At first we drove in the chilly dark, with other intrepid travelers awake for the same reason - not many, just a couple of cars' headlights in the distance. Rabbits ran across the road in the moonlight and once a shy springbok was lit up in the beams. I dozed. After about half an hour the sky was lightening behind us and we started to see the silent, vast escort we had been driving between all the while on our road in the flat valley. Massive, mythical dunes.
A dear friend had suggested we need music to match the landscape for our trip, but we didn't.
We could feel it: around us, under us - like an incredibly deep vibration, the lowest note of a cathedral organ pressed without pause.
Under the full moon we stopped at the foot of Dune 45, one of the few easily accessible large dunes, and put our walking shoes on.
It was steep! I huffed and I puffed and muttered about coffee. But the view of the soft knife edge we climbed and of the dunes and plains surrounding us, was unimaginably beautiful.
After a suitable time of communion we climbed down again - walked really - in great, sand-sloshing strides, our shoes three sizes too small now, filled with red sand...
Back in the car, sand poured from shoes, we headed west again towards the vlei (meaning an area of fresh water) knowing that no water would be found, but curious about the place about which we had no preconceptions. The moon was still high and bright, but the rising sun was making our early morning shadows long and giving an incredible sense of depth to the field of vision that is captured better by my husband's camera, and eye.