When visiting Africa on a photo safari you have two main choices to make; do you want:
A) a specialised photo safari to a single location and country
B) would you like to combine parks and / or countries and do an extended photo tour?
In the past we did only specialized (big-game) photo safaris to places like Etosha or the Kgalagadi but at the end of 2013 we decided to do an extended photo tour. We started off in the Kgalagadi and stayed at camps on both the South African and Botswana sides of the park and then we did the Gondwana Collection southern-circuit in Namibia.
This southern circuit allows you to visit four different desserts:
1. Kalahari Desert,
2. Namib Desert,
3. Succulent Karoo Desert and
4. Nama Karoo Desert.
It was an amazing photo tour and Namibia is the perfect country to do an extended photo tour as they have an excellent infrastructure with regular gas (petrol) stations, tar roads leading to most popular destinations and their gravel roads tend to be in much better condition than the tar roads in South Africa!
The Gondwana Collection of lodges is ideally situated and can be accessed from South Africa or Botswana.
Please note that the Gondwana lodges are ‘affordable accommodation establishments’ and not 'luxury lodges' and Tripadvisor ranks each Gondwana lodge as 3-star. We, however, found their food...
and some chalets...
to be between 4 and 5-star! We have stayed in many luxury and 5-star lodges, including the world-famous Sabi Sands reserve on the western Kruger National Park border and we found the food and service at the Gondwana lodges to be as good as, if not better than, some of these ‘luxury’ lodges - yet at a fraction of the cost!
In addition to the already low rates, people residing in SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries, can apply for a Gondwana card where they can get a 40% discount on accommodation and 25% discount on meals – this is an unbeatable bargain!
The only reason these lodges are not rated at least 4-star is that some don't have a swimming pool (but some have 2 pools), air-con and/or bar fridges. Here is a summary of what the Gondwana southern circuit lodges have:
Don't get too caught up with what the lodges do and don't have - we enjoyed all of them and made the most of what they had. They all served excellent food, provided great service and are ideally situated near the prime tourist attractions.
Anyway, back to our extended photo tour and photographing Namibia!
We slept one night at Kalahari Anib lodge and went on a game drive through the Gondwana Kalahari Park and the next day headed west to Namib Desert Lodge for two nights. From this lodge you can access Solitaire, Sossusvlei and Sesriem.
They have just built the new Dune Star Camp and we went on a game drive through the Gondwana Namib Park to look at the views from the camp and they were spectacular!
We then headed south to Klein Aus Vista - Desert Horse Inn where we stayed 4 nights. After seeing their new Eagles Nest Chalets we wanted to stay there but they were understandably full. Being based here provided us with easy access to the Namib wild (feral) horses and Kolmanskop, as well as some amazing scenery on the Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park.
Next we headed south-east for Canyon Lodge and spent three wonderful nights there. We saw the magnificent Fish River Canyon, the second biggest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and we visited the Canyon Roadhouse to photograph old cars that rivaled the famous old desert cars at Solitaire!
We had lunch at their sister lodge Canyon Village, visited the Canyon Mountain Camp and went on a self-drive on the Gondwana Canyon Park where we photographed the unusual Quiver trees and some wildlife like the rare Hartmann's mountain zebra.
(You'll notice when arriving that most of the signs say Cañon or Canon instead of Canyon.)
The extended photo tour was then over – two weeks of photographing Namibia with amazing scenery, unusual photo subjects, exquisite lodges, excellent food and great service.
If you would like more details of the trip you can read our trip report or click on the lodge links above that will take you to separate lodge pages providing details of the rooms, meals and activities.
You could of course do the trip the other way around and start from Canyon Lodge if you are coming from Cape Town - you would then enter Namibia at the Noordoewer border post instead of Mata Mata or you could do any other combination of lodges and sights to suit your schedule. This is just a suggestion and worked great for us being nature photographers.
We had such an enjoyable time photographing Namibia by visiting these Gondwana lodges and cannot wait to do the Gondwana Collection northern-circuit in Namibia during April this year, combining Etosha with some of the nearby Gondwana lodges!
"Having a passion for the region myself and having had to learn about all the dynamics, waterholes and ideal routes to drive over a period of 6 years - I wish I had this guide on my first trip already!" - Morkel Erasmus, Secunda, South Africa
"Mario and Jenny take you to spots that are not always visited, and their descriptions of the more remote camps will allow you to make an informed decision without wasting time and money" - Bob & Sherry Shepardson, DeBary, Florida, USA
"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this book will help you save both." - Don Stilton, Florida, USA
"I highly recommend the book to anyone visiting Etosha National Park to photograph the animals - or anyone considering an African photography safari in the future." - Anne Darling, Cognac, France
"As a photographer and someone who has visited and taken photographs in the Pilanesberg National Park, I can safely say that with the knowledge gained from this eBook, your experiences and photographs will be much more memorable." - Alastair Stewart, B C, Canada
"This work is so much more than an eBook, because it is also a guide, a tutorial, an inspiration and a must-have for anyone interested in wildlife photography" - Findtripinfo.com, USA