Day 17: Namib-Naukluft National Park
Namib-Naukluft National Park Travel Blog› entry 22 of 34 › view all entries
Another reason for sleeping outside last night was the fact that we would leave at 6 o'clock in the morning. And not having to pack a tent meant at least 15 minutes more sleep!
We drove down to the Namib-Naukluft National Park at the crack of dawn in order to reach Namibia's most photographed landmark before sunrise.
Most photographed landmark of the country, and a rather uninspired name: Dune 45.
45 because the dune is situated 45 kilometres from the entrance of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. You wouldn't be able to make up nonsense like this.
The view from the top boasted stunning views over the surrounding sand dunes and the Sossusvlei, while the rising sun basked everything in an ethereal golden light.
I didn't climb up all the way to the top - Couldn't be bothered, to be frank.
The dune lies about halfway in the Sossusvlei, a valley carved out by the Tsauchab and Aub rivers. Once these rivers flowed all the way to the sea, but throughout the centuries the sand dunes have closed in and blocked off the valley from the sea.
After a nice breakfast at the foot of the dune we travelled on to the far end of the Sossusvlei.
We went on a walk to the end of the valley with Bushman Franz. Franz is a true bushman, but his parent probably had a twisted sense of humour by giving him a German first name (Namibia used to be a German colony after all).
Franz is a guide for 'Sossus on foot' tours, and specialises in desert survival. He is a great character. Doesn't talk all that much English, which made his stories all the more entertaining. He was to tell us something about desert survival, or was he? More often than not he pointed toxic plants out to us, which could relieve us from the painful death of dehydration. Makes sense though, I couldn't see how I could survive for a day without water here. Franz told us he once spent a week out here, walking from the Sossusvlei to the sea, for no reason at all. Just because he could.
He showed us the amount of life that still exists in the seemingly dead desert. Plants that seemed dead would open their leaves as soon as you'd pour a bit of water on it.
He also caught a small lizard and showed us how you can immobilise it by annoying it so it will bite you, after which it is easier to eat it.
One of the most amazing stories he told was of the endemic catfish, frog and shrimp that live in the waters. When the river dries up again these animals lay their eggs in the limestone riverbed, and these can survive up to 10 years without water. He told us if you'd take a piece of limestone from the dried riverbed and put it into a bucket of water, you'd have shrimp swimming in the bucket within days.
The dunes of the Namib desert don't move, unlike the dunes in the Sahara desert.
The Deadvlei is such a place. This used to be part of the Sossusvlei until some 1000 years ago the dunes on both sides met and waters no longer flowed into the valley. Gradually all life died, leaving an eerie looking landscape. Because of the lack of water, the acacia trees that grew in the valley do not rot, nor are they eaten because of their dense wood. So these dead trees have been standing here for more than 1000 years.
It is a surreal place. One of Namibia's most loved spots for photographs and it is easy to see why. It is an absolutely stunning place.