The How Far From Home couple Chanel Cartell & Stevo Dirnberger, share why they love one of the most beautiful countries in the world, not too far across SA's borders.
Today landscape and adventure photography is being taken seriously by everyone.
Young, adventurous types who, besides flicking through filters on Snapchat, are flicking through hashtags on Instagram and 500px such as #adventure, #FindYourEscape and #beautifuldestinations, as they a) vicariously live through their friends and peers, and b) plan their next adventure that they too can hashtag post-adventure.
Older crowds have always appreciated nature’s curves and usually spend a good portion of their free time leading up to even their retirement years, trying to capture the world’s most surreal scenery.
Then there’s the guys (like us) who have left society’s structure and routine to pursue a life dedicated to finding the most unique places; finding landscapes and adventures that only really flourish in dreamland, in the hope of capturing the most gorgeous photos that will both inspire and action a life collecting memories not things.
Since departing Johannesburg in March 2015, we have been on a mission to get as far from home as possible, attempting to find the world’s most spectacular locations, and the world’s most unique experiences so that we could capture the most surreal photographs from around the world. Suspension bridges with windchill of -20°C in the Austrian Alps, slot canyons formed by weathering and erosion over thousands (if not millions) of years in deserts in USA, and glacier-filled black beaches in Iceland have definitely left an impression on us.
But what we didn’t foresee those 20 months ago, what we really didn’t expect, was that we would be blown away so heavily by a location that was not far from home at all; a location bordering the beautiful country we called home for over 29 years – the breathtaking does-not-feel-like-you-are-on-planet-Earth Namibia.
Ah, Namibia. The fiery red dunes, the windy dirt roads, the majestic Oryx, the trees that resemble Tim Burton characters – it’s really gorgeous no matter which way you look, and to be honest, in a place this beautiful, it’s really hard not to get an amazing photograph.
A large percentage of the country is made up of desert, so you’d need to keep that in mind, especially if you prefer to shoot when the sun is up (because night photography in Namibia is definitely something that should be considered too - just ask our friends at PhotographingSpace, who recently ventured out to capture Namibia’s sexy silhouettes by night).
But if you will be shooting by day (as we did) ensure the usual hot-day-adventure checklist is looked at, including having plenty of water (yes for drinking, but for spraying on your head to cool you down in 45°C heat too #truestory), sunblock, and air-conditioning in your 4x4 (which really is the only way Namibia should be experienced, especially if you are after the unique snaps that will require some venturing off the designated paths).
When visiting (note: I said “when”, not “if”) chances are you’ll be landing in Windhoek (Namibia’s capital and the home of some fantastic beer), unless you’re packing your South African 4x4 and cruising over the border. Either way, the Namib-Naukluft National Park encompassed by the Namib Desert is the ideal location for landscape, wildlife and Mars-like photography, so make it your final destination. It has it all. On our trek, we couldn’t help but pull-over every 15-20 minutes, stopping to shoot dust particles dancing, wooden creations sprouting from the Earth, and the rolling hills of the dunes, with skittish Springbok and solitary Oryx galavanting in front.
Here are five possible photographs you could capture during a quick stint long-weekend in Namibia, camping at Namib-Naukluft National Park:
The Contrasts of Deadvlei
A white clay pan with 700-year-old trees, found near the more-popular Sossusvlei salt pan
Dunes, Dunes, Dunes
Forever changing, the dunes here will honestly make you feel like you’ve landed on another planet
The Exalted Oryx
Often seen in solitude, a gentle creature who looks good from any angle
Sunrise Over the Peaks
Starbursts galore as you wake up and watch the golden glow of the desert ignite before you
Lonely Tress Near Windy Roads
Seen more often than not, we couldn’t think of a more beautiful subject
Nambia is, in our opinion, one of those sensational gems that really could use some more attention, and if it’s rare photographs that you haven’t seen all that often on the hashtag rampage, consider this your early warning that you might be one of the first to capture this country’s beauty. We will most certainly be back soon to explore Etosha National Park, the mighty Skeleton Coast and the peculiar Spitzkoppe, probably ending our trip back in the Namib-Naukluft National Park (because it’s so good, we’d do it at least twice).
If you’re itching to travel, and to explore countries and cultures far away, why not consider the countries on your doorstep first? You’d be amazed how unique Africa is when you compare it to the rest of the world.
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