The Tsougab river use to flow through there but a dune cut it off in a dry spell some 800 years ago by the scientist's measure and hence all the Camel Thorn trees died which at the time of their death were already roughly 300 years old. Visitors to the Dead Vlei can walk amongst these millenium old trees in a vast clay pan and perhaps if they are keen to climb the massive dune "Big Daddy" that forms its one side.
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Photo by: http://whenonearth.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/deadvlei-namibia-woe1.jpg