We flew over the Namib desert (Namibia) in a small craft, just the two of us and the pilot, a young woman who knew the area well.
Here we are flying over the area of dead trees in a clay pan featured in yesterday’s post.
We continued to fly west over patterns of desert ridges towards the Atlantic.
These dead trees in the Namib Desert area of Namibia are not petrified, but are believed to be 600-700 years old. Scorched by the sun, they stand in a clay pan and remain undecayed because of the hot, dry climate.
Nearby is a broad vista of the clay and sand terrain.
This oryx (also called a gemsbok) has found a good resting spot near the dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia. He is keeping an eye on me, but is reluctant to leave his comfortable place in the shade.
The dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia are national treasures reaching over 1,000 feet tall. But even though they have all been named (or numbered), they are not static landmarks. Desert winds are always working to alter the dunes’ dramatic shapes and form ripples of sand on the desert floor.
Rocks and dunes rise from the desert floor. Small rivulets in the sand are traces of past rains and ridges on the dunes are reminders of the desert winds.
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.
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.