As I was heading out for an evening run, our tour guide, KK, warned me not to go up into the rocky hills nearby, as I might get lost. But the scenery was too interesting, like Joshua Tree rising out of the Sahara desert. I had to check it out!

The trail turned out to be clearly marked with arrows showing the way every few hundred feet. It was a bit tricky to find the trail in the rocky areas, so I kept careful track of where I’d come from, lest I prove KK right. It was hard to make myself turn back when I hit my turnaround time, but I wanted to catch up with the rest of the group for the sunset walk. It was one of the most incredible sunsets of my life, serene and wild at the same time.

The next day, we arrived in Sousselvei after a long drive. It was windy and rainy while we were putting up the tents for the night, but luckily it subsided enough for an evening run. I’d heard that a nearby dune had an amazing sunset point, so I set off in that direction with another runner, not knowing the exact distance.

It turned out to be a forty-minute run each way with a dune climb and descent towards the end. It should have been a tough run, but it felt easy with the sunset colors and every-changing sand formations to distract us. After the run, we ate dinner and headed to bed early, as we were to see sunrise the next morning.

The effort of waking at 4:30 a.m. turned out to be well worth it. We climbed Namibia’s famous Dune 45 just in time to see the sun come above the horizon. The dune turned from dark to bright red, more like Mars than anything I’d seen on Earth. When the sun was up and we were done taking in the views, we ran down the side of the dune, our legs sinking into the sand to our shins with every step. The fine sand felt amazing between my toes, like liquid velvet.

We then started our walk to Sousselvei’s petrified forest, which was a struggle in the heat. Each red dune felt more and more challenging. But KK broke up the suffer-fest with a parlor trick. He pulled out a magnet, stuck it in the sand, and pulled it out along with thousands of iron filings. This high concentration of iron is what gives the sand its red color, through creating iron oxide coatings on the sand grains.

After a bit more walking, we finally reached a mud flat where 1 million year old trees were petrified. It looked as if we’d been transported into one of Dali’s famous molten surreal paintings. All that was missing were the molten clocks. We didn’t stay long, since the heat was too intense for prolonged exposure, but it was enough to leave a lasting impression. It’s hard to believe many people don’t know Sousselvei exists, when it’s by far one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited.

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Explore Unbound is a database of epic adventures. Think of it as a curated list of adventure ideas, ranging from the world’s hardest ultras to the most scenic ski touring regions. Depending on your style, you can explore by destination, time of year, or type of adventure. Poke around a discover the world’s top mountains, treks, ultra marathons, ski tours, and more!

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