When planning your trip to Namibia, Sossusvlei is a must visit. It is home to majestic sand dunes but also the odd and beautiful Deadvlei.
Sossusvlei is part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park as the oldest desert in the world. No visit to Namibia is complete without a stop to Sossusvlei to photograph and walk through the dead trees and the gigantic sand dunes. The national park is HUGE if you look at the map, but there is limited accessibility. Unless you plan to climb up every dune possible (why?) one day is enough to explore everything. Unless you plan to try some of the trails then, that’s another story. Do plan more time and don’t make the mistake of coming back to your car after dark because it will be PITCH dark and there are no lights.
Where to stay at Sossusvlei
NWR Sesriem Campground is quite popular but we were always reluctant on staying at any NWR property as their service is known to be the worse ever. There are a few campsites a little bit away from Sesriem but it is recommended to stay in Sesriem to access to the park right beside. The advantage of staying inside the park, even considering the high price, is that you can go to the dunes earlier than sunrise and climb up to witness that beauty. Taking the cheaper option of staying outside and you will have to wait for 7 am or 7:15 am to drive another hour until you reach Deadvlei or Dune 45, the sunrise hotspot. We personally didn’t care about the sunrise so we stayed outside the park. Even though we were not there during the high season, we showed up late and there were no spots left in any of the parks, so be aware of the importance of booking. If you want to stay anywhere in this region, you will have to book in advance (the only exception are wild camping spots).
Sossusvlei Park Fees and Opening Hours
It costs 80 NAD per person per day for the entry fee + 10 NAD for your car. The park opens at 7-7:15 am in the morning but there will be a car line waiting at the gate. So make sure you are there closer to 6:30 am if you want to be the first person in the gate. We got there at 6:45 am and we were the 23rd car in line, just to give it some perspective that it was not even the high season when we were there.
How to Get to Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei is very easy to access and so is its Dune 45 and Deadvlei. We were a bit worried before doing our research if it was hidden and hard to both be found but it is so easy and straight forward. So the park entrance is at Sesriem. Literally not far from the only gas station of the place. It is also a great place to get snacks, petrol and supplies.
- From Sesriem, it is a one hour drive to Dune 45 and Deadvlei after entering the entrance gate at Sesriem.
- From Solitaire, take the C19 route south towards Sesriem to turn on the right after 70 km on the D826. It will be a bumpy (duh) 10km until you reach Sesriem.
- From the capital of Windhoek, it is a 4-hour drive.
Watching the Sunrise at Dune 45
You will, unfortunately, need to stay within the only camp of NWR to be able to make it for sunrise as it is inside the park. Gates only open for the rest of the people at 7 am, 7:!5 am even if the guard takes his time to assign everyone numbers in the queue. Do get there earlier anyway as there are queues. From there you will drive a 45km, 35-40 minutes drive until you reach dune 45. You won’t miss it because it is marked and you will see a parking area, maybe a few cars already there. Just a note, the speed limit in the park is 60km an hour but not everyone will adhere to that.
Dune 45 is the most popular dune to watch the sunrise and will take you about 20 minutes to hike up to the top. Sunrise is spectacular from what we see in the photos, we just decided to pass because we have seen a good bunch of magnificent sunrises and sunsets at dunes in the Middle East.
A fun activity to do at Dune 45 is to run or roll down the dune. Rolling down is more crazy, fewer people to it, but it is a hell of a thrill.
Visiting Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
Passed Dune 45, if you drive all the way until the end, you will reach another parking area where most drivers and tour buses leave their car to get on another safari 4wd. Why? The last stretch of 2km to Deadvlei is fully sandy roads and we did see 2 cars that were stuck. If you are not an experienced sand road driver, chances are that you will get stuck. In our case, as much as we have dune bashing experience from Dubai, it wasn’t worth it with our heavy Toyota HILUX. Paying for the round trip lift was way more worth it than the possibility of getting stuck. If you do decide to drive on that stretch, don’t forget to adjust our tire pressure down.
Getting to Deadvlei Without a 4×4 or experience driving on the sand
So when you get to the end of the tar road, there is the 2km off-road part. So you will need the 4WD. NWR offer the shuttles drive you around the park round-trip is 175 NAD (12$US) per person.
Best way to explore Sossusvlei and Deadvlei
Get there as early as possible to get the place with fewer crowds and to avoid the mid-day heat. We explored Deadvlei first and it was the best decision ever! To get there, climb the dune right beside and run down which is a ton of fun. The Big Daddy dune is the largest sand dune in the national park which you can capture from your photos at Deadvlei. Give yourself some time to get to the top!
Once you see Deadvlei, Sossusvlei can be less appealing because, well it’s only a big white salt flatbed beside dunes. Personally, Deadvlei was our highlight of the say and where we spent the most time to shoot beautiful shots for prints.
Hope you enjoy the photos and the guide. Let us know if any changes have been made with this location in the comments section, as update information will always be helpful for future travellers! Have a safe journey in Namibia!
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