Fifty Shades of Orange: How to take amazing sunset pictures in the Etosha National Park, Namibia

Blue Wildebeest at sunset in the Etosha National Park, Namibia | © Wynand du Plessis

Sunset is a magical time in Etosha’s wilderness. As the heat finally subsides at the end of a long, hot day it’s almost palpable how all life – humans and beasts alike - begins to relax. Most creatures now grab a refreshing drink – be it a chilled Windhoek Lager beer from the cooler-box or a luke-warm sip from the closest waterhole – and quench their grand thirst after a hard day in the bush.

For us passionate wildlife photographers, however, the well-deserved tin of beer will have to stay cooled a little longer, as now is the time for great silhouettes and atmospheric sunset images. Let’s quickly dive into our photo tips, before the beer gets warm.

The hot dry season in Etosha, in especially September & October, is a great time for dusty sunset shots. During the midday heat hot winds often start to blow in from the north-east, sweep across the barren land and transform into localized sand storms.

Toward the evening the wind dies down, but dust still lingers. This is a perfect opportunity for great wildlife silhouettes with a special, ethereal mood. (Top photo: blue wildebeest | photo below: springbok & oryx antelopes)

Springbok and Oryx Antelopes at sunset in the Etosha National Park, Namibia | © Claudia du Plessis

Etosha’s flat horizon offers yet another opportunity for capturing magnificent silhouettes. The key is to choose a low angle, such as from a small car or from where the road lies a little lower than the surrounding terrain. When you compose your image with more than two thirds of sky, you’ll have a winner shot for sure (photo below: giraffe on the Okondeka plains).

Herd of giraffe on the plains of the Etosha National Park | © Claudia du Plessis

Finally you can turn towards the sky and focus on birds that overnight in trees. They usually settle down around sunset and sometimes do so conveniently for us close to waterholes adjacent to Etosha’s camps.

So look out for these ‘sleeping trees’ in and around the camp grounds and you might be lucky to capture similar images to these of Abdim storks settling in for the night right next to the Okaukuejo waterhole (photo below).

Abdim storks settle down in a tree for the night | © Claudia du Plessis

However beautiful the sunsets are, unfortunately they are short and sweet. As soon as darkness descends over Etosha you may just have time for this one (hopefully still cold) sundowner beer, before you want to get ready to photograph the night creatures that are on their way to the waterhole already.

But that’s a story for another day ;-).

Until next time, stay wild,

Claudia xxx

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