Star trails over Namibia

Arriving in our African overland truck, we set up camp at Spitzkoppe in the Namib Desert, Namibia. An amazing place that offers much for those interested in the landscape. Here, I took a star trail photograph pointed at the south celestial pole, using a natural stone arch formation for the foreground. Photo taken in August 2015.

Pottery in Afghanistan

Istalif village in Afghanistan is high up in the mountains, and surrounded by pleasant lands. It’s also rather famous for its colourful and somewhat rustic pottery. I bought a few pieces of pottery here 10 years ago. The people then were very happy to have their photos taken and to show-off their pottery. The village itself has been through quite a few traumas over the years, and its heritage and livelihood are at risk. Construction and security can certainly help, but it needs visitors, or a way to get its pottery to a wider market. Here, a young lad took me into his store and was very keen to show me the brightly coloured ceramics.

Ripples in sand

Sossusvlei in Namibia is graced with some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Amongst the rust-coloured sands, some small shrubs and trees manage to survive. And, of course, there is the eerie Deadvlei littered with the desiccated remains of trees from several hundred years ago. Not quite as old, here are the dried remains of plant material, perhaps from some tall grasses, shrubs or trees that I photographed whilst walking through the sand dunes. The wind had carved out some intricate ripples in the sand, and the light from the sun created interesting shadows and colours. It was a good way to end our final evening in Sossusvlei before heading north.

Sand dunes and trees

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia were formed around 5 million years ago, and are some of the highest in the world. The rich orange and red colours of these dunes owe much to the iron content of the sand. Here, embedded in the foot of one of these giants, stands a tree next to a fallen comrade. That the tree has grown, survived, and even thrived in such a harsh environment is testament to its hardiness. You need to be tough to survive in these desert conditions. Certainly my camera gear put up a valiant fight against the sand, with tripod legs being particularly susceptible.

Dead trees of Deadvlei

A unique view of the dead, desiccated trees of Deadvlei in Namibia which I photographed in August 2015. This photo won a Photoburst Travel Photo of the Day.

“Deadvlei” from the English word “dead” and the Afrikaans word “vlei” for marsh. It was once an area fed by the Tsauchab River where trees and other plants flourished. Perhaps 600-700 years ago, maybe 900 years ago, the changing climate and encroaching sand dunes conspired to cut-off the water supply, killing-off the trees and most of the plants.

Today, visitors are greeted by an eerie but spectacular sight. Illuminated by the brilliant blue skies, a white clay pan is surrounded by rust-coloured sand dunes which are reputed to be some of the highest in the world at over 1,312 feet (400 metres). And the trees; dead, desiccated, and scorched black by the sun. Truly a forest of the dead.