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Published: August 5th 2012
This morning we were awoken by birdsong long before the alarm time. We had a busy day planned so we were off to breakfast early and then we were on the road to Sossusvlei. One thing that we underestimated today is the space between places. This country is vast: we had booked into a local lodge but it is 45 minutes from the gate. Before we entered we made a quick stop at the petrol station to lower the tyre pressures for the planned drive on sand.
Permit obtained and paperwork completed (in Namibia you have to have a piece of paper for everything), we entered the park to be greeted with a tarmac road for the first 55km. As soon as you get into the park the road is bordered by this most magnificent dunes, but when we say bordered we mean African style as the dunes are about a kilometre away from the road on each side, again the space is amazing. Along the way we saw springbok and ostrich grazing at the side of the road.
We stopped at Dune 40 (40km inside the park, or 40 minutes if you stick to the speed
limit). Dune 40 is one of the few that you are encouraged to climb - well you have to give it go don’t you. But the space and time beat us after 45 minutes of struggling through the sand we had made it up 500 feet but we were only half way up. As we wanted to see Dead Vlei at the end of the park we let the dune win but if we ever return it will be conquered.
We pushed on to Dead Vlei but 5 km short of this the metalled road ends and we were into the sand. Now I know the theory of driving in sand, keep the momentum up and don’t stop, but it is easier said than done and after about 2 km the sand got really deep and we came across a stuck vehicle that was up to its axle at the front. I’m afraid at this point we chickened out and turned back for the car park and jumped on the shuttle service up to Dead Vlei. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and as it turned out the deep sand where we had bailed out was the worst
bit and we could have pushed on ourselves.
From the stopping place we had another kilometre walk across the by now very hot sand to get to Dead Vlei with its petrified trees: a truly amazing sight. But by now time was very pressing as we had booked our sun-downer horse ride at 3:30 and it was already 2:45. We really had to push on to get back in time as we had to go through the queue to get out where the paper work is checked, get the tyres pumped back up and negotiate the police check point, but we made it with 5 minute to spare.
After a quick changed of clothes and emptying the sand out of the shoes we were off to the stables to get our horses for the ride. I have ridden twice before in my life so it was going to be an experience. We set off in the beginners’ group taking the shorter route to the sun-downer stop and we were treated to wonderful views across the Veld to the setting sun behind the mountains. On the way back it was difficult to see where we
were going but luckily the horses knew the way! Rob’s horse was very well-behaved and liked to be out front setting a steady pace. Meg’s horse was called cheeky and liked to help herself to grass at will and when it was time for the slow group to set off she decided she would rather be with the other group. Other than that she was good. Both horses were dapple grey.
Dinner this evening was good, with game steak featuring on the menu. Tomorrow we set off for Swakomund on the coast, where we expect it to be cooler during the day but milder at night. There has been some talk of an evil wind bearing dust but we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Our advice for visitors to Sossusvlei would be, go to Dead Vlie end where there is the Sossusvlei Oasis to visit as well, (which we missed because of time pressure) first and work your way out of the park and climbing the dunes if you wish, not the other way round as we did it.
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