When I first read the itinerary it seemed questionable to spend 2 days driving (6 hours each way) for 1 day in the desert, but I figured what the hell- nothing in Africa is close and they think nothing of a day’s drive.
The drive was fairly mundane, all on gravel roads with an unchanging landscape (I am typing this on the truck since somewhat bored of looking at nothingness--- seriously, hours go by without seeing a house).
It certainly was a long drive, but wow was it worth it!!! We arrived at Sossusvlei in time for the sunset and woke early to catch the sunrise atop a sand dune. Namibia has the 2nd largest sand dunes in the world--- some as high as a 60 story high-rise.
The red sand contrasted with the blue sky was brilliant, with the dunes constantly changing based on the shadows and light from the sun.
Yes, pretty, but also maybe the most fun I’ve ever had! Instead of traveling by road, we hiked the 5K through the dunes to get to Dead Vlei, a pan that dried up over 900 years ago leaving dead camel thorn trees still standing. Sure, it was hard work climbing up the larger dunes, but it was quickly forgotten after running down them!
I am exhausted today specifically from Dune 45 (see picture w/o me and use trees for scale-- I am too small to see)-- we estimate it was equivalent to a 25 story commercial building, so the walk up was tough, but imagine how fun it is to run down a steep slope made of sand! It seemed to take forever to get to the bottom and was as close as I’ve come to feeling weightless (next up: the moon). I could not stop laughing--- what a great time!!!
After our sand dune fun we stopped at Sesriem, a nearby gorge, to observe the strange rock formations from the floor. Was cool, but how do you compete with big sand dunes?
And, you’ll be happy to know, my first attempt at camping wasn’t so bad either. The tent was totally fine and I was all toasty in my new sleeping bag (yes, it gets cold in the dessert!; plus the food our guides cooked was very impressive given we were in the middle of nowhere. The highlight, a hot shower with the stars shining above me--- trust me, it was well needed after all that sand!
I am leaving tomorrow for a 10 day camping trip thru Botswana into Zambia. Hopefully I’ll have more good stories then.