1. Marvel at the scenery that has to be seen to believed

This is mother nature’s masterpiece. A true gem of Africa. Like a real-life Renoir painting unfolding right before your eyes, the desertscape is breathtaking. The seemingly desolate and rocky, open terrain, which is cradled by rugged mountains and dotted by curious rock formations, stretches far out into the distance where it eventually meets those towering, world-famous terracotta dunes. The landscape is blissfully remote, almost moon or Mars-like, and the stark contrasts blend together harmoniously creating what can only be described as an uninterrupted impressionist painting.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Like looking through a revolving kaleidoscope, the colours are forever changing as the sun casts light and shadow on the earth below, so be sure to watch the horizon at different times of the day to appreciate its enduring beauty. The dusty, golden brown terrain is interspersed with slate-coloured rocks and stark green and white tufts of dune grasses. At dusk, the rusty, ochre coloured dunes fade from a rich toffee or caramel hue to a deeper brown and the mountains slowly turn dusty rose and purple as the sun gently sets and the moon (and countless stars) start to emerge.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Stand in one of the oldest landscapes on the planet

Just setting foot on what is hailed the world’s oldest living desert is a bucket list item in itself. Formed a mind-boggling 55 million years ago, the mighty Namib Desert is in fact the oldest desert on the planet. Its wild, rugged splendour remains unchanged after all this time. It is the land that time forgot … a place where time stands still and timeless, captivating beauty surrounds you at all times.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Discover life (and plenty of it) in the desert

One would expect the oldest desert on earth to be completely barren and devoid of life, but the exquisite Namib Desert is alive and full of life. It all comes down to the life-giving winds: the easterly wind carries dust and debris that feeds the insects and reptiles; while the westerly wind brings much-needed moisture to the land.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Everywhere you look, this desert is bursting with activity. Just look around you and you’ll see it is teeming with curious creatures and desert-adapted plants. From the photogenic quiver trees in bright yellow bloom and the fascinatingly bizarre Welwitschia plant that lives up to 1,500 years or the extremely poisonous false ink cap mushrooms, the miraculous desert flora (and fauna) has cleverly adapted in order to thrive in the harsh conditions.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Watch each day as the striking oryx make their way to the watering hole in front of the lodge to slake their thirst. Pick up your binos at any given time to do some birdwatching, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the endemic dune lark. You’ll see springbok, ostrich, jackal and giraffe … we even saw an aardwolf, which had been on my wildlife bucket list forever! But it’s the small wonders of Sossusvlei that are the scene-stealers. I went on a very informative dune adventure with Boniface, the friendliest, most enthusiastic, charming and knowledgeable ranger and he quietly introduced me to some of the unexpected creatures that inhabit the dunes.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

guide pointing out track marks in the sossusvlei dessert

Did you know that there are seven endemic species in the Sossusvlei area? The dune lark, FitzSimons’ burrowing skink, Grant’s golden mole, dancing white lady spider, southern harvester termite, barking gecko and Peringuey’s (or sidewinding) adder all call this part of the desert home, and so do chameleons, 200 (!) different types of beetles and our very own &Beyond namesake, a tiny and rare little gecko called the Pachydactylus etultra (‘et’ meaning ‘and’; ‘ultra’ meaning ‘beyond’). This handsome little fella was discovered at the lodge back in 2006 by (then) resident astronomer Miles Paul. Renowned reptile taxonomist and Curator of Herpetology at Bayworld in Nelson Mandela Bay, Professor Bill Branch, was called in for his expertise and five years later our little &Beyond gecko was officially published in the Harvard Journal (images courtesy of Miles Paul and Bill Branch).

____________________________________________________________________________________________



Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *