by Janis Borgueta
Sossevlei - The Namibian Desert
When on a journey of so many new things to see, finding words that can share and experience are often inadequate. At times, photos are a better way of communicating experiences for me.
Spending time in the Namibian Desert was quite surreal and experiencing the dunes unlike any place I’ve ever traveled. Giant sand dunes over 400 feet high could have been more like what I would have expected on Mars rather than earth. Depending on the time of day, reflecting light played with the colors of the sand turning it various shades of reds and yellow and gold.
Old movies with camels, a random palm tree and an oasis came to mind during our climb up the dunes, but there weren’t any camels in Namibia. As far as the eye could see, there was just sand and lots of it. During our hike I thought that I would never get to the top with so much sand beneath my feet. We climbed up one dune of 250 ft only to walk down the other side into the “pan”. The bottom the pan reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting with odd configurations of dead trees standing in the sun all around us. I was anticipating seeing melting clocks on the branches, but there were none. These trees were somewhere between 600 to 800 years old.
UP UP and over the dunes.
There is something to be said for being spontaneous when traveling. Joe and I were confronted with an opportunity for a hot air balloon ride. It was never something we had previously considered. Something about where we were changed the for both of us, and after very slight bit of hesitation we agreed it would be a great way to complete our stay. Other guests mentioned it at dinner night at dinner one night and since we were on an adventure trip, it seemed a good option. We were lucky that arrangements so last minute could be made and we were ready for our adventure.
The best time for a balloon ride in the desert is early morning. Our guides picked us up before sunrise in a jeep and soon we saw our balloon in the desert. The pilot and staff had already starting filling the balloons with helium for our launch. Adrenaline filled my body and I began taking photos of our chariot. As we climbed into the basket I welcomed my adventure spirit.
Lift off in a hot air balloon sort of just happens and as the sun rose above the horizon we were up in the air looking out at the dunes. The flight was amazingly smooth and quiet. I expected it to be cold, but it wasn’t. Peaceful and awestruck we watched the other two balloons near us soar above the dunes providing us with perspective. Our pilot was from Spain and toured the world flying and entertaining travelers. He told us that Namibia was one of his favorite places to fly.. I’m thinking he chose well. Forty five minutes of gliding high above the dunes went by way too quickly. Our absolutely beautiful ride was over faster than I would have wanted.
From a distance we could see the spot chosen for our landing. Once on the ground, we celebrated with a champagne toast to life and many thanks to our pilot. It was now only 8am, and breakfast in the desert was a perfect beginning to our day. As we headed back to the hotel and airport we were very happy to be in the moment. Our photos show a beautiful part of the world few ever get to visit. More importantly the event is branded in my memory banks forever.