Dune Sunset in Namibia 530 km

Day 7 Dec. 19 Friday
What a way to wake up – a beautiful sunrise enjoyed sitting just inside the door of the tent.

Sunrise from the tent  View from the tentWe were on the road by 7 am. On the bus this morning, before we started driving, Rachel took out one of her bags of chips and commented that we’d better eat them before they turned into crumbs (referring to having carried them around for so long). Mike said,  “Then we can snort Simba dust “. Rachel replied, “Yah, riding the Africa lion”! We had a good giggle. A great sunrise and lots of laughter – could life be any better?

We were heading to Sessriem, to a campsite located on the edge of the Namib Desert, (one of the world’s oldest deserts) a distance of over 500 km so we had a full day ahead of us. Below is a map of our route so far this trip. This laminated map was at the back of the bus. Everyday, one of our crew members would trace out our route but this day was the first day that I thought to take a picture of it.

Bus Map

The terrain continued to change – from sand, rock buttes, and scraggly trees to the same endless sea of stones, bushes and occasional small hills. I twice spotted a type of raptor sitting atop the power poles running alongside the highway we were on. I wondered if they were fish Eagles? They looked much like our bald eagles.

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We stopped for lunch under a feather tree – my name for it – it’s actually a camel thorn also know as an acacia tree (they have 2 inch long spikes on them). When I went to answer the call of nature, I had an encounter with a camel thorn – it went right through the sole of my Sketchers and into my foot. Extremely painful for 5 minutes or so.

Continuing on, we began to see more farms and game farms – our attention drawn to the fencing around these farms. Some of the fencing looked just like a regular fence – fence poles, wires etc. Others, had two  layers of fence, it seemed – imagine a regular fence with another one above it, each supporting the wires with upright strips of wood, to make it that much taller. The private game farms had this much higher, more distinctive – looking fencing than the other, traditional farms.

FINALLY!!! The long anticipated red dunes. The pictures below show the first sighting of the red dunes of the Namib desert appearing through the distant haze.

First dune view Dunes
We finally arrived in Sessriem at around 3! (The end point on the map above shows you exactly where we were.) There was a beautiful bar; the high thatched ceiling and large open windows making it very airy.

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We met Rhea who joined the tour from California. Had a drink, set up camp, played Uno accompanied by uproarious laughter as we nailed each other with the cards, had a cappuccino in the bar and at 530 set off to climb Elim Dune. It looked like a baby dune – nothing we couldn’t manage to climb. (This over-confidence came from our past experiences climbing the dunes in the Wahiba desert in Oman – we knew it would be difficult but….). Below is fellow adventurer, Jan, just starting his climb.

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This was to be our practice dune as there would be two other, higher dunes to climb the next day. We managed to climb to the top and spent the next hour or more enjoying the view, laughter, feelings of accomplishment and of course, the sunset.

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We ran all the way down in less than a quarter of the time it took to go up and were soon back in camp for a dinner of lamb stew (karoo lamb I think because it was so … delicious!)