Maarten Schäfer

We have one more challenge ahead of us before we leave Namibia: conquering Big Daddy, one of the highest sand dunes in the Namib Desert, and maybe even in the world.

We are accompanied on our mission by Alpheus, a desert specialist who was born and raised in the Kalahari Desert. “Our people are used to temperatures of up to 50 degrees,” he says. “We have sand dunes for breakfast.”

Big Daddy lies on the edge of the Sossusvlei, a dried-out lake surrounded by tall sand dunes that is (very occasionally) fed by the seasonal Tsauchab River. We arrive at the site after a six-hour drive, covering the last five kilometres on foot. The dry riverbed is lined with ancient camel thorn trees that survive on the water they collect at a depth of 50 metres.

“This way,” Alpheus says, pointing south. After a few hundred metres we arrive in…

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