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Juan Pablo Bassi is travel, outdoor and adventure photographer, he teaches landscape and documentary photography at a local photography school in Rosario, Argentina. Photography is a part-time job since 2012.
He tries to travel as much as he can inside his country. He's been published on the National Geographic Traveler Latin-American and in most the important climbing magazines of Argentina and Chile. He is always looking for new challenges, especially those involving mountains.
Words and images by Juan Pablo Bassi
As an Argentinian, traveling to other continents is always a big deal, long hours of flying, eternal layovers and jetlag.
From 02 to 19 of November, we got the chance to do a photographic trip to Namibia, we were excited about getting to meet for the first time a truly African desert and looking forward to seeing the big five.
What my wife Lucia and I didn’t know was that we were going to find a country that would highly surpass our expectations and what we had thought it would be a relaxing trip, ended up being one the most authentic adventures we have lived so far, with + 6500km of driving in 17 days through different deserts, mountains, and pans. Africa is one of the most spectacular continents to travel to, not only because of the wildlife but also because of its surprising cultures and landscapes.
Every part of Namibia is worth to visit. Starting from the Fish River Canyon on the southern part, going through the ghost town of Kolmanskop into the Namib desert, and then enjoying the wildlife in Etosha and in the Kavango region on the north. Because of that, we decided to hire a 4x4 camper Ford Ranger that would take us wherever we wanted, providing us enough room to be comfortable and reliance to face bumpy roads, but Namibia is relentless and no matter the car, sometimes the road and the heat were our most fearless enemies.
Each place I previously mentioned presents a photographic challenge, not only regarding technical aspects but also due to the weather and logistics. Getting to these places takes long hours and you will not always be at the right time to shoot. And not only that, it will be boiling and windy too. As every photographer should know the key is patience, and in Africa, you need a lot!
If we have to choose the best places we’ve been to in this trip, we will definitely choose the abandoned and astonishing city of Kolmanskop with houses full of sand, the incredibly never-ending sand dunes of the Namib Desert, and the amazing wildlife of Etosha National Park. For that photography quest, you will need to carry a variety of lenses, such as wide angles, normal and telephoto. In my case, I’ve carried a Nikon D500 with the Holy Trinity, 14-24mm f2.8, f24-70 2.8 and f70-200 2.8. along with an old analogic Nikon EL2 with a 50mm f2.0. Set of 3 Cokin ND filters, batteries, chargers and the rest.
Regarding with the food, If you decided rather than the German go for the Namibian option, the typical food includes mahangu porridges, fish, beef stew, wild spinach (ombidi) and the exquisite mataranga (cow tripe), and if I have to recommend one, we will definitely go with the Oryx meat, absolutely fabulous. Eating like the locals will give you a better understanding of some aspects of their culture. As for the people, that’s a whole entire chapter, but just let me tell you that you will always feel welcome.
As an educator, I try not to always teach technical aspects of photography, but I usually try to talk about my experience to make the journey more pleasant. In this case, I would suggest you protect your gear from the sand. Namibia is a semi-arid country, so you will not have to worry about rain, as you will worry about sand storms. Don’t forget to take a long scarf, that will protect you from the sun, and will also give you the chance to wrap the equipment on those windy moments. Set up your camera and gear as far as possible from the sand, if it is inside your car better so that you can change lenses without any risk. For wildlife photography, carry a bag full of beans, not for eating them, but to place your telephoto lenses on it when you are inside the car. As for your photography equipment, always rely on your f-stop gear backpacks, because it´s not only a bag, it’s the perfect travel mate.