It is an open secret that Namibians know so much about the beauty of other countries, often via the internet, but know very little about their own. Many Namibians know Namibia through experiences narrated by foreigners about their country.
As young Namibians frustrated by the status quo, the Young Achievers Empowerment Project which is a youth group, have made it an annual commitment to visit one of Namibia’s rare tourism beauties. The activity is aimed at educating and exposing young Namibians within the program to the beauty of their own country.
During the Easter weekend when all roads led either up north or to the coast, the Young Achievers decided to tour the Sussusvlei. With funds generated from a fund raising activity two weeks before, the group could afford to take 26 young people to become tourists in their own country.
The trip to Sossusvlei was intentional because the beautyon show can not be explained in words.
Upon our arrival at Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ Sesriem Camp, staff members asked with surprise what a group of black young lads were doing this far. They were surprised when we told them that we came to see the Sossusvlei and the famous Deadvlei, saying it is not a daily occurence that Namibians visit the place.
The camp is the entry to the beauty we drove about 400 km from Windhoek to see. We arrived around 11h00 so we were not in time to witness the beautiful sunrise.
According to books of geography and history Sossusvlei is Namibia’s famous scenic highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert. It is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes – and this is exactly what we saw.
The Deadvlei is a white clay pan and many still question how it came to exist. The dry pan is surrounded by what some say is the highest dunes in the world reaching about 400 metres which rest on a sandstone terrace – nature’s architecture at its best.
In this gigantic sea of sand the dune ridges slope from a cast in a star pattern in different directions. This is why they are referred to as star dunes. Walking to the deadvlei was an experience with the sight of beautiful dunes and nature’s heat on your foot if you care to walk barefoot.
It is said that the dunes of the Namib desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. Huge quantities of sand were deposited into the Alantic Ocean by the Orange river. This material was subsequently moved northwards by the Benguela current to be dumped back onto the land by the surf. The coastal sand was then continuously shifted further inland by the wind.
Wind permanently reshapes the patterns of the Namib dunes. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.
The clay ground of the Sossusvlei is almost always dry. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, every ten years in average, does the vlei fill with water. As the clay layers hardly allow any water infiltration, a turquoise lake will remain for quite some time.
The trees have died many years ago but have not decomposed because of the dry weather. Scotched by the sun, they now add a valuable feature to the Deadvlei beautiful for the eye.
The place is magnificent and a rich background for photography. Our graduates decided to take their graduation gowns with to snap a few photos with the background.
We would like to encourage the young and old Namibians to get out of their comfort zones and travel the country. We camped at Ababis Farm, a few kilometers from Sossusvlei and it was an awesome experience to bond with each other in the absence of cellphone reception and being away from the busy world. It was embarrassing to see other races travel in full family numbers and exposing their children to their country, something our black parents barely think of.
In a group, it is not expensive to travel as you share costs and it is more fun when you go for cheaper accommodation options such as camping. Most lodges offer specials while other have special packages that offer discounts. It is not too late to start and to tell ofyour own experience of your own country. Be a tourist in your own country.