No matter where you come from or where you journey is taking you, Dune 45 is one of those stops in life that everyone should take! So it's a bit of old sand that collected to make a dune? Well let's say it's slightly older than old, let's say for argument sake that the red coloured sand than makes up Dune 45 and the surrounding dunes is over 5 million years old. And standing almost 170m tall, that's a little more than a bit of sand! Dune 45 gets its name from the fact that it lies 45km from the Sesriem entrance gate to Sossusvlei. It is an easy drive from the gate on a paved road which is easily travelled by 2 wheel drive vehicles, and it is its proximity to this road and its awe inspiring shape that make Dune 45 one of the, if not the, most photographed sand dune in the world!
Dune 45 is classified as a Star Dune. This dune formation is caused by the winds in the Sossusvlei area that blow from all directions, causing the sand to form a star shape with multiple arms. The sand itself is believed to be over 5 million years old and has a red colour to it due to its iron oxide content. Researchers say that sand which was carried down the Orange River was deposited into the Atlantic Ocean, travelled up the coast with the ocean currents, was deposited on the beaches and then blown into the Namib. This colouration in the sand makes for excellent photographic opportunities because as the lighting changes with the time of day, so does the appearance of the dunes' characteristic colour. The wind in the Sossusvlei area blows from all directions, which means that the type of the dunes hare are known as "star dunes". This is because the winds cause the sand to form a star shape with multiple arms.
Another reason Dune 45 is such a great tourist attraction is the fact that visitors are allowed to climb it. Over the years it has become popular to visit early in the morning and watch the sunrise over the vlei from the top of the Dune. It is a long, high climb, but once at the top it is well worth the effort, with incredible panoramic views of Dune Valley.
For those who plan to make the trip to the top of Dune 45 here are a few tips! Wear socks to climb in shoes get heavy and fill quickly with sand. The sand runs between your toes when you are bare foot which also makes climbing harder. The temperature can vary considerably from the time you set off until you get back down, so wear something warm that can be easily taken off and carried. Eat something light before the climb, there is no tuck shop at the top! Follow others footsteps, the sand is more compressed and easier to walk on, taking smaller steps rather than bigger stride. Protect your camera because all the sand is sure to get in where you least need it! And finally, this is an important one, only walk on the ridge of the dune. It is Disrespectful to walk on the side of the sand dunes, especially since they are protected. Running or rolling down the sides of the dune is the kind of irresponsible activity that could see visitors being kept off the dunes altogether!