Walking on sand dunes
To say we all got up early this morning may be an understatement. Breakfast was at 5.30am and we were all aboard our coach by 6am. The Namib Naukluft Park entrance gates are just a few hundred yards from our lodge and we aim to enter as soon as they open. The plan works, and we're one of the first vehicles trundling along the road towards Sossusvlei. We drive around 60 kms into the park, stopping a few times to enjoy the scenery and take photos. We watch a hot air balloon in flight, and begin to see some wildlife - a few Springbok, Oryx, and Ostrich. We're also lucky enough to see some Black Backed Jackals feeding on a dead carcass. However we haven't ventured out today to see wildlife. Today is all about the amazing scenery of the Namib Desert - which boasts some of the world's highest sand dunes. It is an incredible sight, especially with the ever-changing colours resulting from the sun slowing coming up to full strength.
At the end of the park road we swap to 4WD jeeps and transfer the last couple of miles across a sandy plain. The transfer service is operated as a concession of the national parks and is somewhat chaotic. Richard decides to hijack a few jeeps, tips the drivers, we board, and we're off. From the drop off point we enjoy a walk across the sand dunes to a location called Deadvlei. This is a flat pan which originally held water but has been dry for many years. Camelthorn trees once flourished in part of the pan but without water they dried out (some 650 years ago) and now stand eerily against the backdrop of the sand, blue skies and the white pan. It makes a remarkable photo and not one you could experience anywhere else in the world. This morning, in one corner of the pan, a film crew from South Africa are shooting a music video. We're glad not to be part of the crew - they are carrying a lot of equipment across the dunes and it is very hot.
Some free time for a siesta back at our lodge before we enjoy a late afternoon nature drive and sundowner. We board four open sided game viewing vehicles and head out around the private reserve. It is still pretty warm so most of the wildlife is hiding in the shade. We watch some cute ground squirrels, see a few birds and potentially an ostrich in the distance - but then again it might have been a dark rock. Talking about rocks, we stop by a big formation of granite boulders to spot a small troupe of rock dassies sunbathing (dassies are like large brown rats!). While we watch, one of our 4 jeeps is in for a surprise. A large black spitting cobra decides to slither underneath the jeep from one side to the other, and then continues into the rocks. The cobra must have been about 5 to 6 feet in length, but of course there are many claims it was much longer!
Back at the lodge we enjoy another magnificent BBQ buffet. We're on the terrace this evening. The temperature is perfect, and a whole troop of Oryx decide to visit the nearby waterhole as if to say thank you for visiting Sossusvlei Lodge. It is our pleasure!