Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. Also written DeadVlei or Dead Vlei, its name means “dead marsh”.
Dead Vlei has been claimed to be surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the highest reaching 300–400 meters (350m on average, named “Big Daddy” or “Crazy Dune”), which rest on a sandstone terrace.
The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the climate changed, drought hit the area, and sand dunes encroached on the pan, which blocked the river from the area.
The trees died, as there no longer was enough water to survive. There are some species of plants remaining, such as salsola and clumps of nara, adapted to surviving off the morning mist and very rare rainfall. The remaining skeletons of the trees, which are believed to have died 600–700 years ago (ca. 1340-1430), are now black because the intense sun has scorched them. Though not petrified, the wood does not decompose because it is so dry.
Legend says that there were two gods fighting each other. The god of victory created towering sand dunes around Deadvlei and cursed the land to never come back to life. Because of that curse, for the past 900 years, almost no living thing could live in Deadvlei. However, many people believe that it is just a fantasy story.
According to the Internet