Our Guide to a
Sossusvlei is spectacular and the most accessible part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. In existence for some 43 million years, this 50,000 square kilometre region is famous for its desert formations that are nothing short of remarkable. Sossusvlei is a clay pan set amidst the worlds highest star-shaped desert sand dunes that rise dramatically 1,000 feet above the ethereal vleis below.
The dunes sprawl like massive pieces of abstract sculptures and continually shift in colours from yellow-gold and ochre to rose, purple and deep red that grow paler or darker according to the time of day. Watching the changing mood and colours at sunrise and sunset is a Namibia safari highlight and so too is climbing the dunes. The area is known for its beauty, isolation, tranquillity, romantic desert landscapes and rare desert-adapted plants and creatures.
Other highlights in the region are the Sesriem Canyon and Deadvlei. Sesriem Canyon has evolved over centuries of erosion by the Tsauchab River. It is a narrow gorge that runs 1.5 kilometres long and 30 metres deep. Along the way you can see the sedimentation layers collected over millions of years.
Deadvlei can be reached on foot over 1 kilometres of sand, so a sound fitness level is recommended. It is famous for its striking camel thorn trees, dead for want of water yet still standing as they once grew. These trees survived until approximately 900 years ago when the sand sea finally blocked the river from occasionally flooding the pan.
Beyond Sossusvlei, the Namib Desert offers so much to see and do; it comes down to time available to safari in Namibia.
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Things to Do in Sossusvlei
Namibia self drive safari itineraries often include Sossusvlei as access is easy with tarred roads to all of the accommodations. Once at your property, sit back and enjoy the professional activities exploring the region.
When it comes to style of safaris, a highlight is the hot air balloon flights over Sossusvlei or a scenic flight in helicopter (we recommend doors off to avoid glass reflection in photographs) or light aircraft. Seeing such dramatic landscapes from the air is truly inspirational. Hot air ballooning allows you to drift gently over the dune fields at Sossusvlei and upon landing you are treated to a champagne breakfast. The helicopter flight over Sossusvlei can cover more distance and is best experienced at sunset for the beautiful light.
This is a photographers paradise with contrasting landscapes and colour. Namibia photographic safaris usually feature three nights here to allow ample opportunity to capture sunrise, sunsets and starry nights with minimal light pollution.
Accommodation in Sossusvlei
There is only one lodge within the Namib-Naukluft Park and a public campsite. Outside the park and closest to the gate is the Sesriem region. Accommodation can be anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour away from the gate. Once at the gate (only opens at sunrise) you have another hour before arriving as Sossusvlei (dunes are 60 kilometres away from the gate).
Further afield, some 80 kilometres from Sesriem is Solitaire where you can find budget accommodation. Just south of Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve, one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves and it is home to the Wolwedans collection of luxury safari lodges and camps. The location is synonymous with some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes.
Best Time to Visit Sossusvlei
You can visit all year round. Being a desert, days are hot and nights are cold so imagine the extremes in summer and winter. The best time to climb the dunes is close to sunrise and sunset. Colours are at their most impressive and constantly changing. It is almost like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia as golden dunes stretch before you like rolling waves on the horizon. The heat of day can be harsh, so head back to base for some accommodation for some rest and relaxation.Get Started