By Mikey Jones
Tourists visiting these gigantic dunes appear barely bigger than a grain of sand.
The ant like figures silhouetted against the rising sun were tackling the five-million-year-old dunes in over 40 degree heat.
Dunes in the Sossusvlei, part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Nambia, reach nearly 500 feet in height, with thousands of people visiting every year to climb them.
The pictures were taken by conservation volunteer Cathy Withers-Clarke, from Cape Town, South Africa.
She was on a 31-day road trip through Namibia with her husband when they stopped at Sossusvlei.
Cathy, 50, said: “The Sossusvlei area is one of the ‘must-do’ things on any Namibian travel itinerary, and thankfully we were there in spring before it got too hot, although it was still well over 30 degrees every day.
“We were up before dawn to miss the worst of the heat. We saw the sun rise at Dune 45 which is about 170m high, then headed to Deadvlei to experience the white clay pan with its dead trees and some of the highest dunes in the world.
“We were lucky to see some of the resident Gemsbok making the most of the shade from the few trees along the road, and apart from a few very tough little plants the only other signs of life we saw were the tracks left by the shy resident lizards, bugs and snakes, or the occasional crow or raptor looking for them.
“It’s a very eerie feeling standing in Deadvlei – the pan is massive and very other-worldly with the stark colour contrasts and tree skeletons.
“Arriving early, and the silence is something you won’t experience often in life. Big Daddy, also known as Crazy Dune by locals, towers about 350m above the pan and is a favourite early morning climb for visitors, though we were content just to be observers.
“You can see in the photos just how big the dune is.
“It was certainly getting busy at Deadvlei by the time we left there, with the tour groups arriving so we were very pleased we started out so early and had so much space almost to ourselves.”