Leaving the Namib desert in a small plane flying at a low altitude, you can see the fantastic patterns in the sand…
…another example of a natural abstract, no artist required.
The red color of the dunes comes from iron, and the black deposits are from magnetite.
We say goodbye to central Namibia’s vast desert with dunes that extend all the way to the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few last glimpses before heading off to a new and radically different landscape.
On our last evening, we see the sun setting in a very fast descent, glowing orange in a cloudless sky.
Early the next morning, the moon, barely visible through the clouds, sets over a long straight road through the desert.
The desert stretches out to distant mountains, with only a solitary tree to dot the landscape.
The animals we saw in Namibia were totally wild, not confined to game parks. The ubiquitous oryx is known as the national animal of Namibia.
And wild ostriches strut around proudly in their native habitat.
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.
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.
Only a small portion of Death Valley is covered in sand dunes, but the dunes add to the stark beauty that one finds there. Shifting shapes and shadows, layered ridges, and subtle hues characterize these wind-carved landscapes.
The sun is sinking in a bright orange sky over another wilderness 9,000 miles away from my last post featuring a desert in Western Australia. Pictured here are the badlands of California’s Anza-Borrego State Park at the westernmost edge of the Sonoran Desert.
The warm glow of sunset silhouettes a row of limestone pillars in Western Australia’s ancient Pinnacles Desert. The pinnacles were formed by strong winds blowing in from the Indian ocean and eroding the surrounding sand. Thousands of these formations spread across the desert floor.
Death Valley is extremely hot–one of the hottest places on earth. This valley, 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level at its deepest, is walled by heat-trapping mountain ranges. Moreover, sparse vegetation allows the California sun full access to the desert soil.