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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Big Daddy and the Blue Steel pose - Day 339

Big Daddy and the Blue Steel pose sounds like some kind of Blues Band name, no music involved; an imposing Big Daddy and a steely pose!

What a day! We arrived at Sossusvlei, with the most stunning sights of star-shaped sand dunes. The shapes are different from what we saw near Swakopmund. Here the dunes are shaped by multi-directional winds, giving them three to five curved crests with crisp edges meeting at the highest point. These form the star shape and cause fabulous shadows; a photographers dream. The rich golden dunes are colossal, standing tall from the flat white clay pans at their base, the tallest in the world.

We stopped a couple of times for photo opportunities and I noticed that Kevin, a marvellous guy from Washington DC, pulled a very sombre look when having his photo taken. He has the most wonderful infectious smile. I couldn’t help myself and pulled his leg something rotten about the “Kevin pose”. Apparently, he calls it his “Blue Steel” model look, a take from the film Zoolander. He has great humour so took it all in good spirits.

Next stop – Dune 45, named this as it’s at the 45 km point of road connecting the Sesriem gate and Sossusvlei. One of the favourite dunes to walk, it’s fairly close to the road and climbable! At the start, I felt like I was doing one step forward and two steps back, but soon got the hang of it. Stepping into Tim’s footprints really helped. What an experience walking on this iconic 5 million years old sand dune. We reached the peak but which way down? A few people had made a path on the left of us, so Tim skied down and I followed him. Weeee….great fun.

On our walk back to the bus, I had a chat with Moses who has set up his own tour company. He already has his own bus and has taken a few people on tour. I shared some of my knowledge about marketing: be clear who your ideal clients are. It makes writing marketing literature much easier. Tell your own story. I remember hearing about a New Zealand shirt company who changed their marketing by brilliantly describing how their shirts were made, where the cotton came from and the many pieces that were cut to make each shirt. It was a game-changer for them. I digress…I so enjoyed our conversation.

The last 5km stretch was only suitable for a 4x4 truck, so we transferred over, with Tim, Kevin, Alvin and I on the back seat. Wow, it was bumpy. I was flying up in the air, and landing hard with my poor brain feeling as if it was rattling around in my skull. Ouch! After looking at the Big Mama dune and all the baby sand dunes, we drove over towards Big Daddy, a monster of a sandbank. We walked over the flat clay-pans with Alvin pointing out various plants; a spidery bright lime succulent with round small green melons covered with spikes and another small thorny scrub just surviving, which, if a person was desperate for water in this dry scorching heat, they can chew the leaves to suck fluid, then spit the leaves out. We didn’t have a go.

A few days back, Tim and I so enjoyed the Desert Tour seeing the little five creatures. With our new found knowledge, we spotted gerbil and many black beetle tracks. After a long walk, we finally got to one of the highlights of the tour - the Dead Pan (or Dead Vlei as the Namibians call it). A large flat white area with a background of tall steep orange sand dunes gleaming in the sun with the black remains of trees, like the after effect from a blast. This ghostly expanse of skeletal remains of camel-thorn trees has been carbon-dated as being about 600 years old, resulting from a huge flood that drowned the trees. A similar eerie sight was at the reservoir on our way to Springbrook near Australia’s Gold Coast (Day 130). We wandered around trying to capture the eeriness of this hot dry graveyard.

On our way back, Tim must have had a lot more energy than me as he decided to climb a bit of Big Daddy. He sprinted off while I plodded back. Phew, I was hot. My legs felt like lead so rather than thoughts of “It’s hot, I am tired, this is a long way…moan…moan…moan” I imagined that I was my inspiring two keep fit sister-in-laws: “I am keeping fit, this is great exercise, yay!” It worked!

I got back to near the jeep and stood under the shade of a tree waiting for the others to return. Tim arrived, looking tired but elated at his achievement. Tim IS the Big Daddy. The rest of the group returned and we piled into the jeep then our bus back on the long and bumpy road to our accommodation for lunch and a well-rewarded rest.

When returning to our chalet, we saw that we had a visitor. Sitting on the side was a large Oryx with its long straight ringed horns resembling spears at 30 inches long. Luckily it didn’t fancy using them so wandered off as we got nearer. After a well-deserved rest, we went for a dip in the pool. Crikey, the water was freezing! How on earth could it stay that cold in this heat? It was such a contrast to the scorching 41 degrees outside. I cooled my feet, Tim did a couple of lengths and quickly abandoned the idea of staying in any longer.

4:30pm arrived and back on the bus returning to Sossusvlei to see the Sesriem Canyon. When we arrived, Alvin stood, with his back to the canyon, explaining how this gorge came about and where it got its name from. One step back and Alvin would have fatally plunged down the 40m drop. A few of us looked nervous for him, yet I am sure he did this on purpose.

The Canyon has been shaped by the Tsauchab River over millions of years and it is one of the few places in the area that holds water all year round, not that we saw any. Its name Sesriem was derived from when the early pioneers would tie together six (Ses) lengths of rope made from rawhides (riem) to draw water from the bottom.

We climbed down the ravine. The sides had clear layers of sand and then large pebble-dashing, that is the best way to describe it! It felt quite magical being there with the steep sandstone coloured walls rising up contrasting against the bright azure blue clear sky. We walked along in silence for a bit in awe of this natural wonder. No sound of birds, just the crunch of our feet on the gravel path. There was a huge boulder on the ground and Alvin pointed to the gap up high it had fallen from. Mmm – thanks for that Alvin! He then pointed out a large nest, not of the usual twigs, straw and leaves. This was of branches and large debris. He asked if we could guess what lives there. Answers such vulture and eagle were given. Tim’s was the best one, a dragon. We all laughed. Alvin announced that it was a Namibian clawed-beak Ostrich, using its beak to climb up. I excitedly said that I had thought of an Ostrich but considered this to be too ludicrous. I wished I’d kept my mouth shut. Alvin thought this was highly amusing. There is no such thing as a Clawed-beak Ostrich, he made the whole thing up. Cheeky! This so-called nest was, in fact, debris caught in a crevice from the river hundreds of years ago!

As we were all together in this incredible place, I called for a group photo, first smiley and then with “Kevin pose”. I must say that there were some very good impressions and we all had a great laugh. Back to Desert Camp for another rest, an interesting chat about American politics, dinner and an early time for bed. What a day, exhilarating, extraordinary vistas and very exhausting.

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