|A 4:20 am wake up ensures that the group has time to make a take away breakfast and depart for Sossusvlei where we are anxious to climb the famous dune 45 and participate in a bushman's walk through the desert.
The outer gate to the park opened at 6 am and we arrived shortly before 6. We waited a bit but were anxious to get to the dune before the weather made it unbearably hot. Upon arrival I quickly got started with my running shoes on. I began the ascent quickly but soon slowed down and took breaks since walking in the sand was tiring and yes, hot. This dune is 120 meters high and took about 30 minutes to ascend to the top including the few rest stops. Magnificent! What a much-needed morning work out. The sun was already up so we did not witness a sunrise. I sat on the edge of the dune waiting for the others to get there. I took off my shoes and let my bare feet feel the soft red sand. I emptied the sand from my shoes and realized I had quite a bit of extra weight in these shoes. I decided to descend barefoot. Photos were taken and we soaked up the amazing view before heading down to the truck. I really wish I had some sort of toboggan to get down but running down was a lot of fun too. It didn't take much time to get down.
Our guide Shady, had yoghurt and drinks ready for us when we reached the truck. That was much appreciated. We ate our take away breakfast while we drove the short distance to the bushman's walk trailhead.
This walking tour took about 2.5 hours of walking into Sossusvlei. Hiking into the dunes feels isolated even though this is a major tourist attraction. Some of the dunes here reach 325 meters high. Our truck dropped us off at a pick up area since the sand is too soft for the truck to make it through. This is where we hopped into the back of a 4x4 pick up truck and held on while the truck ripped through soft sand of old river beds. The ride was extreme fun!
Surprisingly a Japanese woman is our guide. She does a remarkable job of introducing us to the area. She is knowledgeable and explains that she was once a tourist here ten years ago, married and never returned home. She taught us how the dunes were formed, how insects, lizards, animals and plants have adapted to living in this desert. IN the photos you can see many dead trees. She explained that if the tree grows when there is very little rain it would develop roots that grow very deep in search of water and will then be able to tolerate drought. Those trees that grew when the area was flooded died because the roots did not grow deep enough to find water once the lake dried up. Interesting! She also told us about the strange weather patterns here. It hasn't rained here in ten years! Hard to believe that in 1997 when she first arrived here this area was flooded. The sun was beating down on us the entire hike. Our 4x4 ride returned us to our overland truck and from there we returned to the Weltevrede Lodge.
It was a great photo-op day!