The Namibian desert – sand, sun and more sand

The last part of our trip was spent in the Namib-Naukluft national park, 300km south west of the capital Windhoek. We woke up early Thursday morning and left the lodge before the sun came up. At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of beating sun but that became very clear. Our first stop was at Dune 45, which is 45 km from the entrance of the national park. We hiked up the ridge of the massive copper colored dune. It was a lot more challenging than it looked. The sand was lose and for every step forward, we took half a step back. Once we got to the top, we ran down the side of the dune. As we were prancing down we created a mini avalanche of sand around us. As the sand was sliding down with us, it made an incredible sound and vibration that we could fee in our feet. It was a surreal experience. After our time at dune 45, we made our way to Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan that is surrounded by high red dunes. The name means dead end marsh. The Tsauchab river used to flow to this pan however as the dunes grew around it, the pan got cut off from the river. There are several dead tree trunks in the pan that didn’t survive once the water stopped flowing. The walk to get to Sossusvlei was 1.1km which shouldn’t have been that difficult. However, at 10am the strength of the sun was already so powerful that the walk was treacherous. I have never been so excited for a dip in the pool. Our last day in the desert was also our last full official day on the study tour. As we watched the sun set over the desert, I couldn’t help but think about how much I learned about Namibia and Botswana over the past two weeks and how I can take those learnings back to Boston.

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