Exploring the visual paradox of the Namibian desert is one of our favourite African travel experiences. Once inside the never-ending dunes it seems like all you see is sand. But no two views are ever the same and it's impossible not to be transfixed by the primitive majesty of a 360-degree landscape untouched by human hand for millions of years.
What is Sesriem/Sossusveli?
Majestic dunes stretch for thousands of miles down Namibia's Atlantic coast. Sesriem is the gateway for getting out amongst the mystical red sand. From this small desert outpost you're only an hour away from being completely surrounded by some of the world's highest dunes. The name Sossusvlei has come to represent the area you visit. However, Sossusvlei itself is a clay pan that becomes a haven of life when it fills during flash floods. Unfortunately, seeing this phenomenon relies on a lot of luck.
This area is full of dramatic views.
There's a glorious array of desert sights surrounding Sossusvlei. An easy climb up Dune 7 offers an iconic sunrise or sunset viewpoint. The blackened branches of 550-year dead trees juxtapose the orange dunes in Deadvlei, an even larger clay pan that's one of Africa's most famous wilderness images. It's a challenging climb up the dunes that envelop this pan, particularly the 325-metre Big Daddy. But what reward! Gazing down on the fossilized thorn trees then looking out across the 360-degree flow of dunes is an experience so raw we still can't get our heads around it.
See the desert wilderness from a new height.
There's an even more inspiring option that doesn't require climbing. We think Namibia is the best country in Africa for an aerial safari, and the most epic of the flights is to cruise over Namib-Naukluft National Park, looping around Sossusvlei then touching down near Sesriem; it also saves the time and energy taken by the bumpy overland journey. A hot air balloon ride and quad bike adventure through the dunes are also highly recommended.
Sesriem makes the desert accessible. But you're still deep in an unconquered wilderness. So we prefer not to rough it and guide our clients towards luxurious desert retreats amongst the dunes. Because when night falls, you can't beat sipping on fine wine as the stars add another dimension to this very special place.