Namibia is home to more than just spectacular wildlife. It also has some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is the home to most of these wondrous landscapes and also the famous Deadvlei. We camped for four days in Sossus Oasis Camp which was enough to cover everything well. This campsite was inside the gate, and this allowed us to get in the park an hour earlier than those outside the gate. We had some unexpected surprises during our visit that turned out to be amazing and even eerie.
A Foggy Day in Deadvlei
Getting to Deadvlei was challenging as we didn’t deflate the tires like we were supposed to. This was our first time driving in sand, and our truck got stuck. Luckily the park had shuttles that were able to rescue us and take us to our destination. When we finally arrived, it was unexpectedly fogged in. It was mesmerizing and somewhat spooky to see 600-900 year-old dead trees surrounded by fog. It wasn’t what we expected, however it was also more amazing than we thought it would be. Fog is not very common here so it was a real treat to see. The surroundings felt so quiet and calming. It was like we were transported to another world.
Big Daddy Dune
Before arriving at Deadvlei we had to ascend Big Daddy Dune. It was quite a monster at 325 meters high. This didn’t stop us at all. The climb filled our shoes with sand, and the run down the dune was thrilling. Our excitement was building as we got closer to our destination.
Take Two: Sunshine in Deadvlei
While being in the fog was pretty awesome, it was a must to go back to Deadvlei for sunset. The bright blue skies and orange dunes complemented each other very well. We even got a few small puffs of clouds to make the photos extra juicy.
Dune 45 Sunrise
Sunrise at Dune 45 is easier than many other parts of the park as it is closer to the campgrounds. We knew there would be a long line of cars at the park gate so we had to get there early. We drove like maniacs (like everyone else), and ran up the dune as fast as we could to get the view before the sun peeked over the horizon. This dune is very popular so it is important to get there early. The views were worth the grueling ascent.
Elim Dune – Never-Ending Dune
The dune closest to the Sossus Oasis camping area was Elim Dune. It is not as well traveled as some of the more major points in the park, but it should not be overlooked. The views from the top are otherworldly, and worth the climb. Just don’t keep going and going and going up the dune as it never seemed to have an end. We finally decided to write in the sand “summit”, and left it at that.
Another stop somewhat close to the camping area is Sesriem Canyon. With its narrow canyon walls, it feels like an open air cave. The rocks are shaped by the Tsauchab river which created the canyon over millions of years. Not much water remains, making the river bed accessible by foot in the winter. We found writing on the wall that had an arrow pointing to where we could find water in the canyon. This was the highlight after walking in the opposite direction for quite a while.
Climbing and running down sand dunes was both exhausting and exhilarating. The times in this park will be unforgettable and well worth the stop in the beautiful country of Namibia. We already are thinking about trip number two.
Have you ever hiked up a sand dune? If so, where in the world was it?
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