Sossusvlei, Namibia is the type of place that a bucket list is created for. It really is the absolute perfect travel destination and offers so much more than even the most in depth analysis can explain. Sure, it’s the bright red sand dunes of Sossusvlei that make all the post cards and draw in visitors from around the world. But the moon-scape scenes of places like Deadvlei are beyond incredible. Moreover, well you expect a desert like this to be void of life, it’s not in the least. In Sossusvlei, you can watch an Oryx wander through, see a lizard scamper along the limb of a dead tree, or see the world’s fastest insect scamper across the hot sands. But even that isn’t the end of it. Just outside of the park there are cheetah sanctuaries, beautiful canyons, and the cool desert ghost town of Solitare. Be prepared to be blown away by Sossusvlei.
Time Needed: 2-4 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 50-70USD per day
Things to See and Do in Sossusvlei
I guess it needs mentioning that Sossusvlei refers to the area in Namibia. However, Sossusvlei itself is but a small part of the sand dunes region within the greater Namib-Naukluft National Park. Thus, when I talk about Sossusvlei, in general, I mean the area in which most people stay and visit.
All of the above things can be arranged on your own if you have your own vehicle. If you don’t have a ride, you’ll not be able to do much in this area. You’ll either need to rent a vehicle, or join up with a small group tour. Chameleon Backpackers out of Windhoek does great trips this way and are highly recommended.
- Visit the Dunes: If you have your own vehicle, it’s easy to visit most of the dunes. However, you’ll end up at the end of a paved section at some point and need to take a park vehicle to get you close to a couple of the vleis. Of course, you can also hike. But I think it’s worth it to just take their service. Dune 45 is the most popular dune and is accessible from the paved road. It’s work, so try to hike it in the morning or evening when it’s cooler out.
- Hot Air Balloon Rides: There are actually hot air balloon rides that take place over the dunes at dawn. If you want the absolute best perspective to see the amazing waves of sand, this is it.
- Sesriem Canyon: It’d not a huge canyon, but it’s interesting. You’ll barely see it’s there and then like a crack in the earth it shows itself. It only takes 20 minutes to wander around, and is definitely worth the time if you have it.
- Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre: Called N/a’an ku se Foundation, this is a great Cheetah Conservation project. They take cheetahs from troubled areas and re-locate them to areas they will be safe. If they can’t be returned to the wild, they stay here. You can do a game drive for $25. It’s worth it!
- Solitaire: A little quirky town not too far from the park. It’s best visited on the way in or out of the area. If you stop in, be sure you get into the bakery to try what is often heralded as the best apple crisp in the world.
Click for more Photos of Sossusvlei
Where to Stay in Sossusvlei
There are a fair number of options in Sossusvlei, but you are quite limited as well, if that makes any sense. You’re limited in that if you choose to stay at one of the great properties outside the park, then you can’t be inside the park after or before it closes. That means, you’ll miss out on sunset and sunrise in the park. The accommodation on the outside, however, is much better. Below are some options.
- Sesriem Campsite: The best option if you’re looking for a campsite inside the park. The rates are good at only $14 a person, and the facilities are decent too. Of course, being inside the park gates you have all sorts of advantages.
- Sossus Dune Lodge: The only lodge inside the second gate giving you access to the park for sunrise or sunset. Be warned, it books up 2 years in advance.
- Sossusvlei Desert Lodge: If you’ve got the money to spend, spend it here. This lodge is stunning. The property extends right into the desert and the rooms are rustic yet luxurious permanent tents. There is a pool, great restaurant, and you’ll have the bonus of being able to sit at watch antelopes and jackals wandering past your room. It’s located just outside the park gates.
- Sossuvlei Desert Camp: Amazing as well, but a more budget friendly option. You’re in smaller permanent tents outside the gates, and farther from town. There are braai pits, a couple small bars, and even wifi though you are basically in the middle of a desolate piece of land. Like the lodge, you’ll likely spend your night listening to jackals calling in the fields.
Where to Eat in Sossusvlei
You don’t have many options, to be honest. Almost everyone that comes here either does a Braai (Barbecue) or eats at the hotel that they’re staying at. There are some things at the local gas station to fill up on, and a small grocery store to buy things, but not much else. If you’re camping, just do as the locals do and Braai. Then, head to the grocery store in town and grab some sandwiches and things for a picnic inside the park. It’s the best way to go.
Fuel Stations in Sossusvlei
Be sure you’ve got yourself a fill because they are few and far between. There is a gas station near the park gates, and one at Solitaire, that’s it.
Cell Coverage and Internet
You’ll get service before entering the gates of the park without a problem. Inside the park, however, it’s pretty hit or miss. There are wifi connections at the major hotels, but don’t be surprised if you have to pay for the service.
The road to Sossusvlei is bumpy no matter which way you choose to take. If you’re coming from Swakopmund take the C14 all the way to the C19. It’s usually quite rough and full of washboard as there’s lots of traffic on this road. It’s also really dusty! If you’re coming from Windhoek, the fastest option is to go down the highway to Rehoboth then take the C24 to the C14 to the C19. This road is so-so as well, but gets less traffic so the washboard is slightly better.
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