After a few days on safari, there is nothing like a warm welcome home to family, friends, and creature comforts of home base. This tradition goes back centuries, and in fact the Afrikaans have a word for it: “Sossusvlei”.
It is fitting that Sossusvlei, Namibia takes its name from this tradition, because this is the ideal place to relax and rewind after being ‘in the brush’. Just 161 miles from Windhoek, this is a place not to be missed, as the Sossusvlei Dunes are the highest sand dunes on earth – up to 300 meters/900 feet!
You can hike up these twisting and turning dunes to see the endless views of the Namibian Desert in the plains below, with miles of wind-sculpted crests of sand dunes rise and fall, making your footprints look like insect trails leading to infinity. The sense of solitude is felt as we looked out to the endless horizons. The vistas are breathtaking as the light paints the dunes in shades of red, apricot, purple. This is truly a photographer’s dream, and one of the most dramatic scenes that we have ever experienced.
Picture a backdrop of intense orange dunes against the backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky, as you walk on a vivid white salty floor that is punctuated with petrified black acacia trees. These trees fossilized centuries ago as the dunes (ever changing shape) choked off their water supply from the coast. For a quick way down, we slid down the side of a large dune and landed in surreal Deadvlei, a majestic setting for an early morning hike, and the perfect setting for a yoga session. Bring your water bottle! The morning sun rises, temperatures go up quickly, and you don’t want to be on top of a dune without water.
The best time to experience the desert dunes is at sunrise when the morning light paints the dunes with intensity, in vibrant shades of burnt umber, deep reds, apricot and purple. We recommend arriving the day prior to hiking the dunes. Stay in one of the fine lodges nearby – Little Kulala, Kulala Desert Lodge, or Sossusvlei Lodge, each lodge situated near watering holes and close access to the park. The friendly staff will arrange a safari ride or you can relax by their lovely pool. In the evening take in a sundowner safari ride to capture some stunning views as the sun sets.
Early the next morning you’ll want to be headed to the Sossusvlei Park, which opens at sunrise. Off in the distance you’ll see majestic hot air balloons taking flight – what a wonderful sight, with the sand dunes and azure as a backdrop. Most guides want to drop their guests off at Dune 45 as you enter the park, however its best to head straight to Big Daddy Dune while it’s less crowded and more dramatic.
Wilderness Safaris flew us from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund, where we saw endless vistas of red dunes. Of our entire trip to South Africa and environs, Sossusvlei was one of our very favorite destinations, and we hope to return again someday.
By Julie Biniasz, a freelance travel writer for Global Adventuress
Acknowledgements: we would like to thank Sossusvlei Lodge, http://www.sossusvleilodge.com/ and Wilderness Safaris, www.wilderness-safaris.com for hosting us during our visit to Namibia. Some photos are provided by these sites.
All opinions and recommendations are our own.
If you are interested in reading more about Namibia, click on these other articles:
- Namibia Breathes Beauty
- 6 Insights: Conservation Breakthrough in Namibia
- Namibia’s Lion Hero
- Children in the Wilderness
- Hiking Paradise at Fish River Canyon
- Namibia’s Erindi Private Game Reserve
- Namibia’s Olive Exclusive
- The Kalahari, Soul of the World
- This is Africa. This is Namibia. Welcome Home!
If you want to be entertained by some videos during our travels in Namibia, click on YouTube Global Adventuress to watch baby elephants in the Huab or the staff at Kulala Desert Lodge welcome guests.