Sesriem area– Sossusvlei – Sesriem area (camping) (FB)
A pre-dawn start is essential this morning as we want to catch the soft light of the sunrise on the desert. After passing through Sesriem, the gateway to the dunes, we head into the heart of the dune field, reaching Sossusvlei on foot, trekking the last 5 km through the dunes. Landscape photo opportunities abound in the cool of the morning, with dawn’s soft light first illuminating the dunes from crest down the back slope, then blazing orange everywhere, creating a powerful contrasting vista across the whole desert. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or ostrich makes it essential to remember your camera!
We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei, also visiting dune 45. As the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch, escaping the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon.
Sossusvlei is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red sand dunes to make this one of the natural wonders of Africa and a photographers heaven.Aside from the attractions at Sossusvlei - Dune 45, Hidden Vlei, Big Daddy and Dead Vlei - other attractions in the area include the Sesriem Canyon and Namib-Naukluft National Park, where the mountains of the Namib meet its plains.
Named for its location 45 kilometres past the town of Sesriem, Dune 45 is renowned for its elegant shape, which – along with its position close to the road – have earned it the distinction of ‘most photographed dune in the world’. If you’re not keen for the strenuous hike to the top of Big Daddy, Dune 45 is a more forgiving alternative, standing at only 80 metres and featuring a much gentler gradient.
Sesriem Canyon, a deep chasm carved through the rocks by water, is a striking natural feature of the area that is best explored on foot. Stony walls rise up sharply on both sides of the canyon, while birds roost in its crags and lizards dart along the ledges. The canyon’s name was coined when early settlers used it as a water source, using six lengths of leather (‘ses riem – six thongs) tied together to lower buckets into the water at the base of canyon.
This ancient clay pan was once an oasis, studded with acacias and fed by a river that suddenly changed course, leaving the earth to dry up along with the trees it previously supported. So dry were the climatic conditions that the trees never decomposed – instead they were entirely leached of moisture so that today, 900 years later, they remain as desiccated, blackened sentinels dotting the pan’s cracked surface. Surrounded by the red-pink dunes of the Namibia Desert, they create a surreal spectacle that is a photographer's dream.