Desert Dunes and Wildlife

Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia

August 6 - 22, 2021
Cost: $16,750
Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: 11
Days: 17

Safari Overview

Travel to Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia to capture remarkable moments on your camera with professional photographer Scott Davis. You’ll visit some of the best sites to photograph southern Africa’s quintessential wildlife and its iconic landscapes. You’ll visit South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve (part of the Greater Kruger National Park system) in South Africa, regions with incredibly accessible biodiversity including Africa’s Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo) and many beautiful birds. Discover the picturesque red sand dunes and salt pans of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert of Namibia. Encounter nocturnal wildlife and do some stargazing during evening game drives. This safari will provide you with opportunities to capture quality images of unique African wildlife and beautiful landscapes.


  • Learn wildlife, landscape, and nighttime photography techniques from naturalist and professional photographer Scott Davis.
  • Study and photograph wildlife behaviors from safari vehicles and special observation blinds at South Luangwa National Park, known for large congregations of elephants, giraffes, and zebras.
  • Explore Namibia’s famous red sand dune and salt pan landscapes and hike to the top of Dune 45!
  • See great predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, African painted dogs, jackals, and hyenas.

Itinerary Updated: June 2020

Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Aug 6 Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Aug 7 Arrive in Johannesburg. City Lodge Hotel, Johannesburg
Aug 8-11 Fly to Mfuwe, Zambia and transfer to Tafika Camp for three full days of game-viewing in South Luangwa National Park. Tafika Camp, South Luangwa National Park B, L, D
Aug 12 In the morning, wildlife watch near camp and then fly to Windhoek, Namibia. Olive Grove Guesthouse, Windhoek B, L, D
Aug 13-15 Fly to Sossusvlei, Namibia. Spend two-and-a-half days taking guided walks and driving through enchanting desert scenery. Sossus Dune Lodge, Sossusvlei B, L, D
Aug 16 Take a scenic flight to Windhoek and then fly to Johannesburg. City Lodge Hotel, Johannesburg B, L, D
Aug 17-20 Fly to Sabi Sand where you will enjoy early morning and evening game drives and midday safari walks. Ulusaba Rock Lodge, Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve B, L, D
Aug 21 Fly to Johannesburg for connecting flights homeward. B
Aug 22 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Scott Davis

Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments took him to the far corners of the globe. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, and renowned magazines have used his photography. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa

Aug 6

Depart from home and travel to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Arrive in Johannesburg

Aug 7

Arrive in Johannesburg where you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Visit South Luangwa National Park

Aug 8-11

© Scott Davis

Fly to Mfuwe, Zambia and then drive to Tafika Camp in South Luangwa National Park. You’ll have game-viewing opportunities on foot, by private vehicles during daytime and nighttime, and from observation blinds. The camp’s network of photography blinds is perfectly situated for wildlife observation and photography. They include a watering hole hide that elephants frequent daily.

South Luangwa is touted by many travel experts (e.g. Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, TripAdvisor) as being one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and supports life within the park's 9,050 km2. More than 60 mammal species and 400 bird species reside along the river. You’ll encounter local and incredibly varied fauna, including lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes, wild dogs, and many charismatic birds like the carmine bee-eaters and gray crowned-cranes.

During night drives in the Luangwa, you’ll have opportunities to see leopards and many other nocturnal animals. You may encounter African civets, common (or small-spotted) genet, spotted hyenas, nightjars, honey badgers (ratels), and lions. On most nights you may hear hyenas and their plaintive, eerie cry – very characteristic of the African bush.

Wildlife watching near camp

Aug 12

This morning enjoy wildlife action near camp. After breakfast you’ll fly from Mfuwe to Windhoek, Namibia where you can explore Namibia’s capital city or relax at the lodge.

Explore the Sossusvlei salt pans of Namib-Naukluft National Park

Aug 13-15

Salt Pans
© Scott Davis

Fly mid-morning from Windhoek to an airstrip near Sossus Dune Camp to begin exploring the Namib Desert. Enjoy daytime nature drives through the famed Sossusvlei region of the desert, known for its red sand dunes and salt pans. You’ll visit iconic landmarks of this region including taking a guided walk in the Sesriem Canyon, photographing and hiking up Dune 45, and exploring the Petrified Dunes where sand has turned to stone. The landscapes here vary, including canyons with narrowly carved corridors, salt pans with old acacia trees, and vast seas of red sand dunes, making this region a natural marvel with excellent photography opportunities at every turn!

Overnight in Johannesburg

Aug 16

After breakfast, enjoy your last day in Namibia with a scenic flight to Windhoek, and then fly to Johannesburg.

Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve

Aug 17-20

© Scott Davis

In the morning, you’ll fly to Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Sabi Sand was once agricultural land where farmers bored holes into the ground for water wells. Those water wells now serve as watering holes, bringing the resident wildlife together to congregate en masse and providing you with an excellent place to watch for predators hunting their thirsty prey.

Sabi Sand is well-known for its leopards – these particular animals are accustomed to the vehicles and so many of their behaviors, including hunting, are more easily observable here than in other regions. You may also photograph cheetah, Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, common wart-hog, and honey badger. You will also have the opportunity to see birds such as the ostrich.

Take early morning game drives to see zebras grazing in the open plains, elephant herds gathering near the water, giraffes pacing across the landscape, and lions resting in the shade. You’ll also have opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals during walking safaris guided by armed rangers and experienced trackers. In the evening, after dinner at the lodge or in the bush, join game drives in search of the elusive nocturnal wildlife and enjoy the magnificent stargazing that these remote skies offer.

Fly back to Johannesburg

Aug 21

Fly back to Johannesburg in the morning and continue on your flights homeward.

Arrive home

Aug 22

Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia

Experience the incredible beauty of southern Africa’s wildlife and stunning desert landscapes.

-22.957640, 18.490410

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $16,750

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except seven internal flights listed as included), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set trip prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second September 15, 2020 $5,000
Final February 15, 2021 Remaining Balance

Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.


  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Seven internal flights between August 8 and August 21.
  • Accommodations for the nights of August 7 through 20.
  • Meals from breakfast on August 8 through breakfast on August 21.
  • All airport transfers, regardless of arrival or departure date.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Round-trip airfare is approximately $1,500 between the US and Johannesburg, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we suggest budgeting about $22 to $25 per participant per day for August 8 to August 20 with our local guides (about $286 to $325 total per participant).
  • Mandatory emergency medical and evacuation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
  • Optional trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.


Daily temperatures in August vary from below freezing (32°F, 0°C) to about 85°F (29°C) during the day with the possibility of some rain. In the last five years, the dynamics of climate change have impacted the area with an increase in temperatures, so dress in layers.

Fitness Level

Minimal fitness level is required. Our game drives require good energy levels, as some days are long. Most travel is in open-air safari vehicles on sometimes dusty and bumpy roads. You will have opportunities for short, relaxed hikes, usually less than one mile over varied terrain (sand dunes, flat areas, hilly and grassy areas, or rocky slopes) and, at times, uphill for about 20 to 30min. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.


Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) by August 7. Depart from Johannesburg (JNB) late in the afternoon on August 21.

Flights we book for you: Seven internal flights between Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia from August 8 to August 21 are included in the trip cost.



The lodging ranges from modern to luxurious. For multi-night stays, you stay at very high-end camps and lodges where stunning views, modern amenities, excellent food, and extreme comfort are all prioritized. The lodges have restaurants, internet access, and laundry service. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor seating, and outdoor showers/baths – after a long day in the bush, you may appreciate a warm bubble bath with a sunset view.




  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our trips.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our trips, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because you are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Use of drones/UAVs on trips: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology trips due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on a trip without contacting us first.