In May of 2012 I took six students to Africa for a Best of Africa trip which included, Soweto in South Africa, the sand dunes in Sossuvlei Namibia, The Himba people in Northern Namibia and wildlife in Botswana at King’s Pool, Vumbura Plains and finally Mombo. The trip included helicopters, hot air balloons and private vehicles with special access. The trip was AWESOME and below are some of the photographic highlights of this adventure.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
The highlight of this trip for me was Namibia and specifically the sand dunes in Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. This area is characterized by high sand dunes of vivid pink-to-orange color, a consequence of a high percentage of iron in the sand and consequent oxidation processes. The oldest dunes are those of a more intense reddish color. These dunes are among the highest in the world; many of them are above 200 metres, the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 380 metres high. Everything that excites me about photography was here. The colors and shapes were beyond anything I could imagine. The only place I have ever been where I felt the same kind of excitement was in Antarctica. I will definitely be coming back to Namibia.
Within the area known as Sossusvlei is Deadvlei, another clay pan, about 2 km from Sossusvlei. A notable feature of Deadvlei is that it used to be an oasis with several acacia trees; afterwards, the river that watered the oasis changed its course. The pan is thus punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes.
By far the most amazing sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way is the main group of stars and visible to the right of the trip is the Andromeda Galaxy.
Fairy circles in Namibia. These fairy circles consist of round areas barren of vegetation; as yet there is no clear picture as to how they are formed. One theory suggests termites as the creator of these circles, but recent studies have stated that there is no evidence termites would cause this phenomenon. In the oral myths of Himba people these barren patches are said to have been caused by the gods, spirits and/or natural divinities.Studies done by South African scientists shows that these circles are under continuous development. They grow in diameter, expanding to as large as 9 m in diameter, where they One of Africa’s most mysterious natural phenomena still cannot be explained despite 25 years of research, scientists have admitted.The findings will come as a relief to the region’s bushmen who have traditionally attributed magical, spiritual powers to these desert rings.These circles are not moving and after 22 years they have remained in the same spot.
SERRA CAFEMA, NORTHERN NAMIBIA, SAND DUNES AND THE HIMBA PEOPLE
Serra Cafema in Northern Namibia was our next destination. Here we had sand dunes of a different texture and color and we had the Himba people. The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region. They are mostly a semi-nomadic, pastoral people, and speak Otjihimba. The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility for milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman’s children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials. Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead, “a small, circular hamlet of huts and work shelters” that surrounds “an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure.” Both the fire and the livestock are closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing “proper relations between human and ancestor.” The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. This symbolizes earth’s rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty.
KING’S POOL BOTSWANA
We left Namibia via private plane and headed to Botswana where our first stop was Kings Pool Camp located in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, a vast private concession in the northern part of Botswana, on the western boundary of Chobe National Park.
Lion reflection in water
After King’s Pool we took another private plane to Vumbura Plains in Botswana.
After Vumbura Plains we again went via private plain to Mombo which was the final stop in Botswana.Located in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp is the flagship property of the luxury safari operator Wilderness Safaris. Widely recognised as the finest safari camp in Africa, Mombo is Botswana’s most famous property.