Recently refurbished Desert Express in Namibia will take off for 8 days in July with two photographic guides and Encompass Africa is offering you a seat!
Just A$3,350 will see you one of the lucky few who board the Desert Express Photographic Train safari through Southern Namibia from 11 – 18 July 2015.
Encompass Africa has joined up with Pangolin who have chartered the recently refurbished Desert Express, which operates out of Windhoek and we will be exploring the southern region of epic country Namibia over 8 days in July 2015.
We have chosen these specific dates as it will be a New Moon thus allowing for some spectacular night and star photography throughout the trip.
We will be visiting some of the most iconic photographic locations that Namibia has to offer such as Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop (ghost town), Swakopmund and Spitzkoppe.
Whether you are using a state of the art SLR camera or just the camera on your phone you will be shown how to get the most out of each photo opportunity by the on-board professional photo guides. Your guide will be on hand to explain some fundamental photographic skills in an easy to understand way that will improve the way you take pictures immediately. There will also be some presentations on board the train, to discuss photographic techniques in a relaxed and informal manner as we travel from iconic photo destination to destination.
This photo safari will be co-hosted by Pangolin’s very own Gerhard “Guts” Swanepoel and Bianca Preusker (Cape Town Photo Tours) who between them have lead countless tours in Namibia and will be on hand to help you discover and photograph all its gems!
Day 1 Welcome to Namibia
Transfer from Hosea Kutako Airport Windhoek to Windhoek. Our photographic adventure begins at Windhoek station around midday. The Desert Express will leave the historic train station of Windhoek and start rolling slowly southwards through the Auas hills. Make yourself comfortable in your compartment and enjoy the passing landscape with a glass of wine or an ice cold Windhoek Lager. A short lecture will convey interesting facts about the journey, the train and Namibia itself. (BLD)
Day 2 Namibia’s barren south – Fish River Canyon
At Holoog, little more than a siding in the solitude, we shall board coaches and drive through pristine semi arid landscapes to the Fish River canyon. The second biggest canyon on earth undoubtedly belongs to the natural wonders of Southern Africa. Take a walk along the canyons edge and enjoy breathtaking views into the gorge, whilst taking advantage of the morning light to photograph this 500m deep and 160 km long canyon. We return to the train for lunch, as we slowly roll towards Aus. On an excursion to Keetmanshoop we snap a close up portrait of a cheetah, as we join some of these cats during their feeding time. Afterwards there is time for an excursion to the quiver tree forest. We will be among these archaic looking trees during the sunset, allowing for some iconic images. This evening we can try some star trail photography in the dark skies of southern Namibia. (BLD)
Day 3 Kolmanskop “Ghost Town”
We will leave the train early this morning, in order to explore the ghost town of Kolmanskop well before any other tourists are there. The sand dunes creeping into the desolate houses make for some spectacular and often “eerie” photography. Lunch will be served back on board the Desert Express, as it heads back east to the small village of Keetmanshoop. (BLD)
Day 4 From Mariental to the Namib Desert
By the next morning, our train has reached Mariental. We leave the train, with luggage for two nights in a lodge. A four hour drive through the barren, mountainous landscape, interrupted by a traditional Namibian brunch in Maltahöhe, brings us to our stylish lodge in the desert. Here we will spend two days enjoying the solitude and awe inspiring landscapes of the world’s oldest desert – the Namib. (BLD)
Day 5 The highest dunes in the world
The early morning hours are the best time to visit the brick red, glowing, gigantic dunes of the Sossusvlei area. We shall drive through the endless sea of apricot coloured sand, following the riverbed of the Tsauchab river. The last 5 kilometres to Sossusvlei are deep sand, so we use a tractor and trailer or jeeps to convey us here. From the parking area there is an optional one kilometre walk through the sand to view Dead Vlei, a clay depression surrounded by dunes, which no longer fills with water from the Tsauchab river. The white clay surface, studded with dead camel thorn trees and surrounded by majestic red dunes is a photographer’s playground. We continue to the Sesriem Canyon, where layers of conglomerate stone are exposed. The extreme light conditions at the bottom of this 30 m deep gorge provide a challenge to keen photographers. We return to our lodge for a late lunch. At sunset we take a drive on to the petrified dunes near our lodge, where we enjoy a sundowner, as well as the golden red sunset over the Namib dunes. (BLD)
Day 6 From the desert to the coast: Swakopmund
A five hour drive by coach takes us through the Namib Naukluft National Park on gravel roads to the icy Atlantic ocean. Along the way we stop at Moose McGregors famous bakery in Solitaire and for views of the bizarre rock formations of the Gaub Pass and the Kuiseb Canyon. We continue to Swakopmund along the Welwitshia Plains, stopping to see these ancient and highly adapted plants. Swakopmund has a very German character, due to its colonial past. In the afternoon we have time for a stroll along the waterside promenade, a little souvenir shopping or coffee and cake in one of the many street cafes before being welcomed aboard our Desert Express again. (BLD)
Day 7 The Spitzkoppe Mountains
This morning there is time for a variety of optional excursions or alternatively spend the morning exploring the little town of Swakopmund. Around lunchtime the Desert Express leaves Swakopmund and climbs eastwards onto the inland plateau. Enjoy lunch in the restaurant coach, while enjoying the panoramic view of the desolate gravel plains. The route between Swakopmund and Windhoek was established in 1902 and is the oldest train track in the country. In the afternoon we reach Ebony siding, where our coaches collect us for an excursion to the 1700m high Spitzkoppe Mountain, a characteristic granite inselberg. Mighty granite blocks balancing over deep rifts and stunted acacias shape the landscape in the golden afternoon sun. In Bushman’s Paradise there are ancient rock paintings of the San People, the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa. We will remain here until sunset, to take advantage of the best light conditions. Afterwards we return to the train for dinner. This evening we can try some more star photography in the dark sky, more than 200km from the nearest city. (BLD)
Day 8 Back to Windhoek
The train returns to Windhoek mid-morning. On the way we stop the train on the Okapuka Game Reserve where we will enjoy a brunch and a game drive. We will end our photographic adventure with a short tour of Windhoek city centre, taking in some of the highlights of the capital and transfer to Hosea Kutako Airport Windhoek. (B)
Per Person Sharing: Rand 32,500 | Single Supplement: Rand 13,650
Approx Australian dollar cost as at 2 January 2015 subject to exchange rates. Per person: A$3,750 | Single supp A$1,500
Two professional photographic tour guides, 5 nights on the Desert Express, 2 nights at Namib Desert Lodge, all meals, all drives, photographic activities and entrance fees.
Airfares, tips, drinks, pre or post accommodation in Windhoek. Quote Desert Express Escape when you call to book.