What is it really like to climb Dune 45 at Sossusvlei?

Laura Birtles travelled to Namibia’s far-flung south-west to discover out

Five million years in the past, iron oxide was swept from the Orange River within the Kalahari in the direction of the ocean, forming the magnificent rust-red dunes of Sossusvlei. Lying deep within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, these huge sand mountains are, doubtless, one of the crucial extraordinary pure wonders I’ve ever seen.

One of the most effective methods to expertise this otherworldly realm and revel in beautiful views of the Namib Desert is to climb one of many dunes. The hottest is the 170m-high Dune 45, which lies midway between Sesriem and Sossusvlei.

It’s necessary to arrive at daybreak to keep away from the worst of the scorching desert solar and get the total good thing about the fantastic morning gentle. There are additionally fewer folks then, though you’re unlikely to have the dune to your self.

For this purpose, I might advocate staying at Sossus Dune Lodge or Sesriem Campsite, each contained in the park, so that you could be one of many first there. Our desert dwelling was the latter, which had a restaurant, a well-equipped store and a desk promoting permits – simply N$170 (approx. GB£9.00 / US$12.00) for 2, together with a map of the realm.

At 5am, our alarms broke the silence of the African night time and we packed away our tent with a lot anticipation. As the solar started to rise, we had been on the highway in the direction of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, the surroundings an awe-inspiring moonscape with gigantic coral dunes towering from a endless expanse of flat gravel plains.

After about 40 minutes, we noticed a cluster of automobiles at the foot of a very lovely dune and an outdated, picket signal which learn ‘Dune 45’. A sluggish trickle of ant-like folks had been already crawling up in the direction of the summit.

Dune 45 SossussvleiThe daybreak air was crisp as we started our ascent however, fortunately, we had been dressed appropriately, donning trek trousers, a windproof puffa jacket and several other layers, so we may strip off because the temperature started to mount. Our light-weight trainers additionally did the trick, though some climbers had been kitted out in hardcore desert boots, others wore sandals and some had been barefoot, so something goes. We additionally carried a two-litre Camelbak in our daypack and a collection of snacks to energise alongside the way in which.

There’s no denying that the climb was robust going. The sand was gentle and powdery however heavy and, with each two steps ahead we slid again one.

The slender path – only one or two toes huge – begins steeply after which meanders alongside the crest of the dune, earlier than rising steeply once more. There are vertiginous drops on both aspect, so anybody who is uncomfortable with heights could discover this difficult, regardless of it being fully secure.

Although you want to be pretty match, we had been impressed to see people of all ages and skills tackling it. Reaching the highest may take something from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, relying in your health degree.

It was effectively well worth the effort, in fact. Many of us have seen the enduring pictures of this wild, distant place, however nothing prepares you for what it feels like to be up on that dune.

So, take your time. Savour the expertise and soak within the 360-degree vistas of countless shale desert, damaged by eerie useless timber and these huge, apricot-hued dunes bathed in golden gentle.

As we gazed out over our magical environment and the altering colors of the morning, we felt as if we had been transported to one other planet.

Dune 45, SossussvleiAll pictures by Laura Birtles

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