For many millennia, the Orange river has carried sediment from the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa out into the Atlantic ocean, from whence the ocean current carries it up the coast and deposits it on the shore of present day Namibia. The prevailing westerly winds carry the sand ashore and creates vast sand dunes up to 250m high, now incorporated into the great Namib Naukluft Park.
Having started our tour at the Grosse Spitzkoppe, we travel down to the park at Sossusvlei and spend three days amongst the dunes, including a helicopter flight down to the sea and the Black Rock seal colony. From there, our tour then takes us to the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in the Namib Rand nature reserve and finally to Lüderitz to visit the abandoned diamond mine at Kolmanskop.
The arch at Spitzkoppe (From the german for 'pointed dome') is also referred to as the Matterhorn of Namibia. The spitzkoppe is a group of granite peaks or inselbergs located between Usakos and Swakopmund in the Namib desert. The granite is more that 120 million years old and the highest outcrop rises 1,728m above sea level.
We drive down to Swakopmund and visit the wreck of the Zeila, an Angolan trawler that ran aground in 2008 south of Henties Bay on the Skeleton coast. After spending time with the Zeila, I play around with long exposures on the beach at Henties Bay to try something abstract.
We then travel to Sossusvlei and spend time amongst the great sand dunes in the Namib Naukluft Park. We visit the Deadvlei ('Dead marsh'), a white clay pan, surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world resting on a sandstone terrace. The pan was formed when a river flooded, creating pools allowing camel thorn trees to grow. With climate change, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, blocking the river. The trees then died although some species of plants adapted to surviving off morning mist and very rare rainfall. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to have died 600–700 years ago, are now scorched black by the sun.
We then travel down to the Wolwedans Dunes Lodge in the Namib Rand private nature reserve and spend three days in land-rovers trooping around various locations for dawn and dusk.
Finally we travel to Lüderitz to visit the abandoned diamond mine at Kolmanskop. In 1908, a diamond was found by a worker in the area. Realizing the area was rich in diamonds, German miners began settlement and soon after the German Empire started to exploit the field. The settlement included a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theatre and sport-hall, casino, icefactory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Lüderitz. The town declined after World War II when the diamond-field slowly started to deplete and new discoveries were made near the Orange River. The town was ultimately abandoned in 1956 and is now deep in sand from the encroaching desert