vastness of the pan.

    The lake was fed by a large river about 16,000 years ago when glacial melt caused the formation of many such rivers. At some point tectonic plate movement changed the course of the river, and the pan dried up to its current state. The only time it sees a few centimeters of water is due to heavy rains, but this is a seldom occurrence.

    Herds of plains zebra and springbok visit a waterhole for a morning drink, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    The area surrounding the pan is dotted with waterholes which support a wide variety of wildlife. This area is protected within the boundaries of Etosha National Park, which completely surrounds the pan. Although I only spent one full day here, that glimpse of wildlife photographic possibilities will surely draw me back.

    Okaukuejo Waterhole: Wildlife Diversity

    My last blog post detailed my experience with five endangered black rhino at the Okaukuejo Waterhole in Ethosa National Park, Namibia. But that’s certainly not all I saw during those long quiet hours in the dead of night.

    The sun sets over the Okaukuejo Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia

    I arrived at the waterhole just as the sun was setting behind the horizon. Night is the best time to see wildlife here, and to facilitate wildlife viewing, this camp has set up a flood light by which to see the nocturnal visitors. Quite a few people gathered at the waterhole to watch the sunset, but soon they were off to dinner and bed. Over the next hour, the crowds thinned out and only the die-hards remained for a long night’s wait.

    Zebra come at night to drink from the Okaukuejo Waterhole. Night is a good time for prey animals to visit waterholes as they have a better chance of escaping predators.
    Zebra come at night to drink from the Okaukuejo Waterhole. Night is a good time for prey animals to visit waterholes as they have a better chance of escaping predators.

    One of the more common visitors were the zebra. One night a small herd came at dusk, but it was those few that crept up to the waterhole in the middle of the night that were more fun to watch. The absolute silence was only disrupted by the soft crunching of rocks under their feet, as they lined the edge of the water to drink. The stillness of the water cast a perfect reflection. However there was no chance to relax, as any little sound had the zebra darting their gaze to the darkness, trying to see beyond the wall of black.

    A giraffe stands next to a tree at the Okaukuejo Waterhole. Its body is reflected in the still waters, Etosha National Park, Namibia.
    A giraffe stands next to the Okaukuejo Waterhole. Its body is reflected in the still waters, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    Zebra gave way to giraffe, which traveling in ones and twos. In order to capture photos of these animals at night, I had my 400mm lens locked down on the tripod, my mirror locked up, and my shutter speed just slow enough to gather the required light. Keep the shutter too slow, and the animal was more likely to move during the exposure. It was a careful balance of predicting animal behavior, and making sure all my camera functions were set correctly.

    Giraffe visit the Okaukuejo Waterhole at night, drinking from its still water, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    One of my favorite sights was the comical way in which giraffe drank water. They had to contort their bodies and spread their front legs in order to bring their heads low enough to the ground to drink.

    A springbok visits the Okaukuejo Waterhole at night, its form reflected in the still water, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    In addition to the larger mammals, I saw a couple of antelope species. The ever present springbok made an appearance.

    A species endemic to Namibia, several black-faced impala visit the Okaukuejo Waterhole at night, Etosha National Park, Namibia.

    As did the endemic black-faced impala.

    I did see an elephant in the early hours of morning. However luck was not on my side, and none of my photos turned out. There was too much movement from this giant beast to capture under low lights.

    I would certainly recommend this type of experience to wildlife lovers. It was incredibly intimate to watch these animals interacting under the cover of darkness, with nobody else around. It was a wildlife cathedral I was lucky enough to attend!