Is that a face in the sand?

If you saw the profile of a face in this sand dune, you’re not alone. We humans perceive random images as faces (and other familiar objects) all the time—it’s a phenomenon called pareidolia. In this case, maybe it’s just our way of finding something familiar and reassuring in this formidable desert.

Though the coastal Namib Desert begins in the southwest of Angola, and creeps into South Africa, the largest stretch of the Namib makes up the coastline of Namibia. Parts of the Namib rise in steep elevation, while the northern portion is often shrouded in thick fog rolling off the Atlantic. The fog over the region called the Skeleton Coast is responsible for numerous shipwrecks, but the moisture it brings into the harsh desert landscape is crucial to the flora and fauna that thrive here.

The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa. The Namib's northernmost portion, which extends 450 kilometres from the Angola-Namibia border, is known as Moçâmedes Desert, while its southern portion approaches the neighboring Kalahari Desert. From the Atlantic coast eastward, the Namib gradually ascends in elevation, reaching up to 200 kilometres inland to the foot of the Great Escarpment. Annual precipitation ranges from 2 millimetres in the most arid regions to 200 millimetres at the escarpment, making the Namib the only true desert in southern Africa. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for roughly 55–80 million years, the Namib may be the oldest desert in the world and contains some of the world's driest regions, with only western South America's Atacama Desert to challenge it for age and aridity benchmarks.

360° panorama over the small Spitzkoppe
A 360-degree panoramic of the Namib Desert in the area of Spitzkoppe