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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 15 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Richard Holmes

The ancient dunes of Sossusvlei are amongst the highest in the world. These towering mountains of shifting ochre sand attract adventurous travellers from the world over, keen to climb the dunes – notably the lofty heights of ‘Big Daddy’ or Dune 45.

It’s worth the climb to admire the eye-watering views of this sandy sea stretching away to the Atlantic.

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At the foot of Big Daddy you’ll find the haunting Deadvlei (dead marsh), where desiccated camel thorn trees stand like ghosts in a barren pan of white clay. The trees are over 600 years old, and originally grew when the Tsauchab river flooded creating a (short-lived) marshland.

While you're there

Sesriem Canyon, near the Park gate, is also worth a visit. This deep cleft in the desert is famous for holding water, even in the harshest summers.

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Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 1-4 hours

Getting there & doing it

The Sesriem gate to Namib-Naukluft National Park is about a 5 hours’ drive from Windhoek or Swakopmund. From Sesriem, it’s another 60km (one hour) to Sossusvlei, which is then best explored on foot.

If you want to self-drive, the road to Sossusvlei is tar for all but the last 4km, which is 4WD only. A transfer service – no booking required – is available at the 2×4 parking lot. Take plenty of water, especially during summer. There are no facilities within the Park.

A better option is to go on an organised itinerary that includes Sossuvlei, and who will organise it all for you. Multi-day trips depart from Windhoek.

Or stay at one of the nearby Sossusvlei desert camps. The luxurious Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is set in a private concession neighbouring the Park, and will take guests for trips in to see the dunes. The Sossus Dune Lodge is the only lodge inside the Park, which means you can get to Sossusvlei’s famous dunes long before the public gates at Sesriem open at sunrise.

When to do it

The Park is open all year round, seven days a week. The gate opens/closes at sunrise/sunset.

Plan to start your day early. The dunes are most spectacular in the soft light of sunrise, and as the contrasting play of light and shadows cross the sinuous curves. The cool morning temperatures also make this the best time for exploring.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

4-Day Swakopmund And Sossusvlei Accommodated Adventure from Windhoek

4-Day Swakopmund And Sossusvlei Accommodated Adventure from Windhoek


This budget Namibian safari is a good option for adventure and nature lovers who have limited travel time and wish to explore the Namib Dese...

Z17,000 | Rating 4.63 / 5 [11 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Sossus Dune Lodge

Namib-Naukluft National Park, Hardap Region, Namibia[54.1 miles]

Rustic-luxury lodge with an unbeatable location. It’s the only lodge inside the Namib-Naukluft Park, meaning exclusive access to Sossusvlei’s dunes before anyone else.

Official star rating:

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Namib-Naukluft National Park, Hardap Region, South Africa[57.4 miles]

An elegant luxury lodge that combines sand and safari in one delightful desert escape, with day trips to the Sossuvlei Dunes.

Official star rating:

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Desert adventure and desolate coastlines meet game-rich reserves and quirky towns in this unique and atmospheric country.

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