Namibia - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 39

Sossusvlei

Sunday 20th April

Another full day today with both cameras working overtime has meant that I’ve had to burn another DVD full of photos to send home. We are currently going through one DVD every seven to eight days. Today’s DVD will house 1811 photos from today and the previous week. I had to remove some files to make room for the DVD burn process so it will not be long before I must remove some of the photo albums from the earlier part of the trip to make room for more. Luckily, Jacqueline has confirmed receipt of the first couple of DVDs that I sent a week or so ago so I should be able to remove these photo albums without worry.

We had another insanely early start to today with everyone getting up at five o’clock. The reason for the early start was to go to dune forty-five (one of the tallest of Namibia’s sand dunes) which we would climb and sit on to watch the sunrise. It was a fantastic experience but the assent to the top was very strenuous and I have been wheezing all day with what sounds like fluid on my longs. It is much better this evening but I will see a doctor tomorrow if the problem persists. We climbed up the peak of the dune along the top edge. It was very difficult with a two steps forward, one step back pace of progress due to the very slippery and shifting sand beneath our feet. The view from the top was fantastic and well worth the effort we put in to get up there. As the sun edged into view over the horizon, it cast some brilliant orange shadows onto the dunes all around us. It was instantly one of the highlights of this trip and a very memorable moment.

After the sunrise show was over, we all came down (except Sandy who was already at ground zero having not quite made it to the top to begin with). For the most part, I followed the same route back but could not resist a burst sprint directly down the side of the dune. My legs were sinking into the dune all the way up to and past my knees but the momentum kept me going for quite a while. Once at the bottom, we enjoyed a cooked egg and bacon breakfast, which was already waiting for us. Fantastic!

After breakfast, we went to a place called Sossusvlei for a guided walk into the dunes with a guy called Bushman. It was without a doubt the very best guided anything that I’ve every participated in. The bushman fellow is nothing short of a walking encyclopaedia and he showed us so much evidence of life and animal activity (from the very large to the very small) that it changed my perspective of the dune landscape forever. Based on my initial observations, the dune were a desolate and extremely hot and forbidding place where nothing could possibly live yet it is actually teeming with life right under our noses. He showed us faint tracks in the sand that you would normally not notice were there and from these tracks was able to tell which animals had passed, there gender, what they were up to and all sorts of things. Every now and then, he would pick up a beetle or gecko or some sort of creepy crawly and he would go on and on about the life of the animal and how it lives in the desert. He also walked very fast and we spent most of our time trying to get to where he was standing waiting to tell us more. The enthusiasm that projected from him was extraordinary and he clearly loved his work. I would call his guided walk one of the highlights of our trip to date.

We returned from the vlei (there is no English word for this but the closest translation is floodplain – although technically inaccurate) for lunch and rested for a couple of hours with a refreshing dip in the pool.

We were soon off again with a brief ride to just around the other side of one of the camp-site’s surrounding mountains to the Sesrie Canyon. It is kind of a mini-canyon as it is only a few meters wide and about forty meters deep. After walking in and around it, we all sat atop the roof of the truck with champagne to watch the sunset. Another truly magical moment has been added to our ever-growing list of memories from this trip.

There is so much more to tell but the past few days have been exhausting and I can barely keep my eyes open. Tonight I will sleep on top of the truck beneath the stars. I will fall asleep gazing at the most brilliant show of night’s stars that is humanly possible to see. The Milky Way will slowly turn above my head as I rest throughout the night. Perhaps I will see the odd satellite float by as we did last night.

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