Big Daddy Dune

Published on 19 October 2023 at 09:16

Nambi-Naukluft National Park

The Nambi desert is truly one of the most visually spectacular places on this earth. The bright blue sky, the red sand dunes, the white washed clay floor of the dried up lake bed creates a paradise for the eyes! I could not stop taking pictures but they hardly do this place justice!

Sossusvlei means "dead end marsh". Soussus is Nambi for "no return or dead end" and Vlei is Afrikaans for "marsh".  There are endless dunes in site - small, big and every size in between. Our guide asked if we wanted to do the hard or the easy hike. Since Nash was sleeping on the back seat, we opted for the easy route. We assumed he would be tired and grumpy when we woke him up. 

We started the "easy" route and then continued to climb. The boys ran ahead and left us in the dust! When we started our day it was around 58 degrees and we were all wearing long sleeves and pants. By the end, it was in the 90's, Nash was running around barefoot and Finn was only wearing shorts! The boys ended up hiking Big Daddy which is one of the biggest sand dunes in the world - around 1,066 feet high. We went the long way because we were NOT planning on doing the big hike and ended up trekking over 4 miles. Finn and Nash were the only kids in sight. I was so amazed at how well the boys did and they wanted to keep going. At one point, Finn began shaking and we made him stop and drink a bottle of water. Nash did drop out early (he did about 90% of the total hike) and rolled down the dune with our guide. Paul, Finn and I completed the Big Daddy dune hike with about 10 extra pounds of red sand in our shoes. Finn kept saying "this is the best day of my life". "I love this". He felt accomplished, proud and happy he didn't give up and finished the entire hike. 

At the top of Big Daddy, we saw DeadVlei - a dry lake with petrified acacia trees (also know as giraffe trees) in it. Some of the trees are over 1,000 years old - standing fossils we were able to see!  The acacia trees roots extend up to 50 meters in the ground - the roots are searching for water.

The sand dunes in Namibia get their color from the minerals found here. The brighter red the color - the more iron and minerals the sand has which also makes that particular sand heavier. Our guide picked up some of the sand, as he dropped it, some of the sand blew away but some of the sand fell straight to the ground. The lighter the sand, the further it blows. The sand that is lighter in color has less minerals and therefor will travel farther than the darker, red sand. 

We also got a chance to see that even though this area looks completely desolate, small creatures still live here. Over 20 different types of beetles, lizards, mice, giant spiders, desert sand ants, oryx, antelope, jackal, Cape fox, aardwolf, bat-eared fox and hyenas make this place their home. So many of these animals use the fog to get moisture for hydration in this harsh environment. The Atlantic Ocean is only 50 km east from this desert and you can feel the cool breeze coming off the cold ocean.  As the hot sun comes up in the morning and meets this cool air it creates a beautiful fog all over the desert. 


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8 months ago

Such a vivid description yet again Emily you make us feel like we were there with you! Just less hot and without the exercise ;)
The photos are gorgeous it just looks otherworldly! Very impressed with the boys! Xoxo

8 months ago

That makes the cape dunes look like nothing. I’m super impressed with the boys. Such troopers!

Karen Mary Schaefer
8 months ago

SPECTATULAR photos!!!! Does look hot though!!!