Saturday 6 June 2015 Sossusvlei
Our wake-up call is a knock on the door at 4:30 am. It is a tad chilly and we all meet wrapped up in fleeces and warm jackets. It is an hour’s drive to the sunrise spot. We take photos of the rising sun before climbing a high dune.
The name, Sossusvlei, comes from two languages – Sossus is the Nama word meaning No Return – or – Dead End. Vlei is the Afrikaans word for marsh or pan. The actual Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan which fills with water on the rare occasion that it rains. There is no water in it when we visit. The name “Sossusvlei” also refers to the surrounding area (including other neighbouring vleis such as Deadvlei and other high dunes), which is one of the major visitor attractions of Namibia. The area has many high sand dunes of a vivid pinkish/orangish/reddish colour caused by the high content of iron in the sand and the consequent oxidation processes. The older the dune, the redder the colour. Big Daddy is 380m high and this is the one we climb!
Wendy does well but has a height phobia so decides to go back down after a while. As we climb it seems to get steeper and steeper with each footfall! There are a number of other climbers, some in groups, some individual. We have a photographic group in front of us so they keep stopping to take interesting and creative photographs giving us an excuse to rest frequently! We are supposed to descend at a certain point and go down to Deadvlei but I turn back and go the way I came meeting Sammy on his way up and he tells me to return so as to get to Deadvlei with him. Omiword – another upward climb before I can descend! I am feeling a bit shaky – from low blood pressure or altitude intolerance – or perhaps I’m just not fit enough for dune climbing!
The descent is lovely. We make our way to Deadvlei where the trees have been dead for almost a thousand years. There is underground water so there is a grove of green trees there too. We wonder around and take creative photos and then make our way back to the vehicle.
A short drive to Sossusvlei and we disembark once again where we find a beautifully laid breakfast table set up by Sammy who then presents us with cereal, fruit salad, yoghurt, cold meats, boiled eggs and fresh bread. Wow. The Cape Sparrows think it was for them and twitter away in the trees until we give in and feed them a few crumbs.
Our return trip takes us past all the amazing dunes and we marvel at the shapes and contrasting colours. We stop to photograph Dune 45 so named because it is 45 km from Sossus Dune Lodge.
By now it is hot and we all take off the outer layers. Back at the lodge I have a shower and change into shorts.
I put on cargo pants and take a fleece to fly over the dunes in the afternoon. We have to go to another lodge just outside the park to get our over-dune flight. We pay our fare, receive proper tickets and fill in an indemnity form at the Adventure Activity desk and then are taken to the airfield by one of the staff who also explains where we would go and what signals the pilot would give to indicate what he sees below. Unfortunately the plane is not equipped with earphones! Loubser is our pilot and we are his fifth trip of the day. I am feeling only a tad nervous having recently been up in a light aircraft with Abri and survived! This plane is a little bigger but not as comfortable as Abri’s. But I can open a tiny square in my window to take photographs which makes a big difference. I will let the photos tell the story.
Dinner this evening is kudu steak for me and Earl and pork for the Schoffls. After our long and exciting day we are in bed by 8 o’clock.