Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dune 45

The aptly named Dune 45 is forty-five kilometers from the entrance of Namib-Naukluft National Park.  It is the most photographed and most climbed sand dune in the park, perhaps in the world, and we didn't pass up the chance to make our way to the top!  The red color (due to high iron content) of the dunes was quite a change from the golden dunes of Swakopmund.

Sara setting out for the top of Dune 45

Just after sunset came the best part of Dune 45 -- getting down from the top.  We all made a run for it, getting very sandy in the process!

Running down Dune 45

Near Dune 45 is a salt and clay pan known as Sossusvlei.  When it rains in the nearby mountains, the runoff flows down the Tsauchab river into the pan.  The occasional water forms something of an oasis in the desert where some trees are able to grow.  About 900 years ago the river changed course.  The old pan before the river started feeding Sossusvlei is now known as Dead Vlei.  The trees died when the river changed course, but they never rotted in the bone dry air.  This is what Dead Vlei looks like today -- probably similar to where the Mars Curiosity rover is right about now.

Dead Vlei

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