On the way we see herds of Springbock, Oryx, ostriches, warthogs and smaller critters. The guide stops to show us how to detect the big White Lady Spider. He first finds tiny traces in the sand which lead to a small well camouflaged hole. Then he digs around that hole and catches the spider. I love people who know their environment and can interpret all the little signs we would ignore. The sun paints the distant mountains red, orange and blue, the animals enjoy grazing in the shadow of the valley floor.
The trip through the corridor of dunes is spectacular. The clean lines of the dunes sculpted by the wind and accentuated by the shadows of the still low sun are other worldly.
We arrive at the bottom of dune 45, (not a poetic name but all the dunes are numbered) she looks daunting. Not everyone wants to climb it, so I set out with Mathieu and with my two walking sticks. After a while I get into the rythm, put myself in low gear and go up slowly. Higher up both Mathieu and I start feeling slightly apprehensive of the hight, the sides are steep, it is a long way down! Plus, one has to make way for people coming down and the crest is very narrow. I was very happy to have my sticks and got lots of comments from the mostly German and French tourists.
The view, and the sense of vastness, of the beginning of time, was overwhelming.
On the way down we met Andre and Marc who also went to the top. By then we had lost our fear, and could step off the ridge easily. The sand made interesting ephemeral patterns, quickly erased by the wind. I am so grateful that all of us had the ability to do this climb, I think it will be one of the most treasured experiences ever.
A little further into the dunes we came upon the "deadvlei". This is the dried up ancient river, its progress to the sea blocked by the huge dunes. Nothing rots in the desert, so the dead trees still stand there, sculptures of a bygone time.
By now it was getting very hot, we were glad to reach the bus. Our picnic, was at the very end of the Sossusvlei, under shady acacia trees, very pleasant. This part of the road is strictly off road. We passed some cars hopelessly stuck in the sand. Our jeep can deflate the tires from inside the vehicle, that and a experienced driver, make all the difference.
On the way back we stop at the Sesriem canyon, 2 million years old, carved by the Tsauschab river. We did not do it justice because we were tired and it was getting late. So we only went a little way down to admire the layers of coloured rock.
Return to our beautiful lodge, a swim in the pool, little snooze, happy hour with a gorgeous sunset and than a very good sit-down dinner.
As a surprise the staff gave us a great performance of rhythmic music song and dance. It is amazing that after a long day's work they can dance with so much energy and genuine joy. They are beautiful generous people.