Sossusvlei, Namibia, Africa

Deadvlei red dunes with around 900-year-old dead Acacia trees standing on the white clay pan. In front is one single tree with roots grown out of the ground behind you see a group of acacia trees. At the end of the claypan start the red dunes.

copyright Anette Mossbacher, 6 April, 2020

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This photograph was captured with a Canon EOS-1D X and a lens. The following settings were used:

  • Aperture: ƒ/9
  • Exposure time: 1/60s
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 33mm

The original photograph has the following dimensions: 4826 by 3218 pixels (WxH).

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Amongst the colossal red dunes of the Namib Rand lies the eerie and spectacular Deadvlei. It is the home of the Deadvlei trees scattered over the clay pan. The name Deadvlei means dead marsh. In Afrikaans, ‘vlei’ means swamp. It used to be a marsh, yet, it is now a dried up white clay pan with old acacia trees. Surrounding the Deadvlei clay pan is some of the world’s massive dunes. The red and orange color of the dunes comes from thousands of years of rust. As a result, the sand has an extremely fiery appearance.

We believe that the claypan formed more than a thousand years ago when the Tsauchab river flooded after intense rainfall. After that, it created shallow pools of water. In these marshes, camel thorn trees started to thrive. But after about 200 years, the climate changed. Drought became the norm. The dunes that encroached the area soon blocked off the Tsaucheb river and any water from the once-thriving marsh. Hence the name Deadvlei. With no water, the trees weren’t able to survive. However, they did not disappear altogether. They dried up instead of decomposing, and the harsh desert sun blackened them to a crisp. Talk about a hectic sunburn! The 900-year-old tree skeletons remain in a white clay marsh.

If you like this photo of the Deadvlei red sand dunes, then have a look at our other landscape photographs.

The photographer behind the lens is Anette. Learn more about her.

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