Pamela MacNaughtan

Today was our last early start of the trip, which is kind of sad in a way. I’ve gone from trip ‘firsts’ to trip ‘lasts’ and it feels like time is slipping by way too quickly for my liking. I have LOVED the second half ¬†(Victoria Falls to Cape Town) of my trip so far. In fact, I am tempted to come back next year and do the exact same trip with Intrepid (this time I know what I MUST have and what I can leave behind).

5:00 a.m. came rather quickly, or at least it felt that way. When my alarm on my phone went off, I was reluctant to get out of bed. The nice part was that I didn’t have to pack up my tent until lunch time, all I had to do was get dressed, grab my valuables and get onto the truck. It’s a 45-minute drive from our campsite to Dune 45 and the goal was to be there for sunrise.

Dune 45 is a star dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia. The dune stands over 170m and is made up of 5 million-year-old sand (according to Wikipedia). In the early morning hours, the sand is cool to walk on, however by about 10 am, when the sun is rising, the sand is quite hot. Thankfully we were at Dune 45 in the early morning hours.

Dune 45

Dave’s shoes were left behind as he continued to walk up the dune.

At 170m tall, hiking up Dune 45 before sunset felt like a tad unrealistic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hiking (honestly, I do), however hiking up a massive hill composed of sand is a tad harder than hiking along a mountain trail. While some adorned runners, I chose to wear my flip flops to the base, then take them off and walk up in my bare feet.

The sand was cool as it slipped between my toes and ran over the top of my feet. As I walked (and fought) my way up the dune, I gave little thought to the fact that scorpions live in the sand as I didn’t want to psych myself out. My hike was slow and with every step I took, it felt like I took 3 steps backward. People were passing me at a pace that made me feel a little self-conscious¬†about my abilities (or lack thereof), but I tried not to focus on that. Instead, I focused on the dune and how far I wanted to climb.

Dune 45

People passing me to walk to the summit of Dune 45

When my foot started to bother me and my calf muscles started to burn, I decided that I was totally okay with hiking half way up the dune and watching the sunset from there. I know, I know, I am a wimp. Still, even though I didn’t do the summit, I was still rewarded with fabulous views of the sun rising. Plus, it was incredibly peaceful (since I was the only person there). As I stood on the dune, watching the sun, I reminded myself that I will return to Africa (and possibly this exact same trip). When I return I’ll be in better shape and I will be fully prepared to conquer the obstacles that I didn’t conquer this time around.

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again.¬†


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