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The most photographed sand dune in the world, Sossussvlei’s Dune 45, proved to be my Achilles heel. I had tripped and sprained my ankle in the exhilarating, deep darkness of Etosha Pan days before but, faced with the breathtaking 5 million-year-old red sand, I was lured siren-like up it. Later, as I drifted slowly down, lucky to have it all to myself, for hordes of tourists were arriving in busloads below, I was mesmerised by the stark, empty plain below with dunes rising off it. People were mere pinpricks reflecting our smallness, our insignificance in the grand design of nature. Months later, I’m still paying, in pain, for my impulsive climb. For, like our 3,000km trip across primordial Namibia, with its dramatic, thrusting and multilayered folds of mountains, eerie landscapes and thousands of years old welwitschia plants, it was unmissable. We spent a fortnight on our self-funded trip, flying from OR Tambo to Windhoek, where we hired a 4X4 for the four of us before heading north ...

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