Namibia - Sossusvlei
Fri 19 Sep
Up early to collect our breakfast box, a quick slurp of coffee and still away before 0620. Reached the park gate with 10 minutes to spare. When it opened the race was on - 60km without hesitation or deviation. "Race" against time, the sun already up, the colours of the dunes changing all the time. By 0800 we had paid the US$10 to ride the last 4km in a 4WD and set off towards a dried lake called Dead Vlei. Others in front were climbing the dunes and we followed. In the distance towering behind Dead Vlei was "Big Daddy" (largest sand dune in Namibia/Africa/World?). It was difficult to get in perspective, just how far away was it? Soon it was looking possible.
As we walked along the ridge of a "foothill" dune it was getting closer. We kept our height and followed the ridge now on virgin sand. The sun was getting hotter and higher. The harsh contrast of the sunny and shady sides of the dunes was softening. We soon realised that there were only a few people around now. Many had come for a quick photograph and had returned to their coaches. We were getting higher and higher, now on the final long long ridge climbing all the time. Way down below us Dead Vlei looked like a lake it had once been - the dried creamy mud in clear contrast to the surrounding orange sand. Scattered throughout were trees long since trapped in the mud, long since dead. Better remember to drink I thought, panting all the time - breeze and sun keeping my skin dry; I set my watch to beep every few minutes and obediently took 4 gulps every time it did so.
Eventually I reached the top, some 300m above Dead Vlei and possibly 50m more above the car park. It was beautiful and we could see forever. We stopped a while, admired the view and took pictures. When it was time to descend I wrapped my camera well. There was a very steep slope directly down to the dried lake and we were going to run! Some people at the bottom looked minute. It was hard to put in perspective. Even halfway down - they still seemed small. It took 10 minutes to run down. A brilliant day out!
Namibia - Sossusvlei