Sossusvlei is the name by which the deep red dunes of the Namib-Naukluft Park are commonly known. The Namib Desert of Namibia is the oldest desert in the world and this part of the desert is home to some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. Their deep ochre colour, contrasting with the rich blue sky and dotted with desert-adapted Camelthorn trees all combine to create an alien-like landscape worthy of any postcard.
Within the Namib-Naukluft park are a number of sights that have become firm tourist favourites over the years. Although it is the name used to refer to the entire area, Sossusvlei is actually the name given to a small white salt pan situated at the base of an imposing red sand dune. Nearby is the less well-known, but more spectacular Dead Vlei, which used to be an impressive lake, but dried up thousands of years ago, leaving fossilised trees standing in the middle of an expansive white salt pan. The dune that forms the backdrop of Dead Vlei is known as Big Daddy. Standing at over 300 metres tall, it is the tallest dune that visitors have the opportunity of climbing inside the park. Climbing a sand dune is something else, as for every two steps forward you take, you slide one step backwards. But for those with strong legs and lots of water, the views at the top are worth it. And although it may take up to an hour to climb to the top, it only takes 5 minutes for the brave to run back down again.
Along the 66km road the takes visitors to Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei are over 200 sand dunes, with some being more famous than others. Dune 45 is a popular dune to stop and visit, as it is known as the most photographic dune in the park and is the one you see on all the postcards. It also provides an easier warm up climb for those who have their sights set on tackling Big daddy.
The Namib-Naukluft Park is open to the public and anyone may drive their car inside, provided they stick to the road and the speed limit, as you share the road with animals too, most notably the Oryx or Gemsbok. The road is tarred for 66km and stops 5km short of Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei. Here, the road turns to soft sand and those intrepid visitors with some 4x4 know-how are more than welcome to plough along until they reach the parking lots of Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei. For those who do not want to risk getting stuck and breaking out the shovels, you can walk the rest of the way, or catch the 4x4 shuttle which will take you from the end of the tar road to the parking lots of Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei.
On your way back out of the park, it is worth taking a quick stop at Sesriem Canyon. Sesriem canyon is a small canyon, but visitors are able to climb down the sides and take a walk along the bottom.
Where to stay?
There are number of lodges and accommodations located just outside of the Namib-Nauklfuft Park. The gates open at sunrise and most visitors prefer to enter the park at sunrise in order to photograph, marvel at and climb the dunes before the midday heat becomes oppressive and they return to their lodges for a well-deserved swim. Some of our favourite lodges include:
WHERE TO STAY
There are number of lodges and accommodations located just outside of the Namib-Nauklfuft Park. The gates open at sunrise and most visitors prefer to enter the park at sunrise in order to photograph, marvel at and climb the dunes before the midday heat becomes oppressive and they return to their lodges for a well-deserved swim. Open, close, then open each tab again to display the images fully.
OUR FAVOURITES ARE...
DESERT QUIVER CAMP
Basic but beautiful and incredible value for money camp, located very close to the park gate and with very flexible meal options, on offer is everything from self-catering, since the chalets have a fully equipped kitchen, to half-board.
DESERT HOMESTEAD LODGE & OUTPOST
Hoodia Desert Lodge is stunningly beautiful and not only located slightly hidden, but also offering special Sossusvlei excursions, avoiding the crowds.
SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE