Namib Naukluft National Park A Unique Place In The World
The Namib-Naukluft National Park’s massive rolling sand dunes are one of Namibia’s most famous vistas. They are among the world’s tallest dunes, and they have evolved over millions of years. Read on to learn more about Dune 45, Big Daddy and other attractions in the park.
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What is the Namib Naukluft National Park?
The Namib Naukluft National Park is a protected area in Namibia. It’s found in the Namib Desert and is home to a variety of activities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, and hunting. Some of the wildlife you can see here includes elephants, lions and cheetahs.
The Main Attractions in the Park?
When you visit Namib Naukluft National Park, there are a few places that you definitely won’t want to miss. The major attractions in the park are Sesriem and Sossusvlei. These two areas offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire park, and they’re definitely worth a visit.
The area north of the Kuiseb River is inaccessible to humans because of the dune fields, mountains and salt-pan known as Sosusvlei. This part of the park is truly unique, and it’s well worth exploring if you have time.
The National Park stretches along the entire Atlantic coast of Namibia. So if you’re looking for some great coastal views, be sure to check out this park!
How Do You Get To Namib Naukluft National Park?
Most visitors come to view the Sossusvlei region, which is around 360 KLM/223 miles from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and can be reached via the Sesriem entrance point. Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), located 40 KLM/25 miles east of Windhoek, is the principal point of entry into Namibia.
The Namib-Naukluft Park is in western Namibia, located between the Atlantic Ocean’s shore and the Great Escarpment’s edge. It includes a section of the Namib Desert (the world’s oldest desert), the Naukluft mountain range, and the Sandwich Harbour lagoon.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Namib Naukluft National Park?
The Namib Naukluft National Park is a beautiful place to visit. It is recognized for its spectacular desert environment rather than its animals. As a result, the park is open all year, however the best time to come is from May through October when the weather is milder.
Highlights of Namib Naukluft National Park
Sossusvlei Sand dunes
Sossusvlei’s crimson dunes are a work of art created by nature. The desert exuberant simplicity and feeling of eternal peace. You can encounter many types of animals in Namib-Naukluft National Park, including leopard, zebra, blue wildebeest, buffalo, jackal buzzard eagles and more!
Namib Desert and Wildlife You may Encounter
The Namib Desert is a hot-spot for wildlife, and the Namib Naukluft National Park offers a diverse range of animals. There are plenty of oryxes, jackals, herds of gemsbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok, ostrich and giraffe to be found in the park. It is a wildlife experience to drive through the national park. The park has a desert landscape that’s stunningly beautiful, with endless space for exploring. The wildlife spotting in the Park is amazing, with superb animals including lions, leopards, cheetahs and rhinos.
The Naukluft Mountains are a stack of boulders moved southeast on a basal thrust fault. Henno Martin and Hermann Korn created the first geological maps and cross-sections of the mountain range in the 1930s. Rocks are interbedded sediments characterized by dolomites, quartzites, and shales that were deposited in a shallow marine environment in the Damara orogeny’s hinterland between 700 and 500 million years ago. The strata are equal in age to the Otavi Mountainland deposits, where Paul F. Hoffman described evidence for snowball earth temperatures.
Sesriem Canyon is one of the major highlights of Namib Naukluft National Park. It’s a spectacular example of how a river can carve its way through the landscape. The canyon has wide parts, staircases, and animal life. Water usually exists year-round in Sesriem Canyon, but it’s dry during the rainy season otherwise. The layers that formed the larger rocks were formed during periods of powerful water flow, whereas those formed with smaller pebbles and higher concentrations of sand were established when the current was less fierce. The canyon flattens out as it nears the end of its journey towards Sossusvlei.
Tell Us About the Sand Dunes
The sand dunes of Namibia are a sight to behold, and the red sand dunes, in particular, are evidence of nature’s masterpieces. These dunes are some of the oldest, tallest, and most beautiful in the world. They exude simplicity and feel eternal peace.
Namibia’s dunes are also some of the most authentic and pristine in the world, making it perfect for nature lovers and photographers.
The Elim Dune is a popular spot for watching the sunset. It offers dramatic views of the surrounding area, as well as a cool view of the grasses at dawn. Keep your eyes peeled for the aggressive Namib dune ant.
The Sesriem Canyon is a small but impressive rocky canyon in Namibia. It’s only 1 km long and reaches a height of 100 feet, but it’s well worth a visit.
The canyon has seasonal water, which attracts wildlife during the rainy season. The Tsauchab River carved its way through the landscape and created a gorge with rock layers of different size. The Sesriem gorge is a natural feature created by the continental uplift.
In the rainy season, pools of water collect in the canyon’s deep hollows, making it an ideal place to see and photograph wildlife such as oryx, springbok and baboons.
Dune 45 is one of the most popular sand dunes in Namib Naukluft National Park. It’s a quick and easy hike to the top, and the views are amazing. Make sure to bring a camera and plenty of water!
Dune 45 gets its name from the fact that it is 45th kilometre between Sesriem Gate and Sossusvlei. It is 5-million-year-old sand that nature has blown into a gigantic pile. It stands approximately 170 metres high.
The super-soft, warm sand that slides from beneath their feet with every stride is something most people overlook. It doesn’t take away from the pleasure, though, as many people make it to the summit. The view from the top is breathtaking, and the slide back down makes everyone feel like a kid again.
The dune is frequently photographed because of its proximity to the road, especially early and late in the day when one side of the dune is in shade.
Hidden Vlei, a ghostly clay pan filled with dead acacia trees tucked away among rust-coloured dunes, is less frequented than Dead Vlei but just as eerie.
Hidden Vlei is the least well-known of the vleis, although it is no less attractive than Deadvlei. Although there are fewer trees and the adjacent dunes are not as high, the perk is that it is virtually always vacant. So, before approaching Deadvlei, have a glance to your right to see if there is anything for you to photograph in a peaceful environment. While shooting and enjoying the calm, appreciate the serenity and quiet of Hidden vlei. The weather can be rather hot throughout the day, so bring plenty of water and sun protection.
Deadvlei was formerly the terminus of the Tsauchab River, until the climate changed, and the stream became obstructed by dunes, causing the camel-thorn trees to wither and die. Because of the aridity of the region and the lack of wood-boring insects, their sun-scorched skeleton trunks have survived; jutting from the parched, white clay-pan bottom, they form a dramatic contrast to the surrounding golden dunes and cerulean sky.
“Big Daddy” is located to the south of the vlei, and a breathtaking panoramic view of the dune sea flowing away into the distance awaits you at the top, followed by a five-minute adrenaline rush as you speed down the dune slide face into the pan.
The sand dunes of Sossusvlei are located on the outskirts of Namib-Naukluft National Park in the Namib Desert, roughly 100 kilometres from Deadvlei. While both locations have breathtaking views of the desert, it’s much more fun to visit them at different times to watch how they vary throughout the day or year!
If you visit at night, when there is no light from the sun (it becomes dark soon), everything will be illuminated by your headlights, and each particle of sand will gleam like diamonds. If you visit during the day, everything will alter depending on how hot it is outdoors! With each ripple, certain areas become pink or yellow, while others remain golden brown.
The Namib Sand Sea
The Namib Sand Sea is the only marine desert in the world with large fog-affected dunes. It comprises two dune systems, one old semi-consolidated and the other newly active, spanning over three million hectares with an 899,500 hectare buffer zone. The desert dunes are formed by materials brought hundreds of kilometres from the hinterland by stream, water currents, and wind.. Gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs inside the sand sea, a coastal lagoon, and ephemeral rivers make for breathtaking scenery.
What makes the Namib sand sea so special is its ever-changing landscape. The dunes can be red, orange, or yellow, depending on how much iron oxide is present in the soil. And since the wind direction determines a dune’s shape, they’re always changing their appearance.
Another interesting feature of this area is that it’s one of the few deserts where grasses can take root. This allows some desert-adapted creatures to live here, such as spiders, scorpions, and beetles. Plus, windblown detritus collects here which provides food for these animals. There are 8 main formations of dunes in this area!
Soaring in a Balloon over the Dunes
Namib Naukluft National Park is a unique place in the world and should be seen from all angles. While driving through the park, it’s easy to miss some of the best sights the area has to offer. One of those viewpoints is from high in the sky while on a hot-air balloon ride.
The entire event lasts several hours, with a pickup around an hour before dawn followed by a safety briefing, inflate of the balloon envelope and lift off. As you ascend into the air, you’ll quickly see just how expansive this part of Namibia is. The dune sea can be seen from above as well as other interesting landmarks like Sossusvlei and Deadvlei.
Upon landing, enjoy a champagne breakfast before being driven back to your lodgings. This is definitely one experience you won’t want to miss while visiting Namibia.
Namib Naukluft National Park Trails
Namib Naukluft National Park is a great place to explore the natural beauty of Namibia. With many different trails available, hikers of all levels can find something suitable.
No matter what trail you choose, Namib-Naukluft National Park is sure to amaze you with its natural wonders. So get out there and explore!
The Tok-Tokkie Trail
Tok Tokkie Trail gets you close to the desert’s breathtaking scenery. What better way to experience nature than a 2 day hike? You will see many mysteries of the Tok Tokkie Trail you cannot see when driving, and you will experience several parts of the desert, from rocky terrain to sand dunes.
The Tok Tokkie Trail is a 20km trail that takes two days plus to complete. The trail gets you close to nature and the desert ecology. This can be an excellent hike for those who are looking for a physical challenge, as the trail covers rocky terrain sand dunes. You’ll also need to carry your camera gear and a light day back. Your luggage is transported from camp to camp while you walk. However, don’t worry, this hike provides opportunities to photograph the desert and stunning night skies!
The Naukluft Mountains
The Naukluft Mountains, is often overlooked by first-time visitors to the area because of its proximity with Sossusvlei: however, if you make it there and take the time to explore this vast escarpment of near-vertical cliffs which rise over 1000 meters from surrounding plains – it is worth the effort. This interesting landscape consists predominantly of porous dolomite and limestone rock containing caves and ravines, sitting on a solid granite base. Indeed! The name ‘Naukluft’ comes from an Afrikaans corruption, meaning a narrow gorge or ravine.
Traversing the Naukluft Mountains
There are a handful of difficult day hikes and a gruelling multi-day journey. The two day-trails require no reservations and can be walked all year. However, the multi-day trek must be reserved in advance. All three climbs involve rough terrain and require hiking boots. You’ll also need to bring plenty of water with you.
Hiking the Olive Trail
The “Olive Trail” in the Naukluft Mountains is highly recommended for all hikers who are not afraid of heights. A memorable experience is guaranteed with breathtaking vistas, magnificent scenery, and a particular type of surprise at the conclusion of the walk.
This hike combines with other trails to create an 11km loop, lasting 4-5 hours. On a difficulty scale it’s a medium to hard. So be prepared for so me physical exertion.
The trail is perfect for the hiker who loves to experience the full variety of the mountain’s rocky terrain.
Hiking at the Waterkloof Trail
This 17-kilometre (6–7-hour) climb leads you up a small ravine littered with pools (during the wet season), over an open, exposed plateau, and finally onto a summit with spectacular panoramic views. After that, the route declines sharply through several pools and waterfalls (after rains), until encountering the dry Naukluft River and a 4WD track that leads back to the start.
Multi-day Hike for the Adventurous
If you’re looking for an adventure, consider a multi-day hike in the Naukluft Mountains. The Naukluft Trail is a gruelling hike, requiring an average of 6 hours of hiking per day. Some sections are more difficult than others – but that’s part of the fun! There are no showers in the park, you will need to carry a stove and be prepared to stay in basic shelters without a fire when it’s not allowed. Permits to hike the Naukluft Mountains are required in order to leave a vehicle at Tsams Osts.
The trail is only open between March 1 and October 3rd, with permits costing N$135 per person and park entrance fees included. A minimum of three people is needed to hike the trail; twelve hikers can be on a trail at the same time.
If you’re looking for a unique place to visit in Africa, look no further than Namib Naukluft National Park. This beautiful park is home to the world’s oldest desert and boasts some of the most incredible scenery in all of Southern Africa. Whether you’re interested in exploring its salt flats or watching elephants roam through its forests, this park has something for everyone. Book your African Photo Safari Tour today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was the Namib Desert formed?
The Namib Desert was formed over 500-600 million years ago and is composed of porous dolomite and limestone. The area has been through a lot of changes, including the uplift of the Naukluft Mountains, which began about 60 million years ago. The desert is huge, measuring over 1,200 miles (2,000 km) long!
What is special about Sossusvlei?
Sossusvlei is a beautiful place. It is known for its large, red sand dunes. These dunes are quite unique, as they are caused by the wind blowing from all directions. This unusual wind pattern also means that the dunes continually move – making them a popular tourist destination. So if you’re looking for an amazing and unique place to visit, be sure to check out Sossusvlei in Namibia!