Namibia’s Undeniable Dunes

I think Namibia’s desert landscape is one of the most beautiful in the world. The shapes and colors of the red dunes are haunting – particularly when seen in the early morning sunrise. Exploring Namibia’s desert was undeniably one of my favorite parts of my Acacia Africa 19-day Desert Tracker tour.

The Namib Desert derives its name from the Nama word for “Vast Place” and encompasses an area of more than 80,000 km2 (over 30,000 square miles). It is 1,000 miles long from north to south. At least 55 million years old, it is the oldest desert in the world and the Namib-Naukluft forms the largest game reserve in all of Africa.

Sossusvlei: Desert Star

Sossusvlei comprises the southern part of the wider Namib Desert. It supports and amazing array of life, including reptiles, small mammals like rodents and jackals, and lot and lots of spiders! It also offers some of the most amazing desert vistas, including:

Dune Sea: Sossusvlei’s “dune sea” has dunes that reach more than 400 meters (nearly 1,000 feet). Both geologists and photographers are fascinated by the dunes complex regularity of patterns. The red color of the desert dunes is due to a high level of iron in the sand. When the sand becomes wet, the iron rusts, giving the dunes their rosy glow. The redder the sand, the older the dune.

Dune 45: Dune 45 is more than 5 million years old and is named because it lies 45 kilometers past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei. Known as the “most photographed dune in the world,” it is prized for its symmetry (and that fact that it’s close to the road!).

At 170 meters high, it doesn’t seem that tall – until you try and climb it! Our Acacia group was up at 4:00 a.m. and was the first to scale the sand at sunrise. Beautiful!

Deadvlei: We had to walk almost an hour to get to Deadvlei – but it was worth it! A salt pan in the middle of the desert, Deadvlei (meaning “Dead Marsh” in Afrikaans) was once a lake that’s evaporated and left a thin layer of salt on the sand.

Surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the original clay pan was once flooded by the Tsauchab River, enabling a grove of camel thorn trees to grow. The dead trees, estimated to be more than 900 years old, are too dry to decompose. Instead they are scorched black by the intense sun, leaving twisted tree trunks and limbs in the sand and creating an eerie, yet dramatic desert-scape.

I’m Sand Spoiled

I knew nothing about the Namib Desert before I arrived in Namibia and now I’m completely enamored with the place! Who knew that some simple mounds of sand could create such breath-taking scenery?

These activities were part of my Acacia Africa 19-day Desert Tracker safari from Cape Town, South Africa to Livingstone, Zambia. It was an unforgettable experience and I highly recommend you check them out if you’re planning an Africa adventure!

Contact Acacia Africa directly at: or contact them directly +44 020 7706 4700 /

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This entry was posted on Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 and is filed under Africa.

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