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Sossusvlei and Swakopmund

Sossusvlei and Swakopmund

Sossusvlei is one of the biggest attractions in Namibia.  It is a dry salt pan surrounded by high red dunes in the southern part of the Namib Desert.  

Regarded as some of the highest in the world, these sand dunes make for a very challenging scaling adventure! Your reward for climbing them will be immense as the view is quite spectacular.  Take our advice and view Sossusvlei at sunrise when the colour contrasts provide outstanding photo opportunities.

The dunes extend for about 300 miles along Namibia’s coast and reach deep inland, where an amazing variety of wildlife has adapted to live in this harsh, but hauntingly beautiful terrain.

The desert night sky is just awesome and you are guaranteed to see shooting stars every few minutes and satellites tracking a path across the heavens. Luxury lodges sit in this exquisite landscape and some even have rooftop stargazing platforms for a night spent under the stars.

Swakopmund is a popular seaside town on the west coast of Namibia.  

Its colonial German past is evident in the many historic buildings and charming streets – perfect for a relaxing stroll and for a stop in a quaint cafe for a slice of Sachertorte!  Yet Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, just to the south are about adventure activity and a great base for extreme sports such as skydiving over the desert or sea kayaking.  Nature lovers will not be disappointed either as the Walvis Bay Lagoon is considered one of the richest wetlands in Southern Africa.   It is a must visit for bird lovers providing a feeding ground for 200,000 birds of 50 species including flamingoes and pelicans. Kayaking the open seas with a guide is a great way of getting close up views of cape fur seals, turtles and whales.

 

Photo Credit: Dana Allen

at a glance

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Introduction

Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best known attraction.  It is situated in the largest conservation area in Africa – the Namib-Naukluft National Park.  Characterised by the large red dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan and is a great destination all year round. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters, and provide photographic enthusiasts with wonderful images in the beautiful morning and evening light.

Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River to flow any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean.  However, due to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert the river seldom flows this far and the pan remains bone-dry most years.  During an exceptional rainy season the Tsauchab fills the pan, drawing visitors from all over the world to witness this spectacular site. Photographic enthusiasts are spoilt with a glassy “lake” holding reflections of the surrounding dunes.  When the pan fills it can hold water for as long as a year.

Despite the harsh desert conditions in the area, one can find a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive.

Access to the Sossusvlei area of the Namib-Naukluft National Park is from the Sesriem gate, which is located in the surroundings of the eponymous canyon. From Sesriem, a 60 km concrete road leads to Sossusvlei proper.

Swakopmund

Swakopmund is a city on the coast of western Namibia, 280 km west of Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. The town has 44,725 inhabitants and covers 193 square kilometres of land. The city is situated in the Namib desert and is the fourth largest population centre in Namibia.

Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground, a holiday destination for tourists and locals alike looking to escape the heat of the interior and to have a little adventure.

The city itself resembles a small German town and manages to create a feeling of timelessness with its palm-lined streets, seaside promenades, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and museums. And while there is plenty to do within city limits, the real action happens in the desert surrounding Swakopmund. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and dozens of other guided adrenaline inducing activities are available by reservation from many of the adventure companies operating in the area.  At Walvis Bay, visitors can join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak tour.

Even with all this excitement Swakopmund serves as a good break during a busy vacation. Relax and have fun in a place well suited for both.

When To Visit

Every single month is worth a journey to Namibia. Most visitors prefer to travel during the months May to October. It hardly ever rains and the visitor can enjoy the uninterrupted sunshine, except at the foggy coast. The climate is moderate and during the day it does not get extremely hot. Nevertheless it can get very cold in the evenings.

January, February, March

These mid Summer months tend to be the wettest and hottest.  This is the time when rainfall is expected.  Temperatures can be 30-35degC peaking to over 40degC in the desert.  This can make travel a little uncomfortable.  Torrential downpours can occur in the mountains causing flash floods in the valleys.  Once the rains start wildlife viewing in Etosha can be poor because of animal dispersals.

April, May

These are often lovely months in Namibia. Increasingly dry, with a real freshness in the air, and greenery in the landscape; at this time the air is clear and largely free from dust, allowing superb photography.  Game viewing is getting better and travel gets easier as roads that may have been damaged during rainfall are repaired.

June, July, August

This is Namibia’s winter.  Nights can become cold, incredibly dropping to below zero giving frosts in Etosha and the mountain regions.  With the drying conditions the wildlife in the north starts heading towards the permanent water, so making for better wildlife viewing.  It is peak season for game viewing with visitor numbers increasing.

September, October

Temperatures are rising and game-viewing in most areas is at its best, although there’s often a lot of dust around and the high temperatures are starting to take their toll on the vegetation

November, December

November can be a variable month for weather. Some years the hot dry weather continues and other times by early November rain clouds can be forming.  If rains do occur this can be quite a dramatic experience.

December temperatures are high averaging 30 degC, some days may be humid with localized thunderstorms usually in the afternoon especially in the center and east of the country.  Desert regions remain dry.

Namib (Sossusvlei) and Kalahari Desert

In the desert areas, the Namib and the Kalahari, only little rainfall can be expected, with the Kalahari receiveng higher rainfalls than the Namib. Temperatures may rise above 40°C in summer, sometimes even up to 50°C. In winter temperatures still reach a pleasant 20° C to 25° C. At night temperatures may drop below 0° C though. For some visitors these high fluctuations are rather challenging.

 

Temperature & Rainfall

Climate data – Swakopmund

Climate Chart – Namib Naukluft Park

Sossusvlei & Swakopmund Highlights

Sand Dune Climb

Sand Dune Climb

Sand Dune Climb

Sossusvlei in the heart of the Namib-Naukluft Park. One of the highlights of any trip to Namibia ...

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Sand Dune Climb

Sand Dune Climb

Sossusvlei in the heart of the Namib-Naukluft Park. One of the highlights of any trip to Namibia – magnificent ochre-coloured sand dunes, which rise over 300m into the sky, amongst the highest sand dunes in the world. Dune 45 in Namibia is one of the star attractions in the country, in part due to its proximity to the road through the desert. Scale a dune and take in the desert scenery.

Photo: Dana Allen

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Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei Dunes

Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei Dunes

Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei Dunes

Experience Sossusvlei from the air - Hot air balloon rides, helicopter flips and scenic flights ...

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Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei Dunes

Hot Air Ballooning over Sossusvlei Dunes

Experience Sossusvlei from the air – Hot air balloon rides, helicopter flips and scenic flights over the majestic desert landscapes will allow you to comprehend the enormity of the landscape.

Photo: Gavin Lautenbach

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Swakopmund Adventure Capital

Swakopmund Adventure Capital

Swakopmund Adventure Capital

Immerse yourself in the adventure activities and colonial charm of a seaside town of Swakopmund - ...

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Swakopmund Adventure Capital

Swakopmund Adventure Capital

Immerse yourself in the adventure activities and colonial charm of a seaside town of Swakopmund – Namibia’s adventure capital.

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Star Gazing in the Namib

Star Gazing in the Namib

Star Gazing in the Namib

Explore the night sky under the guidance of a professional astronomer or try your hand at ...

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Star Gazing in the Namib

Star Gazing in the Namib

Explore the night sky under the guidance of a professional astronomer or try your hand at photographing the stars.

Photo credit: andbeyond

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Scenic Flights

Scenic Flights

Scenic Flights

Book a scenic flight and soar over extensive dune seas, glide past the setting sun and race over ...

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Scenic Flights

Scenic Flights

Book a scenic flight and soar over extensive dune seas, glide past the setting sun and race over crashing waves.

Photo credit: Dana Allen

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Nature Drives in the Desert

Nature Drives in the Desert

Nature Drives in the Desert

Be captivated by dramatic vistas and the abundant geckos, rolling spiders, scorpions, lizards, ...

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Nature Drives in the Desert

Nature Drives in the Desert

Be captivated by dramatic vistas and the abundant geckos, rolling spiders, scorpions, lizards, snakes and chameleons on a living desert adventure trip. This is a Common Barking Gecko.

Photo Credit: Dana Allen

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The Red Dunes of Dead Vlei

The Red Dunes of Dead Vlei

The Red Dunes of Dead Vlei

Deadvlei is a paradise for photographers as the contrast between the pans, and the rusty-red dunes ...

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The Red Dunes of Dead Vlei

The Red Dunes of Dead Vlei

Deadvlei is a paradise for photographers as the contrast between the pans, and the rusty-red dunes and deep blue sky make for incredible images.

Photo credit: Dana Allen

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Desert Adapted Species

Desert Adapted Species

Desert Adapted Species

Take a Namib scenic desert drive with an opportunity to encounter a variety of desert-adapted ...

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Desert Adapted Species

Desert Adapted Species

Take a Namib scenic desert drive with an opportunity to encounter a variety of desert-adapted animals such as aardwolf, gemsbok, zebra, springbok, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, caracal and jackal.

Photo credit: Dana Allen

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Quad Biking in the Namib

Quad Biking in the Namib

Quad Biking in the Namib

Appreciate the pristine beauty of the Namib desert and its magnificent dunes on a thrilling quad ...

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Quad Biking in the Namib

Quad Biking in the Namib

Appreciate the pristine beauty of the Namib desert and its magnificent dunes on a thrilling quad bike ride.

Photo credit: Dana Allen

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camps & lodges

&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is the ultimate desert retreat offering sheer silence, total tranquility and romantic luxury. Cradled against ancient ... Read More

Kulala Desert Lodge

Kulala Desert Lodge

Set in a vast open plain, a private entrance to Namib Naukluft Park makes Kulala Desert Lodge the closest location to Sossusvlei, while magnificent ... Read More

Swakopmund Guesthouse

Swakopmund Guesthouse

Swakopmund Guesthouse is family owned and run offering seven standard rooms, seven luxury rooms and one family suite for guests wanting to indulge in ... Read More

Villa Margherita

Villa Margherita

Villa Margherita is located in the heart of beautiful historic Swakopmund, just close to shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries and a ... Read More

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge is a luxury camp perched on top of a dune plateau, overlooking panoramic vistas in all directions and capturing the beauty of ... Read More