If you are a photographer looking to test and deepen your skills, you can do so alongside distinguished guides who will take you by plane, open-door helicopter, hot air balloon, 4×4 and on foot across some of the most culturally and ecologically diverse places on Earth. Nat Hab’s Botswana & Namibia Photo Safari includes a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the world’s largest sand dunes and two one-hour helicopter safaris over the world’s largest inland delta. We also enjoy special activities at private reserves, not permitted in the national parks, such as guided bush walks and night drives in search of nocturnal animals. Each expedition is suited perfectly to accommodate a maximum of eight photographers, which gives you and your fellow travelers ample time to connect and learn from some of the finest naturalist and wildlife photographers on the planet, who will guide you on this 15-day itinerary. 

Hot Air Balloon & Astounding Astrophotography: Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia 

The Namib Sand Sea, located along the arid African coast of the South Atlantic, is considered to be the oldest desert on Earth. This sand sea also represents the only coastal desert on Earth, with extensive dune fields and an ecosystem heavily influenced by fog. The Namib Sand Sea has gained international acclaim for the diversity, form, range, colors and textures that create the Sossusvlei Dunes. The UNESCO World Heritage Foundation recognizes the region as globally important due to the large number of endemic plants and animals that are an example of outstanding resilience amidst extreme environments. The unique atmospheric conditions result in the exceptional visibility of the landscapes by day and the dazzling southern hemisphere sky at night. 

Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia hot air balloon

The iconic red dunes of the Sossusvlei are in the heart of the Namib Desert. Sossusvlei, which means “dead-end marsh,” is the place where the dunes rise to prevent the Tsauchab River from flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. Sossusvlei represents a large part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which is the largest game park in Africa. The Sossusvlei Dunes formed over thousands of years as sediment from inland Africa traveled to the coast by river erosion, ocean currents and wind. Hidden inside are diamonds that have been tucked into the sand mountains by these continuous and ever-present currents. Within Sossusvlei, you have famous sites such as Dune 45, Deadvlei, Big Daddy and Sesriem Canyon. The massive dunes tower a thousand feet above the desert floor, making them the world’s largest. 

With a sunrise hot air balloon excursion over the Sossusvlei, photography enthusiasts will get the exclusive opportunity to capture aerial shots that showcase the play of light on some of Africa’s largest dunes. It’s an experience so spectacular that you’re sure to come away with extraordinary photos. The African sun illuminates the burnished gold dunes at sunrise, contrasting the striking cobalt blue sky. As the sun makes its way across the sky, you’ll watch from a hot air balloon as the dunes transform from rose to rust to ochre. 

Sunset skies bring even more surprises with the rare opportunity for astrophotography under some of the darkest skies on Earth. Namibia is world-renowned for its ever-present glowing night skies that provide the best conditions for photographing distant galaxies. Whether you are a fully equipped astrophotographer, an amateur astronomer or a passionate stargazer, a photo tour with Nat Hab is an accessible, one-of-a-kind experience for those at all skill levels.

astrophotography sand dunes dead tree Namibia Namib desert milky way night

Three Tips for Capturing Frame-worthy Astrophotography Shots: 

Capturing the Milky Way above the oldest desert on Earth will almost certainly produce some frame-worthy shots. To make the most out of your experience, be sure you are prepared to shoot in new climates, heights and environments with the gear you need for the best results. Here are a few tips for capturing your captivating frame-worthy astrophotography creations: 

  1. Stick with a wide lens: opt for a wide or super-wide angle ‘fast’ lens somewhere in the 12-35mm range. This angle is best for landscape photography and astrophotography and will allow you to capture a good portion of the night sky as well as the foreground. Choose a lens with a wide aperture for better light gathering. Investing in a good lens with minimal aberrations and distortions enhances the clarity of your Milky Way shots, especially in low-light conditions.
  2. Open Up Your Aperture: Begin by setting your lens to the widest aperture (f/2.8 or lower) to let in more light. This brightens your Milky Way photos and reduces digital noise.
  3. Adjust ISO and Shutter Speed: Set your ISO between 3200-6400 and choose a shutter speed (10-25 seconds) based on your lens and focal length. Balancing these settings helps capture a well-exposed image without introducing unwanted star trails caused by Earth’s rotation.

Experiment with these settings to find the right combination for your unique shooting conditions, and enjoy capturing the beauty of the Milky Way!

Namib desert with Atlantic ocean meets near Skeleton coast with Milky Way galaxy - Namibia, South Africa

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast — where the desert dunes meet the Atlantic Ocean.

Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia

As a Nat Hab traveler, you’ll enjoy a unique stay at the Ongava Private Reserve, located between the southern mountains of Etosha National Park in Namibia. Etosha National Park is famous for having one of the world’s largest and oldest salt pans. Salt pans result from evaporated bodies of water that leave behind vast expanses of minerals and salts. It’s believed that the Etosha Pan is the remnant of an ancient lake that existed here 2 million years ago! It is so large that it can be seen from space and takes up a quarter of the entire park. 

The word “Etosha” comes from the Ndonga word that means “great white place,” referring to the brilliantly white salts and minerals that can be seen there. Resident wildlife uses the salt pan as a salt lick during the dry season. 

The Estosha Pan rests at the heart of the Etosha National Park and attracts a diverse array of African wildlife due to its perennial springs. The national park supports healthy wildlife populations, including black rhinos, elephants, lions and black-faced impalas. The rich and plentiful perennial waterholes (over 40), some being natural springs and fountains and others fed by man-made boreholes, provide accessible and private opportunities to view some of Africa’s most iconic animals.  

Okondeka is the best waterhole to spot lions, and Halali and Goas are known for leopard sightings. The Okaukuejo waterhole is known as the best place in Africa to see black rhinos! Our private camp in a secluded spot within the reserve provides convenient access to the national park. Day and night drives, guided walks and strategically located hides allow for diverse wildlife photography opportunities. In addition to providing photo tips and camera advice, our naturalist guides are trained to help you maximize your experience by providing information on seasonal variations and other changes that impact where you might see the widest net of animals on a particular day or time. 

lion drinking from a watering hole Etosha National Park Namibia

Maun, Botswana

Via a private plane, the group will travel directly from the Ongava Private Reserve to Maun, Botswana, where we swiftly clear customs and continue by air to the southern part of the private Linyanti Reserve, known to be one of the best wildlife-viewing regions in Botswana. 

We will stay at the Savuti Camp, located on the banks of the vital Savute Channel. The Savute Channel is one of the many tributaries of the Okavango River that flows from the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. This channel is a critical link between the Savuti and Linyanti marshes in Chobe National Park. This enigmatic confluence results in flooded marshlands that support a diversity of wildlife, particularly a large number of predators and one of Africa’s biggest elephant populations. The tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands of this mopane woodlands ecosystem allow elephants to thrive here, especially in winter when they number in the thousands and sturdy populations of roan, sable antelope and southern giraffe. 

All of Africa’s unique predators can also be found here, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and wild dogs. Nat Hab travelers benefit from potentially being able to photograph all of these animals on day and night drives throughout the park. We also get an opportunity for an exciting hour-long doors-off helicopter safari, where you’ll capture aerial photos of the vast landscape and abundant game. 

Nat Hab guests experience the magic of the Okavango Delta on poled mokoro rides in traditional dugout canoes.

Nat Hab guests experience the magic of the Okavango Delta on poled mokoro rides in traditional dugout canoes. © Kerry de Bruyn

Okavango Delta, Botswana 

This packed itinerary includes the Chitabe Concession, situated in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The delta is a remarkable natural wonder, shaped by the convergence of the Okavango River, originating in distant Angola, as it cascades over the sands of the Kalahari. This process gives rise to a vibrant tapestry of canals and lagoons, forming a lush marsh that spans nearly 5,800 square miles. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the delta encompasses a mosaic of wetlands, clear channels, lagoons and islands.

During our four-night stay, we’ll reside in the heart of the Chitabe Concession at an exclusive luxury camp. The experience includes thrilling game drives, guided bush walks and a doors-off helicopter flight that provides a breathtaking perspective of the intricate watery maze below. Evenings in camp are enchanting, featuring candlelit dinners and the warmth of a campfire, creating unforgettable memories in this pristine natural haven. 

Nat Hab guests embark on a motorized boat ride through the Okavango Delta.

Nat Hab guests embark on a boat ride through the Okavango Delta. © Kerry de Bruyn