Thursday, May 31, 2012

dunes

9 may, wednesday- we arrived in windhoek mid morning, where we were met by david of nature friends safari's. after introductions, we took off for the main office in town to receive our detailed itinerary, vouchers, satellite phone and keys to the car for hire. we also received good advice for self driving. an hour later we were off! our long awaited for adventure about to begin! 
here in namibia, you drive on the left side of the road and steering  is on the right. and although most every road is dirt, signage was excellent and our directions were too. the first thing we saw were baboons near the road! we also saw: hundreds of weaver nests, pale chanting goshawks, and one dik dik. we wanted to stop many times for photos, and or to have a look, but we had a 5 hour drive ahead and we were hoping to reach our first camp before dark. it was an incredibly exciting feeling, to be in africa again, driving on our own. we were starting to feel the fatigue of travel and and so when we stopped for petrol, chuck popped in to a takeaway shop and bought two of the largest coca cola bottles we'd ever seen. between the cokes and candy we consumed, we made it in time, wide-eyed and right at dusk. we were met with welcome drinks at desert homestead and horsetrails by quentin and seven (that was his name). we were shown around and saw where we'll be staying the next three days (the above thatched chalet). oh! we had arrived at the perfect time, the place was glowing with lanterns, candles and the warmth of the setting sun. we're here!



oryx or gemsbok live here.

10 may 2012- 5:45 a.m. we're sitting at the sossusvlei gate, waiting in line for the namib naukluft park to open. this is the land of spectacular dunes, some of the world's largest, and among one of the oldest deserts on earth. (that is our truck last in line).


balloon safari's in the namib desert, tomorrow we'll go!




these are the classic spectacular dunes (this is what i showed in the first photo of my last post), glowing in early morning (or late afternoon) light. the photos above show dune 45, with people attempting to climb it.


camp had graciously packed a breakfast box for us, we are here in the namib-naukluft all day. 


 the hike to deadvlei is gorgeous but arduous in the heat, plan to be there at first light, if you go.


dead vlei- an old pan with skeleton trees, some over 500 years old. starkly beautiful, although we were too late for sunrise photos (we learned it's possible to obtain a permit, next time!)

 ostrich!


 oryx!


i made an attempt to climb dune 45. it was more fun to run down, which i am doing here!


 at 4-5 pm, temps were around 34 c, 93 f.


11 may, 2012  balloon safari day!
we had a wake up call at 4:30 a.m. it was unsettling driving in total darkness, watching carefully for animals in the road. we met the other balloon riders at sossusvlei lodge and were taken by truck to the launching place. as we drove the sky began to lighten, soon we saw the balloon lying on its side. the noise was loud, when the butane was filling the balloon. every man was working together, and it was only moments before it was time to climb in! we had to move quickly, the balloon was full and wanted to rise.
inside the basket were 4 sections, and each section held 3 people. there were 12 passengers and our pilot paul. (on the drive over, we were told our pilot would be mr. pole. hee hee. pronunciations = charming).




once in, we were given a safety talk by mr. paul. you basically hang on for dear life in winds, and for
landing, you assume the position. which is: turn your back to the approaching ground, hold on to the hand grips and then squat. he also said never to stand after the first bump, because there will be subsequent bumps and you could be ejected. OKAY.


i was so excited. giggling and all. until we began to rise. i forgot that i have a fear of heights. for a few moments, it was more scary than fun, until i realized that you don't have to lean over the basket. looking down is only for the very brave, it seemed.

 chuck and my nervous smile.



 oryx!


after a while of floating over stunning landscapes where we could see for miles, the balloon was lowered. we could see animals and birds now! we were above a kestral hunting, and i spotted a black - backed jackel that had just dug up an ostrich egg and he was batting it around. incredible!
now the safari was ending, mr. paul said 'assume the position!' and we all did it wrong. hee hee. oops. we all turned around and held on. i could see the ground approaching fast through the little portholes in the side of the basket. we hit the ground with a jolt and a screech. we kept moving, bumping and banging. i was a little scared, as the basket began to tip, still dragging in the sand (dust flying everywhere). i saw the ground crew, which had been following along by truck, run up and try to keep the basket upright. they couldn't. i remember closing my eyes (chuck reported my eyes were open and huge and i was laughing), i thought all the people above us were going to fall on us and get hurt. dust and dirt were everywhere. there was shouting and laughing. hands were reaching out to me. everyone was a little shaken, and very excited. wow! wow! what an epic adventure!


 mr. paul in the basket still.


 the crew folding up the balloon, notice the skid marks the basket made.


 time to board the truck for the rest of our adventure.



 we drove for several kilometers and came upon this, a table, chairs, linen, breakfast and champagne in the desert!


 here is mr. paul performing a fabulous trick with a sword and a bottle of champagne...


 he sawed all the way around the bottle neck, and then with one fell swoop, lopped off the first few inches, champagne flying!


 we ate scrumptious food, laughed and chatting about our adventure, chuck and i kept winking at each other, me thanking him for this incredible experience. we met a new friend, a professor of anthropology in the states, he lives half the year in the u.s. and half in a cottage on the shores of lake victoria in tanzania. he gave us his card and invited us to stay.


more photos to remember sossusvlei and the fantastic namib- naukluft national park...
 we saw many ostrich

 we hiked

'love africa' shirt a gift from erin at dandelion dream, and new favorite indigo linen skirt made by karen for this trip. thank you talented lovely friends, i wore these all through namibia.


 waking view through the mosquito net of our room.

lodge view of our first three nights in africa.


view from atop a dune.


we felt sad leaving the dunes. we had been looking forward to being here for a very long time. but oh it's been fantastic. driving out we saw: herds of gemsbok (oryx), flocks of ostrich, a bevy of springbok, and a greater kestral. swakopmund and the skeleton coast is next!

xo lori (today i'm another year older)    :)
thank you so very much for all the kind comments on yesterdays post and lovely welcome back!

56 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday! What spectacular experiences and places!

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  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES LORI ♥
    Hope your day is as special as you are!!
    You've really captured the beauty of your trip - the photos are simply breathtaking. Being so close to all the exotic animals & the skeleton trees WOW.
    It's such a treat to stop by and see your photos. Thank you.

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  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! just stunning photographs. what an adventure!

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  4. Thank you Lori, today is your special day and here you are thinking of us. I hope today has been all you wanted and them some. Thank you for sharing your trip and allowing us to be apart of something magical. Much love to you!

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  5. I love that you ran down that dune, I would have too. And have you noticed that you and Chuck have the same smile? Amazing photos as always, thank you for sharing. Hoping I will dream of sand dunes and balloon rides, god natt! (good night in swedish).

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  6. How did I miss it was your birthday? Hope you had a good one (and got to eat some lobster). Happiest of birthdays to you!!!

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  7. what amazing images Lori! Happy happy belated birthday!

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  8. wow. incredible images - absolutely stunning - especially the one above the dunes.....sigh. i can only imagine how amazing that balloon ride was.

    happy birthday wishes again to you, dear lori♡

    xoxo

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  9. Happy Birthday! Thanks so much for sharing your excellent adventure with us!

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  10. Happy birthday and WOW!!! Thank you for letting us share the wonders of your trip!

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  11. Happy Birthday!!! What an amazing adventure, thanks for sharing!
    Xo's

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  13. Happy Birthday :D

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us Lori, it's great to be your armchair companion :D

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  14. ....so stunning!! thanks for these beautiful pics!!!
    happy birthday!!

    xxx Alessandra

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  15. oh awesome lori! happy birthday! you are so adorable! i love these pictures, you, the story, it's all just soooo exciting. amazing. you make me want to go to africa now.

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  16. Happy birthday!! And thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure with us, it was amazing!!!

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  17. oh my!!! lovely gorgeous pics and Happy Happy Birthday to you Lori!

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  18. Hi Lori,
    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! Oh, how I absolutely loved this post...
    I was in awe as I sat glued to the computer screen...what a beautiful way you have of sharing your adventure...it was so exciting to read and the photography is stunning. Looking forward to the next one...

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  19. Happy Birthday Lori! I just tried to send a comment and there was an error so I will try again and hope you don't get it twice!
    I just wanted to say I was in awe when I was reading this post. Absolutely loved it and the wonderful way you have of sharing your adventure with us all. It was so exciting and beautiful...the photos are stunning. So wonderful to be able to see another country through your eyes. Many thanks!

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  20. Happy Birthday Lori! All I can say, "I love the safari." Your photos are amazing--you made me feel as if I was a part of it. XOXO

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  21. A beautiful birthday to you! Thank you for sharing it with us!! xoxo

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  22. Too late for me to post a decent comment but not too late to say Happy Birthday to you!!!
    Your photos and detailed description are really awesome. Thanks.

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  23. First off Happy Birthday! You share a birthday with my father so hooray so easy for me to remember. Your fourth picture brought a tear to my eyes. I always dreamed of being a hot air balloon guide. I didn't know opening a champagne bottle with a sword was involved, so maybe I have to reconsider my goals in life :) The first few days of your trip seem amazing I can't wait to see more.

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  24. Lori ~ what a stunning place on Mother Earth! I was truly touched by your beautiful photos. The dunes are amazing - the starkness indeed! You must have had a great Internet signal. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing.

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  25. Oh Lori! Thank you for sharing this with us. I can almost imagine the dunes and how amazing it must have been for you. Wow. Just wow. (:

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  26. Happy Birthday for yesterday, hope you had a great day.
    Your pictures make me so homesick, I hope you had a spectacular time in Africa, it looks like you did though!

    x

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  27. The photos are amazing, and it sounds like the trip was too. Thanks for sharing your adventure, and Happy Birthday!

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  28. I was a day off on you birthday, I hope it was a wonderful one!
    These photos are awesome, beyond awesome. I am so happy you got to make this trip! Thank you for this. xoxo

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  29. Happy Birthday, Lori! What an amazing adventure - so wonder filled. I love that you mention when you return - good to know you are already planning your return trip. Those dunes are fascinatingly beautiful. And the balloon - eek. my husband fears heights and sometimes it is contagious. Very brave of you!

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  30. Happy birthday...what lovely photographs. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  31. lori, it looks so flippin' beautiful X

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  32. Sigh! sigh ......
    Oh Lori I am hating and loving your pics .and places!!!
    I HAVE TO FINISH my Baked Beans adventure

    errrrrr .... maybe I'll finish it when you go back......

    After my disastrous 50th birthday non-event ballooning I promised myself ballooning over the Namib. Your pics convince me it's why Pilanesberg didn't happen. I'm going to do your Namibian one instead.

    Can't wait for the rest of the posts.

    BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lori!!!
    xxxxxxx

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  33. Happy birthday, my friend :)

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  34. Hi Lori! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm so glad to see that you are back home, safe and sound. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! The colors are amazing. I absolutely love that photo of the line of people walking the dune. Fantastic! Yikes! The balloon landing sounds rough. What an exciting trip! I must go see your previous post. Welcome home. Best wishes, Tammy

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  35. I have tears in my eyes seeing through yours, my heart has bubbles of joy in it for the beauty of this land. How I love the dunes! Mine were white and not red, but both truly exquisite!

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  36. The balloon...I would have been terrified!!! I am so excited to see and read more about your trip!

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  37. i can hardly comment. i don't know what to say. you are taking me somewhere new to me, lori, and i am astonished by every color and texture and every photo. (you know we say astonished sparingly!) what an amazing experience. and we're only up to day three! i am so excited to see and hear about it all

    those dunes are not of this world. except you were there so they must be. what did it feel like to see those dunes, with that incredible gleen and color?

    i had no idea there are ostriches in africa. i love the group shot but the single ostrich with such a pastel background: astonishing :^)

    i am so happy you and chuck got to do this. fuel for the next decade.

    love
    kj

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  38. Happy Birthday dear Lori, thank you for the beautiful pics of your incredible adventure! I!m enjoying it almost as much as you, just watching from my desk! More, more.......!

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  39. What an adventure!! Thank you so much for bringing us along!!! And happy happy day, friend!

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  40. Hello Dune Baby!!! Welcome to just around the corner (relatively speaking!!) your photos are pretty breathtaking.. and Happy Birthday, of course, for the 31st! Now to go back in time and catch up on about 2 months of your blog - wow, looking forward to it! lol xx

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    Replies
    1. we were to etosha, so we really were close! i thought of you and tiennie, wow three years has flown by! thank you :)

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  41. What a wonderful birthday gift, I'm so happy you were able to go on such a fun, exciting and interesting adventure. I loved the pix, thanks for sharing.

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  42. You are so very brave to go up in that balloon, I think I would have been too chicken!!, I didn't realize that they held so many people. The pictures you got from up there are stunning; what a fantastic adventure you had.

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  43. Happy Birthday, Lori! I am speechless from these photos. Holy Moly. What. An. Adventure. :)) xox

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  44. Hope you had a wonderful birthday.
    Its so fascinating to see these and read your travelog. I kept thinking of Issac Dennison! xx
    julie

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  45. Ohhhhhhhh!!! Well, happy happy happy birthday to YOU! My goodness, what a thrill. I've always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride. That landing sounded quite exciting! And I simply cannot believe how blazing orange and gorgeous those sand dunes are! Amazing photos. Amazing start to your amazing holiday!

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  46. Happiest birthday wishes dear Lori!

    Chase and I have been looking at your adventure photos and are just stunned. He pointed out the bottom of the basket.. could you look through it?? Oh gosh.. my stomach turns at the thought!

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    1. no no emily! it was a solid floor, very sturdy, i think the basket must weigh very much!

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    2. belated birthday wishes!!! your photos are magnificent, they remind me of our trip last year to Utah, especially since we got to climb the dune right near the entrance to Arches National Park, the sun made the dune SO hot, sand would pour into your shoes, so we went barefoot, but it almost burned our feet...amazing experience, we climbed to the top, but I am sure it wasn't nearly as big as those dunes!

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  47. thank you so much for all the kind words and birthday wishes! xxx lori

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  48. Dear Lori, thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey! Every single photo is so beautiful and fantastic - I feel like I can jump in to them! The colours and the light are so beautiful! You must have had the best time and amazing experience! xxx Teje

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  49. evrything is just breathtaking, I have to take a bit more time to scroll up and down, again and again...wow!
    sarahh

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  50. Oh my word. What stunning adventures! I could NEVER do the balloon thing, though my husband would be sure to point out that being in a giant basket (I love baskets) would surely override my fear of heights. I disagree.

    The sand dunes. I love those magnificent sand dunes. They're absolutley enchanting. It must have been darn near impossible to put your camera down during this trip!

    And happy, happy (belated) birthday, Lori!

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  51. Where to start??! These photos are magnificent Lori... I could smell the dry air and my skin was suddenly dry as a bone! I wish I lived close enough -- I'd pop over with a big bottle of wine and have you start at the very beginning and share every single detail. What a truly remarkable adventure for you and Chuck. Love, love, loving the photos. And happy birthday my friend. You are apparently living each day to the fullest! xxoo

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  52. Happy Late Birthday:)
    These post I have seen before but just briefly......
    Wow that balloon ride must have been so wonderful!
    Love those views those dunes and deadvlei. Some words sounds like Dutch maybe similar to South African language?
    That old pan plane with dead trees is just beautiful, unreal.....

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  53. Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?
    ANSWER THE POLL and you could get a prepaid VISA gift card!

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xoxo lori