WE NOW change vehicles to smaller 4x4s to head to our lodge. It’s a long drive going over 91 sand dunes to get there but what a ride. One and a half hours later we arrive at the Xaus Lodge. The info tells us that because of the sparse vegetation, predator sightings are good with a chance to see the famous Black Mane Lion. This afternoon we will find out as we go on a Sundowner Game Drive. P.S. The lion was not out tonight.
The next morning we go on a game walk with San Bushmen as our guides. They explain how to track animals and how to live off the bush.
We later meet with a group of San people and have the opportunity to buy some of their handmade items. This group of young men have been brought to our lodge from the city far away, and it’s a chance to get them away from the temptations of the city including alcohol.
The following day we leave the reserve and head on to our next country, Namibia. Border control is simple and efficient, the weather is good (30ºC) and the highways are long and made of gravel, but our Safari vehicle seems to handle it well.
We travel past huge mountain ranges, some topped with large boulders. They are basalt thrown up by volcanic action aeons ago. The rocks look like huge dice thrown there by God’s hand; a truly spectacular sight.
Namibia is an ancient land. This huge state has a sparse population of only two million people, but the tourists are here on mass.
We are headed for the Fish River Canyon which is among the largest in the world. We arrive at the Canyon Lodge, our home for two nights. The structure has been built to blend into the stunning rocky surrounds. One wall of the main building is built into the rocks and looks like it’s part of nature only with a five star rating. Tomorrow we will explore the canyon. It’s huge and said to be only second to Americas Grand Canyon. We walk the rim looking down to the river below. It has stopped moving, not surprising as they only get 20mm of rain a year, but if it rains heavily in its tributaries the waters will rush through the canyon as it has done for millennia.
The canyon was formed by movements in the Tectonic Plates and by river erosion over millions of years. What you see today is a canyon over 161km long and 27km across, and 550m deep. It’s impressive.
We have now travelled to the edge of the Namib Desert. We are staying two nights in a tented camp and not just any tent but one with a full ensuite. It’s known as Sesriem Desert Camp.
With dawn comes our chance to travel through the world’s highest sand dunes. You can only enter the area after sunrise when the gates to the national park open, and here it comes, the biggest, reddest sunrise we have seen. As we travel in the mountains dunes line either side of the road. The valley floor is the colour of normal sand but the dunes are red and glow as if they are lit from within but it’s the light of that big sun that creates the wonderful effect.
I have never seen anything quite as moving. The sheer beauty of it all just absorbs the mind, and this is a wonderful place to be.
We’re heading to the Sossusvlei. It’s a salt pan, bright white colour with eerie dead trees in it and it’s right in the centre of the dunes. You can drive in but our guide invites us to walk in, after all it’s only a two and a half hour walk through the desert, and it’s getting hot.
We set off. It’s quite flat and the beauty of the red sand dunes surrounds you. As we walk along, the light and colour of the dunes changes from deep red to light.
The going gets a little harder as the sand underfoot gets deeper and then we climb our first dune. I notice my breathing getting a little heavy as we climb but we make it to the top. The view is spectacular. Surrounded by the desert and dunes.
Time to come down the other side. It’s steep but our guide just steps off the edge, digs his heels in and walks/slides down the face of the dune. We all follow, some more gracefully than others, but once you get the hang of it it’s fun.
The walk goes on and finally we arrive at the Sossusvlei. Originally a river flowed here but with the shifting sands over time the river was cut off. It became a water hole and finally dried up and became a salt pan, studded with dead Camelthorn trees. It’s quite eerie. The dead trees are said to be 700 years old. It’s something to see but having done the walk was it worth it? Yes it was a great experience. Will I sleep well tonight? ‘You betcha.’
To be continued.
Until next time,