Monday, January 19, 2009

Dead Vlei - Namib Desert, Part 1.

The cool, comforting breezes of the morning twilight are short lived in the Namib. for not long after sun rises the ambient temperature soars. A heat that is searing, palpable, and daunting.

It's hard to imagine water surviving in liquid form in this inferno. Yet, there is geomorphologicial evidence abound of intermittent bodies of life giving water in the Sesriem region.

One obvious evidence of once running water is the braided scrub-lined riverbed of the Tsauchab. Fed by rare rain falling on the nearby Naukluft mountains, then cascading through the slot canyons of Sesriem, the Tsauchab suffers a premature death just 60 km from Sesriem, blocked by giant dunes of Namib.

Driving to very end of the Tsauchab valley, tourists can visit two famous vleis (an Afrikaans word referring to shallow ponds or in this case dry salt pans): Sossusvlei and it's surreal neighbour, Dead Vlei.

Dead Vlei. Get there early in the morning. I would imagine it gets murderously hot here after 10 AM.

Dead Vlei is appropriately named. Something calamitous happened here about 900 years ago. People speculate that a combination of encroaching dunes blocking the flood waters of the Tsauchab and climate change resulted in the parched lake pan and it's population of Salvador Dali-esque dead trees that we see today.

Just drape some floppy, flimsy clocks over the branches of these sun-scorched remnants of acacia trees and, voila, you have a surreal, yet real life, Dali painting.

most of these trees aren't exactly twig-sized. if you look on the dune to left (and over my head) you'll see some really really tiny humanoids climbing. the dune on the right is nicknamed "big daddy". at around 245 m, it's one of the tallest sand dunes in the world.


View Larger Map
Map marks the location of Dead Vlei.

1 comment:

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