Sossusvlei: a photographer's paradise
Situated in the southern Namib Desert and part of the Namib Naukluft Park, Sossusvlei means something like ‘dead end marsh’. But don’t let that put you off. The surrealistic landscape here is one of the most photographed places in Africa, and for good reason. Geographically it is a clap pan surrounded by massive red sand dunes. Iron present in the sand is responsible for some remarkable colour variations in the surrounding desert, with every shade of orange, yellow, red and pink imaginable, often sharply offset with deep shadow to make for incredibly vivid photographs. If it’s beauty and colour you are looking for, Sossusvlei has it in buckets.
The largest dune here is aptly called Big Daddy, at about 325m high (355yds). Appropriately enough, there is a nearby dune called Big Mama, and also some petrified dunes, formed billions of years ago.
The dunes are not devoid of life – quite the opposite in fact. Many small mammals and reptiles live here, as well as jackals and ostriches. The Namib Desert fog beetle also lives here and is able to survive by collecting water from morning mists on its back.
Tourists are well catered for in Sossusvlei and there are some excellent hotels, with paved roads to get you between them. One of the more dramatic ways to experience the dunes is to fly over them in a small plane or even hot air balloon – an experience you are not likely to forget.