3 Day Taste of Sossusvlei
The Namib is the oldest desert and boasts the highest sand dunes in the world. This region is one of the most spectacular areas of Namibia and always one of the highlights of any safari. The name Sossusvlei refers to the vlei or pan into which the seasonal Tsauchab River flows in years of exceptional rainfall.
The neighboring Dead Vlei with the ancient dead Camel Thorn trees is one of the most photographic sites in good early morning light. The Sesriem canyon is a narrow gorge about 1 km long and is well worth a visit. Several desert adapted wildlife like oryx, springbok, black-backed jackal, ostrich, sociable weavers and plenty of reptiles and small mammals call this place home.
Windhoek to Sossusvlei
This short but exciting trip starts the moment your Nature Travel guide picks you up this morning at your hotel, guesthouse or even at the Hosea Kutako International Airport. After loading your luggage into the comfortable, airconditioned vehicle, we will start making our way to our destination; iconic Sossusvlei.We will drive through the Khomas Highland and down the escarpment (remember Windhoek sits at 1,700 metres/ 5,600 feet above sea level!) via one of the many scenic mountain passes down into the Namib Desert. We will also pass through the small oasis town of Solitaire. As the nearest big towns are Walvis Bay (233 kilometres/145 miles away) and Windhoek (251 kilometres/156 miles away), it has been a common stopover and meeting place for tourists from all over the globe for more than 60 years. Solitaire is not only famous for being the only fuel stop between Sossusvlei and Swakopmund, but also for McGregor’s Bakery, which proudly serves its world-renowned fresh apple pie on a daily basis.
Our journey will take about 4 to 5 hours, depending on the number of stops for photographs of this remarkable area. If it is your first time seeing the unfathomably vast Namib desert, it really is something truly spectacular. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 300 meters (1,000 feet) from bottom to top! The characteristic red colour of the dunes developed over many millions of years, and was deposited into the Atlantic Ocean from the Orange River much further south. The Benguela current then carried this sand northwards, to be deposited back onto the land by the ocean’s surf. From here the wind carried the red sand inland to form these dunes over time. This rippling “dune sea” of the Namib-Naukluft National Park was proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, and officially named the Namib Sand Sea.
During our drive we will certainly start seeing some of Namibia’s fantastic fauna and flora, including Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
We will reach our well-chosen accommodation in time for a late lunch, after which there will be time to either rest in the comfortable rooms or around the swimming pool area, or go for a stroll around the lodge grounds looking for interesting smaller fauna and local flora. Our accommodation for tonight is in an area perfectly situated to explore the surrounding desert and its many attractions, and the staff are very knowledgeable about their surroundings and its inhabitants.
We will get together in the late afternoon and go on a two or three hour long sundowner dune drive with the lodge’s expert guide, enjoying the incredible landscapes and learning about the desert and its many secrets. This really is a fun and informative excursion, and the sunset photographs will be your computer’s background screen for a long time to come!
After our exciting drive we will return to the lodge for some socialising in the bar area, and then enjoy an authentic Namibian dinner in the excellent restaurant. Then we are off to bed for a good night’s rest. Remember to listen out for some owls or nightjars, or even a jackal calling, while on your way to your room; this is the Africa we love!
Sossusvlei and surrounds
We will start this morning with a very early breakfast, and then depart for our full day excursion into the “heart of the Namib”, Sossusvlei.
Situated in the largest conservation area in Africa (the 50,000 km² (19,300 sq mi) Namib-Naukluft National Park), Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction. It is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrast with the giant red sand dunes to make this one of the natural wonders of Africa and a photographer’s heaven.
Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean. However, due to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert the river seldom flows this far and the pan remains bone-dry most years. During an exceptional rainy season the Tsauchab fills the pan, drawing visitors and photographers from all over the world to witness the surreal and spectacular site of ducks and even flamingos in the middle of a reflective, glassy “lake” in the middle of the desert! When the pan fills it can hold water for as long as a year.
We will arrive at Sossusvlei early, as it is the best time for photographs and not too hot yet, and have plenty of time to enjoy some of the many highlights that surrounds Sossusvlei itself:
• Dune 45, the most photographed dune on earth (situated 45 km past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei)
• Hiddenvlei, perfect if you are looking for solitude in the desert
• The magnificently tall Big Daddy dune
• Deadvlei, a world famous paradise for photographers, as it is punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes
• Sesriem Canyon, a narrow gorge of 1 km long and up to 30 m deep slashed into the earth by the Tsauchab river millions of years ago. The name derives from the Afrikaans for the 6 lengths of ropes that were needed to haul water out of the gorge to the top with containers in days gone by.
The area has been the setting of a number of local and international commercials, music videos, and movies, especially of the fantasy genre, and you will soon see why; it really is mind-blowingly beautiful and utterly different here.
Despite the harsh desert conditions, there are a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive here. These include insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and many desert adapted plants, flowers and fruits, like Namibia’s national plant, the bizarre Welwitschia. We will certainly keep our eyes open for any interesting species of fauna and flora, including mammals like Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Springbok, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Common Duiker, South African Ground Squirrel, Cape Hare, Yellow Mongoose, Common Rock Hyrax, Bat-eared Fox, and even Leopard if we are very lucky.
Avian specials in this area include Verreaux’s and Martial Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Lanner and Pygmy Falcon, Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser, Kori and Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse and more. There are of course also many reptiles in attendance, so look out for Namaqua Chameleon, Puff Adder and much more.
We will return to our lodge in the late afternoon and have some time to freshen up. Then we will once again get together for dinner and a chat late into the night under the star-filled African sky. Then we will settle in for the night after a great day in the Namib desert.
Sossusvlei to Windhoek, End of Trip
This morning will start with an early cup of coffee and then it’s decision time!
You can either relax at the lodge and maybe go for a stroll in the grounds, or partake in one of the many optional adventure activities with the lodge. These include e-biking, mountain biking or a nature hike into the dunes. It’s your choice!
We will get together for our last breakfast together after the optional activity, then pack our bags and make our way back north to Windhoek.
Once in Windhoek we will either drop you off at your hotel or guesthouse again, or drive you straight to the Hosea Kutako International Airport for your onward or homebound flight. This is unfortunately where our short but sensational trip comes to an end.
*Please note: if you would like to combine this short trip with a longer safari to the Caprivi Strip, the Etosha National Park, the Atlantic coast, or even further afield, please don’t hesitate to ask for our expert assistance.
For more info about this Namibia Safari, speak to a specialist at