Deadvlei in southern Namibia sits among some of the tallest dunes in the world, and scientists believe that about 900 years ago those dunes began to cut the area off from the Tsauchab River, which nourished its trees. Now the trees, dead for many years, sit surrounded by dunes in a bed of dried clay.
To get to the trees, one must hike over a well-traveled dune ridge and down onto the clay pan.
One can see why this area has become a magnet for photographers.
The first time I saw an image from Deadvlei, I thought the photographer must have had some special magic!
But now I know that anyone can capture a beautiful image here.
Many places today are referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, including Deadvlei with its blackened tree trunks, fallen branches, red dunes, and blue skies.
Sculpted by winds, the dunes began as sand adhered to an object — a rock, a bush, a tree. But eventually the dune became a massive shape-shifting object in itself.
The shapes are natural examples of abstract art.
Could this tree someday be the foundation for a new dune?
In front of the dunes, a solitary oryx passes through the desert landscape.
During an early morning drive across an unspoiled Namibian landscape, the sunlight is diffused in purple hues .
We turn off our engine and are enveloped by the pure quiet…
and we leave the engine off and take in the moment.
With elbows propped on the side of the balloon basket to stabilize my camera, I marveled at the mystical desert that passed below: the curves of ridges rising from the sand, the swirls and patterns in the sand itself, sometimes the small speck of an animal or a tree, sometimes a colorful balloon floating below.
The rising sun illuminates the fabric in a neighboring balloon as it floats over a ridge.
People talk in hushed voices and the quiet is only occasionally broken by the sound of the burner.
Dunes and ridges rise as sculptures from the desert floor…
as the sun continues its ascent.
An oryx, a species of antelope the size of a large horse, casts a long shadow in the early morning sunlight.
A lone tree also casts its shadow across the barren sand.