Sossusvlei - Day 2
Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
24Trip End Aug 17, 2009
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We woke up early to drive for about an hour to Sossusvlei National Park. Fortunately, our guide Ronnie was friendly with an officer at the gate, so we were able to pass a group of waiting cars and get in earlier. Sunrise in the dunes is a photographer's dream. The early morning shadows on the dunes are breathtaking. (Read below for details). The pictures say it all.
Like an earlier trip to the mountains of Colorado years ago, Gordon was again our leader up another steep slope, this one a 40 story sand dune with biting winds.
Eventually all three boys made it to the top, rested and ran (controlled fall?) their way back down.
After a nice snack, we drove back to the lodge. On the way we explored a small deep-walled canyon. Once back at the Lodge, we went quad biking (a HUGE hit), 4 wheeling in the open land Rover and enjoyed a surprise "sundowner" near a boulder formation nickenamed "Stonehenge."
Later that day, each boy said they want to be married or have there honeymoon here. Dinner that night was a surprise meal held in Ian's Pod. After the meal, the boys escorted us to the main building where the staff sang traditional African songs to celebrate our 50th birthdays and presented us with a cake. Sleep came very easy that night.
Itinerary: After an early wake-up call you depart for Sossusvlei on a guided excursion. The early morning provides great colour and shadows of the dunes, and after exploring the area, you settle down for a picnic breakfast under a shady tree. You return to the Sossusvlei (Mountain) Desert Lodge in time for lunch. The afternoon is again spent at your leisure on one of the many activities on offer.
Sossusvlei: Sossusvlei is a clay pan set amid monstrous piles of sand known as star dunes that reach the height of a 70 storey skyscraper and rank among the tallest dunes on earth. A deathly white against red sands, the pan is the endpoint of a usually dry river, Tsauchab, in the interior of the Great Sand Sea. The river course rises south of the Naukluft Mountains in the Great escarpment. It penetrates the sand sea for some 55km before it finally peters out about the same distance from the Atlantic. Until dunes stopped it in its tracks 60 000 years ago, the Tsauchab reached the sea, as ephenemeral rivers still do in the northern half of the Namib. Sand-locked pans to the west were endpoints before Sossusvlei. The dunes in the vicinity of Sossusvlei get to be as high as 220m. They look even higher when their base rests on an elevated surface such as a river terrace. Indeed one of them that lies beside the Tsauchab rises 325m above the valley floor. Once a decade or so rainfall over the escarpment is sufficient to bring the river down in flood and fill the pan. On such occasions the mirror images of dunes and gnarled trees around the pan are reflected in the water.
Sossusvlei is the biggest of four pans in the vicinity. In one of them, Dead Vlei, big camelthorn trees, dead for want of water, still stand erect. They grew in that place until about 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the occasional floods.
Where I stayed
Sossusvlei Mountain Desert Lodge