Africa

Visit to Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei (Namib-Naukluft Park), Namibia

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New account of 15-day trip to Namibia that we did for free in August 2016. That day we visited one of the most wonderful and strange places we have been to: Dead vlei.

We go to the entrance door of Namib-Naukluft National Park and we saw that there was already a line of about fourteen cars waiting for them to open. While we waited, it occurred to us that why we did not book one of the plane flights that travel the Namib Desert until reaching the Atlantic coast. Isabel got out of the car and went to Sossusvlei Lodge to ask if there were still places for that day at 2pm. Meanwhile, at 6:30 the doors of the national park were opened promptly and cars began to enter.

Unlike the yesterday, this time the entrance guard was letting all cars in quickly. You may have already reviewed the enrollments and compared with the permit records issued the previous afternoon. The case is that Isabel returned to the car when it was already parked next to the central offices of the park. The guy at the entrance let her pass without too many problems and brought the news that there were possibilities to make the flight, but that we depended on another couple of tourists deciding to be the minimum of four people needed. At 13:00 we had to return to ask.

Dune 45

Then we drive into the road inside and start hallucinate With the morning landscape. The paved road winds through a valley surrounded by dark rocky mountains that gradually give way to reddish earthy dunes that the dawn sun is tinting in different shades as if it were a sample of Pantone. Accompanying the panorama of beautiful aridity there was three hot air balloons identical at different heights. We had to stop a moment to take some pictures. Then we continue and, unlike most tourists, we did not stop at a panoramic area not even later in the parking lot of the dune 45, but we went straight to the end of the paved road, in Sossusvlei.

Along the way, the landscape was from another world. Left and right gigantic dunes of different shades of ocher and red with sinuous curves and perfectly delineated vertices. In front, a road that led to infinity, and behind, the dawn sun. Once we reach the end, we look for the ticket office. At that time, it was a considerable cool. Then we paid $ 130 per head to get on a safari SUV. This is the shuttle which allows you to save the 5 km distance that separates you from the area where you can access the Death Vlei and al Sossusvlei Properly said.

The road is sandy and bumpy but the driver advances at full speed and the car hits some boats that make you levitate on the seat and let out some laughter of emotion or hysteria. If you come with your own 4 × 4 you can travel the path on your own, although it may be advisable to pay the shuttle because these people have more experience in traveling the sandy terrain. Anyway, when we get off the vehicle we discover that neither of the two excursions is well signposted. Without more information than a slight indication of the driver of the SUV, we follow the people who took the road on the left in the direction of Dead vlei.

Before us stood an imposing dune. There were people around her on the left, others on the right, and some began the ascent through the apex of the dune. We copied the latter and began to climb the very fine red sand. Later we learned that this was the difficult path, but it was exciting to climb the dune practically alone and take pictures every two steps and in all directions. When we were at the beginning of the dune's back, the height helped us to see which was the best way to reach the Dead vlei (surround the dune on the right), so we start down the slope of the dune without meditating too much.

So we landed in this kind of white patio populated only by some ancient fossilized trees. The soil is white earth grouped into small, hard, dry mounds that look like round cobblestones. This huge oval patio is surrounded by dunes on three sides and its only inhabitants are dead black trees. The contrast of colors of the white of the floor, the black of the wood, the reddish of the dunes and the intense blue of the sky is of a supernatural simplicity. We walk between this totally photogenic space without stopping to take photos right and left. In this magical place you get very special photos practically without any effort. It's like a special desert rest room, like a boneless graveyard: only dead black trees and hollow logs. And the silence.

After touring the vlei from one end to the other, we begin to climb the dune through the other end. However, when we were about forty meters up and we had already sweat a little, we went back down. We walked again through the white courtyard of dead trees and left the easiest way there. At that time the sun was already beginning to weigh heavily, but we did not give up. We went to the other side of where we had left the SUV to travel about 500 meters and go to see the other courtyard: the Sossusvlei.

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