The Star Dunes of the Sossusveli. The Namib Sea Desert, Namibia.
It had been a long heart stopping climb in the grainy semi dark light of pre-dawn, but finally I sat atop the 150 meter high Dune 45. Burrowing into the knife edge of sand to ensure that I could not tumble down the sharply angled sides I waited for the sun to rise. We had set off from Windhoek the day before, an intimate group of 3 paying guests, the guide/driver and the cook. The Wild Dogs truck had room for 15 passengers, plenty of space to be bounced around as it made its way over the unpaved potholed tracks through desert, one horse towns and spectacular valleys. Sunset over the Sesriem, Valley pass rock formations and the extremely rare quill tree (used for arrow quills in ancient times) After 7 hours driving, segmented by a stop for lunch on someone’s goat farm we finally arrived at the Sesriem Camp site. It was unbearably hot. We pitched the tents, cooled off in the swimming pool then checked out the camp site. Hung from the tree branches above us were huge straw, hive shaped structures with hundreds of holes in them. “The five star hotel” our guide informed us. “We call them ‘Friendly Finches’” The birds continually repaired or built the nests from what looked suspiciously like the straw umbrellas dotted around the pool. They lived up to their name, when sitting quietly one of the trees they hopped around my feet. As the sun rose above a landscape containing the oldest and highest sand dunes in the world, it’s rays of light turned the dunes turned from umber to beige to dusky rose, amber to bright yellow and ochre to burnt orange and red. The air was cool and still and nothing stirred below. Silence. Each person so wrapped up in wonder it rendered them speechless. Eventually the sun crested, air warmed, bodies began to perculate. It was time to head down. Breakfast was calling.