Beyond these sand mountains, the river was blocked 700 years ago by the unstoppable dunes, killing and parching the land into the Deadvlei (“dead marsh”), now a white clay pan populated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees blackened by the sun.
The dead marsh is encircled and trapped by the dunes that created it.
A small oasis of life carries on at the “live vlei”.
The perimeter dune ridges look down into the Deadvlei.
The centuries-old wood forms a copse frozen in time.
On the way back to Walvis Bay, we stopped again at the Kuiseb river and canyon, amongst a desert luna-like landscape.
The geological history of this terrain is obvious to any lay-man.