Sossusvlei sits within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest conservation area in Africa. Translated as ‘dead-end marsh’, Sossusvlei is a massive white salt and clay pan surrounded by the contrasting rust-red, pink and orange, star-shaped dunes of the Namib Desert.
These famous dunes, some 400 metres in height, prevent the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, which due to the dry conditions in the Namib, seldom happens. With an exceptionally rainy season however, (every 10-15 years), the Tsauchab River fills the pan, creating a glassy, ethereal turquoise lake, reflecting the surrounding landscape, and attended by aquatic birdlife, as well as the usual sand-loving gemsboks, and ostriches.
A visit to Deadvlei close by, is a must; an enigmatic forest frozen in time, with 900-year-old fossilised Acacia tree skeletons trapped in the white clay marsh, with a backdrop of red-rusted dunes and a brilliant blue sky. This other-worldly landscape can be viewed from all angles, from dune quad biking, to nature walks, or even from above in hot-air balloon flights. The most humbling time to experience the desert’s stark beauty is in the magical early morning and golden evening light.
Namibia is one of the sunniest countries in the world, and given Sossusvlei’s location and climate, with an average of 300 sunny days a year, it can be visited at any time. Despite the harsh desert conditions, you will find a surprisingly wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive. There is an enduring mystery around this unique part of Africa, and it is no wonder it has become one of the continent’s most iconic and popular tourist destinations. You will never forget it, although Sossusvlei is truly the land that time forgot.