With their clean-lined, curving slopes rising up to a remarkable 300m, the immense, rich-ochre sand dunes at Sossusvlei are one of the most astonishing sights in the world. Set at the heart of the Namib Naukluft National Park, the dunes surround several dry pans or vleis that fill up on the rare occasions that enough rain falls. Most of the time however Sossusvlei and its slightly less famous neighbour Deadvlei are bone dry.
A Sossusvlei safari is one of Namibia's top travel experiences: the desert colours are simply amazing and the opportunities for photography are plentiful, especially at dawn and sunset. You can even go up the dunes yourself: not far from the entry gate to the park is Dune 45, a much-photographed and often-climbed dune. Kick off your shoes and make your way to the top for huge views over the ocean of red Namib sand.
Included in just about every one of our Namibia safaris, these magnificent dunes are equally accessible to those on a Namibia self-drive holiday. There is plenty of excellent accommodation in the area although note that there is none at Sossusvlei itself. Self-drivers should further note that although a 2WD vehicle will take them most of the way to Sossusvlei, a 4X4 is needed to go all the way. For the final few kilometres, a 4WD shuttle is however available.
Many lodges are scattered on the border of the Namib Naukluft National Park, often in private conservation concessions which means that they can offer game drives and interpretive nature walks along with visits to the dunes. Other activities in the area include hot-air balloon safaris, stargazing evenings and horse-back adventures.