Sossusvlei in Namibia

Sossusvlei is one of the most remarkable sites in the Namib-Naukluft Park and the Namib Desert. The sand dunes in the Namib Desert are often called the highest in the world. Various arguments are laid out to support this claim, but all miss the point, which is that region is surely one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. Located in the Namib-Naukluft park, the largest conservation area in Africa, and fourth largest in the world – the sand dunes are an excellent reason to visit Namibia.

The Sossusvlei area belongs to a wider region of southern Namib with homogeneous features (about 32.000 km²) extending between rivers Koichab and Kuiseb. This area is characterized by high sand dunes of vivid pink-to-orange color, a consequence of a high percentage of iron in the sand and consequent oxidation processes. The oldest dunes are those of a more intense reddish color. These dunes are among the highest in the world; many of them are above 200 metres, the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 380 metres high.

Traces in the sand, left by insects and other small animals The highest and more stable dunes are partially covered with a relatively rich vegetation, which is mainly watered by a number of underground and ephemeral rivers that seasonally flood the pans, creating marshes that are locally known as vlei; when dry, these pans look almost white in color, due to the high concentration of salt. Another relevant source of water is the humidity brought by the daily morning fogs that enter the desert from the Atlantic Ocean.

Fauna in the Sossusvlei area is relatively rich. It mostly comprises small animals that can survive with little water, including a number of arthropods, small reptiles and small mammalians such as rodents or jackals); bigger animals include antelopes (mainly oryxes and springboks) and ostrichs. During the flood season, several migrant bird species appear along the marshes and rivers. Much of the Sossusvlei and Namib fauna is endemic and highly adapted to the specific features of the Namib. Most notably, fog beetles such as the Namib Desert Beetle have developed a technique for collecting water from early morning fogs through the bumps in their back.

Our Safaris start early in the morning, the best time to see the dunes, in 4×4 Landrovers where we explore the dunes by vehicle and on foot. The changing colours and the spectacle of a lone Oryx against red sand dunes are images which visitors and photographers from around the world come to savour and capture on film.