Much of where I have been in Southern Africa is the direct result of going on Geological Field Trips. Lots and lots of field trips.
When I first arrived in South Africa to further my studies in all things “rock” I quickly cottoned on to the fact that the best way to explore the country, and earn some well-needed cash, was to offer my skills and services as a designated driver for the undergraduate field trips. The best trip of any year, which all of us post-graduates vied for, was the Honours Field Trip. In 1997, the foreign destination of choice was Namibia.
Despite visiting mine upon mine upon mine, and driving a ridiculous number of kilometers (~5000km in 1 week!), we still managed to take a day off to visit Sossusvlei. We also stopped in at Luderitz – due to the alternator in my vehicle packing up and blowing a few fuses along the way. At night. Just for fun.
The headlights didn’t work unless on full beam. The indicators didn’t operate – but oddly enough, the hazard lights worked just fine. The engine would cut out every time we approached a Stop junction; suddenly there seemed to be a great deal more Stop junctions. The only way to keep the machine alive was to pull the choke out. Luckily, the vehicle was sufficiently old enough to still have a choke.
Anyway, it was all fun and games, and earned us a few hours delay to breath in the cool, misty sea air.
Sossusvlei could not be a more different setting. Rich red sands and electric blue skies – this desert just begs to be photographed. Sossusvlei basically translates as “marsh of no return” – the river that sometimes flows into the desert gets this far, and no further.
If I remember correctly, the track from Sesriem to Dune 45 and onwards into Sossusvlei becomes 4×4 only, which meant we walked a good long way to see this remote corner of the world. It was absolutely worth it.
The view from the top of Dune 45:
A hint of an oasis:
Dune 45, again. I can’t resist – I love the dessication cracks in the sand here…