It’s been a fortnight since my last travel snapshot, so it’s time for another one. The location was an easy choice. You can’t talk about Deadvlei without mentioning Sossusvlei. The two just go together like popcorn and m&m’s (seriously, try it … your tastebuds will thank you). If you are fortunate enough to travel to Namibia and see these two incredible places, you will travel through Sossusvlei to get to Deadvlei. Sossusvlei is located in the southern part of the Namib desert and is home to some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. Some in excess of 300 metres. But more on the dunes in a moment.
My more recent visit to Sossusvlei was in January 2015, the height of summer in southern Africa. We made camp at a fantastic open camp ground just outside the gate to Sossusvlei. The reason for this is simple … it means you’re there early enough to beat the crowds that will queue up outside the gates from early morning. We were allocated three camping areas for our group. The camp area consists of a concrete slab with a timber roof over head. There’s a small kitchen area with running water and electricity. Behind a woven wooden screen there is what amounts to an open air shower, toilet and washbasin. My first thought, given how open it all was, and the proximity of the kitchen and seating area, was that privacy could be an issue. This was not the case. And it remains one of the best camp grounds I’ve stayed at. There is a convenience store a short walk away with all the snacks and drinks and souvenirs you could hope for. There’s also a decent swimming pool located in the centre of the camp ground. Just perfect on a hot summer day.
After setting up camp, we spent our evening sitting under the stars, talking of the things we’d seen and what wonders still awaited us. We cooked our dinners over an open fire and took photographs of the spectacular sunset. As the evening drew to a close, the others moved off to their individual tents for a decent nights rest. I chose a different option. See, the guide we had for our tour is a good friend of mine and we opted to sleep out under the stars, on the bare earth, the sounds of wildlife surrounding us. Sometime during the night I awoke to a sound nearby. Just a couple of metres from where I lay, two large Oryx were sparring. Heads down, butting their long horns against each other. Off to my right I hear another sound and spot what appears to be a mongoose foraging through our camp equipment. I hate to use the word surreal but it was … surreal. A once in a lifetime moment that I will treasure forever.
The next morning saw us up at the crack of dawn and piled into the bus for the short journey through the gates of Sossusvlei and in to the dunes. The sand dunes of Sossusvlei are an incredible burnt orange in colour. It’s so similar in colour to the Outback of my own country that I felt immediately at home. From what I remember, the colour comes from the high levels of iron in the soil. As we make our way to Dune 45, the dune we are set to climb that morning, we watch the sunrise and look for Oryx making their way through the sands in the early morning light. The temperature is already soaring. Arriving at Dune 45 … we begin our climb. I had climbed bare foot the first time but given the heat of the day, shoes were essential on this occasion. Dune 45 is about 80 metres high, the sand is soft and the climb can be slow going. But the view from the top is worth it. We sit atop this dune and marvel at the sight before us. A vast expanse of undulating sand dunes as far as the eye can see and in every direction. The occasional withered acacia tree spotting the landscape. There’s only one word to describe it. Breathtaking.
Descending from the summit, we gather back at our bus where a breakfast of fresh fruit and yoghurt, eggs and ham, awaits us. From there we would make our way to Deadvlei and if you’ve read my previous Snapshot, you’ll be aware of what that entailed. From there we would head to Sesriem Canyon. However, our day amongst the rusty dunes concluded in a most bizarre fashion. We were to engage in an Impala poo spitting competition. Yes, you heard that right. An Impala is a medium-sized antelope found in Africa and the small pellet like poo that it leaves behind harden and dry in the sun. Kind of like spit-balls. I admit, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But some brave travellers in our group, along with our guide, participated in the event. A strange end to a perfect day. So I leave you with the remark … please, for the love of travel, get yourselves to Namibia and see these things for yourself. Just beware though if your guide suggests you play a game …
All photographs are the property of the author © Kim Richardson