Lets go photograph the Sossusvlei Dunes
The Sossusvlei Dunes are in the middle of the Namib desert, in the stunning Namib Naukluft National Park, nestled between the Skeleton Coast and the gravelly Naukluft mountains.
Sossusvlei is a large salt-clay pan surrounded by the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in the world. There are huge, orangey-red mountains of pure sand for as far as the eye can see, each one more impressive than the last.
Most of the dunes have a name, making them easier to identify, although that isn’t always as straightforward as you might think.
The wind blows the soft sand from all directions, constantly altering and sculpting their shape, earning them a group nickname, The Star Dunes’.
The landscape is ever-changing but always breath-taking.
Sossusvlei Dunes – The Main Attraction
Whether you’re exploring the dunes as part of a guided tour or an independent trip, there is always a temptation to try and climb them. Sadly, they are in a protected area, and climbing many of the dunes is strictly forbidden. They have stood for more than 5-million years, and the people of Namibia intend to make sure they remain for another 5-million!
There is an exception to every rule, and Dune 45 is just that. Named after its distance from the Sesneim Gate, 45km, tourists are encouraged to try and climb it. It may look simple from its base, a steady climb of 80-meters to the summit. But most people don’t account for the super-soft, warm sand that slips from beneath their feet with every step. It doesn’t detract from the fun as many people make it to the top; most with bare feet for better traction. The view from the top of all the undulating dunes is awe-inspiring, while the slide back down the dune brings out the kid in everyone.
Finding the Sossusvlei Dunes
Enter the park at the Sesneim gate early in the morning is best as it gets busy. At this gate is a fuel station and a hut; it is hardly glamorous. Ensure you have plenty of provisions for the day. Follow the dry bed of the Tsauchab river as its severe flatness is in such contrast to the dunes that rise and fall at either side. Some of the dunes stand more than 300m from the valley floor. The Elim Dune is at the northeast end of the river and affords tourists the most spectacular views of all. Few places on earth provide a wondrous sunset such as this. If you’re driving a 2WD vehicle, there are places to park and jump on a shuttle service to take you into the heart of the dunes. Well-signed paths lead to the Hidden Vlei, go on foot, stand in the isolating, eerily quiet pan, and amaze at some of the highest Sossusvlei dunes that surround it.
Sossusvlei’s Unique Landscape
The sand is like no other you will have seen before. The deep orange shades have formed over centuries as tiny iron particles oxidize when they meet the moisture in the fog. The ensuing rust colors the sand and makes it more obvious to see which dunes are the longest standing. The more vivid colored dunes are the oldest.
If you’re lucky enough to stay overnight, book a room in Sesneim. With the ridges of the Sossusvlei dunes surrounding it, be prepared to take some of the most stunning sunrise and sunset photographs imaginable. What Sossusvlei lacks in shopping experiences, it makes up for a million times over with breath-taking views of this natural wonder.