Sosussvlei – dawn

Sossusvlei just before sunrise

Based on my experience photographing sand dunes in Death Valley, California, one of the best times to take pictures is at sunrise. (And I shouldn’t forget to add it is also the coolest time of day too.) After the long journey the day before, getting up at 4:30 was no picnic. Speaking of which, the lodge had packed one for us intrepid folk who insist on gobbling up nature at the light of dawn. It was still dark, our driver advised us to put on coats as it would be cold in the open jeep for the 35 minutes or so it would take to get from the lodge to Sossusvlei itself. While others were sleeping, I kept an eye out for that moment before the sun rises that marks the first dawn in order to take pictures, even if it meant a slow shutter speed and a bumpy ride.
I had never seen such large dunes before: in the blue dawn light, their size and redness were very impressive. Standing like silent sentinels, it was impossible not to be awed by nature’s majesty. Although I was able to take sharp, movement-free images later, I think that some of these early dawn shots are more expressive.

Windhoek – Sossusvlei

On the C23 to Sossus Dunes

At long last, a dream come true: to see the huge sand dunes of Sossuvlei, in the middle of the Namib desert. Off I went south from Windhoek through Rehoboth and quite nicely missed the turnoff to Sossuvlei. (Just outside Windhoek, there was a family of baboons clustered along the edge of the highway. One had to be careful as it seemed they thought of nothing of traipsing across the highway at a moment’s notice.)
Paved (or tarred as they are called here) roads are labelled Bx and everything else is C, D, E, F. F type roads is really nothing more than a beaten track. C type roads – gravel – are the norm and thus many destinations in Namibia require traveling these roads.
Missing the turn off at Rehoboth resulted in a detour that added two more hours to the total travel time and meant taking yet another stretch of gravel roads lasting 4 hours. The upside was snaking through very beautiful mountain ranges and combined with the very low population density left a feeling of being quite small in the middle of all this grandeur. It is a peculiar feeling to be traveling in places where there is no cellular access, very few cars and thus the possibility of being stranded due to mechanical failure was real. Yet, some people live in the middle of all of this and in what looks like very difficult conditions.
Given the condition of the road and the need to be careful with the car meant travelling most of the time no more than 40km/hr. Surprisingly, there were long stretches where it was possible to travel at more normal speeds. Given the 400km gap between Windhoek and Sossus Dunes, add the detour, the trip took about 7 hours to complete.