The Pangolin Express
Pangolin Photo Safaris is delighted to announce the second departure of our most unique photographic adventure to date … The “Pangolin” Express!
Following on from the massive success of the first Pangolin Express in 2015 we have this time teamed up with arguably the finest train operator in Africa – Rovos Rail. Rovos operate from their own station in Pretoria, South Africa, and it is from here we will travel across the continent all the way to Swakopmund on the west coast of Namibia.
The Pangolin Express will depart from the Rovos railway station in Pretoria once everyone is onboard after a reception party on the platform. The send-off will be a musical affair with the brass band wishing us bon voyage.
The journey to the Namibian border takes two “leisurely” days and on the way we will be stopping at the old mining town of Kimberley to visit the museum and the “Big Hole” as we settle into the rhythms of trans continental train life.
By its very nature, the train often has to stop near to the attractions that we want to visit and then we will be transported to the actual locations in two forty seater air-conditioned coaches that will be “shadowing” us on our trip. These buses will meet up with us at our next stop. Fish River Canyon.
Once we depart Upington we will be crossing to Namibia at the border post of Nakop. (BLD)
At Holoog, little more than a siding in the solitude, we shall board coaches and drive through pristine semi-arid landscapes to the Fish River Canyon. The second biggest canyon on earth undoubtedly belongs to the natural wonders of Southern Africa. Take a walk along the canyon’s edge and enjoy breathtaking views into the gorge, whilst taking advantage of the morning light to photograph this 500m deep and 160 km long canyon. We return to the train for lunch, as we slowly roll towards Aus. Afterwards, there is time for an excursion to the quiver tree forest. We will be among these archaic looking trees during the sunset, allowing for some iconic images. This evening we can try some star trail photography in the dark skies of southern Namibia. (BLD)
We will leave the train early this morning, in order to explore the ghost town of Kolmanskop well before any other tourists are there. The sand dunes creeping into the desolate houses make for some spectacular and often “eerie” photography. We will then head to the nearby coastal town of Luderitz (often shrouded in an eerie fog) for a walk around and some more photography. Lunch will be served back on board the Pangolin Express, as it heads back east to the small village of Keetmanshoop. (BD)
By the next morning, our train has reached Keetmanshoop and we leave the train, with luggage for two nights in a lodge to travel to Sossusvlei. It’s a four-hour drive through the beautiful but barren, mountainous landscape and we will be stopping off along the way at a wildlife sanctuary for lunch which is home to some beautiful feline residents of Namibia. When we arrive in Sossusvlei we will be checking in to the Sossusvlei Lodge which is in a great location close to the park gate for easy access the next morning into the dunes. (BLD)
The early morning hours are the best time to visit the brick red, glowing, gigantic dunes of the Sossusvlei area. We shall drive through the endless sea of apricot coloured sand, following the riverbed of the Tsauchab river. The last 5 kilometres to Sossusvlei are deep sand, so we use a tractor and trailer or jeeps to convey us here. From the parking area, there is an optional one-kilometre walk through the sand to view Dead Vlei, a clay depression surrounded by dunes, which no longer fills with water from the Tsauchab river. The white clay surface, studded with dead camel thorn trees and surrounded by majestic red dunes is a photographer’s playground. We continue to the Sesriem Canyon, where layers of conglomerate stone are exposed. The extreme light conditions at the bottom of this 30 m deep gorge provide a challenge to keen photographers. We return to our lodge for a late lunch. At sunset, we take a drive to Sesriem Canyon, where we enjoy a sundowner, as well as the golden red sunset over the Namib dunes and the canyon below. (BLD)
A five-hour drive (this is Namibia so nothing is just around the corner) by coach takes us through the Namib Naukluft National Park on gravel roads to Mariental where we meet up again with the train and head North to the capital city Windhoek. We are planning to stop just short of Windhoek for the night on a siding where we should be able to disembark in the middle of nowhere away from any light pollution from the towns and do some star trails photography.(BLD)
We hope to arrive in Windhoek for a morning tour of the city tour as the train is refuelled and restocked with water and provisions. Included in the tour will be lunch and Guts knows a great German bakery that he likes to visit when in town. We depart Windhoek in the mid-afternoon and start heading west to the coast. This section of the trip will give us plenty of time on the train to do some post-production sessions. There are lots of communal areas on the train that will serve us well for this such as the dining and lounge cars as well as the bar area right at the back with its adjoining outside viewing carriage. (B,D)
This section of the trip will give us plenty of time on the train to do some post-production sessions. There are lots of communal areas on the train that will serve us well for this such as the dining and lounge cars as well as the bar area right at the back with its adjoining outside viewing carriage.(BLD)
In the afternoon we reach Ebony siding, where our coaches collect us for an excursion to the 1700m high Spitzkoppe Mountain, a characteristic granite inselberg. Mighty granite blocks balancing over deep rifts and stunted acacias shape the landscape in the golden afternoon sun. In Bushman’s Paradise, there are ancient rock paintings of the San People, the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa. We will remain here until sunset, to take advantage of the best light conditions. Afterwards, we return to the train for dinner. This evening we can try some more star photography in the dark sky, more than 200km from the nearest city.
The final leg of the journey will be from the Ebony siding near Spitzkoppe to the coastal town of Swakopmund. In 2015 Swakopmund was a real hit with its old Victorian architecture and the plethora of activities on offer from exploring the hidden desert with all its macro photography opportunities to the ever popular harbour cruise.
When we arrive in Swakopmund we will depart the train and check into the beautiful Swakopmund Hotel for two nights. On the second day at the hotel, we have booked the conference room in the hotel which we will be using for some hosted post-production sessions on the images that we have taken so far.
On the last night, we will be hosting a goodbye dinner at the hotel before we head off on to further adventures. We are planning extensions to Etosha National park as well as up to Chobe to enjoy time in Botswana on our houseboat The Pangolin Voyager and our camp in the Delta.
|Deluxe Suites||Royal Suites|
|US$ 6,995 pps||US$ 10,995 pps|
|Set Departure: 27 June – 9 July 2019|
NB: Please note that the above itinerary is subject to change and can be affected by unforeseen circumstances and timetable alterations up to and during the safari. In the unlikely event that we are delayed or diverted every effort will be made to ensure that we visit the destinations mentioned above. Pangolin Photo Safaris cannot be held responsible for such alterations to the itinerary.
If you are wanting to do some long exposure night photography on this trip then you will most likely need to activate the shutter with some sort of shutter release mechanism – certainly if you are wanting to take a photo in excess of 30 seconds in Bulb mode. In our experience there are lots of fancy battery operated remote shutter releases on the market but the most reliable is a simple one with a chord and a button that runs off the battery power of the camera instead. Many times people have been caught out when the battery (which is never a simple AAA) runs out just as you are wanting to employ it. There are no camera shops in the desert!