There are sand dunes and then there are sand dunes, but I had never seen a sand dune like “Big Mamma” in Sossusvlei, Namibia, in Africa, home of the world’s tallest sand dunes. Located in the Sesriem-Sossusvlei National Park in the Namib Dessert, I knew how tall the sand dunes were when I started to climb the ridge and had trouble seeing the top. I made it to “Big Mamma” but I could barely walk with each foot sinking 6 inches into the sand.
So, I sat on the sandstone boulder at the base of “Big Momma” and watched the others huff and puff to the top. Climbing the 1069-foot 45-degree angle sand dune caused group members to stop to rest several times during the 15-minute climb. At the top, wind-made red star dunes were seen everywhere. After 15 minutes of walking the crest, the guide, now barefooted after removing his shoes and socks, said it was time to go down.
“How”? Each one asked.” “Slide down barefooted” was the answer and all replied, “No way”. But the guide persisted with his fast, easy and quick decent method. So, all slid down standing up and barefooted on the other side of the dune in one minute flat. And they landed beside the dry, white vlei, the flat clay pan (lake) next to Big Mamma.
“It was like flying,” one said. The early morning dark shadows, plus the sun shining on the red sand dune sea, were a priceless scene. Still on that Big Mamma “flying high”, all was able to walk to the champagne brunch awaiting them underneath an Acacia tree, compliments of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises tour. And 360 degrees around that breakfast were the greatest and tallest sand dunes in the world and dozens of hungry desert cape sparrows waiting for their morning snacks.