Massive sand dunes, dried-out clay pans, petrified trees, a lush canyon, and endless landscapes – Sossusvlei in Namibia has it all. Namib-Naukluft National Park often referred to as Sossusvlei, is a place simply must visit when in Namibia. Here you will find famous sites such as Bid Daddy, Deadvlei, and Dune 45 but there are many more sites to visit inside this incredible park. With its remarkable beauty, Sossusvlei is definitely worth exploring.
The many sites inside the national park can only be accessed through the entrance gates of the park. There are 2 different gates to Sossusvlei: the outer and inner gates. The outer gate is also known as Sesriem Gate. This gate is open every day of the week from sunrise to sunset. The times change every week, but you can find the specific times during your visit at the entrance gate upon arrival.
The inner gate opens one hour before sunrise and closes one hour after sunset. It is possible to stay on both sides of Sesriem Gate. However, if you stay in the area between the two gates you are able to spend 2 extra hours inside the park. This means you might be lucky and avoid some of the bigger crowds in the early morning hours.
The entrance fee for Sossusvlei is 150 NAD per foreign visitor and 50 NAD for a car permit. This means that we paid 350 NAD per day in the park, as 2 foreign visitors and 1 car.
When you arrive at Sesriem Gate, on your way inside the park, you will be given a number. You must not forget this number, as you will need it to pay your entrance fee. These permits are paid at the reception, which is located on the side of the road between the two gates.
Things to do in Sossusvlei
As mentioned, there are so many great things to do inside Sossusvlei. You can climb massive sand dunes, find hidden clay pans in the desert, admire the famous dead trees, or enjoy some shadows in the huge canyon within the park. Below, we have gathered the things that you can do on a visit to Sossusvlei.
Climb Big Daddy Dune
One of the most iconic sites in Sossusvlei is the enormous Big Daddy Dune. This sand dune is the highest one inside Namib-Naukluft National Park. The climb to the top takes a great deal of effort but it is all worth it when you are rewarded with some breathtaking views of the surroundings and the dead trees at Deadvlei.
Bonus tip: Step into other people’s footprints– this makes the climb easier.
Admire the dead trees at Deadvlei
Deadvlei has become famous due to the dead trees that stand in this huge clay pan. Once upon a time, this place was filled with water that gave life to the camel thorn trees. But due to climate changes the river no longer reaches the pan which has left the trees dead. With the very dry climate, the 900-old trees haven’t decomposed probably – Leaving them as skeleton-like figures in Sossusvlei. Visitors can walk among the dead trees and take in the eerie atmosphere of this incredible place.
Find Hiddenvlei in the desert
Hidden in between the massive sand dunes of Sossusvlei you will find Hiddenvlei. This clay pan is the least visited of the vleis in the area. A hike to Hiddenvlei is perfect for a bit of solitude in the desert landscape. On your hike, you will be rewarded with some stunning views of the area. You will be able to spot various tracks from the animals that live in the area and if you are lucky, you might even spot some.
Climb Dune 45
Another famous dune in Sossusvlei is Dune 45. This sand dune is the most photographed of them all. This is due to its curvy silhouette which makes for some stunning views. The name of this beautiful sand dune comes from its proximity to Sesriem Gate. The dune is located 45 kilometers from the entrance gate giving it the name Dune 45. With its height only being 85 Dune 45 is great to climb for some spectacular views overlooking dune valley.
Wander around Sesriem Canyon
Sesriem Canyon is one of the less-known sites in Sossusvlei. This stunning canyon has been shaped by the Tsauchab River for millions of years. In some places it still even holds water. The canyon got its name from early Afrikaan explorers. They used six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) to collect water from the river, thereby giving the canyon its name Sesriem Canyon. This amazing place offers some welcomed shade when you are exploring the narrow passages. Sesriem Canyon is definitely worth a visit when in Sossusvlei.
The ideal number of days in Sossusvlei
The most ideal number of days in Sossusvlei is 2 full days. For 2 days you have the opportunity to explore all the amazing sites inside the park. However, it is also possible to visit Sossusvlei for 1 day. Your time will be limited but you are able to visit the most famous sites inside the park. We would always recommend you spend at least 2 days in Sossusvlei as this allows you to really enjoy your time and not stress around.
Best time to visit Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei can be visited every month of the year. However, the Namibian summer months tend to be very hot. With about 50 degrees Celsius this is not ideal for climbing sand dunes and exploring clay pans. The best time to visit Sossusvlei is therefore in spring and autumn. This is when temperatures are milder making it more bearable to explore this amazing desert landscape.