The towering rust-red sand dunes and clay pans that belong to the Sossusvlei form the most iconic landscape of Namibia.
Located in enormous the Namib-Naukluft National Park – a protected area of desert and mountains larger than Switzerland – this rippling sand sea of huge dunes has been shaped by the winds and the underground Tsauchab River.
Outwardly the Sossusvlei looks completely barren of any life, and as one of the oldest and driest ecosystems on the planet you wouldn’t be completely wrong, but the flat, silver-coloured clay ‘vleis’ (pans or valleys) of fine mud cracked into a mosaic pattern where green camelthorn trees grow and the odd majestic oryx appears. Solitary dead acacia trees plot the old routes of the river, some even from 500 years ago, and when the rains do arrive (January to April) the pans really come alive with yellow devil thorn flowers and the dunes bloom green in places. Even rarer is once a decade or so, torrential rains flood the pans bringing an explosion of life, where lilies and dragonflies appear, and even birds arrive for this special occasion.
When to go
The rains are from January to April creating vast green dunes. May to September are the coolest months with temperatures at around 24°c, from October to April these tend to climb, with a peak of 30°c in January.
What to do
- Climb the Big Daddy and Big Mama dunes for spectacular views over this landscape
- Get to the top of the Elim Dune for panoramas over the Naukluft mountains
- Get to the Hidden Vlei and Dead Vlei pans before arriving finally at the Sossusvlei, to see how they differ
- We can even arrange for balloon rides over this most extraordinary of landscapes.
- Horse Riding to the Sesriem Canyon