Even if the sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft-Park of the Namib Desert are often wrongly called the highest dunes in the world, they offer a monumental sight especially at the times of sunrise and sunset.
Together with the Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei is one of Namibia’s most popular destinations.
The addition “Vlei” in the name stands for the dry delta of the Tsauchab, which only has enough water in very few years to form a small lake at the foot of the dunes.
The best times of the day to visit Sossusvlei are sunrise and sunset, as intense contrasts and strong colours provide the best photo opportunities.
If you don’t want to miss them, it is essential to choose an accommodation that is as close as possible to the park in order not to be spoiled by long journeys and the opening hours of the park.
Some of the dunes can be climbed. They have names or numbers. Among the most famous are the 350 m high “Big Daddy”, the insignificantly smaller “Big Mama” as well as the dune 45 (Dune 45), which is mainly climbed at sunset and is located at the corresponding road kilometre of the route from Sesriem to Sossusvlei.
One of the most surreal photographic motifs is the so-called Deadvlei, in which there are dead, centuries-old acacias that remind us of the valley’s past as a river valley.
The second attraction in the area is the Sesriem Canyon, just a few kilometres from the camp, park entrance and nature conservation office.
Once the Boer trekkers had to knot six antelope skin straps together to reach the water level at the bottom of the canyon.
Considering the apparently hostile conditions of the Namib and enormous day/night temperature differences, the diversity of species, especially of the fauna, is astonishing.
Among the bird species are ostriches, Lappet-faced Vultures and the endangered Ludwig’s bustard. Black-backed jackals, oryx antelopes, springboks and cape hares are common, but the true survivors are much smaller and are living under the sand: The Toktokkie beetle can literally swim in the sand, and it gains liquid from the foggy air by taking a kind of headstand, while the small Shovel-Snouted Lizard performs a bizarre dance when the sandy ground becomes too hot for it. A completely subterranean way of life finally leads the Golden Mole, whose nearly eight centimeters long body gets by without visible eyes and ears, but is equipped with powerful shovels.