The otherworldly landscape of Sossusvlei Namibia remains one of the most epic landscapes that I have ever had the opportunity to experience. You have been inspired by the pictures of Sossusvlei. Now it’s time to plan your adventure. Here are some practical tips to help you experience Sossususvlei, Namibia.
When to Visit
Anytime of the year is great to visit Sossusvlei Namibia. Here are a few considerations when planning your trip:
- Rainy Season: The ‘rainy season’ is generally from November to March. Note that it may not actually rain all that much (certainly not enough to effect travels) however the main impact for travelers is in the distribution of wildlife. During this time period, wildlife typically disperses due to the availably of water throughout the region. During the dryer seasons, water is scarce and as such the wildlife is forced to congregate at watering holes. If visiting Sossusvlei is your primary focus, this is a great season as the vegetation in the outlying regions is growing. You also get some great cloud formations in the desert that make for enhanced photographic opportunities.
- April-June: The temperatures start cooling down. This is important if you plan to camp as nights can be cool. The upside to crisp nights is you will get a clear view into the night sky offering some of the best star gazing on the planet.
- July- October: Very dry however this forces the wildlife to congregate around central watering holes. Also note that visiting Sossusvlei during this time of year can be very hot. It is ill-advised to plan on hiking in to the great dunes between 1100-1600 due to high heat conditions.
How to Get There
Fly into the capital of Windhoek. Johannesburg, South Africa is the closest major hub and there are an abundance of direct flights to Windhoek. At the time of writing this, you can get a roundtrip flight (2hr) from Johannesburg for $233 USD.
Once in Windhoek, you will need to take a shuttle from the airport to the city (about 40min drive). There are a lot of shuttle options that cost around $15 USD. Note: If you plan to rent a 4×4, many of the agencies will arrange for your transfer from the airport to their rental base in Windhoek. You will be greeted at the welcome gate by a pack of eager car drivers. Plan your transfer in advance of arriving to avoid having to negotiate.
It is about a 6 hour drive from Windhoek to Sossusvlei. I highly recommend renting a 4×4 and making the journey on your own terms. Driving yourself will allow you to stop at your leisure and experience all that Namibia has to offer. There are some very important considerations for driving in Namibia (You can read about my Namibia driving tips here) but with the right planning it is plenty safe and enjoyable. In fact, my road trip through Namibia ranks in the top 3 road trips I’ve ever taken.
There are many 4×4 rental companies to choose from. I personally have used Savanna Car Hire and can say they did a fantastic job providing me with a well equipped vehicle.
I recommend spending the extra money and getting a GPS and emergency satellite phone. Your rental car agency will have these available. While I never had to use my phone, It was well worth having it for the piece of mind given how remote some sections of your drive in Namibia will be.
Where to Stay
Once you arrive in Sesriem, you have the option of proceeding into the park. Staying inside the park is essential if you wish to get an early start and experience the sunrise. There are however only two lodging options inside the park.
- Sesriem Camp Site– This is a NWR managed basic camping facility. There are community showers and restroom facilities. A small camp store also offers basic provisions. Because this is one of only two lodging options inside the park, reservations are recommended. Cost: $15 USD/night
- Sossus Dune Lodge– 25 gorgeous individual chalets that overlook the dunes and mountains. With only 25 units, reservations are important any time of the year. Cost: $124-$240 USD/night.
Is money not an issue?
The top ranked lodging in Sossusvlei Namibia, located just outside the park is &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. An absolutely stunning property with unobstructed views into the vast desert. This property is located outside the park so you will not have sunrise access to Sossusvlei. Sleep in, enjoy the surroundings.
What to Do
- Visit the epic Sossusvlei landscape- Sossusvlei is actually an ephemeral pan. This is your classic Sossusvlei experience and the site of all of the pictures you have seen. To get there, you will need to follow the 2WD park road (65Km) all the way to the end where there is a parking lot. From the parking lot you can continue on foot or catch a tractor drawn shuttle. If you have a 4×4, you can continue on the road. Note that the 4×4 portion of the road is very difficult and should be driven only if you have off-road experience. Lots of drivers get stuck in the sand and have to pay a hefty fine to be towed out. It can get quite crowded in the mornings. I personally braved the mid-day sun and was rewarded with very few tourists. Bring water. Lots of water.
2. Take an excursion to one of the lesser visited landscapes- There are some awesome landscapes just a short hike from the road. The ‘Hidden Vlei’ is one such hidden gem. The walk to this landscape is a challenge but you will be rewarded with your very own landscape with no tourists around.
3. Sunrise on Dune 45 – If you are staying inside the park, get up early and head to Dune 45 for the sunrise. The parking lot abuts right up to the dune so you will only need a few minutes to scramble up the silky orange dune to experience an amazing show.
How Long Should You Visit?
Sossusvlei Namibia can certainly be an anchor destination however I recommend 2 days. You can see quite a bit in this short time. I would recommend making the Sossusvlei region a stop as part of a longer Namibia tour or road trip. Remember that Namibia is incredibly diverse and while you are here, you will want to experience the wildlife in the Northern Etosha National Park. You can read about my full week long road trip through Namibia here.