This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Sunrise at Sossusvlei

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sossusvlei-1We camped under a full moon at the overflow site, away from tourist buses and noisy families. We lit the braai fire under the tree, under a full moon, with lizards keeping us company. At night as I walked the 200 m stretch from the tent to the bathroom facility, I needed no flashlight because the moon lit up the sand. Somewhere, not far away, I heard the agitated grunt of a grazer, maybe a zebra or an oryx. Either it had a quick disagreement with a herdmate, or it was very quickly killed. Only the moon knew which one was the case. The jackals were howling in the distance. Thank goodness each campsite in Namibia has guards patrolling the area day and night.

We rose in the dark and passed through the Sesriem gates before first light, at 5.45 am when they opened, aiming for some of the most famous sights in Namibia: the Sossusvlei salt pan, the Big Daddy dune, Dune 45, and the Deadvlei salt pan. It was a magical 1-hour drive through the river valley, with dry savannah on the sides flanked by tall, red dunes. sossusvlei-2The desert here is one of the oldest in the world. The red sand of Southern Namib comes from the Kalahari desert. When the Sossusvlei area was under the sea the Kalahari sand got washed in and stayed as the sea dried up to the desert it is now. The beaches became dunes. Some of the tallest dunes in the world are in Sossusvlei and the coast around Walvis Bay.

The last stretch to the salt pan must be with a proper 4WD, or preferably, a safari vehicle. Sossusvlei means a “dead-end marsh”. Most of the time it is not a marsh but a white, hard pan of salt. It becomes marshy only when it rains, and the rainwater cannot exist the pan but stays in the dead-end of the river valley.sossusvlei-3(Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia; July 2017)

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