Dune 45 in Sossusvlei in the oldest desert Namib Naukluft
Dune climbing in Sossusvlei is a must do before you die.
When one speaks of the Namib Desert or the Namib Naukluft National Park, this is the image which drifts through your mind’s eye.
- Apricot toned dunes with razor sharp edges .
- The highest dunes in the oldest desert right before you.
- A rare photo opportunity of an Oryx darting through the sands.
In June 2017, Debarshi & I embarked on a self-drive Namibia tour. We rented our dream vehicle , the Toyota Land Cruiser. This is truly one of life’s greatest adventures. Having driven through the Etosha with unbridled wild life, misty Swakopmund, desolate Skeleton Coast beside the shipwreck Zeila, we were almost near the end of our holiday in Namibia.
We were lodging at the Sossusvlei Lodge in Sesriem and were booked for a hot air balloon safari. As luck would have it, the ride got postponed to the next day since it was windy. Thus, we settled on the next best thing – Dune Climbing and visiting the Deadvlei. The lodge is situated just at the Sesriem Gate of the National park and the gates open at sunrise.
Sossusvlei Dune Climbing – What to Remember
- Entrance Permits cost NAD80 per person for tourists outside SADC, NAD60 for South Africans, N$30 for Namibians, children under the age of 17 get to enter free
- Car permits cost NAD10 for cars up to 10 seats, NAD40 for cars more than 10 seats
- You just need to take the permit and drive further up 200m further for paying and checking, and proceed into the park.
Sossusvlei dune climbing – gearing up
We were seventh in queue at the Sesriem Gate. Because of the heavy tourist traffic, we were just given the permits at the gate and asked to pay on our way back. Thus, we started driving on the tarred 60 km road Southwest. Suddenly in our rear view mirror, we see the orange sphere, our source of sustenance peeking from behind the rocks. We stop for some sunrise clicks and then start driving down crossing various numbered dunes .Our plan was to climb any of the highest dunes – Dune 45 or the Big Daddy.
Sossusvlei Dune 45
We came across Dune 45 on our left side with already a small queue of human ants making their way up. It is so named because it is 45 km from Sesriem. The sand here is about 5 million years old and the red color is due to the high content of iron oxide. I had read in the Bradt Guide that Dune 45 is a STAR dune, not because of its photographed status. It is because the wind blows from all directions to form a somewhat star like shape with multiple arms.
Dune Climbing Facts
Use the Wee Hours of Dawn
Yes the park gates open at Sunrise, but climbing the dunes when the sun has not yet risen high is really crucial. As the day progresses, the temperatures sky rocket to roughly 40 degree.
Climb in Socks
Easier said than done. But your shoes fill with sand soon and your feet become lead filled heavy although we wore our very comfortable Gore-Tex Timberland trekking shoes, I did see a lot of young tourists take off their shoes and climb in socks.
Carry Water and a Snack
It is the desert and it is sunny, so carry a bottle of water and a small snack like an apple. Really helps.
We started climbing this dune at first our feet getting drowned in the loose sand, but as we ascended our hopes rose since we thought we had reached the top. Now this is a tricky situation with Dune 45. We were falling into a false sense of triumph early on in the climb. Once we reached the top of the crest, we saw another, even larger ridge and we kept on continuing. But Dune 45 keeps on going in a contiguous fashion till the Atlantic. WOW! Mind boggling.
On our way down, Debarshi decided to run down one of the slopes which was on the darker shadier side which no one had yet used. I was a little apprehensive since I did not want to disturb any critters, and just as reached the base, an alarmed adult rabbit whizzed past us startling us. And as you can see we clicked and clicked! We returned to our vehicle and proceeded to Deadvlei, which I will write about in my next blog.