Day 2 – Jun 20: Windhoek – Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft National Park
Our destination was the Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan surrounded by the world’s tallest sand dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The Namib is the world’s oldest desert and famous for its red sand dunes and unique wildlife.
We left very early morning, as we wanted to see sunrise outside of town and had decided to have a picnic breakfast along the way.
Our first picnic, an hour after leaving Windhoek for Sossusvlei.
We drove via Spreetshoogte Pass and Solitaire to Sesriem. According to the experts this route is about 1.5 hours longer than the direct route, but much more scenic.
We bought fire wood just before Sesriem and arrived at the campsite early afternoon. We checked-in at Sesriem Campsite and then checked out our allocated camping spot. We found a better vacant spot and claimed that by putting up our table and chairs there and informed the reception. No problem.
Less than half an hour after arrival we were back in the car, on our way to explore Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei, yeah…!
Nothing can really prepare you for this unbelievably spectacular landscape.
At the end of the tar road we deflated our tires, switched into 4 wheel-drive and had a first go at some real off-road driving through deep sand, to the parking area at Dead Vlei. To our surprise there was only 1 other car. Cool, as we don’t really like large crowds…! We walked into the vlei and only saw 3 other people leave the vlei, which we then had entirely for ourselves the rest of the afternoon.
You have to be out of the park when it gets dark, so we decided to drive to world famous Dune 45 for a spectacular sunset.
Day 3 – Jun 21: Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft National Park
As advised, we lined up at the entrance gate just before the official opening time, for a head-start to Dead Vlei. It wasn’t too busy yet, about 10 cars were waiting for the gate to open. We then drove straight to Dead Vlei. We were the first car to arrive and therefore the first ones to start the climb of famous Big Daddy, the tallest dune in the area.
Spectacular views in every direction.
From the summit of Big Daddy we ran down barefoot to the bottom of the actual Dead Vlei. We really enjoyed this and as little kids we jumped and tumbled down the dunes. What an amazing feeling, this fine and cold sand…!
Dead Vlei is a white clay pan, surrounded by the world’s largest sand dunes.
Trees that have been dead for hundreds of years.
After Dead Vlei we explored Sossusvlei and settled down under the trees for a relaxing mid-day break, lunch and a little nap, surrounded by the dunes, some bushes, birds, squirrels and mice. The first relaxed moment of the trip.
We spend the afternoon driving and walking around Sossusvlei and then enjoyed sunset at a dune just east of Dune 45, without anyone else around. What a serene and surreal experience!
Our first “braai”, the South African version of barbeque.
Day 4 – Jun 22: Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft National Park – Swakopmund
Before driving to Swakopmund we drove one more time into the dunes, enjoying sunrise and the ever changing colours.
We had a relaxed picnic breakfast at Sossusvlei and walked and drove around a bit hoping to perhaps find brown hyena or some oryx, but without luck.
While we drove back to the tarmac visibility deteriorated very fast. Initially we thought it was the famous fog blowing into the valley all the way from the coast, but soon it turned out that we got caught into a full-blown sandstorm. Within a matter of minutes we could hardly see more than 20 meters… That was quite an experience! I had never read about sandstorms in the area. Imagine if you arrive at Sossusvlei and you have only a few hours to enjoy, right when a sand storm hits…!? That would be extremely unfortunate.
By far the best road of our entire trip, inside the national park.
We drove to Swakopmund, with the compulsory stop at Solitaire to see the car wrecks and have apple pie.
Singing along with Bon Jovi “It’s my life, It’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just want to live while I’m alive” !
What I liked most in Solitaire were the ground squirrels.
It’s a relative long ride from Sossusvlei to Swakopmund, but the ever changing scenery is absolutely fantastic.
That was Sossusvlei and surroundings, time for our next destination, SWAKOPMUND.