Namibia is a true year-round destination with few and short seasonal changes.
In summer, many regions become gloriously productive with vibrant floral displays while seemingly barren ephemeral rivers briefly flow.
Nature’s kaleidoscope of colours combined with healthier, more energetic animals and babies (including predator-prey interactions) equal unrivalled photographic opportunities.
There is an explosion of new life as many desert species give birth to their young over this time.
This is the season for birding. Many special resident species breed now, complemented by the arrival of migratory species – both intra-African and Palearctic.
Summer mornings are exceptional thanks to the beautiful light, calm conditions and comfortable temperatures.
A far more intimate experience is on offer owing to fewer travellers at this time of year.
It is a more affordable period to experience Namibia, its wildlife and phenomenal wilderness areas.
VERY low local volumes of rain! Mean annual rainfall in Etosha is only around 430 mm, mostly between January and March. In stark contrast the mean rainfall at Sossusvlei only is around 63 mm, falling between February and April.
The Northern Kunene Region
This remote part of the Namib Desert is at its absolute best in terms of productivity and scenery.
This waterless north-western region experiences very little rainfall throughout the year. The more reliable source of moisture is actually the famous Namibian fog which is often an evocative spectacle in the mornings.
The water levels of the Kunene River are often at their highest, making it the best time for boating trips that take in bird life such as Madagascar bee-eater and Goliath heron, reptiles like the gargantuan Nile crocodile and contrasting scenery of languid river, imposing mountains and dunes.
The scattered rainfall means these green transformations are localised (often in the expansive Hartmann’s Valley) and as a result the area’s game, along with new-borns, is forced to concentrate on small patches.
Equally thrilling in this specialised ecosystem are the frantically active birds, rodents and invertebrates that are at their breeding peak and the respective entourage of avian, mammalian and reptile predators, big and small.
Cultural excursions are fascinating year round. Interaction with the Himba reveals a people which seem to live on the edge of time; traditionalists clinging steadfastly to a long-established way of life.
Eco-sensitive quad biking and open 4X4 nature drives remain exciting year-round activities
The Southern Kunene Region
This area, also known as Damaraland, is at its absolute prime in terms of productivity and scenery.
The area experiences very low rainfall throughout the year. The more reliable source of moisture is the famous Namibian fog which produces a wonderful spectacle on many mornings.
The web of ephemeral riverine systems found here can remain dry for years (although flowing underground year round creating linear oases). In late summer (February-March) however, sporadic rains in the higher-lying catchment areas can turn these sandy beds into a brief rage of life-giving water.
Game species such as the rare desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, oryx, giraffe and kudu concentrate along these river systems and natural springs.
The sporadic rains create patches of green, protein-rich grasses in the open plains which transform the vistas and attract mass concentrations of desert-adapted herbivores like oryx, springbok and the endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
Enticed by these herbivores, predators follow, and lion and cheetah can sometimes be seen.
A year-round experience of Damaraland Camp is the interaction with the colourful local Damara people and visits to their villages.
Many bird, rodent and invertebrate species are at the peak of their breeding at this time of year
The Sossusvlei Region and Kulala Wilderness Reserve
The sheer scale and grandeur of the Sossusvlei dunes remain an inspiring sight year-round.
The dramatic Dead Vlei, formed by the futile passage of the ephemeral Tsauchab River, occasionally fills with water in late summer – a rare and special sight. All forms of life are instantly drawn to these brief pools of water.
The public Sossusvlei area receives fewer tourists at this time of year – affording a far more intimate experience of the area’s iconic phenomena.
Many of the specialist dune fauna are most active at this time of year – from the displays of the localised endemic Dune Lark demarcating their breeding territories to Cape fox and suricates (meerkats) having their young.
As the day warms, the likes of tenebrionid beetles and shovel – snouted lizard come out to forage.
Protein-rich seasonal grasses transform the vistas and attract concentrations of desert-adapted herbivores like oryx and springbok into the open plains. Various predators follow the concentrations – even cheetah being a possible sight.
This time of year enters a period of calm, comfortable days and evenings, and not the sweltering heat of spring.
Although the summer months are warm, there is very low humidity and the warmer midday period is enjoyed at camp either at the pool or resting.
Etosha National Park & Ongava Game Reserve
Best known for the dry and dusty images of the winter season, summer is another exciting season in Etosha and neighbouring Ongava Game Reserve.
As the late dry season approaches its zenith, the tension of expectation in the air is palpable. Everything waits for the arrival of the spectacular thunderstorms for which Etosha is famous.
For the photographer this is a special time: breathtaking horizons, dramatic light and lightning displays, fresh clean air, and visibly more energetic game.
Following the arrival of the rains, a glut of springbok lambs arrive and the herds leave their waterhole fixation to concentrate on the vast short grass plains – both in Ongava and Etosha. Every predator – from lion to jackal to python to eagle – follows and takes advantage of the easy food supply on offer.
The open nature of the plains allows the observation of many unfolding dramas, from predator-prey interactions to the territorial disputes of baritone bullfrogs that take place in roadside puddles.
Complementary activities on Ongava Game Reserve such as year-round tracking of white rhino, nature walks and night drives ensure a well-rounded Etosha experience.
Source : Wilderness
31 January 2015