The immediate reaction on arriving at the foot of these immense orange dunes, is a sense of awe, and yet also of familiarity.  Dune 45, Big Daddy and Big Mama along with the desolation of  Deadvlei and the remnants of ancient dead acacias must be some of the most photographed desert scenes.

The scale and sinuous form are extraordinary, the geometry sensuous.  Here multi-directional wind lifts up the dune skirts forming star shapes with three or more arms extending from their peaks.  Eastwards a transverse dune belt lies sculpted by southerly winds in summer and firmly packed by the easterlies in winter into linear shapes. Further north the barchans / crescentic dunes lie perpendicular to the strong southerlies and are pushed like waves northwards towards the Kuiseb River where the encroaching sand is halted and stopped from spreading onto the gravel plains that spread northwards to the Swakop River.

This arid desert biome supports a surprising population of adapted fauna and flora.  An average of less than 50mm of rain falls in a year, but precipitation is supplemented by coastal fog – a crucial source of water for many plants and animals.


17 thoughts on “Sossusvlei

    1. I’ve heard about solar stills but not mist nets. Sounds perfect for foggy conditions. You’ve piqued my curiosity Eliza, will find out more. There are neat adaptations to the harsh climate, beetles doing headstands to capture moisture off their back legs, plants which retract under the sand and remain dormant until it rains.

  1. Your photos bring back happy memories. I made a special trip to see Sossusvlei and the Namib desert a couple of years ago after a tour of Botswana. Well worth the effort, and i hope to go back for a longer visit to Namibia.

  2. I love dunes, and these are very beautiful both in colour and shape. Going there myself is maybe too far away, but Morocco once again…I have been thinking about it.

    1. Isn’t it fascinating how wind plays such a crucial role in the shaping of the dunes. I love that crisp edge along the top plane and then apparently the sand topples and moves down the leeward side. Here they have a phenomenal when the dunes ‘roar’ caused by the friction of the toppling sand.
      Hope you get your wish to return to Morocco or new pastures here in the Namib.

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