Dunes, dunes and more dunes

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
Trip End Jun 04, 2004

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Monday, September 1, 2003

Moved on to Sesriem after Aus, and I started to get really excited again after a few days of frustration at sitting on the truck! This was one of the highlights of the tour for me - really looking forward to seeing the dunes, especially having had a photo of Dune 45 on my computer screen for 2 months before leaving the UK.

We camped overnight and then got up at 4.30 (yes, it was EARLY!!!) to drive to Dune 45 in order to climb it and then watch the sunrise. As we got closer and closer however, the infamous Namibian coastal fog closed in, and we couldn't even see the dune, let alone the sunrise over it!!! Tried to climb up, but I got pretty freaked out by climbing along a narrow ridge with pretty steep drops either side, and not being able to see more than about 15m - not to mention the fact that sitting on a truck for 2 weeks clearly hasn't helped my fitness levels, and I nearly died walking up!!

Got part way up and sat down to see if any of the sun would be visible through the fog - but gave up after 20 minutes and went back down again for a couple of cups of tea to warm up, and fantastic pancakes for breakfast!! People on the other trucks were looking on very jealously as they tucked into their cereal!!!

After a while, the fog slowly began to lift, revealing all the dunes around, which was amazing to see. They are so high - and just seem like mountains - having lived in the Alps, it was weird to have to keep reminding myself that actually these things were made of sand, and constantly moving, rather than solid rock.

Once the fog had lifted (still only about 8.30 by this stage!!), we drove towards Sossusvlei, further towards the coast. In this area are lots of pans (vlei in Afrikaans)where water collects when there is rain/the rivers flood (which doesn't happen all that often, but does happen occasionally!!) so there is vegetation out in the middle of the dunes.

We chose to walk to Deadvlei, a pan which hasn't had water for so long that most of the trees have died. It was pretty spooky - all these tree skeletons surrounded by mountainous dunes. And the colours were pretty cool - white solid mud in the bottom of the pans, black trees, terracota sand dunes, and a brilliant blue sky. It was amazing to wander around there, and to see the odd camel thorn trees who were trying to grow despite it not looking very promising around!

We climbed (not particularly gracefully) up a nearby dune and perched up there for quite a long time, just looking out at the amazing views of sand for miles and miles and miles. It was so peaceful!

We went back to the camp for lunch to stay out of the desert in the heat of the day, and then drove back to Dune 45 to watch the sunset in the hope we might be able to see it this time!! I was determined to make a better go of climbing it this time, and got most of the way up - I decided to not climb the last steep ridge to the very top. But I'm really glad I got up there, as we could actually see that time!!
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