What are dunes?

What is a dune? A silly question?. Everyone knows that a dune is a huge pile of sand along the coastlines and beaches of many countries so why ask the question?

Namibia is renowned for its dunes and we discovered that there is more to dunes than just those sandy ones we know best.

75 Dune above Sandwich Harbour

A sand dune in Sandwich Harbour on the coast of Namibia A sand dune in Sandwich Harbour on the coast of Namibia

It was during our visit to Sossusvlei and Sesriem that we discovered a number of different dunes – green dunes, sand dunes, dunes with tufts of grass on them and petrified dunes. We saw all of these in this area and I was quite amazed.

Let’s take a look at each of these dune types

1.  Loose sand dunes – these are constantly moving and changing as the wind blows the sand. On another trip we saw a wonderful example of these on the road to Bogenfels from Luderitz. Our guide showed us a number of dunes which had moved quite a distance in the space of month.

33 windy dune 3

Sand being blown off a dune

 23 Dune at Henties showing different colour sands

Sand dune at Henties Bay with different colours

2.  Green dunes – these are found inland in Namibia and are most beautiful when there have been good rains

19 green dunes in Namib

 Green dunes in Namibia

3.  Dunes with grassy tufts – these are sand dunes found away from the coast such as we saw on the road to Sossusvlei. It was interesting to see these dunes alongside absolutely bare sand dunes eg Dune 45 

Tufts of grass on sandy dunes

4.  Petrified dunes – these are very ancient (billions of years old) red sand dunes that have solidified to rock.Walking through long grass to the petrified dunes

13 petrified dunesCastle shaped petrified dune

Triangular shaped dune

 Triangular shaped petrified dune

Behind the lodge was a range of petrified dunes to which we decided to take an afternoon walk. At the start of the walk there was a sign on a stone stating which animals and birds which we might see. We were unlucky on that score, except for some huge weavers’ nests, but the walk was well worth the effort. There were some beautiful flowers too.

Beautiful white flower at Sossusvlei

A beautiful desert flower

Flowering creeperA desert creeper in flower

We walked through some long dry grass which was in various stages from new and fresh to dying and dead. Seeing the petrified dunes up close was also a fascinating experience. So very different from the moving, loose sand dunes near the beaches such as the ones we saw and climbed when we visited Sossusvlei the previous day and Sandwich Harbour a year previously. The height of the petrified dunes was incredible.

 Vicky Marge Tyrone Basil walk back to NDL

Walking around the base of the petrified dunes

On our return to the lodge we got into a large open roof safari vehicle and the driver took us to through a valley covered in long dry grass even though it was green. Before leaving on our drive we were told of different animals and birds which we might see. Unfortunately, we saw only a large herd of zebra.

DL herd of zebra

A herd of zebra took off at a run as we passed them

The scenery, though, was magnificent. After continuing along the road through the valley we began to gradually climb up a steep hill which was actually a green dune. The grass was very long but there was a clear track. When we reached the plateau we gasped at the incredible beauty of the area. As we drove across the plateau we saw a large variety of plants, some of which were in flower. After a late snack and drinks overlooking the dunes and the valley we returned to the lodge as the sun set over the dunes. A truly awe-inspiring experience.

DL 17 road on our game drive 2

The road/track we took through the valley

On our return trip to Gobabis we spent 2 nights at Duwisib Castle, now an hotel and camping site. It has a most interesting history and I do encourage you to go to the site for more detail. It was built by a German Baron in 1909 and designed to show his commitment to the German military. Their food and accommodation was excellent and we really enjoyed exploring both the hotel and the area surrounding it. Inside the hotel were a number of beautifully preserved items of furniture and utensils.

 56 Duwisib castle front

Entrance to Duwisib Castle

Royal chairs

Chairs the Baron considered almost as thrones

58 inside castle

The main hall viewed from above

What a wonderful week we had discovering so many different aspects of Namibia. We were sorry to leave for home a couple of days later.

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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