Sossusvlei & Carmy the Chameleon (Namib Desert, Namibia)



Sossusvlei. Looks and sounds like a nonsense word. The more you say it, the more ridiculous it becomes. The “-vlei” rhymes with “way”. Need remedial help? Go here. I did. It’s a name worthy of Dr. Seuss. . .To play with clay in Sossusvlei conjures forth a perfect day and sand is grand in orange land… Roughly translated, “Sossusvlei” signifies “dead end marsh” in Afrikaans. Rarely does the Tsauchab River accumulate sufficient capacity and thrust to inundate the area, but it does occur. Lucky us.


Another early rise. Another cup of Nescafe Espresso. I can almost smell the instant coffee now. The park staffers were late arrivals, so we missed the sunrise. The early morning light still provided plenty of eye candy, however. I was hoping we’d have the place to ourselves but, alas, those with their own 4WDs beat us to the punch. . .Fiddlesticks. No matter, it was a sight to behold and worth every moment.

  • After negotiating the lagoons, I trudged up the nearest monster dune. The most visually appealing route turned out to be the least expedient. Dune slogging might just be the perfect cardio workout. Also ideal for myocardial infarction. Once atop my sandy perch, I soon forgot the effort it took to arrive there. What a view! Awe turned to laughter when I noticed some unfortunates following my footsteps through the sand. They must have assumed I’d taken the easiest route. You know what happens when you assume, don’t ya? They never made it. Poor bastards.

    Seeing as it was likely my last opportunity for a dune frolic, I took advantage. With video camera in hand, I bounced my way ground-ward with childish exuberance singing my adaptation of Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream (Dune).” There are worse ways to squander a morning.




After we had our fill of Sossusvlei, it was time to leave the Namib behind. Never have I seen such a place. Never ever. I doubt I shall ever see another like it. It is the desert of Hollywood imagination and deservedly so. Life is about timing, so I wonder: Had I visited at a different time would the mirage have been less enchanting? Hard to imagine it any less magical, but anything’s possible I suppose.

From Sesriem, we drove northwest to Swakopmund via Walvis Bay through the northern sector of Namib-Naukluft National Park.  As we floated once again through the endless expanse of nothingness, a sudden violent jerk of the wheel spared the life of a familiar friend. Carmy the Chameleon decided to sport a bright yellow coat of arms at a most opportune moment, catching my eye and thereby saving his shape-shifting little ass. We turned around for a closer look and gawked at our mystical pal for about fifteen minutes. He was an ornery misfit, but a short camera molestation was the least he could endure in exchange for my split-second reflexes.

Close to Walvis Bay the scenery morphed once again and became even more nothing than nothing was before. Such a variety of nothing. So many shades of nothing in this world. I guess it’s true, even nothing is something. Okay, that’s ridiculous, but it does have a nice existential ring to it, no?



by Mr. Nos T. O'maniac