The Iconic Sossusvlei, Namibia
If you’ve never heard of Sossusvlei and would have trouble pointing to Namibia on a world map, don’t fret because you are not alone. Namibia is a relatively large African country with a very small English speaking population. A large portion of the country is desert while a portion of it is borderline tropical. Its real attraction is the abundance of animals and opportunities to get up close and personal with those animals.
Our first trip to Namibia actually began at the World Expo in Shanghai. We were walking through the African pavilion when we stumbled onto the Namibian booth. It was a nice young attendant who revealed to us the urge to travel to a land we had known nothing about for our entire lives to that point. He told us all that we needed to hear. It was safe, not many people, you could drive yourself, people spoke English and the wild game viewing was second to none. We were sold.
We landed in Windhoek, Namibia's capital, after four flights and 40 hours in transit. It was encouraging to see our first baboon outside the airplane window as we taxied to the terminal. We had arrived.
The five hour trip to Sossusvlei was almost all gravel and traversed some very rocky terrain through low mountains. It was a very dry and arid landscape. The roads were good. The trick in driving lay in the fact that we had to stay in the left lane and the 5-speed manual transmission had to be shifted with the left hand. The shift pattern, clutch, gas and break were the same as a left hand drive vehicles that we are accustomed to, so that helped. The signal indicator and windshield wiper control were reversed however, so we found ourselves cleaning the windshield quite a bit to start off.
The next morning, just before dawn, we headed towards the sand dunes of the Namibian desert. The Sossislvei is an ancient river bed that runs into the dunes and then terminates in a series of dry lakes. The path between the dunes and its terminus at the dry lakes is spectacularly beautiful.
Upon arriving, we walked 1500 metres up the crest of a sand dune that ran beside the prettiest of the dry lake beds. This position provided the opportunity to take some bird’s eye photos of the lake bed and sand dunes that stretched far into the horizon. Descending the dune was an opportunity to fill your shoes with sand! The lake bed, dead scraggy trees and contrasting colours all added up to one of the most beautifully unique places on earth.