NAMIBIAN PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE

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14 days. 3876 kilometres. 6 photographers. 2 Guides. & an amazing country filled with astounding landscapes, timeless cultures and the most beautiful wildlife on the planet.

I hear Gravel crunching while the occasional rock ricochets off the underside of the truck. We have just hit our first gravel road after leaving Windhoek in our wake. I can smell the freedom as I settle back in my seat and watch the scenery passing by. The trip passes in no time and huge red dunes now appear in front of me.

Dunes rise out of gravel plains and as the afternoon light transforms the landscape around me I realise I am in a photographers paradise. Every direction I look I see a new scene. My camera is being over worked as I set about capturing the last of the afternoons light.

The light drops and it's time to leave the sandy slopes. A day has passed already but I know tomorrow is a new day and a full day to explore Sossusvlei.

We are taken to our lodgings and it is only the clarity of the night that eclipses the luxury of our lodge. I'm not sure whether to retire to the huge bed or photograph the nights lights and I find myself being drawn outside. The next hour passes in an instant. I love Namibia.

Morning comes and after an early rise we are greeted with the rolling sands and twisted trees. We find a secluded area where the ripples of sand draws us in as we wait for the day's first light.

The rising light creates shapes and textures that transform the landscape around me. Stationary dunes evolve from dark masses to glowing shades of red. The colour is amazing and no direction offers a bland view.

Bellies rumble as the light fades. A return to the truck produces a lavish spread of breakfast. Eggs, tomato and toast cooked in an amazing landscape. The silence is astounding and our movements seems to draw interest from an inquisitive Oryx.

The afternoon delivers a special surprise. The dunes still pull at me but dry twisted trees offer a different view. Contrasted against white cracked pans the blue skies give the whole scene a surreal appearance.

Idea's flow forth and new compositions jump at me. There seems to not be enough time left in the afternoon. I could spend a year in here and still not cover every detail.

Twisted hands reach forth. I feel like I am in a time warp but the setting sun reminds me I only have a short period of time here. One session is not enough so I am glad I am returning again in the morning.

Morning dawns and I'm waiting for the light. The landscape around me is amazing. I take a moment to draw in the serenity. This truly is a landscape like no other.

All good things come to an end and soon it is time to move on. The Coast calls and after a few hours of driving I'm meters away from feeding flamingo's.

A night to recharge, great food and a well earned sleep in. We have only been on the road for a few days but I already feel like I've been away for a week.

The morning brings new locations. We focus on the Zielia's rusting bulk before turning in land and towards the Spitzkoppe. I'm looking forward to tonight as we will focus on our attentions on the nights skies.

Impossibly balanced trees reach for the stars while large rock arches stretch out to frame the night. The natural amphitheatre keeps us enthralled all night and I notice it is 1:30am when I finally crawl into bed.

The morning brings new possibilities. I'm awake to see the sun rise over the granite monolith. The rising sun sends veils of light over the dappled sides. Slowly the veils reveal the full colour of this Namibian icon.

We are on the move again. We see the foot prints of the Desert Elephants but their prescience eludes us. We briefly stop on the banks of the dry Ugab River and another opportunity presents itself. Herero ladies sit by the road selling their wares. Their beaming smiles and warm welcomes draw me in and I'm lucky enough to get a photo or two.

We push on further north. The Herero are beautiful and welcoming but they are not the ones I've come to see. The Epupa Falls and the Himba have my interest and these are the subjects that keeps drawing the truck forward.

The Epupa Falls greet us with a wave of billowing spray. Tall Makolani palms offer salvation from the days heat but I'm drawn into the twisted Baobabs that cling to the gorges sides. This is truly a magical place & I understand why the Himba call it their spiritual home.

The next morning brings our first visit to a Himba village. It is a highlight of the trip and everybody is excited. Hushed conversations greet us as we are welcomed to the village. Cooking fires crackle as we are free to roam. The Himba are a beautiful people in appearance and nature.

Access like this is not offered to every passing traveler. We are given unprecedented access and are even welcomed to photograph their detailed beauty ritual.

The women crush ochre before mixing it with butter fat and smearing it all over their bodies. They then smoke themselves with burning herbs to produce a natural perfume.

Our time with the Himba is amazing but it is not only limited to one session. We spend a number of days in their company in order to build a strong relationship, A relationship that allows us access no other Namibian Photographic trip can offer.

Three days with the Himba pass quicker than everyone would like. We have used natural light and off camera flash. With the newly formed relationships we have created some amazing portraits. Everyone has their own eye but each image leaps to life with the secrets that have been shared. It really is a hands on and sharing trip.

Everyone is disappointed to be leaving Epupa. A part of our hearts stay planted here but Africa's wildlife calls. No trip to Africa is complete without a number of days on safari and this is what we have a head of us now.

We have barely been in Etosha National Park for an hour and the sightings begin. Zebra, Springbok, Wildebeest, Oryx and Giraffe are everywhere, but it is the huge Etoshan Elephants that hold my attention.

The afternoon and evening rolls on and the sightings do not stop. White and black rhino come in for an evening drink as do a pair of male lions. This truly is an amazing location.

The next few days are spent watching every animal Etosha has to offer. Splendid leopard sightings top the list but a chance sighting of fighting lions and hyenas cap off our days in this African Eden.

14 days have passed though it feels like a month. Namibia has left its mark on all of us and our memory cards have been filled with memories that will last a lifetime. Luckily for me this is the 5th year of running these trips and I now count the days until my next departure. If you would like to join me in 2016 please see: www.benmcraephotography.com

#Namibia #Sossusvlei #Swakopmund # Spitzkoppe #Sessrium #Windhoek #Damaraland #Epupa #Kaokoland #photography #photographictour #Etosha #Herero #Africa #astrophotography

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