On our travels through Namibia, we had a short stop in the Sossusvlei area of the Namib desert. Sossusvlei roughly translates to “dead-end marsh” in Afrikaans, and is one of the most popular and well-photographed areas in Namibia. One of the reasons for this is that it’s home to the famous Dune 45. The sand dune got its name for a pretty straight-forward reason: it’s 45 km from the Sesrium park entrance gate.
Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which happens to be the largest conservation area in Africa. The Namib desert is over 5 million years old, making it the oldest desert in the world.
We got the opportunity to climb Dune 45, which is 170 meters high (according to http://www.sossusvlei.org/attractions/dune-45/ it’s only 85 meters, but most other sources claim it’s 170 meters, so I’m going with the most common measurement). Dune 7 is the highest sand dune in the Namib desert at 388 meters, while Big Daddy is the tallest dune in Sossusvlei at 325 meters.
It really is a beauty, isn’t it? The reddish colour of the sand is due to high iron oxide content. The climb itself was really taxing though; the sand was fine and slipped under your feet, pulling you down with each step. It was like walking in slow motion. It was also a bit windy the day we were there, so we had that working against us.
As we climbed higher, the wind picked up, blasting us with sand. This was really a workout. Some people chose the easy way down – sliding on their backsides down the steeper side of the dune. Once we hurried (as much as one can hurry over deep, soft sand), up to the peak, we had to come back down again just as quickly, because the wind morphed into a sandstorm.
Once we reached solid ground again we hightailed it to our awaiting truck, where our guide had made us breakfast in the meantime. Everything was crunchy with sand, including the coffee. But how could it not be, with this much sand blowing through the air.