Up at 4am again, we leave for Deadvlei at 4.50am (every morning).
So, I don't think I have explained yet that we are staying within the National Park at Sossus. The privilege for doing so, is that we do not have to exit the park gate by sundown like everyone else.
It is 60 kilometres from the gate to the end of the tar sealed road so that takes an hour and then there is a further 20-25 min of bouncy, rough sand road to the beginning of the walk through/over low dunes. Then you walk 1.5k to the vlei. That is why we leave so early to be in place well before first light. There is absolutely no light or light pollution and for the last 2 nights there has been no moon. But that time provides the best walk as it's cool.
For those who don't know, Deadvlei is a pan encircled by dunes & was originally under water. When the water evaporated over millennia, the mud at the bottom turned into a chalky concrete like substance. The trees have long since died and are still standing, completely preserved in the hot, dry air. It's a mecca for photographers and tourists alike. So we have (another) special permit to be allowed into Deadvlei while it's still pitch black & well ahead of the tourist pack. This allows us to leave the gear overnight and either do star trails or milky way landscapes. Of course we couldn’t last night because of the chopper trip so we'll be out late again tonight. Despite my best intentions I never seem to get to bed before 11pm. Now you'll understand why I laugh when people say have a good holiday!
Today we have trekked into Deadvlei in the cool dark; out at again around 9.30 in the heat. In the afternoon we went back around 4.30 when it was very hot, 36 degrees, & set up for evening, twilight & night shots and then trekked out again in the cool.
When we arrived back at the car park around 8.30pm, Hosta (our driver/guide while at Sossus) had set up a beautiful picnic dinner, complete with camp chairs & huge coolers for the food & wine. The picnic table was ringed by lanterns. A very simple but beautiful affect created but putting some sand into paper sacks and standing a candle in it. Cheap, easy & lovely lanterns. Sorry I can't provide a photo because the gear was all set up for night shots in the vlei. While I run 2 cameras I only have 1 tripod!
Hosta had even brought vodka tonics for William & I (I've got him hooked on them now).
So there we were enjoying a drink and chat & this cute little mouse arrived. A little desert mouse with huge eyes, honey coloured coat and long thin webbed feet. He was extremely cheeky running under our chairs and over our feet looking for food, all was well until he decided to climb up the side of someone's wine glass and then up the inside of my trouser leg, I think I jumped about 3 feet in the air. I dropped half a grape for him, he picked it up and took off probably couldn't believe his luck.
There is a warning in our chalets not to feed the baboons. Ok. (Not that I would anyway.) but I'd not seen any… and to keep windows and doors closed at all times. Hmmm. No air con. While this is a top class sort of eco type accommodation, it's also quite rustic. The last time we were here in 2011 there was no problem with baboons, but it's very difficult coping with 36 degree heat when your room feels like a furnace. Fortunately baboons are only a problem in daytime, they are like humans and sleep at night so you can leave the windows open then.
I heard a story from one of the people here that last year some top brass in the Dutch military was here and ignored the warnings to close windows and secure doors... his room was utterly trashed and all the belongings in it; camera gear the whole works.