SOSSUSVLEI
WHY TRAVEL HERE?
  • Situated in the largest conservation area in Africa (the Namib-Naukluft National Park) 

  • Characterised by the large red dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan and is a great destination all year round

  • It is situated on the west coast of Namibia, stretching both inland and southwards from Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. 

  • An area of contrasts and the fascinating wildlife make visiting this captivating reserve an absolute must. 

  • The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 metres.

  • The best time to see the dunes at Sossusvlei is in the early morning or late afternoon. Time and light have stunning effects on the desert landscape, creating different shadows, moods and brilliant images for photographic enthusiasts.

  • Incredible adaptations have been made by animals to live in this dry, harsh environment including gemsbok, springbok, mountain zebra, hyena, jackal, Cape foxes and the rare Grant's golden mole. 

  • The Oryx, springbok, and ostriches manage to exist off the sparse vegetation during the dry winter months. 

  • The reptile residents are fascinating and include lizards, geckos, crickets, spiders and snakes such as Peringuey's adder. 

  • Nocturnal creatures include mongoose, squirrel and Cape hares. 

  • The birdlife is made up of a number of raptors, ostrich, korhaan, sandgrouse, bustards and larks. 

  • The four main types of environment found in this vast reserve are – sand dunes; river valleys and pans with underground water; vast gravel plains interspersed with granite columns; rugged granite and limestone inselbergs and mountain crops. 

  • Although grasses do grow on the more stable dunes, most of the vegetable matter established here is carried by the wind. And it is this that the insects feed on, which in turn provide sustenance for geckos, lizards, chameleons and spiders. In turn, the well-adapted sidewinder snake feeds on these and other small creatures.

  • Sessriem and Sossusvlei are thought to be the most beautiful parts of the reserve. The towering red sand dunes rolling through the landscape as far as the eye can see, camel thorn trees and vlei areas (shallow water ponds that only fill up after rare heavy rainfall) make this area well worth seeing. The rainwater does not seep away through the hard clay easily and so a lake can remain for up to a year. 

  • Sessriem Canyon, 40 metres deep and about 3 km long, is located 4 km from Sessriem and is estimated to be between 2 and 4 million years old.

  • The Naukluft Mountains are a popular trekking destination. Topography includes massive rock formations and heavily vegetated riverbeds with rock pools. Described as semi-desert savanna, vegetation species found here include acacia, aloe, cluster fig, commiphora and euphorbia. 

  • You’ll see baboon, dassie, klipspringer, kudu, mountain zebra, Oryx, springbok and steenbok here. 

  • Over 200 bird species have been sighted in the area. 

  • Good to do: there are two short day-hikes – the Olive Trail (10 km) and the Waterkloof Trail (17 km), plus 4-day and 10-day trails – on offer. Bookings need to be made in advance for the 4- and 10-day trails.

  • The wettest of the landscapes in the Namib Naukluft Game Reserve and one of Africa's most important coastal wetlands, Sandwich Harbour is an estuarine lagoon and home to many coastal and freshwater birds, and the breeding ground for numerous species of fish. Open only from sunrise to sunset and accessible in a 4x4 vehicle.

  • Welwitschia Drive, in the northern part of the reserve, is a self-guided route through the desert with beacons at points of interest, such as the moon landscape, and the famous Welwitschia plants, which can live for over 2,000 years. You’ll need a permit to do this drive and it is recommended as an excursion from the nearby town of Swakopmund. 

  • Best time to visit: the months of September to March, when there is a chance of rainfall occurring and the Sossusvlei fills with water. 

  • To get a true feel for its vastness and massive landscapes, try to see the area from light aircraft (from Walvis Bay or Swakopmund). 

  • A balloon flight over the dunes and desert is another enthralling option.

  • Driving and walking in the reserve are also permitted. 

  • Just walking atop the dunes at Sossusvlei is an incredible experience. 

  • A 4x4 drive trail that is 73 km long and is self-guided should take two days to complete. Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge offers the chance to explore on quadbikes (ATVs). 

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MORE INFORMATION

Sandwich Harbour is an estuarine lagoon and is the wettest of the landscapes of the Namib Naukluft Game Reserve and one of Africa's most important coastal wetlands. It is located 42 km south of the coastal town of Walvis Bay and is a large reed-lined marine lagoon. There are many coastal and freshwater birds to be seen, and it is also a major breeding ground for numerous species of fish. This area is only open from sunrise to sunset and only accessible in a 4x4 vehicle. 

 

The months of September to March are considered the best months to visit this area - there is a chance of rainfall occurring and hence the Sossusvlei filling with water. 

 

The most effective way to view this large area and get a true feel for its vastness and the landscapes is by light aircraft from Walvis Bay or Swakopmund. A spectacular balloon flight over the dunes and desert is another enthralling option. Driving and walking in the reserve are also permitted. The hiking trails in the Naukluft area are described above - it should be noted that bookings need to be made in advance for the four and ten day trails. Just walking atop the dunes at Sossusvlei is an incredible experience. A 4x4 drive trail that is 73 km long and is a self-guided trail that should take two days to complete. Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge (below) also offers the chance to explore on 4 wheel motorbikes (ATV's). At Sandwich Harbour, birding is another fine option. 

DIRECTIONS

By road
The Park has various accesses and is well signposted - comprehensive maps of the area are available on line and to buy locally, and is the best way to plan an expedition through this national Park. Most of the main Park roads are accessible to 2WD vehicles - the side roads often get into poor conditions so should be taken cautiously. The diamond area recently included into the reserve is not accessible.

call:    Harare: +263 771 363 211 ;

             Victoria Falls: +263 772 147 631

email: beck@off2africa.travel

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