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 route, approximately

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.

Dune 45:

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…