Another driving day – this time to Sesriem, land of the red sand dunes. Passed through some rugged landscapes of jagged mountains and valleys scattered with huge mesas, the result of the Ice Age. Then after crossing wide grassy plains, we dropped 500 metres on the Zarishoogte Pass. The land reminded Bernie of Rohan while I thought more of the Misty Mountains! – Lord of the Rings references to those fans. We met a van with a surfboard on top – a bit incongruous at first, but for surfing the “Sea of Sand” not the ocean!
Arrived at our Desert Camp – individual units of basic masonry framework with the rest being canvas – the roof and the bulk of the walls. Windows were zippered and covered with mesh. All mod cons inside though! Quite comfy except heating would be a nice idea in winter! During the night the local jackals made quite a racket! (And very close as well!)
July 19 Tuesday
Up at 5.15am to get to Namibia’s number 1 tourist attraction - the sand dunes at sunrise. After driving 60km in a valley between huge red dunes, we arrived at the car park, used disgusting toilets, then set out on a 6km walk across sand and dried mud to pans that now had water for the first time in ages thanks to heavy rains earlier in the year. Bernie climbed a 100 metre high dune but I chickened out and walked the easier way to the pan of Deadvlei. This dry pan is scattered with dead trees that were drowned about 600 years ago – very scenic with the stark trees against the white lime of the pan, rimmed by the steep red dunes and topped with the deep blue sky. To get to the vlei, Bernie had to slide down the dune on his backside so was full of sand. We then did the sensible thing and caught the shuttle back to the car park. Had a quick look at the pan of Sossussvlei which also had water – the animals would be happy! On the way back we notice that some dunes were turning from red to pink in the afternoon light. Made a stop at the Sesriem Canyon – a 30km deep canyon that once was the village’s water supply but now is dry except for a few pools. Although pretty weary after the morning’s trek, we walked down into the canyon which was worth the effort. When we reached camp, had the job of washing sandy clothes – our sox were still full of sand even after at least 12 washes! The dry atmosphere had most washing dry in less than three hours!