There are two things one should do in Namibia’s most iconic postcard setting, the Namib Desert’s red dunes: climb Dune 45 at sunrise and lose yourself in Dead Vlei.
It is crucial to get up early. The Namib Desert is hot and you want to get your sightseeing done before the sun sizzles. Since there is no excuse for sleeping late we get up at 4.45 and are among the first to climb Dune 45 – it’s just the two of us, another Swiss, some other tourists and a school class from Windhoek. Feeling like being on a field trip ourselves we march up the dune while dawn arrives in shades of orange fading to deep blue on the eastern horizon. Back down again we start boiling water and get our rusks out. It’s coffee time.
We follow the tar road towards Dead Vlei. The last 4km are 4×4 only. We ask someone working there if he thinks we will make it with our van. Sure, he says. The sand soon gets deep but we drift along. Until for some reason we loose speed. Bad news, we are stuck. Neither forwards nor backwards. The tires dig themselves deeper and deeper into soft red sand. Luckily after a short while someone tows us out and we make it back to the car park, where we leave our car doubtlessly and make use of the taxi service the national park offers. We pass many stuck 4×4’s. The seats in the taxi are sold out in no time.
We climb another dune on our way to Dead Vlei. Rediscovering the joy of walking barefooted on what really is a giant sandpit we make it all the way to the top. This is where the best part of hiking up a sand dune starts: running down its side. We jol and jump for about 400 meters and enjoy the sand like when we where little kids. Reaching Dead Vlei just before lunch we can feel the sun burning. Time for us to get some rest and let these amazing memories set.