Dead Valley in the Namib Desert
The Namib (“the place where nothing exists”) is thought to be the oldest desert in the world. It has existed for 80 million years and was formed during the time of the dinosaurs. Namib is located in southwestern Africa and stretches for 1,900 km along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
The central part of the Namib Desert is the Sossusflei clay plateau, known for the world’s largest red sand dunes and the famous Dead Valley with the remains of dead trees.
The Namib Desert is very dry and, with the exception of a few coastal towns, is virtually uninhabited.
The Sands of the Namib Desert, aerial view:
In the south of the Namib, most of the land surface is covered with sand, yellow-gray near the coast and brick red in the interior of the desert.
The dunes run parallel to the coast. Individual dunes range from 10 to 20 kilometers in length and from 60 to 240 meters in height, among them the so-called Dune 7 with a height of 383 meters, which is considered the highest dune in the world. Compare, for example, the size of this dune and the trees at its foot:
The Himba are a nomadic people living in northern Namibia. Both men and women cover their bodies with a mixture of ochre, grease, and ash to protect their skin from the scorching sun. This mixture gives their skin a reddish hue that symbolizes blood, which in turn symbolizes life. The women braid each other’s braids and cover them with this mixture:
Traditional Himba House:
An old abandoned ship in the northern Namib Desert:
Elephants, rhinos, lions, and hyenas are found in the northern desert, especially in the river valleys that flow from the inner plateau to the Atlantic.
The hollows and dunes of the Namib provide refuge for some species of antelope, such as the oryx or chamois:
An aerial view of the dunes of the Namib:
The Namib Desert has been around for about 80 million years, and native animals have had plenty of time to acquire evolutionary adaptations to the desert heat that make them survive in unusually hostile climates and are not found anywhere else in the world. For example, snakes can crawl on sand that the sun heats up to 60 degrees Celsius. When it gets even hotter, they simply bury themselves in the sand, which is much cooler in the depths. Horned viper :
Well, we’re moving toward the Sossusflei Clay Plateau in the central Namib Desert in Namib Naukluft National Park on a red dirt road. (Clickable, 2275×920 px):
The Sossusflei Plateau is known for the world’s largest red sand dunes and the famous Deadvlei:
Although “dead valley” is not a proper translation. More accurately, “dead swamp” or “dead lake.”
Death Valley is at the bottom of a dried-up lake covered with a layer of salt and cracked clay:
Namibians call vlei the place where everything ends:
Dead Valley appeared about 900 years ago, when dunes blocked the riverbed and cut off the area from water.
The main vegetation of Sossusflei and Dead Valley is the camelina acacia (Acacia erioloba). It is a species of tree in the Acacia genus of the Legume family.
The tree can reach up to 17 meters in height:
The sun killed the trees, leaving only scorched, black, dry “skeletons.”
Dead Valley gives the impression of a place where even time has stopped:
Sunset. Another day ended in Namib, and it flew completely unnoticed against the background of the age of this most ancient desert – 80 million years…
Dead Valley (Deadvlei) is a famous Namibian landmark, which is a white clay-filled pit dotted with bizarre dried-up trees and fringed with the highest sand dunes in the world. It lies within the Sossusflei Clay Plateau in the middle of the Namib Desert of Africa, in the southwestern part of the Republic of Namibia. The Dead Valley’s extraordinary scenery is considered one of the chief prides of Namib-Naukluft National Park.
The clay hollow in the center of the desert is famous for its surreal landscapes: coal-black trees rise above the white textured earth against a backdrop of numerous red-brick sand dunes and blue skies. The dunes, which have the status of the highest in the world and reach 300-400 meters, deserve special attention.
Previously, this lifeless area was filled with moisture and vegetation. The story of the Dead Valley began after heavy rains when the Tsauhab River burst its banks and flooded nearby areas, creating shallow pools everywhere. The abundance of water in the pools formed allowed the so-called “Camel Acacia”, which reaches 17 meters in height, to grow successfully in conditions favorable to them.
About 900 years ago, when the climate changed and the region was hit by a severe drought, huge sand dunes blocked water access to the valley. Over time, the lack of moisture killed the trees, and since then hundreds of camel’s acacia “skeletons” have been frozen in a lifeless dance in the middle of the vast Namibian desert.
The years of exposure to the sun’s merciless rays have turned them into petrified black pillars, and thanks to the dry climate the wood has not yet decayed and continues to decorate the plateau in its own way, reminding of the former green prosperity of the area. There is not even a hint of wind in the clay pit, and in the hottest period the temperature reaches 50°C in the shade, creating perfect conditions for the preservation of ancient, heat-dried trees.
The unique landscape, formed about a thousand years ago, is unlikely to change much in the near future, as the giant sand dunes have long excluded the possibility of water in the area. Barchans reaching up to 400 meters long are numbered and even have their own names.
The tallest dune is number 7, and the most spectacular one, surrounding Dead Valley, is called Big Daddy. Their bright brick color is due to the high iron content of the sand, and they take on their brightest hue at sunset and when the sun rises.
The extraordinary landscapes of this place resemble the surrealistic paintings of famous artists. Despite their lifelessness, they are very beautiful and unusual. Interestingly, the Namib Desert has more than once interested filmmakers, who filmed several films here (“The Cage”, “Gajini”).
It’s a lifeless beauty. It’s eerily beautiful and scary at the same time.
How can you not think of the shimmering valley.
This is Namibia, where the desert meets the ocean.
Old news and was, but there’s a question
More than 20 African countries have banded together to plant a huge wall of trees across Africa to stop the growth of the famous Sahara Desert.
Actually, the question is for people who understand. Is it really possible to remove the desert by planting trees? Does the soil there react to it in any way? I am really curious.
I’m all like this.
I’m going to leave you.
The Kola Peninsula, the Tersky coast of the White Sea, the Kuzomensky sands. The photo was taken in September, 2011. The OLYMPUS SZ-30MR camera.
Refugees in Cameroon turned the desert into a blooming garden
“Minawao is a refugee camp in Cameroon set up by Nigerians who fled the notorious Boko Haram terrorist group. The camp became home to nearly 70,000 Africans.
The region was already suffering from climate change and drought, and the influx of refugees only accelerated the desertification of the land: trees were actively cut down for firewood and to build shelter.
In 2018, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) launched a reforestation program.
According to Andrew Harper, UNHCR’s special adviser on climate change, “protecting the environment provides better protection for people .
Refugees and locals received special training on how to handle seedlings in harsh climatic conditions. The so-called “cocoon technology” developed by the Land Life Company involves burying a donut-shaped water tank made of recycled cardboard boxes along with the sapling.
So far, volunteers have managed to create 100 hectares of forest – that’s 250 soccer fields!
“Now Minawao has become a completely green place. And there are many advantages to this: the trees attract water and give us shade from the sun, we have suitable soil for agriculture,” says one of the volunteers, Lydia Yukubou.
In a sense, this action is part of the massive Great Green Wall project, aimed at combating desertification south of the Sahara Desert. The essence of the Green Wall is to curb the expansion of the desert by planting trees. A number of African countries have banded together to cut off the desert from what is still fertile and livable land. Their plan is to bring the length of the living barrier to 800 km.
Painting on a Sawtooth “Sunset on a Canyon.”
Acrylics, a sawn poplar tree.
Ostrich in the desert
Namibia. The Outer Namib Desert. The ostrich family lives on the border of the Coastal and Outer Namib. Family members sometimes go quite deep into the sands.
Photo: Sergei Potapov “Hermit” from here
A unique landmark, a symbol of life or a dangerous invader destroying an entire continent?
The Tree of Life in the Bahrain Desert.
First about the beautiful and mysterious!
The loneliest tree in the world. It is over 400 years old and all that time it has been growing in conditions that are impossible to survive.
So. The desert. The heat is 50 degrees above zero. The sand under your feet is so hot that you can’t walk barefoot. No shade. No water. No vegetation of any kind. Not even thorns. It’s scorching. The nearest greenery is several hours away by car.
And in this natural hell, on top of a 25-meter sand hill in the middle of the endless desert stands a sprawling giant. All around is sand and this amazing powerful tree. Moreover, every year it only grows more lush. It is not clear how, and most importantly, where it gets its moisture.
But, of course, the locals (who, of course, live outside the hell of the desert) are very proud of such a landmark. The tree is called “Shajarat al-Hayah”, which means “Tree of Life”. Every year it attracts crowds of tourists. Thousands of curious people come to see the miracle of nature, which, according to legend, was planted in 1583 in the same place where in biblical times there was the Garden of Eden.
If you go to Bahrain one day, make sure you go and see a tree growing in the desert. If you think it’s a stunted bush or a half-rotted bald stump, you’re dead wrong. The height of the sight is almost 10 meters.
It’s no wonder that there are so many incredible stories about the Tree of Life. For example, they say that a long time ago on this very spot was a beautiful oasis with a rich source of water. Since then, many years have passed, the oasis disappeared, and only this tree survived.
In general, the Tree of Life is a phenomenon known not only in Bahrain, but also far beyond. And here we come to the most interesting part…
The full name of the sight is Prosopis Cineraria or mesquite tree.
Of course, among the legends told about the Tree of Life to tourists, there is bound to be a story that the long-lived tree has supposedly baffled scientists and biologists, who can’t explain its existence in desert conditions in any way. Some believe that the mesquite tree has a very branched and deep root system that goes deep underground to distant water sources, but we have not yet been able to prove it, because there are no surface or ground water sources in the Bahrain desert. Others suggest that the tree is fed with moisture by special bacteria that extract it almost from the sand. And the Bedouins are sure that the tree grows with the blessing of Enki, the god of water. Be that as it may, there is no clue, and the tree continues to grow.
It’s all beautiful and fascinating, but the truth, as always, is much more banal and… scary.
The fact is that mesquite trees were brought to Africa on the advice of European biologists, who suggested using these plants in the fight against desertification. Alas, the initial good cause caused a problem.
Mesquite grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico, where the climate is still different from Africa. This plant has really long roots that allow it to seek water very deep underground. And that’s why mesquite has become an invader in Africa.
Mesquite is beautiful, but treacherous.
At first, of course, everything went very well and nothing foretold trouble: the mesquite took root, the climate suited it, and it extracted water from deep layers of soil. At first, the tree was solely useful: saving shade, fodder for livestock and charcoal.
But a few years passed and it became obvious that the mesquite transferred to its new habitat did not meet its usual natural enemies on the way, which oppressed its uncontrolled spread in its historical homeland.
In Bahrain, the mesquite grows among the desert. therefore, it did not become an invader.
Thus the tree population quickly spiraled out of control, and when it did… it was clear that the tree had turned from a friend into an enemy. The powerful root system of the mesquite allows it, like a pump, to draw all the already modest moisture from the soil. In this way, the trees began to take over vast territories, destroying pastures and turning them into deserts. Where mesquite grows, there is simply no more water for anything else. The tree takes over everything. Moreover, over time, it became clear that the beans of this tree are not suitable as feed for livestock either, the pods of mesquite have a detrimental effect on the teeth of goats and sheep.
Tree of life. A dangerous invasive species or a miracle of nature?
Biologists are now sounding the alarm – if no action is taken to combat the invader, it will turn the African continent into a barren desert in a few decades.
That is why the beautiful legend about the once-existing oasis where the Tree of Life grew may well be true. Four hundred years ago this place might indeed have been an oasis of life-giving springs and plants. But the Tree of Life planted in this oasis destroyed everything, drawing water from the soil and ensuring its continued existence.