An amazing desert, a fantastic place in namibia
Arriving in Sossusvlei at dawn when the dunes of the Namib Desert start to become red is one of the most amazing experiences that you'll have during you road trip in Namibia. There are no words to describe this infinite desert that has been living for almost 80 million years moving slowly towards the Atlantic Ocean and creating such a magic landscape!
how to get to sossusvlei
You can reach Sossusvlei from South ( from Aus and Luderitz ) , from East ( directly from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia ), and from North ( from Swakopmund ) depending on your itinerary.
From South - Aus/Luderitz
In order to reach the Namib Desert from Aus you must take the B4 for few kilometers and then turn into the C13, a nice gravel road. If you are in a hurry then you con drive on the C13 till Helmeringhausen and then take the C27 till Sossusvlei. But we recommend to turn into the D707 ( adding almost 20 minutes to your estimate time of arrival ). The D707 is one the main scenic drives in Namibia because it runs through the Namib Desert surrounded by red dunes. On the D707 the sand slowly becomes relevant on the road, so be careful while driving, especially if you rented a sedan car!
However, the best part of the drive arrives when the D707 rejoins the C27: a long gravel white road surrounded by multicolor plains where you can spot packs of zebras or giraffes or antilopes ( here we saw the first zebras of our trip in Namibia ) tratto più bello del tragitto verso Sossusvlei arriva quando la D707 si ricongiunge alla C27... Una lunga strada bianca e sterrata costeggiata da pianure che vanno dal rosa, al giallo, al rosso fuoco dove si possono vedere zebre ( noi abbiamo incontrato le prime del nostro viaggio in Namibia ). The Namib Desert will make you fall in love already during this part of the C27 that leads to Sossusvlei and Sesriem where lodges and camps are located.
From East - Windhoek
Those who reach Sossusvlei directly from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, should take the B1, the main highway of Namibia that is in perfect conditions. Few kilometers after Rehoboth turn into the D1261 and then into the D1275 where you'll climb the spectacular Spreetshoogte Pass. We didn't drive along this road so we can't tell you anything about road conditions, in particular about the Pass. But we can tell you that the Spreetshoogte Pass is considered one the best places in Namibia thanks to the views that it offers, however the road is quite dangerous and very steep so be careful! Once you overcome the Spreetshoogte Pass, take the C14 and, at Solitaire, take the C19 ... the Soussusvlei and the Namib Desert are right there!
From North - Swakopmund
If you reach Sossusvlei from Swakopmund you must take the C14 from Walvis Bay till Solitaire and then C19 till Sesriem.
where to sleep near sossusvlei
In the Sossusvlei area you can find many accomodations some are closer to the gates of the national park others are further. You can sleep inside the National Park having the opportunity to be already at Sossusvlei at dawn and to visit the desert till dusk. In order to sleep inside Sossusvlei you must book in advance in one of the following places run by the Namibia Wildlife Resort: : Sossus Dune Lodge and Sesriem Camp that are quite spartan thus if you want more comfortable accommodations you can look for something out of the park, but you'll have to running hours of Sossusvlei.
We stayed at the Desert Homstead Outpost, 70 km far from the entrance of Sossuvlei, and the experience was great! Surely it is not a low cost accomodation ( a night with all-inclusive costs € 360 ) and we chose it because we were on our Honey Moon. However, the lodge is truly amazing and it is worth the money it costs. It is a luxurious tented camp located in a wonderful reserve 7000 hectares wide with an amazing view over the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The dinner was delicious, the best in our Namibian road trip.
If you like te reserve but you have a lower budget then you can try the Desert Homestead Lodge ( € 250 per night, all-inclusive ), otherwise there are so many campsites and lodge in the area.
the magic of sossuvlei
If you visit Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert you should wake up early in the morning both in the dry season ( May to October ) and in the wet season ( November to April ), but you'll be surely rewarded! Try to be at Sesriem Gate ad dawn, in order to register your vehicle at the entrance of the park ( the entrance fee is NAD 80 + NAD 10 for your vehicle and you pay when you leave ). Then you can enjoy Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert, one the most iconic places in Namibia.
The magic starts few kilometers after the entrance gate. At dawn the Namib Desert dunes are pink, barely touched by the beams of the freshly awaken sun. The Namib Desert is truly a wonderful spectacle and along the 60 kilometers that lead to Sossusvlei the dunes start to become red. You could stop almost every to take a picture and the dunes are so beautiful that it's almost a pity to climb them ruining their perfect shape.
The most famous dune of the Namib Desert is the Dune 45, due to its location close to the street that makes it the perfect dune to climb for thousands of tourists. Despite the presence of too many people, the view from the summit of Dune 45 is so unforgettable that you'll forget about tourists focusing on the majesty of the Namib Desert.
The turf road that leads to Sossusvlei ends after 60 kilometers. From there you can move one only with a 4x4 and you should be an experienced driver in order to manage the thick sand of the Namib Desert. You can easily park your car and take the shuttle bus paying € 8 per person. Don't try to reach Sossusvlei on foot, since it's 4 kilometers far from the parking spot and you'll lose precious time that you could spend discovering the beauty of the Namib Desert.
The first stop of the shuttle bus is DeadVlei, that was once a lush oasis and now has turned into a wonderful cemetery for centennial trees becoming one of Namibian landmarks. Once you get off the shuttle bus follow the other people among the dunes of the Namib Desert to reach this amazing place. The walk is almost 500 meters long and then Deadvlei Pan opens up in front of your eyes. It is so white, surrounded by the red dunes of the desert and swept by strong winds ... so beautiful that it looks like a an amazing painting.
Look for a secluded place in order to enjoy this amazing part of Namibia, relax a bit and contemplate the beauty of nature, then, if you feel fit enough, try to climb Big Daddy, a dune that is 390 meters high. This clim will last almost 90 minutes and a hat and a solar protection are highly recommended.
The real Sossusvlei is 2 kilometers far from Deadvlei and you can reach it with the Shuttle bus. We know it sounds crazy but sometimes during the rainy season you can find Sosussuvlei Pan flooded due to the Tsauchab river.
The last attraction in Sossusvlei is the Hiddenvlei Pan, less famous than the others and more secluded and private, but to reach it you have to walk 2 kilometers from the parking spot spending almost 90 minutes for the round trip.
IMPORTANT: We told you to visit Sossusvlei early in the morning because during the Rainy Season ( November - Aprile ) temperatures can reach 50° during the day. Even in the Dry Season the heat is important, in June, when we were there, temperatures reached 35° around 10/11 AM. So be careful when you decide to hike in the Namib Desert.
A DREAM THAT DIDN'T COME TRUE: unfortunately we couldn't make our dream to fly on a balloon over the Namib Desert. If you spend only one night in Sossusvlei it is almost impossible, but if you have enough time, this experience is surely worth the money it costs.
how many days in the namib desert
If you are planning your Namibian trip, you should consider to spend at least 2 nights in the area of Sesriem/Sossusvlei. If you are a photographer and you want to wait for the perfect light ... then you should add another night in the Namib Desert.
In the area there is also the Sesriem Canyon that can be interesting, but if the Fish River Canyon is on your list, then you can easily skip the Sesriem Canyon focusing on Sossusvlei.