The famous Big Daddy Dune is the highest of the sand dunes in Sossusvlei. This magnificent sand dune has become one of the most iconic images of Namibia. With its 325 meters, it dwarfs the surrounding dunes in the area. If you want to challenge yourself, a climb to the top of Big Daddy is perfect! From the top Big Daddy, you will be rewarded with some breathtaking views overlooking the dune valley and the famous dead trees at Deadvlei. Climbing Big Daddy is simply one of the things you must do when in Namibia.
Everything you need to know for climbing the famous Big Daddy
As with so many other attractions in Namibia, there are always a few things that are very useful to know. A visit to the massive Big Daddy Dune is no exception to this. Therefore, we have gathered everything you need to know for climbing the famous Big Daddy in Sossusvlei.
Getting to Big Daddy in Sossusvlei
When you enter through Sesriem Gate to Namib-Naukluft National Park you must follow the signs towards Sossusvlei. The drive is on a paved road and should take you about an hour. Then you will arrive at a parking lot by Sossusvlei where you find shuttles. These cost 150 NAD per person and will drive you to Big Daddy and Deadvlei. If money isn’t a problem and your budget allows a trip with the shuttles may be more comfortable and secure. However, you are also able to make the drive in your own car. This drive requires a 4-wheel drive, as you drive through loose sand. It is a bumpy ride but doable if you know what you are doing. We ended up getting stuck on our way back, but people are friendly and helpful when it happens.
When you arrive at the parking area of Big Daddy and Deadvlei you will know which way to go. Just walk towards the massive sand dune and you will get there.
For you to climb Big Daddy Dune you must enter Namib-Naukluft National Park, often referred to as Sossusvlei. The gates to the national park are open every day year-round from sunrise to sunset. Though the specific times change every week. However, they can be found at the entrance gate upon arrival.
The entrance fee for Sossusvlei is 150 NAD for a foreigner and 50 NAD for a car permit. As two foreign visitors, we paid a total of 350 NAD for entering the national park for 1 day.
Time spent climbing Big Daddy Dune
Climbing to the top of the magnificent Big Daddy Dune in Sossusvlei should take you about 1,5 hours – depending on your tempo of course. We would recommend you set aside 2 hours or more for a visit to Big Daddy. That way you are able to pace yourself and take breaks during your climb. Setting aside extra time will also allow you to admire and take in the stunning views you will be rewarded with on the climb.
Is it difficult to climb Big Baddy in Sossusvlei?
Big Daddy in Sossusvlei is probably the most difficult sand dune to climb in Namibia. However, it is still doable. If you aren’t comfortable climbing all the way to the top it is also possible to climb part of the dune and then walk back down again. No matter where you are climbing on Big Daddy you will get some stunning views of the areas, as well as a look down on Deadvlei. A trip to the top isn’t necessary to experience the massiveness of this sand dune.
However, if you want to climb to the top – which we would recommend, even though it is challenging – we have a few useful tips for your climb. When you are climbing Big Daddy, it is a good idea to get on the ridge of the dune as soon as possible. We found it easier to walk on the left side along the foot of the dune till we found a less steep place to start our climb. Though, you should be ready for a very steep climb all the way to the top of Big Daddy. Your thighs will definitely be sore after this. But it is all worth it at the top!
We also found it very useful to step into other people’s footsteps during our climb. This made it much easier to walk, as the sand wasn’t covering our feet with sand with every step we took. And lastly, you must not strain yourself. Pace yourself and take all the breaks you need. Water is a must during your climb, as well as a good pair of shoes should help.
Combine your Big Daddy climb with a visit to Deadvlei
As mentioned earlier, you are able to look down onto the dead trees of Deadvlei from Big Daddy Dune. As these two famous attractions in Sossusvlei are so close to each other it is perfect to combine the two in one visit. Therefore, we would recommend you climb Big Daddy first thing in the morning and then afterward walk down the side of the dune to Deadvlei. That way you are able to walk through the clay pan on your way back to the parking lot.
Best time to climb Big Daddy Dune in Sossusvlei
The best time to climb the Big Daddy Dune in Sossusvlei is in the early morning hours. Enter Sossusvlei when the park opens so that you are able to climb the massive dune before it gets too hot. From around 11:00 the temperatures get so hot that it is unbearable to climb the dune. By going early, you are also able to combine your visit with the dead trees at Deadvlei.