It was tough to leave Swakopmund. The excitment of a skydive, a hostel reminiscent of a rectory, an INCREDIBLE restaurant - Napolitana - that served perfectly cooked Oryx steak and Springbok. It was so good I actually went there two nights in a row and each meal was about $12 with a huge steak, salad, chips (fries) and a glass of wine or a beer.
I was also bidding farewell to my initial travelling companions. Jenaya was heading back to Windhoek to take a fly-in safari to the Skeleton Coast with the company she'd volunteered for, and James and Julie from London whom I'd met in Windhoek and run into again in Swakopmund. The three of us did the skydive together.
Fortunately, a posting in the hostel turned up Sebastian a German Cardiologist on holiday for a few weeks. He was also interested in heading south to the the Sossusvlei dunes and willing to share gas $.
the trip took only a few hours, and that evening after making camp at Sesriem, we were able to head into the dunes for some sunset photos. It was quite stunning to see the red dunes on either side of a wide valley climbing hundreds of feet into the sky. We climbed the famed "Dune 45" (supposedly the 45th dune AND 45km into the park)and got a great view of the valley and some great pics.
Unfortunately, we lost track of time and had to FLY back to the gate that supposedly was locked at 8:00. We made the 45km in about 20 minutes. I'll let you do the math.
the next morning we rose for sunrise, and opted not to hit dune 45, but to continue further up the valley to Dead Vlei. We left the Encouragment at the end of the tarmac road and caught a 4x4 shuttle the final 5km in. Dead Vlei was nothing short of otherworldly with a flat white valley floor baked by the sun dotted with black leafless trees that seemed older than time surrounded by towering red dunes. It was amazing to see the sunrise crest the dunes and move across the valley. Once that happened we suddenly realized it was hot - VERY HOT. We made our way back to camp and I packed up and headed out towards the south. Sebastian was heading back to Windhoek and was seeking a ride. I haven't heard from him, so maybe he's still there?