The ultimate guide to visiting Sossusvlei, Namibia

by | Apr 2, 2022 | Africa, Namibia, Travel Guides | 0 comments

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

One of Namibia’s most spectacular landmarks, the vibrant dunes and large white clay pans of Sossusvlei are a must on any itinerary!

Like many, I’ve had Sossusvlei on my bucket list for a long time. And it turned out to be one of those places that are even better in reality than in pictures. Sossusvlei is one of those places that leave you speechless and make you realize just how incredible our planet is.

Exploring Sossusvlei was truly one of the highlights of our Namibia trip. And in this post, I am going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Sossusvlei, from when to go and how to get there, to where to stay, and all the best places to visit.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Things to know before you go

Sossusvlei is part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park in western Namibia. Technically, the name belongs to a specific, large white clay pan, surrounded by giant dunes, but is often used for the whole area, including places like Dune 45 or the main attraction, Deadvlei.

How to get to Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is tucked away between the dunes of Namib Naukluft National Park. The nearest entry point to the national park is Sesriem gate, about 350 km from Hosea Kutako International Airport.

Google Maps reckons that it will take you about 4.5 hours to drive from Windhoek to Sesriem gate. But if there’s one thing to say about driving in Namibia, it’s that you will never be as fast as Google Maps tells you!

Realistically, it will probably take you between 6 and 7 hours to get to Sesriem, and for the most part, you will be driving on gravel roads. It’s a long, but also very beautiful drive, so make sure you factor in enough time, pack some snacks, get your playlist ready, and enjoy the ride!

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Entrance Fees & opening hours

Sesriem gate is open between sunrise and sunset. I would 100% recommend staying inside the gate so that you can get into the park for sunrise. There are only two campsites and two lodges in the park, so make sure you book your stay in advance.

Costs: access to the Namib-Naukluft National Park costs NAD 100 for non-residents, NAD 50 for SADC residents, and NAD 10 per vehicle (as of 2022). You can buy the permit at the reception of the NRW campsite just inside the gate and it will give you access for 24 hours.

The best time for visiting Sossusvlei

The best time to visit Sossusvlei, and Namibia in general, are the cool and dry months from May to October. During the winter months, the days are mostly warm and sunny, but it does get pretty cold at night.

Visiting Sossusvlei during the dry season also means clear skies and sunny weather.

You will get to enjoy the stunning contrasts of the vibrant orange dunes against the blue skies. However these great conditions also mean bigger crowds, especially during Namibia’s peak season from July to October.

Visiting Sossusvlei between November and April, you can expect fewer crowds, but also very hot days, with temperatures frequently rising to 40°C or more. These months are also Namibia’s wet season, but the rainfall is quite low and days are mostly dry and sunny anyway.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Visiting Sossusvlei in a 2WD or a 4WD

When planning your trip to Sossusvlei it’s important to note that not all the places are accessible by 2WD. The road leading into Namib-Naukluft National Park and towards the dunes is a tar road and is suitable for both 2WD and 4WD.

At 60 km you’ll reach the 2WD parking, surrounded by dunes. If you have a 4×4 and feel comfortable driving on sand, you can self-drive the last 5 km to the 4WD parking. Otherwise, you can catch a shuttle from the 2 WD parking.

If you decide to self-drive, make sure you adjust your tire pressure before you head off into the sand. You can read more about how we kept our tires in my Namibia Road Trip Guide.

Where to stay in Sossusvlei

The #1 recommendation when visiting Sossusvlei is to stay inside the gate, because this meant that you will be able to drive to the dunes before sunrise. Accommodation inside the gate is limited, so make sure you book early, especially during high season.

Camping at Sossusvlei

Sesriem Campsite

The NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) campsite is one of two camps inside the gate and is located about 45 km from Dune 45 and 60 km from Sossusvlei.

It’s the more basic of the two camps, with 44 spacious campsites with their own braai and power plug. The bathroom facilities are shared, and the campsite also has a swimming pool, a restaurant and bar, and a little shop.

Oshana Campsite

The campsites at Oshana Campsite offer a bit more comfort and luxury, as each of the sites has its own bathroom and shower, a little kitchenette, and a wooden pergola. Oshana Campsite is located adjoining Sesriem Campsite, and campers have full access to the swimming pool, bar, restaurant, and shop at Sesriem Campsite.

For availability and prices check out their website.

Sossusvlei Namibia
2-week Namibia itinerary

Lodges at Sossusvlei

Sossus Dune Lodge

For a more luxurious stay, check into Sossus Dune Lodge. The 25 chalets are spread out across the beautiful landscape of Namib-Naukluft Park. The lodge is built in a village-style with elevated wooden walkways connecting the chalets.

Three of the chalet walls are made of canvas, while the front is completely out of glass for uninterrupted views. Each chalet has an ensuite bathroom, and the lodge also provides a pool, bar, and restaurant.

Dead Valley Lodge

Dead Valley Lodge is the fourth accommodation inside Sesriem Gate. Both Dead Valley Lodge and Oshana Campsites are part of Sun Karros Lifestyle Safaris.

At Dead Valley Lodge you can stay at one of the 20 beautiful tented chalets with incredible views of the red dunes and rugged mountains of the Namib desert. And when you’re not busy exploring the area, you can relax by the pool or enjoy a traditional meal at the lodge’s restaurant.

2-week Namibia itinerary
The ultimate guide for visiting Sossusvlei

The best things to do in Sossusvlei

Watch the Sunrise from Dune 45

One of the best tips for visiting Sossusvlei is to get up early and head to Dune 45 for sunrise. Located pretty much at the 45 km mark, hence the name, Dune 45 is one of the closest attractions to Sesriem Gate. And since it is located just off the tar road, it’s also pretty easy to get to, even at the crack of dawn.

Look out for the sign on your left pointing you to the small parking area at the bottom of the dune. And then it’s time to climb. It might not look like it from the bottom, but climbing to the top of Dune 45 will probably take you between 30 and 45 minutes.

Once the sun comes out it will quickly get hot. Make sure to pack some water to stay hydrated!

Climb Big Daddy Dune

If one dune wasn’t enough, climb Big Daddy Dune next. At 325 meters it’s the highest dune in the Sossusvlei area, but not the highest in the Namib desert. From the top, you’ll get epic 360° views across the Namib desert and down onto the adjoining Deadvlei clay pan.

If you decide to climb Big Daddy, follow the tar road to the Sossusvlei 2WD parking, then catch a shuttle or hit the sand road to the 4WD parking. We didn’t climb this dune, but from what I read online, climbing to the top can take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

If you decide to tackle Big Daddy make sure you leave early, before it gets too hot, and pack plenty of water!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Feel like you landed on a different planet at Deadvlei

If you could only explore one place while visiting Sossusvlei, this should be it! Nestled between giant sand dunes, visiting Deadvlei feels like landing on a different planet. Dark dead camel thorn trees dot the white clay pan, providing a stark contrast to the vibrant orange dunes.

To get to Deadvlei, follow the sign from the 4WD parking. It’s about a 1 km walk across the dunes. The sand and heat definitely make it more exhausting than you might think, so make sure you go prepared!

Wander off the beaten path to Hiddenvlei

For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, visit Hiddenvlei. 2 km from the 2WD parking, Hiddenvlei is the least visited of the clay pans in the area. The path through the dunes is marked with wooden poles.

We didn’t make the walk to Hiddenvlei. From what I’ve read in various reviews and guides, there aren’t as many dead camel thorn trees and the surrounding dunes might not be quite as high. It’s the solitude and silence, being away from the crowds, that make Hiddenvlei such a special place to visit.

enjoy the sunset from Elim Dune

While sunrises at Sossusvlei are nothing short of spectacular, sunrises are equally incredible. And while Dune 45 is the place to be for sunrise, Elim Dune is the same for sunsets.

Elim Dune is located only about 10 minutes from Sesriem Gate. To get to the parking area at the bottom of the dune, look out for a sign on your left (coming from inside the park), shortly before Oshana Campsite and the gate.

Start the climb early enough, as it can take you up to an hour or more to reach the top.

Start the climb early enough, as it can take you up to an hour or more to reach the top. But the views of the shadows wandering across the plains, and the rugged Naukluft mountains in the back are definitely worth it (even if you don’t make it all the way up)!

See Sossusvlei from Above

If you want to splurge a little while visiting Sossusvlei, treat yourself to a hot air balloon ride to see the world’s oldest desert from above. The hot air balloon safari costs NAD 7350 for 3-4 hours including breakfast. We didn’t do this, as it is pretty pricey, but you can find out more about it here.

If you have any questions about visiting Sossusvlei, let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest to save it for later!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

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Welcome to my world!

Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.