Deadvlei, Namibia by Peter Boehringer

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Desert photography is my passion. I chose to life in the American Southwest for this particular reason. Most of my shooting happens here, but I still branch out for other places in this world that clearly have the feeling of desert. Desert can be found in many variations. The presence of absence of water is not always what defines a desert, but how nature handles this precious resource.

I found deserts in Bolivia, Brazil, Iceland, Mexico, Middle Eastern countries and in particular in Namibia. The latter is, beside the American Southwest, my favorite sand box, not pun intended. Sossusvlei is undisputedly the most iconic spot in whole Namibia and possibly the greatest reason for people to travel to this country located somewhat outside the usual jet set. The entire area around the ephemeral Tsauchab river with its towering red and orange colored sand dunes is a sight of another world.

Deadvlei is a little hidden gem in this maze of never ending sea of sand dunes. A sand dunes enclosed dried white mud flat contains circa 700 year old camel thorn trees which protrude their black sun backed branches into the blue sky as witnesses of past times when the Tsauchab river flowed through this area and provided the trees with water. Those times are long gone as the eternal sand dune shifting cut the water supply for these trees. What is left behind is a jaw dropping photographic icon. The difficulty of this spot is reaching it at the right moment of the day.

The closest overnight is an one hour drive away and you have to leave it at sunset and returning to it is only allowed one hour before sunrise. Besides, the last 5 km driving is through deep sand. Each time I went there I saw people stuck with their cars and missing out the magical moment. Once you park your car you still have an 1 ½ km hike through the sand to finally enter Deadvlei. After all this you are pretty much off limits.

The specific challenge at this present visit was a fierce wind that filled the air with sand. My photographic gear and I were exposed to the wild elements and yet provided me with an unusual sight of this iconic location.


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