Sunday, November 8, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015: Soussusvlei

The alarm went off at 5:00 am this morning! We want to go into Sossusvlei National Park as early as we can.  The gate opens at sunrise and we wanted to be at the gate soon after that time.  Our lodge “The Little Sossus” had coffee ready at the central lodge by 5:30. We paid for our stay, picked up prepared breakfast boxes and began our drive to Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is an area that is completely surrounded by high sand dunes - a sea of sand.  After passing through the gate we had a 60 km drive before we arrived at Sossusvlei Park.  The last 5 kms are only passable by 4x4’s because you drive through deep sand, and a two wheeled drive vehicle would be stuck in the sand in no time.  We put the Isuzu in low 4x4 and let it churn its way through the sand.  This morning we were the 4th or 5th vehicle to make it to the end of the road.  We parked the vehicle under a shade tree and grabbed our gear for the morning activities.

Sunrise as we drove to Sossusvlei

The Desert Waking up

An Oryx out for and early snack

The 4x4 Road

The most popular thing to do at Sossusvlei is to climb the sand dunes.  After we had our gear (water, sun screen, sunglasses) together we set out for our destination.  Rachel decided that she did not want to climb a dune but rather take a camera and photograph the interesting sand formations around the dune floor.  Cal surveyed the area and decided to try for the highest peak in the area.  He had to walk on the dune floor for around half a km before the trail started upward.  Another group had already gone up that dune, creating a trail, which makes the climb much easier.  The footprints have more firmness so your feet do not sink down into the sand as much.  The first part of the trail went up the face of the dune then followed a “spine” which is a crest of the dune with the sand going down on both sides.  Because the other group was ahead, the climb was easier.  Cal continued to follow the trail until it reached the first plateau at which point he decided that he had had enough of the climbing and started to descend.  The view from that point was spectacular.  After descending the first section Cal decided to see what it is like to break a new trail and headed across a horizontal spine that had not been hiked by anyone recently.  This trail was around 300 m long and Cal developed an appreciation for the person who breaks a new trail in the sand.  This portion was not as difficult as it would have been if it was going up an incline but it was hard enough.  At the end of the spine Cal came down the face of the dune.  This sand was very soft with each footstep sinking into the sand around 1 foot.  Needless to say his shoes were completely full of sand when he reached the bottom.  It was around 9:30 when he returned to the 4x4 and the temperature was reaching the point of “hot, getting hotter”!

Patterns in the Sand

Sand and Dry Pan meeting

Animal Tracks in the Sand

Camel Thorn Tree - Notice the Thorns

Cal Starting the Trek up the Dune

Footprints in the Sand

A Friendly Gecko along the Trail

Cal at his high point - Big Poppa is behind

Others nearing Big Poppa

View from Cal's High Point

Horizontal Spine Cal Treked

It was 10:15 am when we decided to head out of the park and find our chalet for the evening.  Tonight we were staying at the “Desert Quiver Lodge” which was only 3.5 km outside of the park.  When we arrived at 12:15, the room was not ready so we waited in the bar area (there was a wonderful breeze) until they had time to cleaned it.  It was 1:00 when we were able to get into the chalet. By then it was HOT and thankfully the room had a huge overhead fan (no AC). We spent the afternoon trying to keep cool, washed some clothes that went from dripping to dry in less than 2 hours, and caught up with our blog.

One Final Look at the Dune Cal Hiked

Dead but not Rotting Trees - Too Dry

We have reservations for the Sossusvlei Lodge for the evening dinner as our lodge is a self-catering lodge and does not provide any meals.  Sossusvlei Lodge is a very up-scale lodge with a wonderful buffet dinner.  There were 5 different stations for the buffet, a salad and starch area, a BBQ area where you would choose the type of meat you wanted BBQ’d and it would be prepare for you.  The meat choices were beef, pork, lamb, kudu, ostrich, zebra, oryx and hartebeest. There was also a area where you selected the items to be stir-fried, one where they prepared fish, and finally a dessert area.  It was hard not to over eat with all of the choices.

We were back in the chalet by 9:00 pm ready to turn in for the night.  The heat seems to have dissipated so maybe we will have a nice night to sleep.

Desert Quiver Tree

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