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Sossusvlei

Travel Guide Africa Namibia Sossusvlei

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Introduction

Dead Vlei - Sossusvlei

Dead Vlei - Sossusvlei

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The Sossusvlei perhaps is one of the most photographed places in the world. It is a truly spectacular desert of huge red dunes located in the larger Namib Naukluft National Park, one of the highlights of a visit to Namibia. Visitors can walk to two dead river beds at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei, where blackened, dead, 600 year old camelthorn trees stand in stark contrast to the white cracked ground, the red dunes and the deep blue sky. Spectacular, and still relatively quiet.

The most famous dune in the park is Dune 45, whose name supposedly comes from the fact that it's the 45th dune from Sesriem (though you will also read that it's 45 kilometres from Sesriem). It's best to avoid this first thing in the morning, when it tends to attract tour groups.

The park also contains wildlife including oryx/gemsbok, ostriches, and various species of lizards and burrowing beetles.

Hot air balloon trips are available from Sesriem for about $500 (Nov 2009) but they don't cross the famous parts of the park.

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Opening Hours

The park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset, hence the only way you can see a full sunrise or sunset from within the park is if your accommodation is also in the park, i.e. the campsite or Sossusvlei Lodge (see Sleep section).

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Getting There

The entrance to the park is at Sesriem. Sossusvlei itself is about 60 kilometres from Sesriem.

By Car

A 4x4, although not necessarily needed, is recommended, as it is in most of Namibia, chiefly because it will handle the dirt roads much better than a smaller vehicle. Otherwise, try just a highclearance vehicle in case of potholes and other discomforts. Wherever you come from, be it Windhoek, Swakopmund, or the south, it is a long, long drive to Sossusvlei. Often along beautiful roads across scenic landscapes though but fill up on gas whenever you can as distances between gas stations can be enormous and you don't want to get stuck in the desert.
The paved (but potholed) road becomes sand about 4 kilometres short of Sossusvlei. From there, you can either drive the remainder (if you have a 4x4), hike, or take an expensive shuttle bus.

By Bus

If you don't have your own vehicle, then it is possible to arrange tours from Windhoek, usually in a minibus. A typical tour will last for 3 days (though really only 2) and 2 nights - the first day driving to accommodation near the park, the second visiting the park and nearby Sesriem Canyon, and the third dropping in on the settlement of Solitaire (known for its apple pie and abandoned old cars) before returning to Windhoek. A mid-range tour will cost about $500 (Nov 2009), including a driver/guide, meals (cooked by the driver/guide), and accommodation at somewhere like Desert Camp (see Sleep section).

By Boat

Red sand of the Namib

Red sand of the Namib

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Eat

Eating out options are thin on the ground, but if you don't mind a braai (BBQ), there is a well-stocked petrol station just outside the Sossusvlei gates.

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Sleep

Budget

There is a camp site within the gates of Sossusvlei.

Mid-Range

Plenty of mid-range and upmarket options exist outside the gates of the park, providing self-catering and catered accommodation in spectacular environments. One of the nicest options, pricy but still doable (that is, not overpriced) is the Sossusvlei Lodge, not far from the main entrance. The same company also owns the much cheaper, but still gorgeous, Desert Camp, about 5 kilometres away.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 11:30 on Jun 6, 11 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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