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
Itineraries including Sossusvlei
Whatever you want your luxury tour or safari itinerary to include, we’ll create something fully bespoke for you… and only you.
Accommodation in Sossusvlei
Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options
Sossusvlei Desert LodgeDesigned to capture the splendour and solitude of the desert, just ten stone and glass desert villas spread out along the curve of the escarpment allowing absolute privacy. Each air-conditioned suite features a private veranda, split-level bedroom and living room with fireplace, en-suite glass-encased bathroom and outdoor shower. The villas are equipped with a stunning star-viewing skylight, discreet CD system, custom-stocked personal bar and compact spotting scope for magnificent star and game viewing. The guest area, where walls have become windows that fold away completely, boasts unimpeded desert vistas. The split-level Lodge features a fire-lit bar, comfortable sitting room, swimming pool, wraparound verandas and a Safari Shop. A fine selection of wines from an impressive walk-in wine cellar complements delicious Pan African meals. Guests can escape the desert heat with a revitalizing midday dip in the pool fed by water from an underground spring. At sunset, animals are drawn to a nearby waterhole, enhancing desert sundowner drinks.
Wilderness Little KulalaOffering more of a ‘boutique’ polish and size set in the 37,000- hectare private Kulala Wilderness Reserve, and a stone’s throw from the Sossusvlei dunes, this beautiful lodge is easily the most luxurious in the area. Wilderness Little Kulala consists of 11 climate-controlled thatched suites, sympathetically designed so as to merge deceptively into the desert landscape. Each one is air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom, and has its own private outdoor pool and shower. The rooms are huge and with floor-to-ceiling windows designed to spoil you with the incredible views that flood in. Or take it a step further and star gaze in style on your own private rooftop. The main lodge is built on three levels and provides an elegant entertainment area, with a spacious lounge, stylish dining area , well-stocked reference library and its own wine cellar to boot.