24th to the 28th of August
Sossusvlei is where the massive red sand dunes are located and the tallest ones reach around two hundred metres from the valley floor. It was a 341 kilometre drive on dirt roads and mainly in good condition apart from the last 100 kilometres which were badly corrugated. Along the way we made a 40 kilometre side track to Duwisib Castle a solid rectangular structure of red sandstone with battlements and turrets on each corner. The red sandstone was obtained from a quarry very close by but all the rest of the building materials and furniture was brought in from Germany and transported from Luderitz by Ox wagons. It was built by Baron von Wolf for his American wife Jayta and was completed in 1909. It was quite incredible to see this castle out in the Namibian desert and well worth the side track.
We were not able to secure a booking in the Sesriem Campsite which is in the Namibia-Naukluft Park but we had managed to secure a two night booking at the Sossus Oasis camp ground which lies just outside the park. This doesn’t seem too bad until you find out that if you camp within the park you are allowed to leave for the sand dunes an hour before sunrise but if you are outside the park you are unable to get into the park until 7.30 am and then it’s another hours drive to the dunes. So there we were at 7.15 am lined up outside the gate along with 30 other vehicles doing the same. It’s not a very good or fair system.
Once down at the dunes even though there are a lot of people down there they are spread over a very large area so it didn’t really seem crowded at all. We set off from the 4WD carpark and climbed one of the taller sand dunes and I must say it is really hard work climbing sand dunes especially when the sand is so dry and soft.
Once at the top though the views were spectacular looking over the top of many other dunes and also the dry clay pans in the valleys below. We then had a heap of fun running down the dune to one of the clay pans which we then crossed and climbed up another dune that was so much steeper and softer that we really had to work hard to get to the top.
Down in the clay pan we came across a lot of Chinese women dressed up in their finest evening gowns while they modelled and had their photos taken by their husbands. I have now seen everything! We then returned to camp for a very relaxing afternoon watching the local lads play a game of soccer and to let our calf muscles recover!😎.
It was quite weird in the ablution blocks at this camp site because there was an open roof and the cubicles for both the toilets and showers were made of bamboo and only came up to your shoulders so everyone was quite exposed! I even had a conversation while having a shower with Pauline who was outside! Also while in Sesriem we visited the Sesriem Canyon which is not vey deep nor very wide but you can descend into it and walk along it. The temperature was so much cooler than the hot day above so we really enjoyed the walk.
We stand out quite a bit here in Namibia because the majority of vehicles here are either white dual cab 4WDs (most of which are rentals) or are big trucks which have been transformed into safari trucks for tourists. So as you can imagine we are a magnet to people wanting to know all about us and where we are from and where we are going. In the process we have met a lot of fantastic people and have learnt so much from them. This adventure is certainly ticking all the boxes.😜