This is my first time flying in a small turbo prop aircraft. The first challenge – how to take all our camera gear and stay within the weight allowance of 44lbs. My camera gear weighs just under 30 lbs; looks like I’ll be wearing much the same clothes for a few days until our full gear catches up with us in the truck driven by our guide. We are lucky, the plane is a twelve seater and we only have 7 passengers; I snag the seat directly behind the pilot – I’m looking forward to watching as we come in to land!
The plane is noisy but surprisingly smooth and so much faster than driving. As we leave the Windhoek area the landscape is very flat and frankly uninspiring – remind me why we came here? I am feeling a little disappointed but determine to make the most of whatever we find. It turns out we are dropping off four of the passengers and then we’ll carry on to our destination further north. As we ascend for the second time and swing left the scenery starts to change. It is mountainous, arid and rugged. Now we are talking, this is much more in line with my expectations. The landscape resembles tablelands, flat topped mountains cut by steep gorges as the cap rock is eroded away.
After a short flight the landing strip comes into view and it is simply a strip of dirt in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Watching our landing was fun and as we taxi in I see there are two or three other planes already here – I guess this isn’t as far off the beaten track as I thought. We set off in a truck for the Damaraland Elephant Camp and after driving through the desert for a while we crest a hill and there is the camp, nestled in a broad valley.
My experience in Ethiopia was pretty rough and ready in terms of accommodation and I expected the same here. Well this is the other end of the scale, the staff greet us with singing, Iced Tea and beautiful surroundings; we settle into our luxurious oasis in the desert! I leave Piper and Vaughn to to explore the local area on a game drive – I am excited to get out and capture some images of this incredible red desert landscape as sunset approaches. The staff agree to let me wander in sight of the camp without a guide and I immerse myself into this fabulous land. Any concerns about this land being boring are completely dismissed, this is a landscape photographers paradise!
Dinner is wonderful, we are treated to a Bouma. We are asked if we’d like to look for scorpions in the desert which we politely decline and find out it is an excuse to get us out into the desert to the special location for dinner. The food and entertainment fits the environment perfectly. The other guests have a wide variety of backgrounds and one of them is an accomplished German photographer, Michael Poliza. His work is beautiful and he is one of those people you can chat to and wonder where the hours went. I find out he caters to clients who have money and little time – he meets their needs by offering helicopter safaris. If you have the money, this is a great way to go but it is at the other end of cheap! Check out his work here.
Heading off to bed, I feel completely satisfied, the adventure is off to a good start!
Our 12 seater plane
The plane is affectionately referred to as “Ellie”
The dramatic landscape awaiting us!
Coming in to land….
The landscape at Damaraland Camp. The plants provide a beautiful contrast to the red desert scene.
Damaraland Elephant Camp – not too shabby!
Beautiful Andy! What an amazing landscape. Looking forward to seeing more!