Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon
Perfect tranquillity greets us as we awaken at Namseb Lodge. Coffee is the perfect match for the peaceful early morning savannah scenes of this isolated place, while we charge and clean our cameras, ready for the day’s scenic adventures. We are heading towards some of Namibia’s best-known and most photographed places today!
Our hosts, Aileen and Guido, greet us with the same hearty enthusiasm as the afternoon before, ushering us in the direction of a breakfast buffet. The table is visibly groaning under the weight of bread rolls, cereal, muesli, yoghurt, cold cuts, cheese and juice.
Refreshed, we hit the road towards our accommodation at Sossusvlei Lodge, just outside the Namib-Naukluft National Park, 2.5 hours away.
Just before we reach the park, the turn off to Sesriem Canyon looms and we follow the signs to this amazing and ancient landmark. Despite the heat we manage to walk about among the caves and incredible rock formations carved out by the whims of the Tsauchab River, thousands of years ago.
The cool, muddy pools at the foot of the gorge are great for dipping our exhausted feet after the trip. These pools are one of the only places in the area to hold water after good rains. Our research tells us that it is these pools that gave the canyon its name. Sesriem, meaning ‘six straps’, is what the Dorsland trekkers would use, tied to a bucket to scoop up what water was there back in the day.
From here, we progress to our overnight accommodation at Sossusvlei Lodge where we dump our bags and enjoy a quick dip in the pool before a cold lunch, overlooking the National Park.
Incredible sand dunes
The cooler temperatures of late afternoon see us setting off to see the most famous sights within Namib-Naukluft. Our first stop is Dune 47, named for its location 45 km from the Sesriem entrance to the park. This spectacular 170m high heap of 5-million-year-old sand is what is known as a star dune.
Our next photo opportunity is the magnificent Big Daddy which is even more impressive than Dune 45, and is the second highest point in the Sossusvlei at 325m.
Not far from here it is time to hit the sand once again to tick one of Namibia’s most photographed spots off our wishlist. The Deadvlei is fascinating and well worth the 1km walk from the parking lot.
The eerie 900-year old camel thorn trees jutting out of the pan floor are simply amazing – their decay halted by the dry climate of the area. Geologists claim that the Tsauchab River once flooded this area, allowing the trees to grow. After some geological event, the flood plain dried up and gave way to the dunes of the Namib, leaving the trees quite literally high and dry to perish in the sun.
We linger as long as we can in this mysterious place and make it back to the park gate just before closing time. Needless to say, a long refreshing drink at the Lodge Bar is the perfect balm for our strenuous desert adventure.