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Sossusvlei is one of the best places to visit in Namibia and can easily be included in most safari holiday itineraries. This salt and clay pan is surrounded by the giant wind-sculptured dunes of the Namib Desert, famed for their red hue and towering height. Whilst Sossusvlei is actually the name of one pan, it is often used to reference the wider area in which other pans such as Deadvlei, and the famous dunes of Dune 45 and Big Daddy are located.
Sossusvlei is an area of colour and shade, particularly at sunrise and sunset when these immense dunes are ablaze with reds and oranges, contrasting sharply with the black shadows of their opposing faces. These shadows expand and contract with the rising and falling of the sun, giving a unique feeling of bringing an abstract painting to life. Meanwhile over in Deadvlei, jagged branches from lifeless camel-thorn trees rise from the desert floor, creating a striking silhouette against the rich colour of the sand. A day trip to Sossusvlei is one of astonishing aesthetic appeal, and a definite highlight of a Namibia holiday. It’s certainly easy to see why Sossusvlei is the most visited part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
The salt pans in this area collect water from the Tsauchab River and prevent its onward flow, with the name ‘Sossusvlei’ roughly translating to ‘dead-end marsh’ in reference to the limited drainage of the pan. Surrounding these desolate pans is a seemingly never-ending sea of extraordinary ancient dunes. Formed by sand that dates back millions of years, some dunes are over 300 m high.
Activities at Sossusvlei
Exploring the Sossusvlei area is typically done in a 4×4, either as a self-drive or an arranged excursion. A typical day tour of Sossusvlei will include Deadvlei as well as a visit to the famous Big Daddy and the 80 m high Dune 45, where you can climb to the top for some superb views.
Seeing Deadvlei and Sossusvlei’s sand dunes at either sunrise or sunset is a truly spectacular experience but one that requires a bit of pre-planning. Please speak to one of our team about how to make the most out of your tailor-made Sossusvlei holiday.
Hot air balloon rides over Sossusvlei can also be arranged and are arguably the best way to really appreciate the vastness of this mesmerising desert landscape. Pre-booking this excursion is advised.
Sesriem Canyon Hiking Tours
Whilst you’re enjoying a holiday in Sossusvlei, you might want to consider a guided walking tour of the nearby Sesriem Canyon, a sandstone fissure through which the Tsauchab River runs. Descent on foot into the canyon is fairly easy, and at certain times of year, hikers will be rewarded with a swim in the pools at the bottom which are a welcome respite from the heat of the desert. Far fewer people visit Sesriem than Sossuvlei as many visitors come specifically to see the sand dunes and petrified trees. However, with its impressive rock formations and shade-chilled pools a day trip into the Sesriem Canyon is well worth the effort.
Best Places to Stay in Sossusvlei
If you want to access the dunes and Deadvlei before the crowds, and in time for sunrise, you’ll need to stay at Sossusvlei Lodge, or a campsite within the park. There are also several of superb lodges in Sesriem that serve as an excellent base from which to explore Sossusvlei and the surrounding area.
Hand-picked Camps and Lodges
Talk with one of our Namibia experts today to discuss the best Sossusvlei accommodation options for you.
Best Time to Visit Sossusvlei
The best time to go to Sossusvlei and Sesriem is between March and October, when the skies are clearer making for some incredible photography opportunities. Temperatures are milder during this time too.