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.
Deadvlei Red Dunes & Dead Trees
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 within the desert.
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