Giant dunes cover the landscape around Sossusvlei. This dried up clay layer can be found amid an enormous sea of dunes in Namibia. The hundreds of orange-red dunes are easily accessible by a 4×4 vehicle. But which is the one to be visited? Explore Africa lists the finest dunes of Sossusvlei.
The Sossusvlei is situated in the Namib desert, fairly close to the coast. It can be reached easiest via the town of Sesriem, about four and a half hours from Windhoek. From there, there is one road into the desert. Where the asphalt stops, you will find only sand, sand and more sand. Are you going to drive yourself? Then you will need a 4×4 to make your way across the desert. If you prefer not to drive yourself, you can use a shuttle that takes you to the most popular spots. Do not forget to bring sun lotion and extra water: you will find yourself in the desert.
This 170 meter (558 feet) high dune is the first one to climb for many who visit the Sossus. It owes its name to the 45 kilometers (approx. 30 miles) from the access gate of the park. There is a chance that you are not the only one climbing the red sand giant and must share the dune with others. It is advisable to start climbing early in the morning. This way you won’t have to plow in the hot sun and the main route can still be covered while in the shade.
It is for a reason that they call him Big Daddy: the highest dune in Sossusvlei. This giant, made of sand, towers more than 325 meters (> 1000 feet) above sea level. Taking firm steps, showing stamina and with a bit of perspiration it is possible to make your way to the top. And you want to be there because the views are amazing.
While taking a look at the views, far above all the other dunes, you will spot the striking white sand at the foot of the dune. Follow the white sand to the horizon and you will see remarkable black stripes. This is Deadvlei, a white clay plain between the dunes. The plain is covered with many dead acacia-trees that used to live here. They were able to grow here earlier, when the Tsauchab river would overflow and create clay soil. As the sky-high dunes started surrounding the plain, the water could no longer reach the plain and the trees died. It is estimated that some of the acacias are no less than 900 years old. In any case it ensures a unique picture, against the background of the giant red-orange dunes.
This is where we twist the facts a little; but we cannot ignore the highest dune of the Namib. Dune 7 is officially not in the Sossusvlei area. It can be found on the other side of the river Tsauchab. That is what the dune owes its name to, it is the seventh dune after the crossing. With a height of more than 380 meter (some 1250 feet) it is the king of all dunes in the area. Even Big Daddy can be considered its little brother. The dune is more towards Walvis Bay and can also be accessed from that city.
Psst. What is the secret of the mysterious fairy circles in the Namib Desert?