The absolute highlight of our Namibian journey, the famous Dune 45, Deadvlei and Sossuvlei are all situated in the Namib Naukluft National Park (https://namibia.de/namib-naukluft-park/).
We spent the night before at a lounge about two-hour drive from the entrance to the park and therefore arrived at the Dune 45 at around 10 am despite of the early rise. Nevertheless, we bravely decided to ascend it and climbing up was surprisingly easy without shoes. However, on the top we felt that the sand was quickly getting red-hot and we had to put on the shoes. The descend was hundred times easier than the ascend: we just packed the camera in sand-proof bag and run athwart down and that was fun!
Do you know that Deadvlei with its scenic scorched tree skeletons with the ones of the world’s highest sand dunes in the background has been even nominated as the 8th Wonder of the world? Probably, no one travelling through Namibia can leave this unique and fascinating landscape out from their route.
The name Deadvlei is literally translated as “dead marsh” from Afrikaans. Indeed, once, more than a thousand years ago, after a flood caused by the Tsauchab river, this area became a marsh where camel thorn trees were growing. After a sudden climate change and severe drought, the marshes were blocked off the rived by the sand dunes. The drought was so fierce that the trees instead of decomposing dried out and turned into blackened skeletons under the incinerating desert sun, never being able to vanish from the surface of the earth.
The scenery is indeed thrilling and mesmerizing – dozens of bizarre black silhouettes trapped forevermore in the white-clay dried marsh set against red rusted dunes and a bright blue sky. It seems like the time has stopped here, and only several tourists running from tree to tree in attempt to hide from the heat and at the same time to take a photo remind you about the transience (and futility) of existence. Ah, yeah, we were ourselves those tourists… I had to quickly throw off several layers of sun-protection clothes in order to be able to take the desired photos.
The tallest of the dunes surrounding Deadvlei is called Big Daddy and it is 325 meters high. We even have seen some daredevils climbing it. However, we decided that that would be ridiculous, almost suicidal to ascend this dune at noon with the sun standing in zenith. If you dare to climb the Big Daddy, double the amount of water you take with you.
Sossuvlei is a huge white plateau surrounded by green, living trees. There you can climb the Big Mama, a smaller and less exhausting version of the Big Daddy. We ascended it (frankly speaking, I didn’t do the last 20 meters as Matze said the view was nothing spectacular), and the climb was as exhausting as it can be: we stopped every other meter to catch the breath and to take a sip of water.
Tips before you go…
Here are some facts you have to know before planning your journey:
– Opening hours: sunrise till sunset; only several hotels offer sunrise-viewing inside the national park. Usually you get inside the park only after the doors are open (and they mind it! Spending a night in the park illegally seems problematic. On departure, the national park wards are checking the number plaits of the cars, which entered the park earlier). By the way, in Sesriem, where the gates are, there are a shop, a tanking station and a very nice toilet.
– The admission fee to the Namib Naukluft National Park is 80 Namibian dollars per person and for the car you will pay additional 10 dollars.
– From Sesriem to Deadvlei the road is fantastic, forget about the typical shaky Namibian roads for an enjoyable hour drive! The Dune 45 is easy to reach with a 2×4 whereas the Vleis can be accessed only by a full-wheel vehicle. At the end of the asphalted road you will inevitably face the 2×4 parking. The last kilometers to Deadvlei can be covered by the 4×4 only. With the hop-on hop-off shuttle (150 Namibia dollars per person) you can reach both places: Deadvlei is about 15-minute drive, Sossuvlei is another 5-minute drive from Deadvlei.
When preparing for the tour, don’t forget to take the following items with you:
- Sunscreen with the protection factor of 30 or more: the sun is extremely strong
- Closed shoes: when you are walking on the dunes after 9 am, the sand is immensely hot and you don’t want to burn your feet
- A hat or a scarf (or better both as you would want to cover your shoulders)
- A lot of water, count at least 2-3 liters per person
- There are no waste bins, if you plan to eat something, take a plastic bag to bring the rests with you back to the camp