Namib Naukloft - moonshine

Sossusvlei and Namib Naukloft National Park

by Brent Daniel and Donna Nespoli :: and

We drove a few hours southwest out of Windhoek, over dusty gravel roads  beneath a blinding sun. We saw not a single other vehicle for hours. We blew out a tire; wriggled about under the 4x4 on our bellies to change it. We drove on for another few hours through the falling darkness to a beautiful, but very lonesome outpost 20 km south of Sesriem. In the morning we headed back to "town" --- town consisting of exactly a gas station --- to get the punctured tire patched and were nearly struck dumb by the sight of this...

Sossus Oasis Gas Station, Sesriem, Namibia.

I mean, seriously. Who are you people ... ? How did you ... ? What the heck?? We'd driven 100 km past the town of Solitaire on the way in the previous evening only to run into this. Doesn't that violate some cosmic law of irony or something?

We needn't have worried. It turns out that folks that turn up in buses rarely seem to stray far from them. With the exception of Deadvlei, we hardly saw another soul within the park. That's Donna walking toward our Hilux in the image below. There's more than enough space to swallow up, well, ... just about anything.

Near Elim Dune. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

In fact, there's only a single ribbon of tarmac within that section of the park. It runs 65km due west from the entrance at Sesriem out to Sossusvlei. Were you to head off perpendicular to the tarmac, walking north or south, you wouldn't hit anything but dunes for 100 - 200 km. Literally, nothing but piles of sand. To the west? It's another 60 km to where the dunes drop straight into the cold Atlantic.

Looking west from the shoulder of Dune 45. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

It's a bit difficult to do justice to the scale of the place. That little sandhill behind the tree below? About three hundred feet tall. Some of the other dunes within the park reach to over a thousand. The image on the right might provide a little better indication as to the relative immensity of the place. Pay attention. You do NOT want to get lost.

(Left) Dune 45. (Right) Hiking near Deadvlei. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

Amazingly, there is green about. Not a lot of it, but it is there, sprinkled along the washes at the road's end. We asked one of the folks at the hotel when it had rained last. He said April. We were there in December.

Sossusvlei, Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

What passes for a shade tree in the Namib. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

Namibian Port-a-Loo. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

After a long morning in the sun, we slunk back to one of our favorite haunts, the Sesriem Restaurant at the park entrance, one of the few places in Namibia we were able to find cold, fresh salads. We ate a lot of them. We got  funny looks from the waiter, "You want to order another one?" Yes, please!

Sesriem Restaurant and Bar. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.

After a late lunch, we went back out to the area around Elim Dune to search for Secretary Birds. We didn't find any. Just a tree, an oryx, and a whole lot of space. Fine by us. Not a bad place to while away a late afternoon.

Elim Dune region. Namib Naukloft National Park, Namibia.