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Hiking Dune 45 in Namib-Naukluft National Park with Nomad Tours – Day 5

Dune 45 in the Namib Desert

How did I get here?! Life is crazy!

If you had told me last year, while I was packing for my journey into the unknown, that in one year I would be in Namibia, sitting atop a sand dune, with an Irishman, watching the sun rise, I would have laughed myself to death at the ridiculousness of it.

Thankfully, nobody told me that and I lived to see this day.

We awoke in the wee hours of the morning and Morrison drove us to Dune 45 (the sand dunes are stable in position and numbered) in the Namib Desert.

With the moon as our light, we trudged up the ridge of the dune, it’s silky-powdery, superfine sand sinking beneath our bare feet.

My fear of heights activated as we grew higher and the slope grew steeper.  My modern brain constantly needed to remind my reptile brain that falling off the ridge would merely result in more sand in unspeakable places, and not in death.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  This is one hell of a climb.” said Patrick from Ireland.  Panting and slightly whimpering, I agreed.

Finally reaching the top, we plunked down on the ridge; the vast Namib desert and the moon behind us and the sun rising ahead of us over distant mountains in silhouette.  The iron rich sand sparkled like diamonds as the first bright rays kissed the slope.

The colors: purples, reds, oranges, greens and pinks are something I will never forget; changing each minute like the ever-shifting sand grains.

Pictures below.

Disclaimer: Nomad Tours offered me a discount in exchange for documentation of the experience.  I have complete freedom to share my thoughts.  All opinions are my own.

Official Itinerary from Nomad Tours

This is our earliest morning as we prepare for our hike up Dune 45 to marvel at the sunrise. After our hike, we will have the chance to visit Sossusvlei. Later we join a local expert on a guided hike and learn more about the unique desert ecosystem and how the Bushmen survived in the harsh desert conditions.

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park is an ecological preserve in the Namib Desert. It is the largest game park in Africa, covering about 50 000 square km and a surprising collection of creatures survives in the hyper-arid region, including snakes, geckos, unusual insects, hyenas, gemsbok and jackals. Most of the life here is sustained by sea mists from the Atlantic and sporadic rainfall. The winds that bring in the fog are also responsible for creating the park’s towering sand dunes, whose burnt orange color is a sign of their age. The color develops over time as iron in the sand is oxidized, like rusty metal; the older the dune, the brighter the color. These dunes are the tallest in the world; the most famous of which is Dune 45, which reaches more than 170 m. The dunes were numbered to make the area easier to navigate and coincidentally Dune 45 is 45 km from Sesriem Canyon.

‘Namib’ means open space in the local Nama language and the Namib Desert gave its name to form Namibia – “land of open spaces”. The park was established in 1907 by the German Colonial Administration. The park’s present boundaries were established in 1978 by the merging of the Namib Desert Park, the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park, parts of Diamond Area 1 and some other bits of surrounding government land.

The Park includes Sossusvlei, a clay pan in the central Namib Desert, fed by the Tsauchab River and known for the high, red sand dunes which surround it, forming a vast sand ocean.

 Photos of Dune 45 at Sunrise:

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