The red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia, in pictures
Continuing our journey north from Luderitz and Kolmanskopp along dusty back roads through the Namib desert, we visited one of Namibia’s most spectacular and sites – Sossusvlei. Noel visited the area on his first overland trip in 2010, and couldn’t wait to visit again!
The Red Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei, located inside the Namib-Naukluft National Park, has dunes that reach as high as 400 meters – some of the highest in Africa. Literally, ‘Sossusvlei’ is a combination of Afrikaans and Nama words, which together mean “dead end marsh”, and refers to the salt pans in between the dunes where the Tsauchab River stops short of flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, more than 60km away.
There are a number of sites inside the park for visitors to explore, including the impressive Dune 45, Big Daddy and Big Momma dunes. A 4×4 is needed to visit the latter two, but most dunes can be accessed by 2WD on a tarmac road.
In addition to climbing the dunes, visitors can walk to Hiddenvlei and Deadvlei – two picturesque salt pans with dead trees, flanked by imposing dunes. These walks are best undertaken in the early morning when the temperatures are cool. Unfortunately, we visited too late in the day and missed out!
Despite the harsh desert, there are a variety of plants and animals in the area – including our favourite, the Oryx or Gemsbok. With large, pointy antlers and a big bushy tail, these are definitely one of the most spectacular antelope species to spot!
Driving to Sossusvlei
The roads leading to and from Sossusvlei are long and dusty, but some of the most picturesque in the country.
Approaching from the south, you can drive through the stunning NamibRand Nature Reserve. Heading north, visitors can also visit the eery Valley of a Thousand Hills. This route also winds through the beautiful moon-like landscape of the Sesriem Canyon.
Where to Camp
There are certainly no shortage of campsites in the Sossusvlei area. In nearby Sesriem, visitors can camp inside the park at the NWR-run Sesriem Camp. Although a big pricey (N$180 per person per night), the advantage to camping here is that you can enter the park a whole hour before other visitors, before and watch the sun rise over the dunes. Amazing!
Sand dunes or none, we are not morning people. So we opted to camp at the nearby Solitare Guest Farm, under the shadow of the beautiful Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park. On the way to the campsite, we saw a beautiful herd of wildebeest!