Sossusvlei, Namibia

By Bushtracks
August 10, 2022

Namibia is a land known for its unspoiled desert beauty, and no where is this more apparent than at Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei is a brilliant white salt and clay pan nestled in the midst of the huge red sand dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park in central Namibia. This huge arid region of shifting sand dunes, enigmatic desert adapted animals and incredible geographic formations is Africa’s biggest conservation area. The area’s over 300-meter-high dunes are among the tallest in the world, and in the morning and evening light, the dunes and the shadows they cast make for stunning scenes and the perfect setting for photographers.

Sesriem, an isolated settlement with only a gas station and a few motels, serves as the major gateway to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It takes around an hour to get to Sossusvlei from here. Hiking up the massive dunes is certainly a leg workout, with them ranging from 85 metres in height to well over 300 metres! However, enjoying the views and otherworldly atmosphere at the top makes it all worthwhile, and for a fun experience, you can roll or slide back down. This is the perfect playground for kids, who will love to frolic in this giant sandpit.

When in the dry salt pan, you are surrounded by an ampitheatre of dunes, and it’s impossible not to feel in awe of the ancient and huge landscape as you wander past the fossilised remains of dead trees. Make sure to bring sunscreen, hats, sensible shoes, and plenty of water for your visit, especially if you are there in the heat of the day or plan on climbing a dune.

The region has a diverse fauna that is adapted to survive the arid conditions. It is mostly made up of small creatures that can live without much water, such as arthropods, reptiles, and small mammals like rats, caracals, and jackals, as well as larger desert-adapted animals like oryxes, springboks, and ostriches. There are also a number of raptors which prey on the smaller desert mammals and birds. Game drives to view the desert wildlife are highly recommended.

Another wonderful way to gain a different perspective of the desert’s vast beauty is from the skies while enjoying a hot-air balloon flight. At dawn, board your hot-air balloon and, with the gentle wind at your back, follow the sun’s journey over this most amazing natural wonder as the spectacular colours of the desert unfold beneath you. After the flight, enjoy an elegant champagne breakfast amidst the breathtaking Namib Desert panorama.

The nearby Sesriem Canyon is a great place to visit if you have time. The canyon is roughly a kilometer long and is a unique and fascinating site to visit after a long day spent among the dunes. It was shaped over the ages by the ephemeral river Tsauchab. It is also the only location in the region where water is present year-round, making it  crucial for the local wildlife.

Sossusvlei is a year-round location, with an annual rainfall of just over 50 mm. However, for clear skies and perfect photographic opportunities, we advise visiting in March, April, and May because they are after the summer rains and have milder day and night temperatures.

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