Welcome to Sossusvlei: One of the Most Impressive Places on the Planet.
Sossusvlei is located in one of the oldest deserts in the world, deep in the heart of the Namib along Namibia’s Western coast. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is easily one of the top destinations for visitors to Namibia and for good reason: it’s absolutely spectacular. If you are in Namibia, you need to visit.
Sossusvlei features some of the tallest and oldest sand dunes on the planet and can give even the most deranged camera-operator some stunning shots. You could throw your camera in the air and shoot fifty times and come up with amazing pictures. This place is unreal!
How to Get to Sossusvlei
From Walvis Bay/Swakopmund
Taking the C14 road from Walvis Bay south will take between 5-6 hours of driving. The roads are, at times, extremely bumpy. The drive will take you through the northern part of Namib-Naukluft national park, which is beautiful. Keep an eye out for zebra!
The most direct route is C26 -> C14 -> C19 South, but this road can be very iffy. (We cracked our windshield on C26). C26 is a STUNNING drive, you’ll drive through some very empty, hilly country. It’ll take about 5-6 hours of driving.
For a slightly less bumpy ride, you can take B1 to Hardap and then get on C19 going West. C19 was pretty corrugated, but we were able to drive this road pretty easily in a 2×4 car. This will also take about 4-5 hours. (Namibia’s huge, yo!).
From the South/ Fish River Canyon
Come up B1 and turn West on C19 (that’s what we did). Took about 5 hours.
If you have a sweet 4×4, you can come up from Aus along C13 -> C27. Don’t know how long this would take! But I do know that if Google cites you 4 hours, add another hour.
Where to stay for cheap in Sesriem
Don’t have $200 bucks to fork over for a lodge? That’s ok! Do what we did and camp!
We stayed at Sossus Oasis Campsite. It was one of our favorite campsites in Namibia. It was clean, had private camping blocks (including a kitchen and bathroom) and was really close to the main gate to the park. There’s a convenience store and a gas station within walking distance to the campsite, plus a sweet pool!
Rates for 2018: 200 Namibian dollars per person/ per night (kids under 11 years old are 100). That works out to about $16.75 USD per person at the time of writing this.
Tips about the Park:
The park opens to the public at sunrise. This meant 7am when we were there, but will change depending on the time of year you are in town. Don’t believe anyone when they say “6am” or “8am” or whatever. We heard a lot of different times being thrown around while there. Just go at sunrise.
The road into the park is paved! It’s a gorgeous road! We were driving over 100km/hr in our little 2×4 and it was buttery smooth.
After the parking lot the road becomes sand, though. No more 2x4s.
Tickets are purchased INSIDE the park when you are FINISHED and on your way out. This is to prevent a major line to pay at the entrance and is, in my opinion, freakin’ brilliant.
You buy your ticket at the lodge immediately inside the park gates. Fees for 2018 were:
80 Namibian per person (x2 for the both of us)
10 Namibian for the car
Total: 170 Namibian (about $14 USD).
To get to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei and Big Daddy, you’ll need to get on the shuttle. The roads are incredibly sandy beyond the parking lot and only super-duper 4x4s will get in there. These tickets can be purchased for N$170 ($14 USD) each**. Once you have a shuttle pass you can use it to get around the park easily.
**I would HIGHLY recommend getting a shuttle ticket rather than self-drive even if you have a fancy car. These roads are no kidding around.
What to Do in Sossusvlei:
45 is the first dune you can really climb once in the park. It’s impressive as all hell.
This is also where a lot of tour buses will dump their passengers first thing in the morning, so be prepared to hike with a bunch of dumpy, middle-aged tourists who never hike and stop frequently up the hill to curse.
This took us about 45 min to hike up and down.
The views from the top are breathtaking and it’s about half the height of Big Daddy…
This is a behemoth; a seriously large sand dune 1,000 feet high. We blew our energy on Deadvlei and Dune 45 so we didn’t hike this, but it sure looked amazing!
At the bottom of this major feature is Deadvlei and we would frequently see people running down the sides of the dune to get to the Deadvlei valley. Would I recommend running down the side of a sand dune? Probably not, but it would sure beat walking back downhill. (Have you ever tried walking up and down hill on sand for a few hours? It is A BUTT-KICKER).
Another dune a bit deeper into the park and one that gets fewer visitors. We got there around 11am and it was balls hot so we didn’t climb it, but we were the only ones there (other than the majestic Oryx we saw). I’d recommend coming out here when you first arrive at the park (rather than stopping at Dune 45 first) and go for a hike up this fella’. We didn’t because it was so hot, but had we had another day I would have done that.
At the bottom of Big Daddy lies this strange, straight-out-of-a-desktop-screensaver area. This is a must-see while at the park. You cannot miss this.
I mean. These dead trees are hundreds of years old and look so… well, you gotta’ see it to believe it. Also: you can’t take a bad picture here.
Deadvlei is a 20-min walk from the parking lot. Bring a ton of water.
Time of Day to Visit:
Go either in the early morning or at sunset. This place is 7th-circle-of-hell hot and unless you get there early or late you will suffer.
We got there as soon as the park opened. It was pretty crowded. Some friends of ours went later in the day and said they had the place to themselves. Maybe you’ll get lucky?