A journey of about 4.5 hours to another tented lodge via another gravel road that stretched on as far as the eye could see. By now we were getting used to the fact that there are hardly any cars on the roads in Namibia!
On the way we drove past a young boy seemingly in the middle of nowhere and he mimed drinking. As we had water on board it was the decent thing to do to stop and give him a bottle and in very good English he asked if we also had some bread that he could have. We had actually bought some the day before to make sandwiches with, so gave him the remaining few slices. Feeling very humbled we drove off, thankful that we are so privileged that we can see the world, let alone not have to worry about having enough water to drink and food to eat.
Our accommodation in Sossusvlei was fabulous and consisted of individual semi-permanent structures set along a boardwalk.
It took about 8 minutes to walk to our rooms from reception and dining area so I always double checked that I had everything I wanted before leaving my room! On the first evening I made the mistake of leaving my bedside light on whilst we went to dinner, and on my return the room had about 40 grasshoppers inside, mostly gathered on or near the lamp, including a big one on my pillow. I closed the mosquito net and had a ‘fun’ 30 minutes catching the ones inside the net one by one and throwing them out of the window! Once I was sure that the remaining ones were on the outside of the net I turned off the light in the hope they they would take the hint and either go to sleep themselves, or make their way out via wherever they got in! In the morning they were all gone 🙂
Our lodge was inside the National Park and I’d chosen it because it meant that we could drive in it before dawn and after dusk. Our main purpose of going there was to visit the sand dunes and DeadVlei, an area of dried white clay with skeletons of ancient camel thorn trees, some of which have been carbon dated to show that they are up to 600 years old. I’d seen so many photos of this place that I was really excited to visit it, hoping upon hope that I could take some photos as striking as those that I’d already seen. The best time to get there was at sunrise, and it’s only possible to get there so early by staying in the lodge in the park. Otherwise, the main gates don’t open until 6.00, and it takes nearly an hour to get to Deadvlei, by which time the sun has risen over the dunes, the crowds start arriving, and the magic is gone. There is a car park at the end of the road and only 4X4s can drive past this. We didn’t want to risk getting stuck in sand though, so we waited for the game viewers to arrive and we hopped on those. There was a great dead tree in the car park, so of course, this was worth a photo, even though it was only 5.50 a.m.!
Once we had actually found Deadvlei (no signposts!) we weren’t disappointed. We came over the top of a dune and there it was below us.
Only ourselves and four others had made the effort to get up and leave early (4.30 a.m.!) but it was so worth it. There was no wind as it’s protected on all sides by sand dunes, and there was absolute silence. We watched the sun creeping down the dunes to light up the white landscape, and I took over 200 photographs that morning! Here are my favourites. (Too many I know, but I couldn’t choose between them – perhaps it’s just weird that I love dead trees?!!)
As we were down in the bowl, other people were climbing up the dune, which looked like far too much hard work for my liking!
As the sun came up, magnificent shapes and shadows became apparent.
By keeping people in the shots below, it gives a sense of perspective – these dunes are huge!
As we were leaving, hordes of people were walking in, and we were so pleased that we had had the place virtually to ourselves for a couple of hours. It really was a couple of hours to treasure.
We enjoyed a few hours of downtime back at the lodge, and in the afternoon we visited a nearby canyon. Typical of the whole area, there were no signs as to where to go to get down in it, and Deb was convinced it wasn’t possible, Jamie scared us all half to death by trying to climb straight down and disappearing from view and Jean-Jacques did his usual calm and considered wander round and found the pathway which was a little steep in places but very doable. Once at the bottom the temperature was lovely – cooler than up top, and we spent a good hour or two walking in it.
I’m running another tour of Namibia in September 2018. If anyone is interested in joining me check out the details here. You can come to learn how to take better photos as I’ll happily teach you how to use your SLR or mirrorless camera creatively, or just come with me and see all these great locations.
“The trip that Julie arranged to Namibia hit all the right notes. Her attention to detail ensured that we had a perfect itinerary with lodging that at times was nothing short of decadent. One could not imagine a better guide and Julie’s preparation was meticulous. You will find no better or encouraging tutor if you are looking to improve your photography skills. Among her many gifts, Julie never forgets that taking photography should always be fun. If you want a once-in-a-lifetime trip to an amazing country with opportunities to visit breathtaking landscapes and see extraordinary wildlife, I whole-heartedly recommend a journey with Julie.” Gary – Tennessee, US.