The dunes

Day 109, rest day, Sesriem, Sossusvlei Lodge

We were up early to go climb the Dunes. We went into the park and travelled about 65 km into the desert, to the end of the road. We reached a point about 55km from the Atlantic coast but no road to get there. Just sand. These dunes are apparently the most photographed dunes in the world and they re spectacular. They are also somewhat unique in that they do not move. They say this is because they are covering rock formations; so while the peaks change profile, they stay where they are. All the dunes are numbered. The most famous is Dune 45. We passed this and went to the end of the road to the Dune they call ‘Big Daddy’. It is 325 metres from base to peak. The guide said we could climb to a half way point if we wanted. But we said we would climb to the top. ‘Oh, you have to be strong to do that. It will take you an hour and a half.’ We were at the top in 45 minutes. I think he mostly guides 18 stone German tourists.  It was a fantastic view from the top. You could see the unending desert sweeping out before you. But the most fun of course was tumbling down the steepest face of the Dune. The gradient must have been 35% of more. We reached the bottom in about 5 minutes. The bottom was a clay pan appropriately named Deadvlei. Six hundred years ago there had been a lake there. Now there was a hard white clay pan studded with very eerie looking 600 year old petrified trees – an apocalyptic landscape.

We went back to the Lodge and checked out as the 60 new people checked in. It was one of those odd Tour Groups. They all had the same green suitcases. They were almost all over 60. They all looked like humpty dumpty in new desert kit. They all smoked. And I am sure they were all paying top dollar. We got on our bikes and cycled off to set up our tents at the camp just inside the park gates.

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