We had a very easy 5 hour drive to the Anderson Gate from Swakopmund… the closest gate to Halali Camp, our base for the next three nights.
On the way to Halali we passed a few waterholes which we checked for game. Plenty of Springbok and Gemsbok, but no predators.
Then close to Rietfontein we had a wonderful surprise. It was like meeting an old friend. Last year I photographed a Leopard as she hunted around my vehicle and actually made a kill a few meters from me. There she was again and she was hunting again! She walked around, meandered between our vehicles, then climbed a tree right next to the road, which brought her to our eye-level. She scouted the area carefully before jumping down to continue her hunt. It was already late and we had to get to camp before sunset on order to check-in, so we pushed on.
There is a waterhole at Halali, and as soon as we finished the check-in process we headed directly to it, where among other animals we also found Elephants and Hyenas. We took some photographs before we headed off to dinner.
That night an icy front moved in, dropping the temperature to as low as -6ºC for the next 2-3 days. This is unprecedented in the area, and the animals that we saw were lethargic and cold. Most hunkered down, not moving around much at all.
However, we did see a White Rhino… a good sight in this area in addition to a number of Black Rhinos.
At night we set up to photograph the Honey Badgers that come to raid the trash cans after dark. The first night we were too late, and on the second night we set up with plenty of time to spare, only to find that a large tour group had left a trash can filled with chicken carcasses on the opposite side of the camp. Another miss! So Honey Badger remote camera work will have to wait for our next ODP group then. But it did look very promising..!
The weather was starting to warm up when we moved to our last stop at Okaukuejo Camp.
Each morning we paid a visit to the New Brownie Waterhole, where there seemed to be non-stop action. The Springbok, Rams in particular, spent a lot of their time in combat with each other. The dust and drama as they fought made for fabulous action images in a great setting with all the dust swirling around.
In addition to the Springbok herds at the waterhole, we also saw plenty of Gemsbok and Ostriches. Afternoons we had elephant stopping by and they are always good for a few photographs.
Lions also made their appearance at New Brownie – On the first evening there was a lioness with two subadult males that arrived to drink. The next day we saw lions again, this time covered in blood, clearly from a recent kill also up for a drink. Additionally, the waterhole also attracted a number of hyenas and of course quite a number of resident jackals.
Our rooms at Okaukuejo were all waterhole rooms, which meant we had brilliant views of the waterhole right in front of us. Each evening before and after dinner we spent quite a bit of time photographing at the waterhole. There was a constant stream of animals arriving and never a dull moment. We photographed landscapes, as well as tight compositions of animals. We used ambient light, floodlights and flash to get the best out of the spectacular scenes around us. This was wildlife photography at its best and it all reached a climax the last evening when we had Lions, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra and Rhino all at the waterhole during the same time. At one point Lion, Elephant and Rhino were all drinking simultaneously. Later that evening we had several Rhino go for a swim with a huge herd of Giraffe looking on. The photography was spectacular..!
It seemed like no time at all when our final day dawned and it was time to head home. The safari was a resounding success from all points of view. Not only did we see and experience a tremendous amount, we also practiced as many photographic techniques as can be imagined in the wild. Landscapes using long and wide-angle lenses, macro work, and wide-angle macro work in Swakopmund, bird photography, marine photography, nocturnal photography, star trails and time lapses … the list goes on and on. And the results? Way beyond any dream… we can’t wait to get back..!
Wim van den Heever