The soaring red dunes of Sossusvlei are a highlight of many a trip to Namibia. The striking scene of burnt orange desert, white pans dotted with skeletal trees and more often than not bright blue skies never fails to wow. The chance to climb Dune 45 and Big Daddy are not to be missed whilst the trails to Hidden and Dark Vlei are well worth the effort.
Sossusvlei’s dunes form part of the Namib-Naukluft Park and are one of Namibia’s most vibrant vistas. This landscape is highly photogenic and best visited at either sunrise or sunset, not just for the light but to avoid the intense heat of the middle of the day. This is particularly true for those who are keen to venture further afield to Hidden and Dead Vlei or to attempt the summiting of the highest dunes – the aptly named Big Daddy being the most vertiginous.
Whilst the majority of those visiting Sossusvlei simply explore the dunes on foot there is a wide array of other desert-based activities on offer from quad biking and nature drives to hot air balloon safaris and scenic flights which offer the chance to really get to grips with the scale of the Namib Desert. Close to the Sossusvlei entrance is Sesriem Canyon, three kilometres long and up to 30 metres deep it offers an interesting walk and impressive views from the top.
Bordering the Namib-Naukluft Park close to Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve, the largest private nature reserve in Namibia and the perfect choice for those wishing to avoid the crowds that can sometimes be found at Sossusvlei or after a more extensive desert experience. The NamibRand is also Africa’s first international dark sky reserve in recognition of the little to no impact from light pollution and artificial light making it the perfect spot for breath-taking star gazing above the Namib Desert.