Wildlife & Wildlands of Africa's Desert Southwest

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Photographing in Namibia is unlike shooting anywhere else in Africa. Desert is everywhere. Endless miles of unspoiled coastline, graphically interesting plants, rugged rock formations and spectacular sand dunes present landscapes of overwhelming splendor—and the country encompasses one of the world's great national parks for wildlife photography. Fascinating Namibia contains a remarkable infrastructure of well-kept roads, modern accommodations, wholesome food and drinkable water—which makes traveling here a delightful surprise!
"The quiver tree forest and the Sossusvlei dunes area, including the iconic Deadvlei, are not like anywhere else in the world and were more impressive than I had imagined. The tour leader was friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and made the trip very special."
- David F.

Our Namibia tour is crafted as an absolute dream photography trip. It features an outstanding itinerary highlighting the country's unique landscape photo opportunities and its spectacular wildlife. We travel overland and by chartered private aircraft to experience the country both from the ground and by air, with luggage weight limits calculated to accommodate our full complement of camera gear. Accommodations include a broad range of lodges from luxurious to simple guesthouses—always with their location selected to be in proximity to our photo subjects to assure easy access at times of early or late light. During wildlife game drives in Etosha there are only three photographers per safari vehicle—a virtually unheard of luxury in Namibia, or most anywhere else in Africa! We photograph in the prime time of the dry season.

Elephants in NamibiaOur travels focus on four incredible areas: the immense red Sossusvlei sand dunes at Namib-Naukluft National Park, the highly photogenic aloe "quiver tree" forest while staying at adjacent accommodations allowing starry night photography, the haunting turn-of-the-last-century "ghost town" of Kolmanskop—spectacularly engulfed by encroaching coastal sand dunes—and an exciting encounter with the world-renowned wildlife of Etosha National Park. Due to its demographics—it's one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world—Namibia is very wild and starkly beautiful, and we see some of its most interesting and photogenic features on this exceptional tour.

The stunning desert landscapes of Sossusvlei (at the southern end of Namib-Naukluft National Park) produce sensuous, undulating sand dune images. The towering Sossusvlei Dunes are the world's highest—several world-famous photos of gemsbok (oryx) walking across these stark rolling red dunes were made here.

Due to the extremely dry desert conditions, photographing wildlife on safari in Namibia is very different from the majority of other African countries where water is more plentiful. Normally, on safari, a photographer drives through the landscape, searching for and photographing wildlife as it is found. In Etosha, one simply waits in the safari vehicle by a water hole to photograph the never-ending parade of animals that are forced to visit the water holes every day for survival. Gripping predator/prey dramas unfold in front of you near the water's edge. In Etosha virtually every water hole has a different mix of animals that frequent it, so exploration of a number of them over several days is essential.

Trees at Sossusvlei sand dunesThis spectacular "winter" gathering of animals at the evaporating water holes and artesian springs on the Etosha Pan constitutes some of the greatest diversity of mammal species seen anywhere. One of the first Europeans to visit Etosha described the sight as "a menagerie turned loose." Throngs of remarkable animals, such as greater kudu, gemsbok, springbok, southern giraffe, zebras and the endangered black-faced impalas, come to drink at the small desert pools dotting the park. Etosha is famous for its huge elephant herds; black rhinos are still observed regularly, and lions are seen frequently.

Join us for a spectacular African adventure that combines breathtaking landscapes, genuinely weird, otherworldly and graphically wonderful photo opportunities and bountiful, accessible wildlife in one of Africa's great national parks.

Check out Mike Byrne's trip report from our latest Namibia photo tour 
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Depart from home.

Day 2 (May 25)

Participants arriving at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, 28 miles from Windhoek, are met on arrival and transferred to our hotel. The group meets in the lobby this evening for introductions and a short logistical briefing, followed by dinner in the hotel dining room. (D)

Rhinos at watering hole in NamibiaDay 3

Depart by four-wheel-drive vehicles after breakfast. We travel south to Keetmanshoop with scenic photography stops and a picnic lunch along the way. We check in at our farm guesthouse and head out in the afternoon to the "quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) forest," photographing hundreds of these graphically appealing tree-like aloes—also known as "kokerboom"—bathed in evening light or juxtaposed against the setting sun. Following dinner we head out again to shoot the quiver trees against the Milky Way (virtually the brightest in the world in Namibia) or with star trails. (BLD)

Day 4

Quiver tree photography at sunrise. After breakfast, we head west driving through the Namib Desert to the Atlantic coast, stopping at Aus for lunch. We arrive at the seaside town of Lüderitz before exploring the amazing ghost town of Kolmanskop. The buildings of this derelict diamond mining town are slowly being engulfed by the relentless shifting coastal sands. Images created here impart an eerie quality of absolute ruin, yet are simultaneously graphically compelling, sensuous and downright intriguing. With special permits we photograph here through sunset. (BLD)

Day 5

Rising early, we’re out at the ghost town before sunrise. We shoot both interior and exterior “sandscapes” amidst these early 20th-century structures before returning to our lodge for lunch. The afternoon finds us back at Kolmanskop for a sunset shoot. (BLD)

Day 6
We leave early in the morning to drive northward on our way to the red sand dunes at Sossusvlei, stopping at scenic locations along the way. Our lodge is the one inside the Namib-Naukluft National Park.(BLD)
Days 7–8
Two full shooting days provide plenty of time to explore the Sossusvlei area with our cameras. We are out before sunrise and back after sunset with time for a midday rest or to download images at our lodge oasis. We hike into the famous and über-photogenic salt/clay pan called Dead Vlei. Here, long-dead camel thorn trees create a graphic foreground to the rolling dunes behind them. (BLD)

Day 9

As we fly north and then west along Kuiseb Canyon to Walvis Bay on the Skeleton Coast, dune sand along our route changes from red to gold. Arriving Swakopmund around noon, we check in to our prestigious hotel and have lunch in town. In the afternoon we will explore the coastal dunes with a tour of the “Living Desert.” Within the seemingly inhospitable sand, our guides are likely to uncover sidewinders, chameleons, and tiny geckos, among other hardy creatures. (BLD)

Kolmanskop NamibiaDay 10

A 40-minute drive will take us to massive Walvis Bay Lagoon. This sheltered and shallow wetland area attracts many coastal water birds, including curlew sandpipers and chestnut banded plovers. The rest of the day can be spent exploring Swakopmund, Namibia's "big" seaside resort town. Our hotel is situated within easy walking distance for necessities shopping or souvenirs. (BLD)

Day 11

We drive to Etosha National Park where for the next three nights we stay in the simple guesthouses at Okaukuejo within the park boundary. They are located within a five-minute walk of one of the most spectacular water holes in the park. Here, virtually every species of large (and small) animal comes to drink at one time or another—from elephants to elephant shrews; plus black rhinos, hundreds of gazelles, kudus, gemsboks, giraffes and zebras—and the things that eat them! (BLD)

Days 12–13

Etosha is the third largest national park in the world and we have more than four days to explore. From our base at Okaukuejo we will travel through the park's southwestern region. Numerous water holes give rise to a wealth of wildlife images, including a fantastic white clay elephant wallow. Immense bull elephants roll in this gooey white clay to emerge from the wallow as the famous "ghost elephants" of Etosha. (BLD)

Zebras at watering hole in NamibiaDays 14–15

A slow drive toward the eastern region of the park allows photo stops at many water holes along the route. Expect to see huge herds of elephants, throngs of gazelles, gemsboks, kudus, zebras, giraffes and a wide variety of birds. We arrive at our lodge, just outside the park, by late afternoon on Day 14. The following day we explore the Namutoni area of Etosha, visiting photographically productive water holes for large mammals, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of birds (red-billed queleas) and thousands of doves that come to drink in these desert oases. (BLD)

Day 16

After breakfast, we drive to Erindi Private Game Reserve. Set on a mountainous plain, this 175,000 acre area is home to thousands of mammals large and small as well as over 300 endemic species of bird. Landscapes in Erindi, “The Place of Water” in local Herero, range from the mountains to savanna to open grasslands. Following our afternoon shoot, we enjoy the final group dinner in our classic safari lodge. (BLD)

Day 17 (Jun 9)

Morning photography in the reserve is followed by brunch then a three-hour drive to Windhoek. Depart for home after 5 PM (we arrive at airport by 3 PM). (B)

Day 18

Arrive home.

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information


May 24, 2024 - Jun 10, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following applies:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. Upon request, we can provide travel insurance options that includes the required medical evacuation insurance. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own should confirm that emergency evacuation is included in their policy.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Namibia: Easy Activity Level

Safari vehicle and charted aircraft transportation. Three photographers per safari vehicle while shooting in national parks. Relatively easy walking throughout the trip. Expect a round trip of about two miles on sand to reach Deadvlei in Sossusvlei National Park. Toilets are rare in rural Namibia and use of “the bush” may be required in several locations. Expect cool temperatures in the morning.

Trip Details
May 24 - Jun 10, 2024
Fee: $11,995 from Windhoek, Namibia
Deposit: $2,000
Limit: 11 participants
Activity Level: EasyEasy

Single Supplement: $950
  • Photograph the colossal red Sossusvlei Dunes—one of the most spectacular landscapes in Africa—while based in a lodge inside the park for early park access
  • Shoot over 4 days at Etosha National Park's wildlife-rich water holes with elephants, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, gazelles and their predators
  • Create fantastic Dr. Seuss-like quiver tree landscapes against Namibia's brilliant Milky Way streaked night sky
  • Spend two days at Kolmanskop, a fascinating photogenic ghost town disappearing beneath encroaching sand dunes
  • Enjoy a scenic flight over the Skeleton Coast
  • Includes all meals, lodging, ground transportation, internal tour flight, national park fees, photo guide and instruction
Tour Leaders
Mike Byrne

Mike Byrne