It took five years before returning to Africa. The timing was decided by the Freeman Patterson tour in South Africa. The tour, including camping at Boulderbaai on the coast, and the Richtersveld National Park in the north, was orchestrated by the incredible Maryna and Helmut Kohrs who run the Kamieskroon Hotel (www.kamieskroonhotel.com). Tiring days filled with incredible landscapes, travel, new friends and fabulous food to help us recover for more of the same the next day.
The Namibia portion of the trip followed, primarily revisiting the key destinations of Kolmanskop, Sossusvlei and Etosha. While not intended as such, this ended up a one-person private tour with guide extraordinaire, Tas von Solms. Many kilometres and two new tires on the Land Cruiser, but we both have some great images and memories. As this was March/April, it was the end of the rainy season, and most regions were looking positively verdant compared to the first visit in September (end of the dry season) of 2009.
Kolmanskop was a thriving diamond mining community in the early 1900s, abandoned for over 60 years now. A few of the buildings are swept out and kept in tact so visitors can get a sense of what the homes were like. The rest, however, are open and subject to the whims of the wind and sand, both relentless. The colours and textures are wonderful. At times the sand fills half the room. Opportunities for capturing nostalgia abound. Abstraction is available everywhere.
Sossusvlei is the term generally used to identify the larger area of the Tsauchab River where it no longer drains to the Atlantic. The most photographed area is Deadvlei, a truly remarkable scene with dead camelthorn trees in the middle of a salt pan surrounded by high dunes of red sand. However the whole 50km stretch of huge dunes along the road is spectacular, especially at sunrise and sunset, both for the big vista shots as well as more intimate landscapes of smaller dunes and trees.
At the end of the dry season the wildlife will be found at waterholes. People had told me that at the end of the rainy season wildlife is more dispersed. This is true; we had to wait for zebras and springbok to get off the road. With a flair for drama, Tas had even arranged for a black rhino to be standing by the roadside on the last morning as we headed for the park gate. This was on top of all the giraffe, jackals, wildebeest, elephants, zebra, springbok, oryx, kudu, spotted hyenas and lions (a pride of 19) that we saw. Amazing.
Head west from Kamieskroon and a little south and you will find the Boulderbaai camping area. We had a tremendous time shooting the nearby dunes in fog as well as sunshine, seals playing in the surf, sea foam, beaches and rocks.
The landscape around Kokerboomkloof is amazing, and one of Freeman's favourite places on the earth. Driving just 10 or 15 minutes will get you even greater variety in the landscapes, but the kokerboom trees in the early morning light were not to be missed. After that you can wander endlessly and find interesting compositions everywhere; or just stay in one area and watch the shadows change and present new compositions as others disappear.
As the label says, these are just random shots from the road, travelling between the highlight destinations. If you think there will be interesting opportunities around the next bend, you will be right more often than wrong.
All images and site content copyright Bill Young 2017. All rights reserved.