Atop the highest sand dune in the world

Sesriem, Namibia

Angola, my guide, knocked softly on my tent door a little after 5 a.m. “Good morning, this is your wake-up call,” he said politely. I’m not quite sure what my reply was.

We had a quick breakfast at the lodge before loading into Land Rovers and heading into the brisk pre-dawn. It was a short drive to Namib-Naukluft Park — one of the real advantages to staying at Kulala is that it is the only lodge with a private entrance to the park. This is all the more important when you’re trying to find just the right spot for sunrise among the dunes of Sossusvlei, an ancient pan.

Although it’s not saying much, Sossusvlei is Namibia’s number one tourist attraction. The dunes date back millions of years and are part of one of the oldest and driest ecosystems on Earth. At some places, they are nearly 15 stories high — making them the tallest in the world.

DSC_07100

DSC_07050

DSC_06980

The early morning light was perfect. The mood was quiet and reflective as we all took in this pretty breathtaking sight.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

DSC_07140

As the sun broke across the sky, we loaded back into the Land Rover, passing the touristy Dune 45 and continuing off-road to the more remote Big Daddy Dune, at 480 meters high, the tallest of them all. When we arrived, there wasn’t another group in sight. We laced up our sneakers and started the incline.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

The summit offered incredible views of the surrounding dunes as well as the Atlantic Ocean some 55 kilometers off in the distance.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

Next, the fun part: racing down, which took a good 60 seconds. You can barely make out the rest of our group at the top and bottom of the path. See them?

dsc_0252a

We landed in the aptly named Dead Vlei, a large ephemeral pan that has dried of water and consequently cracked under the intense heat.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

In the midst of the pan are the remains of an Acacia forest; because of the lack of humidity, these trees have been preserved in an almost petrified state for hundreds of years.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

After a nap and shower back at the lodge, we took a late afternoon excursion to the 2-kilometer long Sesriem Canyon, formed millions of years ago by the Tsauchab River.

dsc_0252a

dsc_0252a

Conveniently, back at my tent, a gin & tonic sundowner was waiting.

DSC_08190

Not a Bombay, but it would certainly do.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: