With dried-out clay pans, petrified trees, and massive sand dunes Sossusvlei is one of the most iconic landscapes in Namibia. A road trip through Namibia is simply not complete without a visit to this stunning desert. But with so many things to do it can be hard to squeeze in every site in just a day. But which of the sites do you pick then? Do not worry – we are here to help! Below, we have made the perfect itinerary for one day in Sossusvlei.
The sites inside Sossusvlei can only be accessed through the entrance gates of the national park. There are 2 gates to the park: the outer gate and the inner gate. The outer gate is known as Sesriem Gate. This one is open every day year-round from sunrise to sunset. The specific times change every week, but you are able to find them at the entrance gate upon arrival.
The inner gate of Sossusvlei opens an hour before sunrise and closes an hour after sunset. By staying inside the area (between the 2 gates) you are able to enter 1 hour before most of the other visitors. With only one day for exploring Sossusvlei, we would recommend you stay between the two gates. That way you are able to visit the park for 2 extra hours. Especially the first hour of the morning is great, as the temperatures get very high around midday.
The entrance fee for the national park is 50 NAD for a car permit and 150 NAD for a foreign visitor. This means that you are paying 350 NAD for one day inside the park, as two foreign visitors and a car.
If you aren’t sleeping inside the park, you will be given a number at Sesriem Gate. You will need this to pay for your permit, so you must not forget it. The entrance fees are paid at reception, which you can find on the side of the road between the 2 entrance gates.
The perfect 1-day itinerary for Sossusvlei
There are so many things to do in Sossusvlei. This can make it quite difficult to choose the sites you want to visit for a day inside the national park. We have tried to help you by making this perfect 1-day itinerary for Sossusvlei. If your time isn’t as limited, you might want to check out our 2-day itinerary for the park.
Climb Big Daddy Dune
Your perfect day in Sossusvlei starts at Big Daddy. To get here you must follow the paved road and signs towards Sossusvlei. Then you arrive at a parking area where you will find shuttles. These cost 150 NAD and will take you to the parking lot by Big Daddy and Deadvlei. However, you are also able to make the drive yourself. It is through loose sand and requires a 4-wheel drive, but it can be done (we took the drive ourselves). From the parking area in front of Big Daddy and Deadvlei, you will know which way to go. Just walk towards the massive sand dune.
Big Daddy is one of the most iconic sites inside Sossusvlei. This enormous dune is the highest sand dune inside Namib-Naukluft National Park. Climbing this incredible dune takes a great deal of effort and will leave your legs sore. Fortunately, it will all be worth it when you get to the top. At the top of Big Daddy, you will be rewarded with some spectacular views overlooking sand dunes as far as eyes can see. You are also able to look down to the next stop: the dead trees at Deadvlei.
Bonus tip: Step into other people’s footprints to make your climb easier.
Wander around the dead trees at Deadvlei
From the top of Big Daddy, you must walk down the steep side of the dune to arrive at Deadvlei. The walk (or run if you dare) is exhilarating! The eerie place is famous for its dead trees. Back in time, the Tsauchab River flooded through the area. But due to climate changes the river cannot reach the area which has left the trees to die. With the dry climate, the trees aren’t able to decompose which has left these skeleton-like figures. Wander around the area to take in the atmosphere of this absurd place before you walk back to the parking area.
Climb Dune 45
Back at the parking area jump in the car and drive back the way you came from. Along the paved road, you will find Dune 45. You might even have spotted it on your drive towards Big Daddy and Deadvlei. This sand dune is another famous one and is actually also the most photographed of them. Due to its curvy silhouette travelers from all over the world visit for some spectacular views. With a height of only 85 meters, this dune is way easier to climb than Big Daddy. If you have the energy, we recommend you climb to the top for some beautiful views of the valley. However, if your legs are too sore for another climb it is also possible to take in the gorgeous view of the dune from the road.
Enjoy the shadows at Sesriem Canyon
From Dune 45 set course for the entrance gate. Right between the two gates, you will find a road to the left with a sign towards Sesriem Canyon. From here you must drive for about 4,5 kilometers on a gravel road – then you arrive at a parking area, where it is possible to walk down into the canyon.
Sesriem Canyon has been shaped by the Tsauchab River over the last millions of years. And still holds water at some places within the canyon. The name of the canyon comes from the early Afrikaan explorers in the region. Back in time, they used six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) to collect water from the canyon – thereby giving it its name Sesriem Canyon. With a cool breeze and shadows, the circumstances for exploring the rock formations of the canyon are just perfect.
Watch a beautiful sunset
After you visit Sesriem Canyon we recommend you drive back to your camp to shower off all the sand. But your day in Sossusvlei isn’t finished yet. After taking a nice shower and putting on clean clothes, you should drive inside the park for one last look. Find a perfect place to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets that you will ever see. There is no better way to end a perfect day in Sossusvlei.
Best time to visit Sossusvlei
It is possible to visit Sossusvlei all year – but we wouldn’t recommend the Namibian summer months as the temperatures are around 50 degrees Celsius. This is just too hot for climbing sand dunes and exploring clay pans. The best time to visit Sossusvlei is in autumn and spring. In these months the temperatures are milder, which makes it more bearable to explore the stunning desert landscape of Sossusvlei.