Sossusvlei, Namibia

Photos of the surreal landscape of Sossusvlei in Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia

(From Wikipedia)

Sossusvlei
(sometimes written Sossus Vlei) is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. The name "Sossusvlei" is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area (including other neighbouring vleis such as Dead Vlei and other high dunes), which is one of the major visitor attractions of Namibia.

The Dead Vlei has been claimed to be surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the highest reaching 300-400 meters (350m on average, named "Big Daddy" or "Crazy Dune"), which rest on a sandstone terrace. However, the Wikipedia article on dunes contradicts this claim; firstly, there is room for debate on the criteria, such as whether there are higher individual dunes (the article lists at least three higher than "Big Daddy") or whether there are higher "average highest area" dunes elsewhere (the dune article lists one possibly higher area in Africa.)

The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river from the area.

The trees died, as there no longer was enough water to survive. There are some species of plants remaining, such as salsola and clumps of !nara, adapted to surviving off the morning mist and very rare rainfall. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to be about 900 years old, are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. Though not petrified, the wood does not decompose because it is so dry.
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