The sand dunes of Namibia are often considered the highest in the world, and border along the great Kalahari desert. Whether or not this claim is valid becomes immaterial once you see them, be assured the dunes at Sossusvlei in the Namib Naukloft park are well worth the effort it takes to get there.
Namibia is a country of vast, deserted spaces and seemingly never-ending roads leading to still more desert. In the north is the incredible Etosha National Park, while the Skeleton Coast leads to the German settlement of Swakopmund. But our single favorite day in the country was absolutely the morning of our 18th Anniversary when we woke long before dawn to climb to the top of Dune 45 to capture the sunrise.
The previous evening we had camped at Sesrium, a comfortable camp in a breathtaking setting. Surrounded by mountains and savanna, an evening of drinking around the campfire while watching the sun set over the plains was the best of over landing Africa. What I miss most when we’re away from this intriguing continent is the smell….that distinctive combination of the grasses, the wildlife, the food all coming together to create a heady aroma that I’ve never found anywhere else on our travels. And one that I often attempt to capture at home by opening up the lid on one of our many African baskets. Lowering my face deep into the container, I breath in deeply, taking in the smell of the grasses and dung used to create the basket….breathing in Africa.
We enjoyed many a Savanna hard cider that evening, talking long into the night with our travel companions while comparing who had spotted the largest bug around camp…a constant subject in this wild place.
The next morning was an early wake up call to get to Dune 45 in time to climb to the top before the sunrise. We crawled out of our tent into the freezing cold morning, layering on nearly everything we had with us, as frost misted the campsite. A bumpy 1-hour trip was ahead of us before we even began our long trek up the dunes.
From the first sight, I knew I was going to love this place. The air around us was still as we started up the dunes, a difficult task under any circumstances. One step forward before sliding a half a step back, the tiresome climbing and sliding back down continued for the better part of an hour. The initial excited conversation turned into silence as we all struggled up the dune.
The pictures of that morning speak for themselves. Happy Anniversary to us at one of the most scenic spots we’d ever been, feeling as though we were standing on top of the world, with the mist and clouds swirling below us. It was one of those moments where you feel absolutely alive and absolutely content to be in that moment in time.