Please note: this post is a paid collaboration with Trover, whom I worked with last year and is a trusted partner. I also received a discount on my tour to Namibia as Helen (founder of Rock My Adventure) is a dear friend. There are also a few affiliate links in this post.
Namibia is a country that has been on my must-see list of travel destinations for years. I had long heard of its allure; its jaw-dropping scenery was meant to be the stuff of dreams. After an unbelievable month there this past summer, I am happy to report that it not only met my expectations… it absolutely exceeded them. Namibia is one of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever been to.
Namibia, found on the southwest coast of Africa, has it all: it’s beautiful, of course, but also filled with a seemingly endless list of things to do and see. It’s perfect for those looking for adventure while also being a safe, clean, and friendly country. And yes… it is a photographer’s dream.
All photos of me in this post taken by Helen of Helen in Wonderlust/Rock My Adventure
I had the privilege of travelling on one of Helen’s Rock My Adventure tours around Africa, and it really was the perfect tour for me; it was a small group, it involved a lot of time outdoors, and it allowed us the chance to see some of Namibia’s most beautiful spots for photography. We travelled thousands of kilometres overland around the country, from Windhoek to Fish River Canyon to Soussevlei to Swakopmund to Etosha (and then some). I took some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken in my life in Namibia, hands down, and I’m not by any definition a professional photographer. It’s that easy to take a stunning shot in Namibia. In many places around the country, all you have to do is point your camera and you’ll find something beautiful.
I upgraded to a mirrorless camera last year and I’ve been really happy with the results; I would definitely make sure you have a fairly good camera to take with you to Namibia, as you’ll be using it a lot. While some people on our trip only had smartphones for their photography, I was glad to have the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with me! I did struggle with the lighting a bit in Namibia; being such a dry country, there was often a lot of dust in the air, not to mention the harsh overhead sun. This often made for very hazy skies, or, on the flip side, extreme shadows. I would definitely recommend investing in a lens and camera cleaning kit for Namibia, no matter what you’re bringing, as you’ll be encountering a lot of sand along the way.
So if you’re looking for the most beautiful spots in Namibia for photography – the most Instagrammable places in Namibia, let’s say – I’ve got you covered. You can also search Trover for the best spots in Namibia, as people are uploading new photos to the platform every day! There are obviously a lot more locations that could have made the list, but here are some of my personal highlights.
The Most Beautiful Places in Namibia for Photography
Let’s start with an obvious one, shall we? If you’ve seen any photos of Namibia, you’ve probably seen a photo of Deadvlei. It’s definitely an iconic backdrop: crisp blue skies, vibrant sand dunes (some of the tallest in the world), and the dry, cracked white clay ground with the skeletal remains of trees that died nearly 700 years ago, the area so arid that they were never able to decompose.
This is what I had been anticipating for months planning my trip to Namibia, and it was totally worth it. Helen and I managed to take about a thousand photos over the span of three hours – we were having far too much fun modelling for one another – and I am still in awe that I got to see such a magical place.
Quick tips for photographing Deadvlei:
-Time your visit. Shooting in the direct overhead sun can not only be harsh for photography, but, as you are in the middle of a desert, can have serious health effects such as heatstroke and dehydration. Deadvlei is busiest in the morning before the sun is directly overhead, but if you’re in Namibia in low season, you’ll have fewer visitors.
-Again… you’re in a desert. Bring a lot of water and a lot of sunscreen. You may do the hike to get there – it takes about two hours, and takes you over multiple dunes – or, like Helen and I, choose to take the shuttle there (the price seems to change every so often but it is quite affordable, approximately $10 USD). Please note that even with the shuttle you still have to walk through the desert for approximately 20 minutes to get to Deadvlei. As you can see, I was barefoot on the clay, but you absolutely need close-toed shoes for walking through the hot sand.
-While there are tons of tourists also taking photos, patience is key! Eventually people will move on from one tree and on to the next. There are many trees on the outskirts where people aren’t taking as many photos.
-Wear an outfit that will stand out if you will be in the photographs! White is my favourite colour to wear and I thought it really stood out against this backdrop. We also had a lot of fun playing with scarves for a pop of colour.
-Finally, please, PLEASE do not touch the trees (there are signs everywhere saying this). And for heaven’s sake, don’t climb them.
Etosha National Park
While there are fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities throughout Namibia, some of the best safari moments I’ve ever witnessed in the ten African countries I’ve visited have taken place in Etosha, found in the north of the country. Etosha is known for elephants, zebras, giraffes, and nearly all of the usual African safari suspects; if you’re especially lucky you’ll spot rhinos and lions while on safari in Etosha National Park.
Hands down, the most magical spot to photograph Etosha is at the watering hole at Okaukuejo Rest Camp, which offers both campgrounds and lodges. While there are many manmade watering holes throughout the park, this one is famous for being the sunset spot of choice for many animals. While animal sightings are never guaranteed, the night we stayed at Okaukuejo we were treated to one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen: approximately forty elephants came to drink as the sun was setting, and they were quickly joined by a rhino, giraffes, and more. At one point there were approximately eight different species drinking together as the sky exploded into pink and orange. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Quick tips for photographing Etosha:
-As mentioned, animal sightings are never guaranteed, although most animals sleep in the middle of the day. Go on safari as early as possible, and make sure to get a good spot set up for sunset.
-Invest in a good zoom lens. I personally use the Olympus 75-300m lens and I’ve been very happy with it.
-Hire a guide! I never quite understand why people try to take self-driven safaris in a new-to-them park… there’s no way you’ll know the regular spots and hideouts. Our guide took us to a seemingly innocuous bridge and parked the truck… within minutes, five lionesses popped their heads out right next to our truck! It was exhilarating, and we would have driven straight over that bridge if not for our guide. In fact, many tourist-driven cars did drive right over that bridge without knowing what lay beneath.
-Make sure your camera has good settings for photographing low light and nighttime conditions for the Okaukuejo watering hole, and make sure to get there with plenty of time for sunset! The animals quickly moved on once the sun went down, and some tourists arrived too late and missed the show.
-Always, always, respect the wildlife. Stay on the roads, never get out of your vehicle, and take any sign of charging or aggression as a sign to leave the area ASAP.
The Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Coast, found on the Northern coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia, is absolutely gorgeous. Here you can see the dunes meet the ocean, something I didn’t even know existed before going to Namibia. It’s easy to do a day trip from Swakopmund if you’re already there for some fun activities… the area is known for quad biking, skydiving, and so much more. There are also beautiful sand dunes everywhere you look!
Although we went on a very windy day and arrived when the tide was high, we were still able to capture some beautiful photographs. I definitely recommend making this a priority if you are near Swakopmund; just make sure you have something to protect your camera from the sand! I personally use the ONA Bowery Camera Messenger Bag… it’s expensive, but I love how it looks, it easily holds my camera and all my lenses, and I know it’ll last years and years.
Sossusvlei will undoubtedly make your Namibia itinerary, and for good reason. Technically the salt and clay pan found in the Namib desert but often used as a term to describe the entire area, the effect of the bright red dunes against the endless blue sky creates a landscape that feels otherworldly. If you’ve ever wondered what Mars looks like, just head to this area of Namibia!
Sossusvlei is home to Deadvlei and also to Dune 45, a popular dune to climb for sunrise. Stick around – again, patience is key – and you should have a few moments with the dune to yourself in between climbers. Big Daddy is also one of the most popular dunes to photograph as it is, surprise surprise, the biggest.
Kolmanskop is, like so many of the places on this list, a photographer’s dream. Located about 10 kilometres from the town of Luderitz, the town boomed from approximately 1908 – when German miners realised the area was rich with diamonds – until the 1950s, when the diamonds had run out. Today, this town has been totally overtaken by sand, creating an extremely eerie yet photogenic reminder of the past. Make sure to take a tour of the town to find out even more about its history.
Quick tips for photographing Kolmanskop:
-Patience, patience, patience! There are enough buildings to explore that you will definitely be able to get shots without other people in them, but you may have to wait for groups to pass. Everyone seems very respectful of each other’s photography and steps out of the way. Spend at least two hours here in order to maximise your photography time.
Fish River Canyon
Though not always on people’s itineraries of Namibia – it’s quite a drive south – Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and second only to the Grand Canyon in the rest of the world. And while it may not always make it onto everyone’s Namibia itinerary, it should… because it is absolutely stunning.
We happened to visit when it was raining – extremely rare in Namibia – but it made for some incredibly misty and beautiful photographs! We basically had the entire canyon to ourselves. I am so glad that we made the drive to get there.
Translating to “uncertain spring” in Afrikaans, and known as ǀUi-ǁAis in the local Damara language, Twyfelfontein is the site of one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in Africa. With rock paintings and carvings dating back over 6,000 years, it is an honour to be able to see and photograph these historic works of art. A must for all those who want to learn more about the history and culture of Namibia.
Cape Cross Seal Reserve
You smell and hear Cape Cross before you see it. That’s because Cape Cross is home to one of the world’s largest Cape fur seal colonies.
I’m not going to lie – I wouldn’t say that this is an absolute necessary stop on your itinerary, as you probably won’t spend more than a couple of hours here. If you driving along the coast to or from Swakopmund, however, it makes for a fun (and oftentimes funny) photo stop. Just be warned… we couldn’t get the smell of the seals out of our hair or clothes for days!
Aus and the surrounding area
Aus, found in southern Namibia, is notable for its extraordinary landscape. Because the area is not as developed as, say, areas around Swakopmund or Windhoek, you’re able to get absolutely magnificent shots of the stars at night. Camping in Aus was one of the highlights of my trip to Namibia; there are very few places where I’ve seen as many stars, not to mention being able to see the Milky Way.
Another spectacular part of Aus is that you’re able to see the “wild horses” of the Namib desert, which you can often spot around the Garub waterhole. There aren’t many of these horses left, and nobody is quite sure how they got here nor how they’ve survived the harsh climate of the desert all these years, but they are simply majestic to watch.
Quick tips for photography in Aus:
-If you’re shooting stars, you absolutely need a tripod! Even a small, lightweight one like this is better than nothing, and won’t take up too much space in your luggage.
-Like any wild animal, the horses are not always guaranteed to be near the watering hole, but if you stick around hopefully a few will come wandering by. Respect the horses and always remain in the covered viewing area.
I’m a big fan of using Trover before I travel somewhere to get a sense of places where other travellers have had their best experiences. Make sure to check them out, no matter where you’re travelling next!
Also make sure to check out 2019’s Rock My Adventure trip to Namibia… I promise you’ll love it. I might join another one of Helen’s tours next year!
Have you been to Namibia, or would you like to go?