Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sesriem - On The Edge Of Nowhere

Sesriem is a 'settlement' on the edge of the Namib Desert.

It is the western entrance to the Namib Nauklauft Park and consists of two camping areas, a Lodge catering mainly to Fly-In and Coach-Tour visitors and, a fuel station/store.

It is also the access point to the famous Sossusvlei and its much-photographed dunes.

On the gravel roads leading to Sesriem there are many Desert Lodges and Operators offering services like Balloon Safaris and Aircraft flights over the dunes.

I don't know what it costs to Balloon over the desert but I'm sure I couldn't afford it.

I had to be satisfied with this aerial view of Sesriem - a Welcome sign at the Sossus Oasis Camp Site where we stayed: the circle in the foreground.

Entrance to Sossusvlei is restricted to daylight hours and therefore Sesriem, being about 70kms east of Sossusvlei, is a convenient stop-over for visitors wanting to get to the Dunes early the next day before the sun gets too hot.

The camp sites at the Sossus Oasis Camp are nicely spaced, ensuring a degree of privacy.

Each shaded camping spot has a barbecue, electrical-point and wash-basin for dishes. Behind the reed enclosure is a toilet and shower with hot water - what a pleasure it is to shower here after a long day on the road, cool breeze blowing and a fantastic view over the desert.

The owners of the camp pride themselves on their eco-friendliness - hot water and electricity is solar generated. I assume that water is also pumped from solar-powered boreholes.

A Biker enters the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Camp where permits are issued for entrance to Sossusvlei.

Motorcycles are not allowed into Sossusvlei so bikers have to either hitch a ride with a motorist or use one of the expensive Shuttle-service Vehicles.

We took two Bikers with us on our trip to Sossusvlei; they'd traveled across Russia, Europe and Africa and were on their way home to Oz, via Namibia and Cape Town - it would have been a shame if they'd come all that way and not been able to get to Sossusvlei.

A Balloon over the Desert.

It seems that the Balloons only fly at sunrise when there is no wind - the view must be spectacular.

In the pic above you can see one of three Micro-light aircraft which appeared in the sky and then came in to land on the gravel road running past the camp.

The whole setting of Sesriem is surreal.

This outpost in the desert with all the strange-looking vehicles coming and going gave me a sense of Déjà vu - later it struck me that Sesriem is like a scene from a Mad Max movie.

After landing, the Airmen taxied up to the pumps and proceeded to refuel their flying machines:

Wow, I can only imagine how it must feel to tour a country in this way - I was feeling too shy to strike-up a conversation with these travelers so I can tell you no more about them.

The Sesriem Canyon, about 5kms from the campsite.

It was midday and hot and I was in no mood to trek down the path leading into it and back up again - maybe next time ...

'Sesriem', literally translated from Afrikaans means 'Six Thongs' - you can read why this Canyon is so-named here

If you follow the Location link below you'll get a good perspective of the area.



  1. Beautiful photos featuring all manner of sky transport. I know those balloon safaris cost $200 a person for a 2 hour safari in Kenya and that was several years ago. It might be a bit higher now. I did not feel like spending that kind of money for a 2 hour experience as it is rather 'rich' for me also. I did take the also expensive but longer land safari and that was a thrill of a lifetime. I've never seen that aircraft that fuels up at a gas station. Very interesting. Your photos as always are beautiful.

  2. P.S. what are those squarish slabs sitting by the "huts". ARe they the solar panels?

  3. Thanks Penny ... yeah, I didn't even bother enquiring about the price of a Balloon flight ... it must be quite a view though ... anyway, I prefer to keep my feet on the ground these days ...

    Yes, those are solar panels to heat the water ... four people could probably have a good warm shower ...

  4. I'm glad you got that ultra light at the gas pump. That's one unusual site. Honestly your unusual pictures bring me back here. How much for a night in the camp sites?

  5. Hi lisleman - if my calculations are correct, it costs about 30 US Dollars per person (and the same for the vehicle) per night - Namibian citizens get a slight discount ...

    ... yeah, it was unreal when those microlights dropped out of the sky ...

  6. Graham as always beautiful photos. Thankfully I have never had any desire to go up in a balloon (or go in a micro light), so I have never bothered to found out costs but I agree I am sure I could never afford them.
    I love those camping spots, they are fantastic. We often used to take off in our tent but never found anything as good as that.
    I cannot imagine you being too shy to ask questions, I guess I do not know you at all though :-) Diane

  7. Thanks Diane - yes, the camping spot was great for a one-night stay ... it's not the kind of place I'd like to camp at for a three or four days though ...

    ... I'm not the most sociable person in the world and sometimes it takes an effort on my part to approach someone ... :)

  8. The biker pic is particularly lovely, and the quality of the evening sunlight.
    I went up in a balloon once and was struck by how still and quiet it was - you're drifting with the wind, so most of the time you don't feel a breath of air about you, it's strange.
    I wasn't too keen on the heat produced by the burners over our heads, or the bumpy landing when every bone in your body shifts up and down - several times if you bounce till you stop.

  9. What a place you inhabit on this earth!!!
    I could imagine you being shy and all:)
    Perhaps next time offer an exclusive photo essay/story on your blog

  10. Thanks Caroline - yes, the biker pic is my favourite of the post too ...

    ... "several times if you bounce till you stop"? ... mmm maybe I wouldn't fly in a Balloon even if I could afford it ...

    ... I never thought about the silence aspect of such a trip ...

  11. Yes indeed Monica - and you know what? ... This may sound strange but it's because I see it through Your eyes that I appreciate it all the more ...

    ... perhaps 'shy' was the wrong word to use ... sometimes I just don't feel like speaking to people ...

  12. Thanks for sharing a series of holiday snaps to die for... as ever incredible images and honest reporting. Any chance you could do a take on Obama's recent trip to UK? (Only joking, sort of...)

  13. Thanks Dave - don't get me started on politicians, they're top of my 'hate list' ... Obama does make a good speech ...

  14. HI, brilliant pics I am sure the one of the microlites at the pumps would win a prize for you!Keeping my feet on Terra Firma is high on my list of priorities too!I envy anyone who can hop on a balloon or one of those lite planes and take to the sky.
    We only hear of Africa here when there is trouble/famine/war etc.Blogs like yours, Jo's Memorable Meanders, Lynda's Food, Fun farm, bring home to us how Africa has developed, yes with problems but which country does'nt have them. It is nice to see ordinary people going about their business and wonderful photos of a fantastic country.
    I am having blogger problems so I may be signed in as anonymous if at all!
    Peggy organic growing pains.

  15. Thanks Peggy - I made a hash of trying to explain to Monica earlier that, in trying to interperet and present my world to others, I'm forced to look beyond the hassles of daily life - it causes me to see my surroundings in a different light ...

  16. Oh if you have a moment - your vote over at Jillsy Girls would be great (even if you didn't vote for me just voting is a good thing)

  17. This is the first time I have visited your blog and I love your photos. The view from the campsite reminds me so much of the Richtersveld landscape which I visited a few years back.
    I'm looking forward to seeing more....

  18. Thanks Coral - I hope that you'll become a regular visitor ...

  19. Kia ora,
    I arrived from Robin's place and very glad I took the trip. Great photos of an amazing landscape. Vast. I love the photo of the ultralight at the pump and the seeming non chalance of the people aroundf them.

  20. Thanks Robb - yes, I was surprised when I looked around and no-one else was taking pics ...

  21. Beautiful Photos..

    New to ur space and so Happy to follow u :)

    Do visit me as time permits.

  22. Thanks for your visit and kind comment Jabeen.

  23. Oh no, Graham, you're like Grant when it comes to finding out what strangers are doing. I think he cringes a bit when we travel as I strike up conversations with all and sundry. Only yesterday in the supermarket car park in El Doret, did I approach a man with a loaded landrover and about ten small, boisterous African kids inside, who were . (Obviously he was waiting for his wife)I asked him where he was off to/had come from and he told me: Entebbe but he was not very friendly and that was about what I got out of him! I love the roads you travelled with Megan. We will definitely be testing our new GS Adventure there soon, and hopefully also find a kind person like you to give us a lift into the park. I've enjoyed catching up with you and marvel at your beautiful photos. Thanks for the concern about Grant's malaria. He is still man-down as we say in SA, but improving daily. I wouldn't mind if this bout of the illness (about his 13th - I had my fifth at Easter this year) would put him off beer! Have a great truip in Cape Town and safe travvels. Blessings, Jo

  24. Thank You Jo - yeah, Malaria is no fun ... I've not had a bad case of the disease for quite a while now but at certain times in the year I become all hot and feverish ... some have told me that there's a recurring type of Malaria and I suspect I might have it ... hope you're still enjoying life in Kenya ...