A Sea Of Sand

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Day : 440
Temperature : 25 degrees
Weather : Hot, dry and dusty

Dunes.  Huge dunes.  A sea of sand as far as the eye can see. These are the world famous dunes of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. It's really hard to describe this scenery, it’s totally awe inspiring.

But first, some important information for anyone hoping to visit these dunes. 

Entrance fee to the national park is N$ 80 per person. If you are staying inside the park at one of the campsites you get to drive into the dunes one hour before the general public. This, is absolutely crucial if you want to get to the dunes for sunrise, because it is a 45km drive to Dune 45, and 65km to the 2 wheel drive car park. Otherwise, the gates for the public open just after the sun has risen, and you have completely missed the best time for photographs. By the time you and the other 30 cars pull into the office, queue for a painfully long time as the miserable and unhelpful staff write out your permit by hand, drive to the other gate and wait to be signed in again by another sullen looking staff member and drive your 65 km to the car park, you will lucky to be there one and a half hours after sunrise.  Don’t forget, you then have to pay N$100 per person for the further 3km ride to the car park for Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. Furthermore, there is absolutely ZERO information in the park about the dunes, no trail markers to follow and the staff tell you to walk "that way towards the dune" randomly pointing in a certain direction …which is about as helpful as a chocolate teapot, since there must be hundreds of dunes surrounding you. By the time you actually reach Dead Vlei or Sossusvlei  it’s impossible to get any beautiful shots of the dunes because everyone and their dog is clambering all over them….goodbye beautiful photograph that you are going to frame on your wall.

The solution? Ignore the staff on the phone who abruptly tell you that Sesreim campsite is “totally booked to capacity” and wander into the office, smile politely and tell them you have been told that you can have “overflow camping”. Hey presto….you are camping inside the park! Success!

Despite the unfortunate situation on our first day being unable to get into the park early, we did stay at the most beautiful, remote and isolated campsite in the middle of absolutely nowhere, called Little Sossus Campsite. We had incredible views over golden grassy fields to the mountains in the distance. The only thing we could hear was the wind. We had a little concrete built shed which was open on one side where we pitched our tent, and in the rear of the building we had our own toilet and shower, and a small kitchen area. It was certainly one of our most memorable campsites ever with a real wilderness feel to it.

However, after successfully securing ourselves a spot at the Sesriem campsite inside the park, the following morning we managed to be first in the queue to enter the park. The gates officially opened at 5.30am, but we were let in 5 minutes early. Several overland trucks careered past us, obviously in a race, and we did think that once again by the time we arrived at the dunes the overland crowd would be clambering up them. However, as we approached Dune 45, we realised that the trucks has stopped here. We whizzed past and onwards to the 2wd car park, bought our tickets for the 4x4 jeep and pleaded with the driver to go right away to the dunes…..we could see the lights of many other cars coming towards us in the dark. Fortunately, the driver agreed and he took just the two of us to the 4wd car park. We jumped out and raced towards the dunes at Dead Vlei where we arrived, just 10 minutes before the sun rose above the dunes….awesome….and all to ourselves!

On one side of the dunes was a pan filled with water, which is apparently unusual as these pans are normally dry. Because the air was so still with not a wisp of wind, the reflections of the dunes in the water was beautiful. After sunrise we walked around the water and climbed the far side of the dune which was hard, thirsty work. Unlike the day before, there was no wind whatsoever, and the stillness of the desert was deafening.

From the top of the dune we finally saw Dead Vlei, a dried out water pan full of scraggly, dead trees. It was absolutely beautiful. We ran down the steep side of the 200m high dune, which was like running on marsh mallows….that’s the only way I can describe it, very weird! When finally we reached the bottom we were covered in red sand from head to toe!

We spent forever in Dead Vlei, taking in the scenery, the trees, the sand, and the white, dry, cracked pan. It was amazing…..this, was what we’d come here to see!
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yattonkey10 on

Wonderful pics. Just off to balloon festival in Bristol with Holly and kids. Please ring soon

Eileen on

Lovely pics as always !

but BORED NOW .... ! needing you home ... LOL How many fab places can one couple go to ! enough already ...come home !


Antony on

Stunning pics. Does the name dune prefix "Dead" refer to someone dead or what ?

nomadic-brands on

Thanks guys..yes, it was such a dramatic landscape!

Ants - Dead refers to all the dead trees that are in the pan.

Eileen - OK, OK, we will come home......just a few more things to do first!! he he

Keith - our internet is so sporadic, about once per week...but we will try to phone as soon as we can

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