Deadvlei and the Big Daddy Dune
Another of Namibia’s Natural Wonders…
Close to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is a clay pan characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor.
It is believed that the clay pan formed more than a thousand years ago, when the Tsauchab River flooded after heavy rainfall and created shallow pools of water. In these marshes, camel thorn trees began to grow.
However, after about two hundred years, the climate changed and drought struck the region. Sand dunes encroached the area, blocking off the Tsauchab River.
With no water, the trees in Deadvlei were unable to survive, but due to the arid climate, the trees dried out instead of decomposing. The desert sun has scorched them, and its quite possible that these 900 year old tree skeletons will never disappear from Deadvlei. The skeletons are trapped in white clay which contrasts with the red rusted dunes and the azure blue sky.
The dunes surrounding Deadvlei are readily accessible and provide a carefree outing in stunning scenery. One has the unique opportunity to remove your shoes to ascend and slide down these massive dunes. Please note that Deadvlei is at least 1km walk from the parking lot so be sure to take drinking water with you.
FACT: Although Big Daddy is the highest dune in the Sossusvlei area at about 325 metres, Dune 7 is actually the highest dune in Namibia at over 383 metres. Dune 7 is situated along the central coast of Namibia, ten kilometres outside the town of Walvis Bay.
FACT: The Tsauchab is an ‘ephemeral’ river, meaning it exists only briefly. Sossusvlei is an ‘endorheic basin’, which is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal, that equilibrate through evaporation. They are also called ‘terminal’ basins. Interestingly, two other nearby endorheic basins are the Etosha Pan in northern Namibia’s Etosha National Park, and the Okavango River, in the Kalahari Desert, in Botswana. The latter is part of an endorheic basin region, the Okavango Basin, that also includes the Okavango Delta, Lake Ngami, the Nata River, and a number of salt pans such as Makgadikgadi Pan.
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