Namibia is known for its wildlife, including desert elephants, lions, and cheetahs, as well as its national parks, such as Etosha National Park and, most importantly, Sossusvlei, which we will be talking about today. Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan (refers to compacted soil) located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia, Africa. It is known for its large red dunes, some of which are over 300 meters high, and is a popular tourist destination.
The Sossusvlei dunes are believed to be around 5 to 10 million years old, formed by the constant movement of sand caused by winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean. The dunes are located in the Namib Desert, which is considered the oldest in the world and is thought to have been formed around 55 million years ago.
The area around Sossusvlei has been inhabited by various indigenous groups for thousands of years, with the San and Himba people being the most recent. The San people are known to have lived in the area for thousands of years, and their rock paintings can still be found in the region. The Himba people, who are semi-nomadic herders, have also lived in the area for centuries.
In 1908, the area was declared a game reserve by the German colonial authorities, and later became part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which was established in 1907. The park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a popular destination for tourists visiting Namibia.
In recent years, the park has been facing some challenges due to increased tourism. Such challenges include the overuse of water resources and the degradation of vegetation. Authorities are working on a plan to manage this and preserve the area for future generations.
Sossusvlei Dunes Contribution to Namibia’s Economy
Sossusvlei, as part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, is a major contributor to the tourism industry of Namibia and the country’s economy. It is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from all around the world. The income generated by visitors to the park helps to support local communities and businesses. The park also employs numerous locals, providing jobs and income for the surrounding communities.
Activities that can be enjoyed in Sossusvlei Dunes
Visitors can hike up the towering dunes for a challenging workout and panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscapes.
Visitors can rent sandboards and slide down the dunes, similar to snowboarding.
Hot-air balloon rides
Visitors can take a hot-air balloon ride over the dunes for unique and breathtaking views of the area.
Sossusvlei is a great destination for photography enthusiasts, with unique landscapes, natural beauty, and wildlife such as oryx, springbok, and ostrich. If you are looking to see the dunes at their most vibrant, it’s best to visit during the summer months from October to April. During this time, the dunes take on a deep red color and the sky is often clear, making for great photo opportunities. Likewise, the park is less crowded during this time, allowing visitors to have a more private experience.
The Deadvlei pan is an area of the park that highlights ancient, dead acacia trees, as well as wildlife such as oryx, springbok, and ostriches. This is a popular spot where visitors take photos.
Sossusvlei and the Namib-Naukluft National Park offer some of the best stargazing opportunities in the world, with minimal light pollution. Visitors can enjoy the night sky with the naked eye.
Visitors can take guided tours to see desert-adapted animals such as desert elephants, lions, and cheetahs.
Visitors can also take guided tours to learn about the Himba and San people, who have lived in the area for centuries, and visit their traditional villages.
Are there restaurants in Sossusvlei Dunes?
Sossusvlei is a remote desert area and there are no restaurants within the dunes themselves. However, there are many restaurants and other dining options located nearby, in the towns and lodges surrounding the Namib-Naukluft National Park. It is also possible to bring your own food and have a picnic at the park; however, it is important to note that there is no running water in the park, so visitors should plan accordingly and bring enough water and any other supplies they may need.
How can I go to Sossusvlei Dunes?
The park is accessible by car via the C14 road, which connects the park to the town of Solitaire and the main road linking Windhoek and the coastal town of Swakopmund. It is important to note that the last 60 kilometers of the road is gravel and a 4×4 vehicle is required to navigate it. It is also aa must to check the road conditions before starting the journey.
Visitors can fly into the nearest airports in Windhoek, and then take a connecting flight to the small airport of Sesriem, which is located near the park. From there, visitors can arrange for a transfer to the park or rent a car.
Visitors can also join organized tours to Sossusvlei, which typically include transportation, accommodation, and guided activities. These tours are a good option for those who prefer not to navigate the remote desert roads on their own.
A 4×4 vehicle can be rented by visitors and they can plan a self-drive tour. This option allows more flexibility and freedom to explore the area at your own pace.
Are there lodges or hotels in Sossusvlei Dunes?
As already mentioned above, Sossusvlei dunes is a secluded desert area, therefore it is impossible to see lodges in the area itself. However, there are several lodges and campsites located in the neighboring area, within the Namib-Naukluft National Park and nearby towns.
These lodges and campsites range from luxury accommodations to more basic options and offer a variety of amenities, such as private bathrooms, air conditioning, and swimming pools. Some of the lodges also offer guided tours and activities, such as hot-air balloon rides and wildlife safaris.
It is recommended to book in advance as the lodges and campsites in the park tend to fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Also, it’s important to note that many of the lodges and campsites are located in remote zones and may not have access to electricity or running water.
Is it hot in Sossusvlei Dunes?
Tourists should remember that the desert can experience sudden temperature changes and it can be extremely hot during the day and quite cold during the night, especially during the winter months. It is also very dry, with little to no precipitation and high temperatures. It is imperative to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
Visitors to Sossusvlei should come prepared for the heat, with light, loose-fitting clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water. It is also recommended to plan outdoor activities during the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is not as intense.
When is the best time to visit Sossusvlei Dunes?
The best time to visit Sossusvlei and the Namib-Naukluft National Park depends on what you are looking to see and do during your visit. The peak season for tourism in the area is from June to September, during the winter months. During this time, the temperatures are cooler, making for more comfortable outdoor activities, and the landscapes are greener due to the occasional rain.
Facts about Sossusvlei Dunes
- In the Nama language (Nama belongs to the Khoi or Khoe people of Africa), the word “sossus” translates as “dead end” or “place of no return”.
- The sand dunes in Sossusvlei are referred to as “star dunes” because of their shape. On the other hand, its distinctive red color is due to layer of iron oxide which gives it its coating.
- “Big Daddy” is the tallest sand dune in Sossusvlei wich measures up to 325 meters.
- A nearby river called Tsauchab River overflows during heavy rains and mixes with the pan of Sossusvlei, which turns it into a lake. Tourists tries to witness such magical formation.
- The redder the color of the dunes in Sossusvlei, the older it is in age.
- There are numerous underground rivers present in the area that floods the pans often.
- While this tourist spot has been featured in dozens of music videos, commercials, and movies; one particular movie entitled “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’ Onofrion, and Vince Vaughn featured Sossusvlei in several of its scenes.
Sossusvlei Dunes is a very popular and well-known destination for tourists visiting Namibia. It attracts numerous visitors each year. There are plenty of activities to do in the area, and while people might be engaged in those said activities, it is also important to take a good packing plan before visiting the tourist spot. As mentioned above, since the area is remote, it does not offer comfortable lodges, enough water, or electricity—which can be planned with a good alternative.