Published: September 1st 2009August 30th 2009
View From Dune 45
"Dune, Arrakis, Desert Planet..."
Another early start for us as we get up before sunrise to head for the dune in Deadvlei (to quote one our readers 'the sodding middle of sod all'). A whole bunch of us jump in the 4x4 to being the 65km journey into the valley of the dunes.
Our first stop is the well-known Dune 45 (45km from the entrance) which is one of the few dunes that you are allowed to climb and the most accessible. We climb up the dune ridge, thankfully made easier by following other's footsteps and the view across the valley, which is at a point where the dual dune ridges have yet to converge, expands. As we progress upwards Sue suffers from an attack of vertigo. Comments like 'come on Sue, you'd ski down that, wouldn't you?' aren't met with much enthusiasm ('No, I wouldn't') but she does well and overcomes it.
Our descent down the steeper side is a leisurely affair, as you can see from the photo of Sue, and we head into Deadvlei proper for a tasty spot of breakfast, where we me Conraym and Annie, a really nice South African couple who we
At The Top of Dune 45
Sue's conquered her vertigo!
make friends with.
After a spot of tiffin, we take a walk into the calcium flats. The stouter hearted amoung us decide to start walking up 'The Big Papa', which is the biggest sand dune in Namibia at over 300m. The party consists of Conraym, Annie and Tim, with Sue deciding that she's 'done dunes now' and we push onwards.
When we pass the point where we'd told the guides we turned back we manage to goad each other into make a full assult on the peak. It's hot and very steep. As we climb one very tough point directly up the dune face I realise why no-one would ever walk out of a desert. It's a hard climb with lots of water and suncream required but we make it and it's well worth it... if for nothing else other than the run down, which is great fun and feels exactly like walking on the moon and you bound down the face with sand flying everywhere.
When we get down our guides are waiting for us as we've been gone a long time and they're not really happy at all but when we get back to the
4x4 everyone's pleased to see us that we're OK.
OK - Let's Off Road!
Not satisfied with having conquered the dunes Sue insists that book ourselves in for a bit of sundowner quad bike that she's been going on at me to do for ages. What can I say?
Late afternoon we don helmets and head off with our really nice guide Chris (it's just the three of us!) Sue quickly masters the controls of her chosen steed (aka 'Termite') with myself faithfully bringing up the rear on my own trusty mount ('Kakalaka' aka 'Cockroach'). It's great fun zooming about on all the boneshaker rocks and dried up river bed.
During a refreshing pit stop Chris gives us the low-down on loads of Namibian wildlife and we get a feeling for what to expect when we make it to the animal sanctuary in the next couple of day.
The crowning moment in as the sun sets over us and we head back to the lodge with us leading (burning across the plains, I tell you, and leaving the guide behind) and the descending purple skies our headlamp beams blaze out through the dust. What a
Dune Run Down The Big Papa
Note the difference in style.
There are more photos below