Normally combined with a visit to Sossusvlei, the nearby Dead Vlei (“Dead Marsh” in English) is a white clay pan surrounded by some of the biggest dunes in the world, such as the imposing Big Daddy dune which, at around 350 metres tall, is a fun challenge to climb. A classic site in Namibia for photography, Dead Vlei was formed when the Tsauchab River used to flood the area along with Sossusvlei. With this water availability, camelthorn acacia trees were able to grow and survive. However, about 900 years ago, Dead Vlei was cut off from the Tsauchab River valley by sand and silt deposits, parching the soil and causing the trees’ demise. Due to the extreme aridity of the area the dead trees have not rotted or petrified but simply stand sentinel as bare black trunks and branches on the white pan of parched clay, with the backdrop of the red dunes – a striking sight indeed.