With its massive sand dunes, petrified trees, beautiful landscape, dried-out clay pans, and huge canyon, Sossusvlei is one of the most popular places to visit in Namibia. A road trip in Namibia is not complete without a visit to this incredible part of the Namib Desert. Namib-Naukluft National Park often referred to as Sossusvlei is simply a place that you cannot miss when in Namibia. You will find the most iconic sites of the country right here in Sossusvlei. But how do you visit them all with limited time? Do not worry! We have made this perfect 2-day travel itinerary for Sossusvlei so that you are able to explore everything in this stunning place.
The sites you are going to visit in Sossusvlei can only be accessed through the entrance gates of the park. There are 2 of these gates: The outer gate and the inner gate. The outer gate is Sesriem Gate. It is open every day of the week from sunrise to sunset. The more specific times of this can be found at the gate upon arrival, as they change every week.
The inner gate is instead open for 2 extra hours. This means that the gate opens 1 hour before sunrise and closes 1 hour after sunset. If you are staying inside the area (between the 2 entrance gates) you can enter the park earlier than most of the other visitors. With 2 days to explore the park, you don’t need to stay inside the area. However, if your budget allows it, it is definitely worth it.
The entrance fee for Sossusvlei I 150 NAD for one foreign visitor and 50 NAD for a car permit. As two foreign visitors, we paid 350 NAD per day in the national park.
If you aren’t sleeping in between the two entrance gates, you will be given a number at Sesriem Gate when you arrive. You must not forget this number, as you will need it to pay for your permits. These are paid at the reception, which can be found on the side of the road between the inner and outer gates of the park.
The perfect 2-day itinerary for Sossusvlei
There are so many incredible things to do in Sossusvlei. But it can be difficult to know in which order to visit the sites to avoid the bigger crowds and get the most out of your time. Therefore, we have made this perfect 2-day itinerary for Sossusvlei. This itinerary will take you by the most famous site inside the park, as well as some of the more hidden gems in the area. Get ready for two fantastic days in Sossusvlei.
Day 1: Spend a day at the most famous sites of Sossusvlei
Your first day in Sossusvlei is spent at the two most popular sites inside the national park. This day will bring you adventure, magnificent views, as well as sore legs.
Climb Big Daddy
The first stop on the itinerary is the famous Big Daddy Dune. When you enter the two entrance gates you must follow the sign towards Sossusvlei. This will lead you on a paved road for about an hour until you reach a parking lot with shuttles. These can take you to the parking area by Big Daddy and Deadvlei and cost 150 NAD per person. However, it is also possible to make the drive yourself. This requires a 4-wheel drive as the trip is through loose sand, but it can be done (we did the drive ourselves). When you arrive at the next parking area you will know which way to go. Just walk towards the enormous sand dune.
The Big Daddy Dune is one of the most iconic sites inside the national park – especially due to it being the highest one in Sossusvlei. Climbing this massive dune takes a great deal of effort and leaves you with sore legs by the end of the day. Luckily, it is all worth it when you get to the top and are rewarded with incredible views of sand dunes as far as eyes can see. On the other side, you are able to look down onto your next stop on the itinerary – the petrified trees at Deadvlei.
Bonus tip: Make your climb easier by stepping into other people’s footprints.
Admire the dead trees at Deadvlei
From the top of Big Daddy, you must walk (or run if you dare) down a steep side of the dune to arrive at the clay pan of Deadvlei. This place is famous for its dead camel thorn trees. A long time ago, the trees were full of life as the Tsauchab River flooded through the area. But with climate changes the river is no longer able to reach the clay pan – leaving the trees to die. However, with the very dry climate in the Namib Desert, the trees can’t decompose, which has left them as these skeleton-like figures surrounded by sand dunes. Wander around the clay pan to take in the eerie atmosphere of this absurd place before you walk back to the parking area.
For the rest of the day, we recommend you relax. Nurse your legs so that they are ready for another eventful day tomorrow.
Day 2: Explore the incredible nature
This second day inside Sossusvlei will take you to another famous site, as well as two less-visited sites. This day is all about admiring the beautiful nature and landscapes of the Namib Desert.
Go on a desert hike to Hiddenvlei
The first stop of the day is Hiddenvlei. This vlei is the least visited one in Sossusvlei, which makes it a perfect visit for a bit of solitude in the desert. To get to the well-hidden vlei you enter the entrance gates to the park and then again follow the sign towards Sossusvlei. When you arrive at the parking area with the shuttles you must park your car. Then you’ll find the sign saying “Hiddenvlei 2 km”. From there you are able to follow the wooden poles that mark the way to Hiddenvlei. The markers can be a bit tricky to spot – So keep your eyes open!
During your hike to the vlei hidden between massive sand dunes, you will be rewarded with some amazing views of the area. Additionally, you are able to spot various tracks from the wildlife that lives in the area. If you are lucky, you might even see some of them on your hike.
Bonus tip: The gray sand is more firm and therefore more comfortable to walk in.
Climb Dune 45
Jump in the car when you arrive back at the parking area and drive towards the next stop on the itinerary: Dune 45. Drive back the way you came from till you meet Dune 45. The sand dune is located on the side of the paved road, so it is easy to spot. You might even have spotted it on your drives. Dune 45 is another famous site in Sossusvlei and is actually the most photographed sand dune in the national park. Its curvy silhouette rewards you with some spectacular views. The dune is ‘only’ 85 meters high which makes it perfect to climb. It is definitely not as challenging as climbing Big Daddy. From the top, you will be rewarded with beautiful views overlooking the national park.
Wander around Sesriem Canyon
When arriving back on the ground you must set course towards the entrance gates. On the road between the two gates, you will find a road to the left with a sign towards Sesriem Canyon. Afterward, you drive on gravel for about 4,5 kilometers till you reach a parking area. From here, you are able to walk down into the canyon.
Sesriem Canyon has been shaped over the past millions of years by the Tsauchab River. The name of this incredible canyon was given by the early Afrikaan explorers in the area. Back in time, they used six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) to collect water from down in the canyon. Thereby, giving the canyon its name Sesriem Canyon. If you are lucky, you might even be able to spot water, as the canyon is the only place in the area that holds water year-round. Wandering around admiring the rock formations in the shadowed canyon is a perfect way to end your 2 days in Sossusvlei.
Best time to visit Sossusvlei
You are able to visit Sossusvlei year-round. However, the Namibian summer months tend to be unbearable as the temperatures reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. This is just too hot for you to climb the sand dunes and explore the stunning area. Therefore, the best time to visit Sossusvlei is in spring and autumn. This is when the temperatures are much milder, which is perfect for exploring the desert landscape of Sossusvlei.