African Safari

Visiting Big Daddy in Sossusvlei

No visit to Namib-Naukluft National Park in the Namib desert is complete without a trip to see the Sossusvlei sand dunes. Similarly, it just isn’t the done, it’s not right to go the dunes and not visit its highest sand dune, Big Daddy in Sossusvlei.

Standing at a mind-boggling 325m tall, those tough enough to trek to the summit of Big Daddy are afforded magnificent views, stretching as far as the Atlantic coastline.
From the peak, you can look down on the affectionately named Big Mamma with the smugness gained from successfully reaching the top of the taller dune.

Looking down on Deadvlei

Hidden between some of the largest dunes is Dead Vlei. It is a haunting salt pan, filled with blackened, dead camel thorn trees.
If you have braved the climb of Big Daddy, you can descend into Dead Vlei.
Otherwise, park and jump on the tractor-drawn shuttle to take you directly there. Don’t risk driving the last few kilometers; the path is littered with vehicles that sink in the sand. Plus getting your vehicle out of the sand can take time and may just ruin your day. Check out our video on how help a couple out when they were stuck in the sand.

There are more than a few photographic opportunities than seeing the contrast of the black acacia wood skeletons against vivid blue skies and the near-white, cracked ground of the pan. Set against the burnt oranges and reds of Big Daddy; they could be some of the best photographs you will ever take.

Deadvlei looks like nowhere else on earth; it is the perfect spot for filming a sci-fi movie, or maybe the site of the next alien landing?!

The best time of day to climb Big Daddy

Seasoned sand dune fans recommend setting out early in the day, as the sun rises. Not only will you have a wonderful backdrop to the climb, but the sand will be cool, maybe even a little damp.
But there will be tourists everywhere. Lots of people to blight your perfect photographs as you make the ascent.
If you can wait, most people will have left as the sun begins to set. The air and the sand may be warmer, and the wind may be high, but that is worth the trade-off for the peace and tranquillity of Big Daddy at twilight.
There will also be plenty of pre-trodden paths to make your hike that little bit easier.

Whatever time you choose to climb Big Daddy in Sossusvlei, remember to take plenty of water. The hike should take no longer than 60-minutes, but those steep inclines make it thirsty work.
You might spend half a day in the area, marveling at the wonder of nature.

Hot, Hot, Hot 

If you can time your hike to see Big Daddy so it coincides with sunrise or sunset. But as a photographer you all-ready knew that. Your reward will be stunning depths of colours and long shadow cast onto the ground.
If you’re not up to the hike, the views from the base of Big Daddy are every bit as breathtaking. Consider it an opportunity for photographs from a different perspective.

Try to complete the climb before the midday sun, At that time of the day the heat can become unbearable, especially if you find it easier to walk barefoot.

Final thoughts about Big Daddy in Sossusvlei

Big Daddy in Sossusvlei might not be the biggest of the dunes in the Namib-Naukluft Park; that honour goes to Dune 7 that stands at a magnificent 388m.
Big Daddy’s height is only one of its many impressive features. At 325 meters, Big Daddy is the highest dune in Sossusvlei area, but it still can’t compare to being the tallest dune in all of Namibia! However, it does best to provides its intrepid climbers with the most spectacular views from every perspective. 

big daddy in sossusvlei

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