Photos of Sossusvlei, Namibia

I’ve written the opening paragraph to this article three separate times now.  I had these grand ideas for a colourful post laden with descriptive text and words that danced off the pages.  However, each time I sat back and looked at the article I realized it just wasn’t good enough.

Sossusvlei, Namibia

You see, the bright red dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia and the surrounding area have been atop my bucket list since the very first time I saw a photo of them.  Thus, an article documenting them had been something of importance to me.  However, no matter how colourful my words, they could never be as brilliant as those that twirl from the sands of Sossusvlei.  No matter how descriptive my words were, they were never as beautiful as the sight of a solitary dead tree entrenched in a contrast of light.  And no matter how much my words stirred, they didn’t even come close to the inspiration of the sight of a lone Oryx wandering along in a mirage of red earth.

Some things, you might say, are only meant to be seen with the eyes.  Some wonders can leave a man muttering even in the best of times.  There are places on this planet that almost seem too unreal to believe.  Even while wandering through the dunes painted in a ochre of red light, it seems to be a painted world, too good to be true.  Even now, weeks after my visit, I have to pinch myself and say “yeah, I was there.”

When you cross the number one item off of your bucket list, as I did in Sossusvlei, it’s easy to feel let down.  It’s easy to feel as if you had over-hyped a location.  However, in no way shape or form did Sossusvlei let me down.  I’d go back tomorrow if I could, and I’d encourage you to do the same.  So what’s next on my bucket list?  How about skydiving in Swakopmund? Stay tuned.

All of these photos were taken on a 3 day tour to Sossusvlei with Chameleon Safaris.

Solitaire, Namibia

Almost all trips to Sossusvlei start or end with a visit to the near ghost town of Solitaire. If you’re there, be sure to grab a chunk of apple crumble or two for the road.

Solitaire, Namibia

Only in the desert can a junkyard look like perfect art!

Cameleon Safari, Sossusvlei

Our trusty overland truck, Rafiki, pulled us into the Desert Camp in Sossusvlei just before a perfect desert sunset.

Desert Camp Sossusvlei

This is the kitchen at desert camp. Great sunset!

Sossusvlei Lodge

I headed to stay at the amazing Sossusvlei Lodge for the night. What a brilliant place. Such atmosphere. Wait until you see my cabin!

Sparrows, Namibia

I was woken up by a flock of hungry sparrows who thought my camera was food. Grab some grub and off to the dunes!

Sossusvlei

Boom! I give you the incredible red sand dunes of Sossusvlei!

Dune 45, Namibia

Hiker on the top of Dune 45, likely the most famous sand dune on the planet.

Dune 45 Sossusvlei

This is likely the most photographed sand dune in the world. Dune 45 is an icon for Namibia. It’s also hiked by dozens of people each day… including me.

Tree Sossusvlei

I love the contrast here between sand and vegetation. Also, the contrast between the dead half and live half of the tree is interesting.

Deadvlei Namibia

This was one of my favourite places to photograph on the planet. Shame I only had about 15 minutes to shoot on deadvlei. If you use snapseed for your phone, this is where that background photo was taken for snapseed.

Deadvlei Namibia

Another shot from Deadvlei. You can see here the sediment left over from the river that used to end here.

Deadvlei, Namibia

One last shot of Deadvlei. These trees look tiny, but each one was much taller than I am.

Oryx, Sossusvlei

I think this is my favourite photo from the whole trip to Sossusvlei. That’s a lone Oryx chomping on some grasses amidst the dunes.

Desert Camp Sossusvlei

No better way to end a day in the desert than a campfire at Desert Camp.

Milky Way, Namibia, Sossusvlei

Alas, set your eyes on the beauty that was my cabin at Sossusvlei Lodge under the Milky Way.  The stars in Namibia are incredible.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than he has the desire to count. Check out his profile on . for a little bit more about him.

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18 Comments

  1. Amazing pictures, Brendan! And I think I have to agree with your favourite choice.

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  2. Great set that really shows what is probably in your mind to say.

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  3. Great photos, Brendan. I also love Sossusvlei. It really is a photographer’s paradise, and I’d love to go back and snap more shots. And even though it isn’t specifically a “typical” Sossusvlei photo, I love your shot of the sparrows looking into your camera lens.

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    • Thanks Ryan! Yeah, those sparrows were so tame, they were easy to get photos of you couldn’t really do otherwise. Was fun!

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      • We visited Sossusvlei in August 2013 and it was unbelievable. Your photos however the best I have seen. We visited the dessert area near Auss and saw 148 wild horses at a waterhole. What camera and lens are your favourite ? We would like to invite you to visit our area in the Magoebaskloof , Debegeni Waterfalls and surrounding area of Tzaneen, Limpopo , South- Africa . Kindly contact us on +278212846 in order to finalise your visit to us.

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  4. Hey Brendan! I had never even heard of Dune 45 but it looks like an epic climb! Also, your last photo at your camp is amazing. I’ve been out to the desert (in Southern California, not Namibia, sadly) and the night sky is especially dramatic when you don’t have the interference of nearby cities to deal with.

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    • Yup. I’ve always loved the desert. Some of the best sunset colours in the world, and then afterwards you’re almost always blessed with stars! Thanks for checking out the photos.

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  5. And now, Namibia is on my bucket list. Amazing photos, of an incredible looking location.

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    • Definitely should be Rob, Namibia was amazing!

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  6. Stunning photos of a stunning place. Without detracting from your skill as a photographer, it’s really hard to take a dud pic in such a place, hey? Did you go hot-air ballooning? This all looks beautiful from the air too. Thanks for reminding me to put Sossusvlei on my “do it again and again” bucket list!

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    • You’re definitely right Roxanne. Amazing place, and hard to take a bad picture of it… despite my best efforts ;)

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  7. We’ve visited the red sand dunes near Mui Ne, Vietnam, but these appear even more dramatic given how expansive they are! Do they have ‘sand-sledding’ opportunities here as in Mui Ne, or are these protected?

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    • On these dunes here they don’t sand board or sand slide… but nearby they do. Stay tuned, I’ll show you!

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    • Tim, the dunes in Peru are actually very similar to those around Swakopmund, Namibia. I was actually saying how it was almost completely identical to areas like paracas and huacachina. Actually, the dunes are higher in Peru than here. However, down in Sossusvlei, the dunes have that hard red colour that makes them so unique.

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      • Damn that Atacama desert. When I was a child, the Namib was the driest desert in the world with the highest sand dunes in the world. Now it’s advertised as the oldest desert in the world. That’s all it got left. oldest isn’t really spectacular.
        Still love your photo’s Brendan. You’ve got a really good eye for photographing.

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  8. Great photos. You really bring out the beauty of the place. It would be an incredible effort to reach the top of the sand dune. I know I get puffed walking back to the road after being on the beach!

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