A journey from


Photography Feature: Abner Tshikalepo Simeon

Abner Tshikalepo Simeon’s work as a guide for Wilderness takes him around the country. Along the way he captures exceptional photos of the incredible landscapes, wildlife and people he encounters. Equally remarkable is his career.

From the Summer 2023/24 issue

He was born in the small village of Okambembe in the Ohangwena Region as the second youngest in a family of seven. He grew up at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge, where his father was a chef and his mother worked in housekeeping.

Abner attended the lodge’s own little primary school and later went to Otjiwarongo for high school. Unfortunately he failed grade 10 due to health issues. Financial constraints thwarted plans to complete his schooling and prompted him to embark on a quest for employment in 2010.

Abner’s first job was as a general labourer in the small mining town of Uis. Since he was only 16 and therefore underage, no one would employ him permanently. Only odd jobs were available to him at that stage. Eventually he moved to Swakopmund, doing much the same and whatever casual work he could find. In 2012, a visit to a friend employed at Erindi Private Game Reserve, turned into a job opportunity as a general worker.

“Growing up on a lodge, I have always loved nature and spent lots of time in the bush, just enjoying the outdoors. During my time at Erindi I realised that the only way to live out my passion for the outdoors was to become a guide,” Abner says. He immersed himself in this new role by accompanying experienced guides on drives, until he was lucky enough to have Amarula sponsor his guide training course – which he successfully completed in 2014.

Growing up on a lodge, I have always loved nature and spent lots of time in the bush, just enjoying the outdoors

“I always wanted to work for Wilderness and I was very lucky to join the Wilderness family in 2015. I have been with them since then,” Abner says. He worked at various Wilderness camps in Damaraland for three years and in 2018 did a stint at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. Since 2019 he has been part of the Wilderness Explorations team. After ten years in the hospitality industry he is as happy as ever as a tour guide.

Abner’s venture into photography started around 2016 while working in Damaraland. Initially he used his phone’s camera. Encouraged by the regular inclusion of his photos in the company’s newsletters, he started investing in cameras and an iPhone to improve the quality of his images.

“In 2018, Olympus partnered with Wilderness, and as a result we had Olympus equipment in most of the Wilderness camps. That’s when my passion for photography really took off. A lot of my images were sent around the world. Ever since, I have been hooked on photography,” Abner says.

“The Skeleton Coast, with its wildlife in that harsh untamed land, is my favourite place in Namibia. I will always take pictures there, depending on what catches my eye. For me, photography is art, and it expresses how I feel and what I love doing. I love taking all sorts of photographs, from landscapes and wildlife to culture. The one shot I still want to capture is that of my favourite animal, the honey badger, fighting a black mamba. I believe that shot will be my winning ticket to the hall of fame,” he chuckles.

Abner shoots with two Olympus E-M1 bodies because he doesn’t like changing lenses in the field. One body is equipped with a 12-40mm lens for wide angles, and the other has a 40-150mm with a 1.4x teleconverter, which he mostly uses for wildlife photography. TNN


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