I’m now in South Africa, which is the last country of my trip! Hard to believe the tour ends in 2 days. We haven’t had internet for almost a week, so wanted to catch you up on Namibia.
Last Saturday, we stopped at an area called Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft Park, which has the world’s oldest sand dunes.
Almost every picture you see advertising Namibia has the dunes in them and it’s exactly what I imagined all of Africa to look like. Red sand dunes cover the valley, and raise up to 350 meters. They are absolutely gorgeous and one of the prettiest natural landscapes I’ve ever seen!
The Namibian sand dunes are unique in that they are always changing and shifting with the wind. The ones we visited are “star dunes” — they’re exposed to wind from all directions and have multiple ridges, often looking like a star.
We woke up early and hiked one of the the famous dunes, Dune 45, for sunrise. The dune was 45 kilometers from camp, hence the name Dune 45. Since we stayed in the camp, we were able to get to the dune earlier then the general public, so we had the place to ourselves.
We all walked barefoot, as wearing shoes in the sand would be too difficult. It was early, so the sand wasn’t hot, but that changed extremely quickly (more on that below!).
It was so amazing to see the sunrise and to be on top of the dune. The colors were gorgeous and you feel like you’re on top of the world!
Definitely a great workout too – not everyone made it to the top, but there were about 6 of us. Dune 45 is 180 meters from the ground, so it’s not that high but when you’re climbing uphill in sand, it seems a little taller!
In between dunes that are millions of years old, there is a massive limestone slab with petrified wood/trees in it. We didn’t learn much about it, but pretty interesting!
Two of the biggest dunes are also here – aptly named Big Mama and Big Daddy. We only had two hours to explore this area, but myself and 2 other people decided to climb Big Daddy.
The peak of Big Daddy is 380 meters tall, which is pretty amazing for a sand dune. To think the wind just created something that high is pretty incredible!
Since we visited the dead vlei first, we were in a bit of a small valley and literally had to climb part of the dune on the steep side, to make it up. There were a few different ridges, so this part wasn’t 380 meters, but still really steep!
It was only around 9:30am at this point, but the sand was already so hot. The sun is so strong and is literally just burning the sand.
We eventually made it to the top of the first ridge and were able to walk along the top of it. This was much higher than Dune 45 and was so incredible! The views you get of all the dunes is gorgeous.
We went a bit further but then the sand was literally too hot to keep going (keep in mind we’re barefoot!), and we had to be back relatively soon. It was only about 10:15am at this point and already it was too hot and tourists had cleared out. To make it to the top, you need to leave much earlier!
We ran down the dune and made our way back. We had to put our sandals on for the flat walk back, and I was trying to take the lightest steps possible. We honestly thought we were going to have blisters on our feet!